This week in The Business of Motorsport I touch on everything from racing calendar challenges and opportunities, the impact of the crypto crash on sports sponsorships to how one sports car manufacturer manages multiple sports car programs. All this plus the usual motorsport sponsorship news and the latest motorsport industry movers and shakers.
Motorsport Industry News
- To say that Formula 1 has been enduring some issues with its governance can be considered an understatement. From the issues surrounding the last race of 2021 to the recent issues regarding the FIA’s Technical Directive to address porpoising, nobody seems to be happy. LawinSport have a timely article that addresses the issue of challenging FIA decisions. Challenging FIA Decisions In Formula One: What Options Do F1 Teams Have? is well worth a read if you wish to understand the complexities of international motorsport law.
- In the ongoing saga of Michael Andretti’s attempts to start (or buy) an F1 team, Zak Brown has admitted that his efforts are meeting resistance. “I hope it’s not dead; I don’t think it’s dead. But it certainly seems like it’s meeting a lot of resistance.”
- Speaking of Michael Andretti, he was spotted in the Alpine paddock at the Canadian Grand Prix. Was he there to conclude an F1 engine deal or a deal to run Alpine LMDh race cars in 2024?
- Another issue that has cropped up in recent days is that of a potential salary cap in F1. Joe Saward digs deep into the issue and argues that a salary cap will not in fact diminish driver salaries but will give them a chance to considerably augment them.
- In F1 calendar news, Liberty is eying a South Africa return, consolidating in Australia and potentially using a French Grand Prix in Nice as a bargaining chip with Monaco. Joe Saward also thinks that Baku will not be around much longer and Autosport reports that Madrid is interested in holding an F1 race.
- F1 has renewed their Brazilian TV rights deal with Band until 2025. “The broadcaster, which is known as Band, will continue to show all qualifying sessions and Grands Prix on a live free-to-air (FTA) basis on the Rede Bandeirantes channel. The deal, which covers the 2023 to 2025 seasons, will also see BandSports air all practice sessions from each race weekend. In addition, Claro Brasil has signed a strategic distribution agreement with Formula One that designates the telecommunications company as the exclusive distribution partner of the F1 TV Pro over-the-top (OTT) subscription platform in Brazil.”
- Finally, in Porsche & Formula One: Why This Time Around Is Different, Stuttcars looks at Porsche’s history in Formula 1 and what differentiates this time around from past attempts in what has been arguably an inconsistent past.
General Motorsport Industry News
- Sportscar365 reports how ORECA is taking the challenge of of all their new projects day-to-day. “French firm ORECA is developing the spine for the Acura and Alpine LMDh cars, debuting next year and in 2024 respectively, as well as building orders for the Ferrari 296 GT3. It is also constructing an expansion to its Signes headquarters that is due for completion mid-next year and continues to build examples of the Oreca 07 LMP2 car.”
- Bosch has announced the impending acquisition of Australian motorsport technology firm MoTeC, which is a major supplier to Supercars competitors. “With the MoTeC Group’s many years of experience and comprehensive expertise, as well as its worldwide dealer network, we are strengthening our position in motorsports and ideally complementing our product portfolio,” said Dr Klaus Boettcher, vice president of Bosch Motorsport.
- Blackbook Motorsport reports that the Extreme E series has extended and expanded its broadcast deal with the Setanta Sports pay-TV network in Ukraine. “We are delighted to be announcing our broadcast extension with Setanta in these vital territories,” said Ali Russell, chief marketing officer at Extreme E. “As a sport for purpose championship which is committed to amplifying the benefits of electrification, it is important to further the exposure of Extreme E in a market where EV sales are continuing to increase.”
- Extreme E have also announced that they will continue their CBMM partnership as its niobium technology supplier and chassis technology supplier for 2022. “Niobium contributes to lighter and more sustainable cars with better energy efficiency. Its technologies are already widely applied in different areas, including safety, emissions reductions and electronics that will lead to a sustainable sector transformation.”
- Tony Stewart’s SRX brings in some new names and new leadership as it embarks on season 2 according to AutoWeek. Longtime Charlotte Motor Speedway official Don Hawk has assumed control of the series as its CEO while SRX co-founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham has stepped down from the day-to-day operations of SRX. Evernham will remain as a series investor/owner.
