NASCAR sings Sweet Home Chicago in this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport Roundup as they successfully pulled of a street race despite horrible weather conditions.
I also look at the latest developments regarding the new investor group buying into Alpine F1, the future of GT racing, why some brands waste their money in sponsoring F1 and how GM impressed at Le Mans without actually winning.
All this plus the latest motorsport sponsorship deals and partnerships, the economics of racing in USF4 and much more in this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.
Motorsport Industry News
Despite the horrible weather, NASCAR’s first ever street race on the streets of Chicago was a resounding success. Huge TV ratings, a fairy-tale ending and competitive racing made this race one that the series can be proud of. There are already talks of expanding the concept to other cities. Here is a roundup of some articles to give you a taste of the hows and whys of the Grant Park 220.
- Why NASCAR Is Spending $50 Million to Race in Downtown Chicago (Front Office Sports)
- Inside how NASCAR beat the clock to run Chicago Street Race (Sports Business Journal)
- The Chicago Street Race: Three things that were different about Nascar’s newest event (BlackBook Motorsport)
- NASCAR’s “mess around and find out era” brings a whole new experience to Chicago (Racer)
- NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race Delivers Huge Rating For NBC (Forbes)
- Nascar’s Chicago Street Race hits six-year ratings high on NBC (BlackBook Motorsport)
- NASCAR bosses hail “remarkable” success of Chicago street race (Autosport)
- NASCAR Race in Chicago Sends Warning to Other Tracks on Schedule (Autoweek)
- How a Chicago Block Party Could Represent NASCAR’s Future (Front Office Sports)
- NASCAR pleased with “positive” first street race – Kennedy (Racer)
- First time’s the charm for NASCAR street racing (Racer)
- NASCAR Needed Its Chicago Street Race to be a Success. Then Came the Flood. (Road&Track)
- NASCAR Deserves a Mulligan for Chicago Race That Wasn’t That Great (AutoWeek)
- With The Success Of The Chicago Street Race, Nascar Eyes ‘Deep Dive’ For Future Host Cities (Forbes)
The reverberations from the investment deal that Alpine F1 entered into with an investor group including actor Ryan Reynolds continues and so do the questions. How will they get a return on their investment? What is the plan going forward? Did they pay too much? Did the actors pay anything at all? Based on the backgrounds of the various members of the investment group involved, I think they know perfectly well what they are getting into and what they expect out of their investment.
“Instead, Alpine is now in bed with true private investment companies who are trusted by prudent members to have their cash spent shrewdly and expect to see a profit in return. For instance, RedBird Capital Partners is an investor in Fenway Sports Group which owns Premier League side Liverpool. Part of the reason the football club’s manager Jurgen Klopp has garnered so much praise is because he has enabled Liverpool to relentlessly chase after Manchester City without necessarily matching the spending of the Sheikh-owned Sky Blues. Liverpool has proved more reserved in the transfer market because, Financial Fair Play regulations aside, there are limits imposed on what can be spent so that FSC can fulfil the so-called ‘Return on Investment’.” (Autosport+)
- Report: Alpine F1 eye returns from Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s global profile
- Why Ryan Reynolds and Alpine show that F1’s boom will outlast Drive to Survive (Autosport+)
- The NFL and Hollywood lessons that Alpine’s US investors bring to F1 (Motorsport.com)
The Race is reporting that the apparently impressive Andretti Cadillac F1 bid has a surprise. By entering under the Andretti Cadillac name and announcing it would be working closely with GM, the Michael Andretti-led project appeared to tick the biggest box asked of it: bringing in a manufacturer as a partner.
“In an interview with NBC Sports, GM Motorsports’ executive director of competition Eric Warren has said there is a “hardcore” effort between both Andretti and Cadillac to ready a car for 2025 as targeted and reiterated a message that has been stressed for some time, that GM is assisting on aerodynamics, mechanical design and “combustion”. “It was probably surprising to those who read the application how much involvement GM really has and where we’re splitting up the vehicle dynamics and how we’re doing it today vs how we’re going to do it as the team matures,” said Warren.”
Related to the post above, the new F1 team bid that stands out most of the five submitted to FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem is from Andretti Global and General Motors he revealed to AP, a supportive sign that Michael Andretti may indeed get the F1 team he’s been chasing for more than two years.
“People have to understand we are here to promote motorsport and we are here to be fair. The Expressions of Interest process is very robust and there is no circumstance where we can deny any teams if they fulfill the criteria to enter,” Ben Sulayem told AP. “So imagine me saying no to someone like GM? We have in the regulations that we can go up to 12 teams. I’m not breaking (rules). But do we allow anyone to enter? No. But how on earth can we refuse GM? I mean, where’s the common sense in this? GM is a heavyweight and when they come with Andretti, that’s good for all of us.”
