The big news in this week’s Business of Motorsport is the welcome return of Lola to the international motorsport scene. I also have news on F1’s new media rights deal in the United States, turmoil at a legendary Canadian racetrack, sponsorship news and my usual selection of how racing teams go about their business. All this and much more in this week’s business news that racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
- It has been reported that ESPN has won the battle for the U.S. Formula 1 media rights worth up to $90 million USD per year. “The three-year pact is reportedly worth between US$75 million and US$90 million per year, a massive increase on the Disney-owned broadcaster’s current three-season contract, which expires after 2022 and is worth US$5 million annually. According to SBJ, most races will be carried on the linear television channels ESPN or ABC, though an undetermined number of Grands Prix will air exclusively on the ESPN+ streaming service.”
- With the apparent delay of the release of the final specs for the next generation 2026 F1 engine, it has been reported that Audi and Porsche’s F1 announcement has been delayed. “When Formula One’s new engine regulations are officially revealed, Porsche and Audi will reportedly have 15 days to make a binding commitment to the 2026 season. The pair could formally announce their entry before the series’ summer break in August.” The same report hints that Honda may want to return.
- In a desire to retain their F1 calendar slot, Spa-Francorchamps officials are reported to be prepared to go the ‘American Way’ in their efforts to keep their F1 race. “It is true that there was a request from F1 to introduce a greater component of entertainment,” de Boever, is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint. “They said that history is something great but we need more. We decided to listen to them and follow them in the new way of offering Formula events.”
- Alpine has announced an ambitious program called Rac(H)er, which aims to open up more opportunities for women within its organization. It wants to make jobs in motorsport more appealing to young females, and will include programs in schools and a proper path for them to carve a career at the F1 team. Alpine is aiming to have 30 percent of its workforce female within the next five years, up from the current 12 percent in 2022. A key component of the initiative is also to try to help guide the next female F1 driver in to Grand Prix racing.
- In the ongoing back and forth over the F1 budget cap, Blackbook Motorsport reports that F1 teams could receive up to US$4.2m in a budget cap compromise. “AMuS reports that a compromise being put forward by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) could see each team receive an additional three per cent of the current cost limit, equating to US$4.2 million. This can then be spent without counting towards the budget cap.”
- Haas F1 boss Günther Steiner expects that the US$200m team entrance fee will increase. “The dilution fund was set a few years ago, when the value of Formula One was different. I think one of the things will be, should we readjust it to current market rate, which is a lot more than that one? But I think that’s a very difficult process to do.”
General Motorsport Industry News
- In wholly unexpected but welcome news, legendary race car manufacturer Lola is set to relaunch under new ownership and is targeting a racing return. The iconic Lola name, together with the Lola Technical Centre windtunnel, has been brought by US-based Briton Till Bechtolsheimer with the aim of re-establishing the brand as a major player in the motorsport industry. Bechtolsheimer has plans to eventually race at Indy and Le Mans. “With one of the key projects we are focussed on right now, the target would be to have a car on track from 2024,” Bechtolsheimer told Autosport. Daily Sportscar caught up with the new owner for this inciteful interview.
- Autosport profiles the radical steering innovation being refined in motorsport. “Steer-by-wire technology from Schaeffler-Paravan has removed the need for a steering column, and logged over a billion miles of accident-free road use. The innovation is now being fine-tuned in competition in the DTM, where all involved are confident that the technology has the potential to change car design forever.” While it is being tested in the DTM, it is harder to race in IMSA at the moment.
- IndyCar’s Firestones are to come from the manufacturer’s new Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC) in Akron, Ohio. “The Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC) will be home to 60 expert tire builders and manufacturing professionals and is the first new tire plant in Akron in more than 70 years.”
- Front Office Sports reports that sports assets could be a new form of gold. “Despite a deteriorating economic environment, sports assets continue to generate billions of dollars in value. In just the the past month, we have seen $8 billion of media rights deals signed by MLS and the IPL alone.”
- Due to a defeat in the Quebec courts, it looks as though racing will be curtailed at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant. Commenting on the cancellation of the HMSA Sommet des Legends which was set to take part in July, HMSA President Cris Vandagriff commented, “I was informed this past Friday (June 10) that Le Circuit has exhausted all legal options regarding the sound-limit restrictions to continue racing at the track,” explained a shocked and saddened HMSA President Cris Vandagriff. “Therefore it’s with a very heavy heart that our [July 8-10] event, Sommet des Legends, has been cancelled. Unfortunately, the track owner [Lawrence Stroll] does not know what the future may hold for racing at this historic venue. Track management had been very optimistic they would prevail with the ongoing legal proceedings. Unfortunately, they misudged the climate in Mont-Tremblant.”