- Lancaster National Speedway, the motorsports facility in Lancaster, New York, has been purchased by a group of investors headed by drag racer Mike Swinarski and stock car driver Scott Nurmi. The track was formerly owned by Gorden Reger.
- Despite the current chaos surrounding cryptocurrencies (more about that below), interestingly, Decrypt reports that sports fans are twice as likely to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum and NFTs. “A recent Seton Hall University survey of 1,500 U.S. adults shows an increasing overlap among sports fans and people who’ve purchased NFTs or cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The poll found that 57% of households with an avid sports fan have owned digital assets, more than double the rate of households without one, at just 24%.”
- I have reported on the concept of DAOs (decentralized autonomous organization) before in the Business of Motorsport both as a concept and as a motorsport-specific DAO. DAOs offer to give fans and supporters a direct say in how a team is run without necessarily having an ownership stake. Thomas Alomes take a look at the concept in DAOs promise fans genuine ownership but are they a realistic source of investment for sport?
- Sportscar Digest does a deep dive in trying to answer the question, what makes a racetrack a classic? They conduct an investigative look at 3 of what they call “some of the best” to get an answer.
- Racer reports that NASCAR will return to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum February 5, 2023 with the Busch Light Clash. “Our entire industry made a bold move by bringing the Busch Light Clash to the L.A. Coliseum this past February and it paid off by becoming an instant classic with both new and existing fans,” said Ben Kennedy, Senior Vice President, Racing Development and Strategy. “We are intent on showcasing our sport and drivers on the biggest stage and there is none bigger than the L.A. Coliseum. We’re thrilled to return to the heart of Los Angeles to officially start the season and set the stage for the Daytona 500.”
- Blackbook Motorsport reports that the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will continue to include Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) on the calendar until at least 2027 thanks to a new deal extending a partnership that dates back to the series inaugural season in 2012.
- Formula E announced that their inaugural Jakarta ePrix attracted a record-breaking live audience of 13.4 million in Indonesia, the largest of a race from a single market in the series’ history.
- Finally, according to Green Racing News, India has applied to host a Formula E E-Prix. “Specifically Hyderabad, capital of Telangana state in the south of the country, could be the venue for the competition. Earlier this year, the city government, Formula E and clean energy company Greenko signed a Letter of Intent. While this did not guarantee the region a secure place on the calendar, at the time, category director Alberto Longo expressed confidence that the race would receive the go-ahead.”
Motorsport Sponsorship News
- Cryptocurrencies are facing a period of turbulence as the so-called “crypto winter” sees various cryptocurrencies plunging in value. With the sector so actively involved in sport over the last 2-3 years (including motorsport), how will the crash affect these partnerships? Here are five articles that look at the impact of the crypto crash on sports.
- Crypto Companies Hit Brakes on Sports Deals Amid Crash
- Crypto & Sports: What Happens To The Multi-Billion-Dollar Sponsorship Agreements?!
- FTX and other crypto firms ditch sports deals as market collapses
- Crypto companies looking to cut sports spending
- Why the ‘crypto winter’ could be bad news for sports sponsorship
Series Sponsorship News
- Blackbook Motorsport reports that Nascar’s Camping World partnership is in doubt beyond 2022. “Camping World’s current sponsorship deal with the series, worth around US$5 million annually, expires at the end of 2022. The Sports Business Journal report says that no new extension has been agreed and the future of the partnership beyond next year is reportedly uncertain.”
- SportsPro Media has a great article on integrating purpose into sports sponsorships. “As communicating values externally becomes more important to both rights holders and their sponsors, it won’t be long before there are specific purpose-related objectives being written into commercial contracts.”
- According to The Race, Repsol, MotoGP’s longest-running team title sponsor, appears to have issued something of a veiled threat to series bosses in an article on its fan site. “The piece published by Honda’s main MotoGP backer highlights the increasing dissatisfaction both within the paddock and fanbase at the direction in which the series is heading amid claims that some of the spectacle has been lost of late.”
- In other MotoGP news, the series has teamed up with Fanatics to enhance its merchandise offerings as well as partnering with Animoca Brands in a four-race title-sponsorship deal.
- Luggage and backpack manufacturer OGIO has been unveiled as the official ROKiT British F4 luggage partner. “As part of the partnership OGIO will be providing teams and drivers support via their motorsport distribution partner FENZ.”