If you kept seeing F1 people posing for pictures in front of 10 Downing Street and wondering what they were up to, wonder no more. They were there to appeal to the British government to assist motorsport in the many post-Brexit issues that complicate the sport. Team bosses, along with Formula One head Stefano Domenicali and other representatives, attended a meeting at Downing Street with Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer on Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
“We had a good meeting with the government and just asked them for their support for motorsport in general, promoting the fact that we’re working hard at becoming more sustainable,” Szafnauer told Reuters. “Also we asked them for help with crossing the border.”
Planet F1 has a fascinating look at what it takes to put on a Formula 1 broadcast from F1’s Media and Technology Centre or the M&TC in Biggin Hill, just south of London.
“We have around 400 people here, most of them are employees, some of them are contractors,” said M&TC director Roberto Dalla, a man whose F1 experience dates back two decades. “We have people from 29 nationalities working with us in the Media and Technology Centre. Around 50% are engineers, 117, and there are 50 editors and 48 producers. We have 68 people who take care of all our operations all around the world.”
Autosport explains the massive challenges Bridgestone will face if it lands the F1 tire deal. “The big complication is that in 2026, the second year of the upcoming contract, the technical rules will change dramatically and so will what is required from the tyres. In other words, Bridgestone will first have to develop tyres for the current cars to use in 2025, when downforce levels and so loads will have edged higher from where they are now. And almost in parallel, it has to create something very different for 2026, before those cars actually exist.”
The Formula 1 organization is undergoing management changes with key players Brandon Snow and Chloe Targett-Adams both leaving the company. “Race promotion will now fall under the remit of F1’s top legal player Sasha Woodward-Hill, who serves as general counsel and has been at the organisation since 1996. It’s understood that Targett-Adams will be replaced by an internal appointment in the form of Louise Young, another member of the F1 legal department.”
Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix will stay on the calendar through at least 2030 after a fresh agreement was reached during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend. “Earlier this year Austria signed a new four-year deal with Formula 1 to keep the event from 2024 through 2027. On Sunday a further three years was added that duration, meaning Austria will remain on the schedule through 2030.”
The Atlanta Braves — owners of the league’s top record, five straight division titles, the 2021 World Series title, and a league leader on numerous business fronts such as attendance and its influential Battery mixed-use development — is now tentatively scheduled to finalize its split from parent Liberty Media on July 18 and become Atlanta Braves Holdings Inc.
General Motorsport Industry News
The Robb Report explains that, while GM didn’t win at Le Mans, it put motorsport on notice. “Although General Motors fell short of the top spot this year, it pulled off a few bangers that disrupted the 100th anniversary of the French endurance race in the loudest and proudest of ways: five cars blasting all-American V-8 exhaust notes and finishing first in the LMGTE Am class, and third and fourth in the Hypercar class.”
Daily Sportscar has a great summary of the recent SRO Motorsports press conference at Spa and what this means to GT racing going forward. Is GT3 becoming too expensive and will GT2 be the solution in this regard? “Yet it feels like GT3 racing is reaching a critical point. With inflation impacting the cost of racing across the board, there is now genuine concern in paddocks around the world that the level of interest can be sustained in the coming years, let alone grow.”
Speaking of the expense of GT racing, with the newly announced end of season race in Saudi Arabia as part of the 2024 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe calendar, series boss Stephane Ratel has promised a lot of subsidies for teams entering next season’s Jeddah 1000km. “I will announce it to the teams and they will be very happy. It’s a very good deal. The fact that we go both in and out, it’s short, they don’t need to pack containers.”
Audi has four customer teams that have so far expressed interest in competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMGT3 class next year according to Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke, who is hopeful the brand’s previous history in the WEC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans will help secure a berth. “At the moment that is the task with customer racing. At the end, our customers set our priorities, and at the moment it is high on the list of investors to understand how we can generate an entry out of the possibility that the ACO has defined.”
Speaking of Audi, media reports of Audi Sport customer racing shuttering its operations at the end of this year are “over speculative” according to Audi Sport customer racing boss Chris Reinke, who insisted that existing customer support will continue for the foreseeable future according to Sportscar365.
“In operative form, [whether] in direct competition or track days, we have over 600 cars in operation in customers’ hands,” Reinke said. “Therefore as an OEM, there’s no question of stopping customer racing in general. We have an obligation for service and we want to do it. It’s our business case and it’s the logic of why we do it.”
Daily Sportscar asks, is a 2024 Lexus LMGT3 effort on the cards? “Multiple sources have suggested to DSC that a high-profile GT3 team is working to join the World Championship with the existing RC F GT3 platform, ahead of the expected introduction of the replacement Lexus GT3 which will not be available until 2025 at the earliest.”
Organizers of the Nürburgring 24 sought a deal with the Intercontinental GT Challenge to boost the event’s international profile. “To gain more international acceptance,” Hornung told Sportscar365. “We are local in Germany and we are working strong on this. But working together with SRO is a big step to become more international in our race.
