Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for June 28, 2021 – Penske on Electric Racing, Sustainable Fibers and more

Welcome to the latest edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up. I have a lot of great things to share and things you can do as a race driver to incorporate sustainability into your life both on and off the track. If you have any suggestions, tips or sources of sustainable information please do not hesitate to let me know.

Sustainability and the Business of Motorsport

Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for June 28, 2021 - Penske on Electric Racing, Sustainable Fibers and more

Roger Penske made his thoughts known about electrification and John Doonan of IMSA amongst others recently offered their opinions as well in an excellent piece published on Autoweek about the future of electric racing. Despite the fact that it is extremely difficult to predict the future, their measured responses and logic are hard to argue with and are certainly worth consideration when debating the future of motorsport.

Penske feels that racing does not have to go all-electric to be relevant. His argument hinges on the fact that not all transportation sectors or regions of the world will go electric by 2030 and therefore hybrid-powered motorsport will still be relevant.

“I don’t think you’re going to see the world going all electric,” he replied. “I think you’re going to have hybrid solutions in all sorts of transportation.

“I’m sure there’ll be mandatory electrification in certain cities, highly densely populated areas, but that wouldn’t be 100 percent.”

John Doonan of IMSA on the other hand acknowledges the advance of EVs both on and off the track but maintains that ultimately, customers will decide the fate of EV racing.

“With feedback from OEMs, if electrification is the way, longer term, then we want to hear that from them. That gives us then, the opportunity to make sure that as we navigate and lay out our strategy, that we are providing a platform for them to come in and race cost effectively, allow racing to be a marking tool—perhaps the best marketing tool possible. Then, we’ll do that across the industry—the automakers and our other partners that are automotive-industry related like Michelin and WeatherTech.

“But, in the end, ‘The market will speak’ is the philosophy that we have in Daytona.”

Doonan also points out that with all the OEMs involved in IMSA-sanctioned series they are well placed to investigate the future.

“The OEMS have said this is a nice sweet spot for those who have signed up and who have announced that they’re coming,” Doonan said. “They think it’s a step that allows us to potentially see what the next chapter holds. At the same time, we continue as part of our IMSA Green initiatives to have discussions with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DOE (Department of Energy) about what are consumer-relevant potential fuel options that could be coming. That’s another potential step.

“And then—it’s been in the news already—is hydrogen an option down the road, that type of fuel cell? We’ll see. Again, the market will speak. We like to make our decisions based on what is going to give us the chance to be the best marking platform possible in the sport.”


Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports for GM opined in the same article that, while this is a turning point in the history of motorsport, it has faced similar challenges in the past.

“If you look at the history of performance and racing, there’s been many iterations,” Campbell said. “At one point, we didn’t have a small-block V8, and we brought a small-block V8 to racing in 1955. That was a carbureted system, and we eventually got to fuel injection. At every point of advancements in propulsion technology, there’s been a lot evaluation about what it means for the enthusiasts market, what does it mean for different series. The pattern is not unfamiliar.”


Finally, four-time Trans-Am Series champion Tommy Kendall reminds us all what racing is ultimately supposed to be about.

Kendall says racing needs to be careful in the EV era of not losing the show, the spectacle, of what racing has become. He says racing needs to keep its foot on the gas when it comes to courting—or keeping—the fans. Keeping the foot on the gas has not always been the racing industry’s strong suit. Just ask the folks who thought the CART/IRL split was a good idea at a time when Indy-car racing was riding a historic wave of popularity.

“So, hopefully, we can keep enough spectacle in the things we love—IndyCar, sports cars, stock cars—and they’ll thrive in that way and take on those other challenges from a position of huge fan bases, rather than getting starved to where no one cares any more and they all die”.


So while no one denies that electrification, or some kind of alternative to ICE-powered propulsion is in motorsport’s future, things will not be as cut and dried as some may be assuming and advocating. As Kendall says, “I’m optimistic, but it could be painful, short term.” You can read the whole article here.

Over at Ferrari, management changes have left some scratching their heads and others debating that the Prancing Horse, long the home of the V12 may be going electric faster than expected. In What Ferrari’s unexpected hiring from the tech world means for its F1 team, the appointment of Benedetto Vigna as CEO of Ferrari, a man who comes from outside the automotive sector leads Race Fans to wonder what this could all mean.

Still, Vigna’s recruitment is highly significant on two fronts: he was clearly appointed to lead Ferrari, once the most mechanical engineering-led of all auto brands, into an increasingly electric future. Moreover, with no hint of any motorsport involvement or interest in his CV, it suggests that Vigna is unlikely to involve himself much in the F1 operation beyond normal business matters such a budgets, revenues and return on investment.