- While one Canadian racetrack looks to be in danger, another is getting ready to be launched. Oro Station is excited to announce that it has formally received Site Plan Approval from the Township of Oro-Medonte, clearing the way for construction of the 4.1km FIA Grade 3 circuit.
- Blackbook Motorsport reports that NASCAR Cup Series viewership on Fox Sports is up 6% Year over Year for first half of 2022. Viewership is up 8% YoY when including this year’s two exhibition events and the best since 2017.
- With the announcement of Formula E’s Gen3 calendar, a noticeable absence is a race in Vancouver. When the 2022 was cancelled this year before it even ran, the organizers insisted it was just postponed and would take place in 2023. But as The Race points out in how Formula E’s Vancouver E-Prix project collapsed, that is not going to happen either.
- Motorsport UK’s FIA Girls on Track UK has been announced as an inaugural recipient of a charitable grant from Ignite Partnership, a joint charitable initiative between Sir Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team. The grant will see the Ignite Partnership collaborating with Motorsport UK’s FIA Girls on Track UK programme, who will expand the reach to 8,000 girls and young women from ages 8 to 24 through the support of Ignite. The Girls on Track UK programme has been running since 2016 and aims to inspire, connect, and showcase underrepresented groups in motorsport, with a special focus on female representation.
- Motorsport betting app start-up GridRival have added “heavyweight motorsport and strategic sectoral expertise” to its advisory board. “The fastest-growing fantasy league game for race fans, which is set to launch its Daily Fantasy Sports offering this summer, welcomes seasoned iGaming investor Lloyd Danzig to its advisory team. Joining Danzig is Joe Solosky, Managing Director of Sports Betting at NASCAR, plus highly experienced tech investor and Menlo Ventures partner Mark Siegel.”
- Online sports coaching platform Blayze has raised more than $800,000 in pre-seed funding from investors LAUNCH and Primwest SA. The company has also rapidly expanded from its initial launch in motorsports into soccer, basketball, stand-up paddling, surfing, karting, and motorcycle racing. I refularly highlight racecraft tips from Blayze in my Racecraft & Driver Development News, Tips & Techniques roundups column every Monday.
- Finally, Red Bull Advanced Technologies have announced plans for a 1,100bhp track car with a £5 million price tag. “The RB17 will be a track-only model, run with direct support from the Red Bull factory. The two-seater will be powered by a V8 hybrid engine delivering over 1,100bhp (820kW).”
Motorsport Sponsorship News
- McLaren Racing and Saudi Arabian “smart city” developer NEOM have announced a strategic title partnership. “The partnership represents the union of two organisations with similar goals in technology and innovation. McLaren will become a founding partner of OXAGON’s innovative advanced and clean industries eco-system. OXAGON, a coastal city within NEOM, will also be home to the OXAGON Research and Innovation Campus, set to offer state-of-the-art facilities across its lab, office and business spaces, and which McLaren will become a first partner of.” NEOM title partner branding will be carried across all McLaren Formula E Team and McLaren MX Extreme E Team assets.
- The AlphaTauri Formula One team have announced a multi-year partnership with the Buzz Group focused on accelerating sustainable development initiatives and supporting young driver development. “We believe that all businesses, including motorsports, must drive positive environmental change to ensure the longevity of the planet and the health and happiness of its inhabitants,” said Daisuke Hasegawa, chief executive of Buzz Group. In addition to the mutual passion for sustainable motorsport, the partnership will focus on the creation of a nurturing environment where talented young drivers can develop into future world champions.
- It has been reported that the future of the AJ Foyt Racing IndyCar entry shared between Tatiana Calderon and JR Hildebrand is in doubt beyond this weekend’s Mid-Ohio round due to issues with sponsor Rokit. A team statement cited “funding issues with primary sponsor ROKiT which team president Larry Foyt is trying to resolve” for the uncertainty.
- The Race Torque has the first of their annual deep dives into the Supercars sponsorship industry as they set the stage to chart the sponsorship game at the top end of the sport as trends develop into the future. “Leading the way for companies with the most partner properties are PPG Industries and NTI/Truck Assist on eight each, on six are Boost Mobile, Coca-Cola, UNIT and Bell Helmets, on five are Air & Allied Sales, King Springs, and Mechanix Wear, while on four are BP, Ford, Grove Hire, Authentic Collectables, Wash It, Nulon, Red Bull and Supercheap Auto.” More details on their Supercars Sponsorship Audit 2022 can be found here.