- Driving accessories brand The Outlierman has announced a collaboration with the 24 Hours of Le Mans until 2025. “The Outlierman will design and produce multiple limited-edition capsule licensed collections inspired by the most emblematic moments and symbols of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, including luxury driving gloves, ties, pocket squares, silk andc ashmere scarves, leather helmet bags, wallets, as well as swimming shorts.”
- Finally, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli has announced a new partnership with CForce Naturally Alkaline Water, owned and run by Chuck Norris. “Through this new partnership, CForce has been named the “Official Water Company of Trans Am.” CForce will also contribute a cash prize for a CForce-sponsored award to be given at the year-end Trans Am championship banquet at Circuit of The Americas in November.”
Team Sponsorship News
- The Alfa Romeo F1 team has announced a partnership with Swiss cycling equipment supplier Assos. “As part of this relationship, Assos will provide the Swiss-based team with bespoke cycling apparel to assist in the advancement of the health, well-being and performance of the team’s drivers and personnel.”
The Business of Running a Race Team
- Racer reports that United Autosports co-owner and managing director Richard Dean says the team doesn’t want to “overcommit” to too many programs as it continues discussions with manufacturers on potential factory LMDh efforts. “I don’t know where the tipping point is where we overstretch ourselves. We haven’t gotten to it yet but with everything that’s going on in the world, motorsport is no different.”
- Mclaren Racing has partnered with Goldman Sachs to work together on decarbonization solutions that aim to accelerate McLaren’s transition to net zero by 2040.
- Sport Techie has a fascinating look at How McLaren Racing Benefits From DataRobot’s AI-Powered Predictions. “DataRobot has helped cull data and refine the AI models to make better predictions, even accounting for such details as how the hillier train in Monaco affects cloud movements compared to the flat Miami course. The rain in Miami cooled the track enough that F1 cars could make a few extra laps on their tires.”
- The Mercedes Formula One team have announced a new partnership with the Sutton Trust, a charitable organization who champion social mobility through programs, research and policy influence. “I am delighted to welcome the Sutton Trust as the newest partner for our Accelerate 25 programme, said Paul Mills, chief people officer at Mercedes. “Working together, we hope to enable talented young people to take the next step in progressing their educational ambitions and careers, hopefully encouraging many of these students into the STEM fields through their experiences and interactions with our team.”
- Former Williams Grand Prix driver Nikita Mazepin says he plans to sue Haas after losing his F1 seat. “Speaking to the Russian outlet Championat.com, he said, “at the termination of the contract, Haas had a salary debt to me for this year, and they still haven’t paid it.” It will be interesting to see where he will launch his lawsuit and who he will hire to do so in light of the current sanctions against the country and his father.
Movers & Shakers
- Mike Simpson is moving from his current position as a factory driver to the position of Head Of Motorsport for race car manufacturer Ginetta. “As Ginetta continues to be at the forefront of motorsport within the UK and globally, providing drivers with a route of progression from entry level competition to international motorsport platforms, Simpson will now spearhead all on-track related activities within the company, including the four domestic championships, trackdays and driver development.”
- The FIA has appointed Tanya Kutsenko as their first ever equality, diversity and inclusion advisor. “Kutsenko will also develop and embed EDI into the FIA global strategy, designing initiatives and plans to ensure the sustainability of the framework over time and defining targets in line with other organisations.”
- Lori Collier Waran has been named president of Richmond Raceway. “Waran is a longtime Virginia media executive and serves as the fourth track president and the first female president in the 76-year history of “America’s Premier Short Track.”
- SCORE International Off-Road Racing has appointed Kurt Miller to the newly created role of marketing sales manager. “Miller is a longtime industry veteran, recently serving as the director of Marketing and Sales for Westin Automotive/Superwinch. Previously, he was a key accounts manager for Mickey Thompson Tires and Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG).”
- Finally, the European Sponsorship Association shines their spotlight on Martin Fallon, Head of Commercial Partnerships for Motorsport UK. “Motorsport UK is a not-for-profit organisation answerable to over 70,000 members comprising competition licence-holders, volunteer marshals and licensed officials. We also have 720 individual member clubs across the UK who organise over 5,000 permitted events each year.”