I don’t really think that Ferrari, a brand built on performance would move to a series like Formula E until the performance level was acceptable and comparable to F1. Until then I believe the impact of Vigna’s appointment will be more focused on the increasing hybridization and electrification of their road cars where there is arguably more technical advances happening than in any electric racing series currently on track. It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out.

Finally, Blackbook Motorsport has published a comprehensive guide to electric motorsport called Leading the charge: Electric motorsport and the future of sustainable mobility. According to Blackbook:

BlackBook Motorsport’s first quarterly report delves into the burgeoning world of electric racing, featuring a number of leading championship promoters and commercial partners who are driving this wholesale transition.

Senior executives from Formula E, Extreme E and Moto E discuss their achievements in electric racing so far, the commercial opportunities that have arisen and what the future holds. Also profiled are series including the Drone Champions League, Pure ETCR, Airspeeder, E1 Series and the eSkootr Championship – all of whom explain why electrification is important for them and the real-world impact they are hoping to have.

As with anything from Blackbook, it will be well worth the read.

Green Tech in Motorsport

Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for June 28, 2021 - Penske on Electric Racing, Sustainable Fibers and more

When talking about sustainability in motorsport, we are often talking about propulsion but that is not the only place were advances in sustainability are occurring. An area that is exploding in innovation is that of sustainable fibers, something I have briefly touched on before. Natural fiber composites are developing at a rapid pace and are allowing motorsport to once again lead the way in this particular area of greentech. Check out the following articles for some great insights on what is happening with this technology.

If you are looking for more information on sustainable fibers, this event may be of interest. MOTORSPORT Advanced Material Event-Silverstone- 6th & 7th Oct

Here is a great video to watch that covers Motorsport, innovation, energy and  sustainable mobility. Sustainability » Motorsport & sustainability: Nico Rosberg and Lucas Di Grassi at the “SAFE Racing”

Race teams deal with sustainability in various ways. Here is how the Hansen World RX Team does it.

Greentech in motorsport as I demonstrate in every Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up is extremely innovative and will positively impact society outside the race track. Here are some examples.

Sustainability and the Business of Being a Race Driver

I recently wrote an article aimed at race drivers discussing how they could and should include greentech companies in their sponsorship acquisition plans. The thinking is very simple, as motorsport increases its sustainable footprint, more and more greentech companies will be interested in being associated with motorsport, much like high tech data analytics companies are becoming attracted to motorsport today.

One such company is Merchant Tailor, manufacturers of sustainably sourced clothing geared towards the motorsport market. Currently they are partners with Andretti United’s Extreme E team, Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly and sportscar racer Ferdinand von Hapsberg who has introduced his new brand 8SIX400, the first sustainable, motorsport apparel collection made entirely from recycled materials.

Peter Taylor, the man behind Merchant Taylor was asked whether motorsport is a different game now than 20 years ago when he started with his involvement in the sport and his answer is illustrative of how it is evolving yet still remains the sport we love.

Yes.. I think so. But that will always happen, when new fresh minds come in, with new ideas and rise to a position of delegation to influence and make changes. In areas where traditional models of licensing, partnerships and sponsorships arise, there has been change. This has been dictated by the power of the brands involved plus the new platforms and avenues to elevate business. Motorsport has a big emphasis is on safety and a more sustainable path. Hence, where the nature of the sport is continuously reaching the pinnacle of excellence in every category – if this includes environmental and sustainable developments, this will certainly accelerate things as it did around safety. Essentially, the basis of motorsport has largely stayed the same, the continuous evolvement of technology, the strive to win and commitment to creating engaging viewing trough great racing. The ‘game’ will always change, but what is exciting is how its grown into more categories and with more players.

Merchant Tailor …….Get to Know You..Peter Hall Q&A

You can read the full interview at Merchant Tailor …….Get to Know You..Peter Hall Q&A.

Merchant Tailor is just one example of companies that are both sustainable while demonstrating excellence at the highest levels. Brands like this are becoming more and more prevalent in the world today and they are a perfect fit with this new world we are entering.

In my article I referenced above I gave a few resources to help you in your sponsorship research and I would like to add another. ImpactAlpha bills itself as:

ImpactAlpha is a subscription-based, multi-channel digital media platform that is redefining business journalism around social and environmental value. Our audience and our beat are “Agents of Impact” working in impact investing, sustainable finance, ESG and entrepreneurship to accelerate a more just, equitable and sustainable world. In this growing marketplace, we are both trusted insiders and skeptical outsiders. We identify solutions worth scaling and balloons that need popping.