The Business of Running a Race Team
- Racer reports that the Coyne/HMD partnership is considering expanded its IndyCar association with another car on the grid for 2023. “If we get the people, yes,” Coyne told RACER. “The problem right now is getting the people and I would want to get the people before I commit to another car. But we’re thinking about all that right now.”
- In related news, Racer also reports that HMD is set to expand to six Indy Lights entries in 2023. “We’ll be expanding to six cars,” Maurini said. “We already have this car in possession now. The whole entire series will be growing, as by my count, I think we’re gonna be 18 or 19 cars, which is awesome. So yeah, 33 percent of the cars are HMD cars. That’s cool; there’s an opportunity there. Henry’s always taught me that when there’s an opportunity, take it, because you never know when the opportunities will arise again. So we’ve been working together and pushing forward on this; we’re exploring some new shop space, we’re looking at trucks and trailers. It’s going well.”
- Also in Indy Lights news, Racer reports that the Legacy Autosport team says it will enter two cars in next year’s Indy Lights championship. Team owner Louis Michael Meyer: “When starting this team four years ago, we had the goal of someday competing in Indy Lights, where I spent 16 years of my career. It’s been a talking point for a year now and some opportunities came along to make the final decision of selling our USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 cars and purchasing our first IL-15 Indy Lights chassis. Our plan is to field two cars in the Indy Lights championship while also competing in the USAC Silver Crown Series.”
- Racer reports that Penske meanwhile will stick with 3 cars in 2023. “We’ll be three cars next year,” Penske told RACER, who cited the reduction as the primary reason behind the team’s return to title-contending form.
- Autosport Plus goes inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised. “The building formerly occupied by Minardi – the team bought out by Red Bull at the end of 2005 – is a couple of hundred metres away from the one that’s been erected during Tost’s tenure. The former structure now hosts PR, marketing, and the paint shop, but it’s the latter where most of the production work takes place.”
- The newly named Hertz Team Jota discussed their plans for 2023 and beyond with Daily Sportscar. “You’ll see next year making a fundamental change to the way you see the team present ourselves in the paddock, and to the activation that their investment will bring to the programme – It’s going to be really quite big, Hertz intend to be noticed.”
- United Autosports meanwhile have revealed plans to return to a two-car LMP2 operation in the European Le Mans Series next year, alongside a continued dual effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship. “The intention is no secret, to run two ELMS cars,” Team Boss Richard Dean told Sportscar365. “One Pro-Am car that we’ve announced, and we’ll run one ‘pro’ car. We’ll stay with two in WEC.
- Zak Brown has explained to Racer that their electric racing efforts are helping Mclaren in F1. “With some of the limitations you have on equipment and cap ex (capital expenditure) it’s hard to justify some items where it’s exclusively for one series,” Brown said when asked by RACER about the impact of the F1 cost cap on its other racing efforts. “So to be able to go ‘we are able to buy that and use it across three or four different series’ then that makes some of the cap ex more justifiable.
- Jim Glickenhaus sat down with Daily Sportscar recently to discuss their podium at Le Mans, their plans for the rest Of 2023 and beyond. “We have a lot going on in terms of investors, in terms of possible alliances with some very respected and large companies. And we have the reality that we love racing in the WEC and Le Mans. We are very grateful for Richard Mille’s remarks that people have to give us a little slack. And we will absolutely figure out a way to stay involved.”
- JDC-Miller Motorsports team co-owner John Church is looking forward to the challenge of fighting for overall wins as a privateer in the new GTP era with the news that he will be the first customer for Porsche’s 963 GTP car. “Being a customer team, there’s no complacency. You have to work hard every day and that’s what everybody enjoys doing. I love it.”
- Race Performance Motorsport, the new Formula Regional European Championship team set up by former Formula Ford racer Keith Donegan, is planning to expand into Euroformula. “However he has since confirmed to Formula Scout that he plans to enter R-P-M into Euroformula at the first possible opportunity, but it is “too late” to do so as soon as the Hungaroring round. Dallara and GT Sport have also spoken of their confidence and hope of seeing R-P-M on track to at least test, if not race, later in 2022.”