The World Rally Championship (WRC) has confirmed Rally.TV, the evolution of its WRC+ over-the-top (OTT) platform, will launch this summer. Florian Ruth, WRC Promoter’s senior director for content and communication: “All of our three different championship apps will merge into one app, and we call it Rally TV. And not only will all those offers merge into one app, but we have started a linear 24/7 TV channel called Rally TV. So all our offerings – all the live events, all the live hours, all the highlights, all the history – this all will be shown in a 24/7 linear channel called Rally TV.”
Mitsubishi Motors has been eager to get back into the cross-country rally scene since the turn of the decade. While their main division back home in Japan is preparing to defend their Asia Cross Country Rally championship after winning on début in 2022, Mitsubishi Motors Brasil has revived their racing arm for the 2023 Rally dos Sertões. “As part of their return, the manufacturer will provide factory support to Spinelli Racing‘s Mitsubishi L200 Triton Sport piloted by Guiga Spinelli and co-driver Paulo Fiuza. The two previously worked together in 2014 at the Baja España Aragón.”
Renault is heading back to the Dakar Rally for the first time since 2018, though under a different brand. On Monday, Dacia announced it will compete at the 2025 Dakar Rally with Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez in T1+ cars, making their debut at the 2024 Rallye du Maroc before heading to Saudi Arabia for the main race. Prodrive will provide technical support. “Not only is this a test of Dacia’s true robustness, it is a showing of our commitment to low-carbon mobility,” said Dacia CEO Denis Le Vot. “We are very excited to take part in Dakar with synthetic fuel technology. Dacia, alongside the best team and drivers in the game, are serious contenders for the rally.”
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
Autosport has a great article on sponsorship in F1 and why it’s easy for careless brands to waste a lot of money. “There’s nothing worse than a brand going in and just paying money to put a sticker on a car and not do anything with it,” says Webb. “Teams are actively looking for brands to promote themselves and their partners.”
Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.
- Aston Martin partners with Valvoline, runs one-off British GP F1 livery
- Aston Martin expand TikTok partnership as team passes 1.5m followers
- Tershine joins 100% electric NXT Gen Cup for ground-breaking first season
- NXT Gen Cup starts cooperation with R System Solutions for innovative live streaming technology
- Scuderia AlphaTauri and Catawiki launch exciting auctions
- SRO Motorsports Group and TotalEnergies extend long-standing partnership | SRO Motorsports Group
- Gryfyn and Animoca Brands Japan collaborate with Honda to revolutionize fan engagement in motorsport
- Supercars tools up with Milwaukee deal
- Formula 1 Highlights Remain Free-To-Air
- Amazon Music Announced as the Official Music Streaming Sponsor of BWT Alpine F1 Team
- Purdue backs Castroneves and Kanaan in new SRX partnership
The Business of Running a Race Team
With the news that Jay Howard Driver Development will be leaving the US F4 Championship and moving his team to USF Juniors in 2024, what does this mean for the future of both series and the economics of a young driver racing in either? And what about the economics for the teams running in USF4?
“The decision has definitely not been taken lightly,” Jay Howard told Feeder Series when reached by phone. “I have a great relationship with both Tony Parella and Dan Andersen, not just on the business side of things but also personally. For our team, USF Juniors is the direction we’re going in. From a driver standpoint and when you look at the ladder to IndyCar, which is why 99 per cent of drivers come to us, they ask us: How do we get there and what is the best path?” Howard continued. “F4 serves its purpose; it’s a great entry level series category with some good racing, but now with the USF Juniors category as an option, it makes more sense for our program to make the move. For our drivers, being able to utilise the same car, the same tyre, the same officiating as you move up the ladder, it makes each step a little smoother transition by having that continuity.”
Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.
- Thaze Confirms Partial Program for Remainder of Year
- BBR Motorsport partnering with MCE-5
- HMD to focus on Indy NXT in 2024
- Iron Lynx Poised to Represent Lamborghini in LMGT3
- TF Sport open to running Astons alongside Corvette WEC programme
- Hattori to Run Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO for Thompson, Johnson
Motorsport Movers & Shakers
With he success of last weekend’s NASCAR street race in Chicago, it should be no surprise that Sports Business Journal has named NASCAR executive Ben Kennedy to its Forty under 40. “Kennedy is one of the key executives who is crafting the future of where NASCAR races. He helped spark the idea for NASCAR’s first modern-day stadium race, the Busch Light Clash, which debuted in 2022 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and returned this year. He also was a driving force behind NASCAR’s first street race in America, which will take place next month in Chicago.”
The Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour announced the hiring of motorsports industry veteran Kip Childress as the series’ executive director. In this role the well-known Childress will work alongside CARS Tour Series Director Jack McNelly in overseeing operations and track events, beginning this week.