It is an excellent source for information on greentech companies, sustainable brands and social benefit corporations that are doing great things while making money in the process. It is a great resource to allow you to stay in touch with what is happening in this brave new world.

Series News

Pure ETCR Debuts

Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for June 28, 2021 - Penske on Electric Racing, Sustainable Fibers and more

The brand new Pure ETCR series debuted last weekend and while you may not have heard too much about it compared to Formula E and Extreme E, it has big plans for the future. Here are some highlights of Pure ETCR coverage.

Formula E to introduce junior championship ladder

I mentioned this in the last Weekly Debrief but in case you missed it here are the details as I reported then.

There have not been too many junior electric development series around except for the ERA Championship set to launch in 2022 so Formula E intends to change this. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. On the one hand it is yet another junior formula series in an already crowded market. On the other hand it will be tied into the Formula E weekend much like FIA Formula 2 & 3 are with Formula 1. Looking forward to hearing more details.

Extreme E

Extreme E has not been immune to the global pandemic and unfortunately has had to cancel their South American rounds amid Covid-19 concerns. While they search for replacement venues, a lot of series can learn from their approach to event planning. Read all about it in ‘Race without a trace’: How Extreme E planned a sustainable global event.

WRC to switch to 100% sustainable fuels

I have written about sustainable fuels before as one of the many sustainability solutions for motorsport and the WRC is joining F1 and the Porche Supercup in incorporating them into their series. Read more in WRC to switch to 100% sustainable fuels.

Sustainable Air Racing

Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up for June 28, 2021 - Penske on Electric Racing, Sustainable Fibers and more

Finally, last edition we had the Star Wars-inspired E1 electric boat racing series preparing to launch and this time it is the new EXA Series that will fly above the ground instead of race on the water. I have to admit I am very curious about this series.

EXA Series – Flying Cars Are Here

Electric Airspeeder takes flight, race series in the works

Sustainability and the Motorsport Ecosystem

It is not just the racing teams that are implementing sustainability practices but series and race tracks too. Here are just a few examples.

How Circuit Paul Ricard uses sustainable innovations to protect the local environment

Mugello Circuit is the first circuit in the world certified according to the sustainable event management system ISO 20121

Ferrari Challenge Europe has successfully achieved the ISO 20121 certification

Porsche Carrera Cup Italia 2021 – championship certified ISO 20121-Sustainable Event Management System

Getting to the Track Sustainably

One of the biggest push backs you get when people argue about how unsustainable motorsport is surrounds the issue of logistics and getting to the track, something series like Formula 1 have acknowledged as an important part of the sustainability puzzle they need to solve. As I try to do regularly, I look at sustainability developments in the logistics and transportation sectors like planes, transport trucks, ocean shipping and motorhomes. Here are two interesting aviation-related articles to read. Sustainable fuels in aviation is a huge area of research that is getting more and more attention.

E-fuels development for aviation gets a boost with Germany’s new PtL roadmap

United Goes Supersonic

Its a Different Kind of Race

It is fascinating to see the sustainable motorsport message being demonstrated in places you do not expect, places like the upscale Harrods department store in London but there it is for all to see!

Can sport make a difference in reducing carbon emissions? Dr. Maddy Orr of the Sport Ecology Group thinks so and makes her case on the Green Sports Podcast here.

Blackbook Motorsport have put on some amazing webinars so far in 2021 and the one scheduled for June 30th looks no different. Registration is free and according to Blackbook:

In an uncertain world, motorsport needs to adapt. The pressures of a global pandemic, climate change and rapid digitalisation require bold changes in order for motorsport to remain relevant and continue to grow. In this ongoing series, we are joined by prominent rights holders, race promoters, brands and OEMs to talk together on the future of the sport.

Addressing Motorsport’s New Horizon – Part 6

You can register here.

Finally, sustainability sometimes appears to be a huge undertaking that seems almost impossible for each one of us to incorporate into our lives. It is frustrating, sometimes confusing and not always easy to understand where we can start and what kind of difference we can make. Ferdinand Hapsburg, whom I mentioned in this week’s Round-Up in relation to his work with Merchant Tailor has some very sound advice I think we can all use.

Being sustainable isn’t always about giving things up, its about making sustainable choices and finding some balance.

Ferdinand Hapsburg Get To Know You Q&A with Merchant Tailor

Here’s to everyone reading finding their balance both on and off the track.

Stay safe and I will see you on the next Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up.

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.