The Business of Motorsport column is getting longer and longer each Friday as the motorsport business news shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, things are accelerating, with major developments in Formula E, Formula 1 and international sportscar racing. I also have some motorsport sponsorship updates, the latest Business of Running a Race Team spotlights, general motorsport industry news and more. Grab your iPad, find a comfortable seat and enjoy.
Motorsport Industry News
- The only thing constant in motorsport is change and Formula E has demonstrated this better than most in the last year or so. From losing three manufacturers in quick succession to attracting a new manufacturer as well as two new(ish) teams in a semi-renaissance, a development that has definitely come as a relief to Formula E’s brass.
- The first part of this renaissance was the news that Maserati were joining the championship in 2023, but this was just the beginning. The second piece of the puzzle is that McLaren Racing has finally confirming that they have purchased the Mercedes Formula E team and will be entering the championship in 2023. The team has gone on to explain how the deal was a “no brainer” with The Race explaining how Mercedes saved its Formula E future and earned the McLaren deal.
- Formula E series founder Alejandro Agag has stated that McLaren’s entry into the series is a “huge rebound” for the championship. “Definitely, this is a huge, I would call it rebound. With Maserati, with Abt and now with McLaren, I think it’s great.”
- The third piece revealed last week was that Andretti has signed Porsche for a Formula E powertrain deal for 2022-23. Team principal Roger Griffiths: “It was vital that we made a strong choice in our powertrain provider in preparation for this new chapter and exciting generation of car – and we have that in Porsche.” “Our Formula E journey began with Season 1 and we’re very proud to now be looking ahead to the next generation of the sport,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and chairman of Andretti Autosport. “Avalanche Andretti FE has an ambition to win, and with the support of Porsche, we have full confidence in our performance and growth. The agreement is an important step in our future and commitment to our sport, partners, and fans.”
- The Race brings up an intriguing future possibility for the Andretti Formula E team. In How Porsche and Andretti’s Formula E Gen3 deal happened, they mention the following tidbit: “Coming into 2022 when the deal was discussed and then finally formalised, there were still questions marks over both Porsche’s results on track and its commitment to the championship off it, particularly in relation to the full duration of the Gen3 programme. But perhaps this was exactly what attracted Andretti. Porsche doesn’t like losing, so when it does, it comes back harder and meaner. Additionally, only committing to Gen3 part one perhaps also gives Andretti the flexibility to re-engage Lucid for 2024 and beyond.”
- Blackbook Motorsport has an in depth look at How Formula E plans to “define a new segment of tier one sports” as it embarks on its next chapter. “Sustainability is in our DNA and, while there are always challenges within this, it’s also our biggest opportunity,” says Dabas. “We are at the crossroads of racing and reason: we race for a reason, and that reason is quite important in people’s lives. But would somebody watch a sport because it’s sustainable? Is that enough? People watch sport because it’s exciting and entertaining.”
We are gradually moving away from just being called a motorsport series, we’re going to define a new segment of tier one sports. That’s what our aim is, being an exciting sport with a purpose at its heart, rather than a sport that’s trying to find its purpose.
– Aarti Dabas, chief media officer for Formula E
- Marrakesh is to replace Vancouver on the Formula E calendar after the cancellation of this year’s inaugural Vancouver ePrix. The event restores the Season 8 schedule back to its full 16 races after the Vancouver E-Prix was postponed. Subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council and ASN approval, it will be the fifth time that Formula E has raced in the Moroccan city, following on from races in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
- Formula E has extended its contract with Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport for another two years. “We are delighted that the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is taking place in our capital for the eighth time,” said the Mayor of Berlin Franziska Giffey. “Berlin is the only city that has been on the racing calendar every year since the inaugural season in 2014 and the iconic Tempelhof Airport provided the venue for the event for the seventh time this weekend.”
- Ahead of 2023’s Las Vegas Grand Prix, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has committed $19.5 million over the next three years toward Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix. The commitment is mutual as Liberty Media has purchased a plot of land in downtown Vegas for $240 million for the race’s pit and paddock complex. Autosport explains why F1 is spending $240m on a Las Vegas construction plot. “It’s an unprecedented investment by Liberty and F1, and also an inspired one. Finding the space for a temporary pit/paddock complex, and renting it every year in perpetuity, was going to be an expensive exercise. There would also be no guarantee that the owners wouldn’t one day sell or even build on the land, leaving F1 with nowhere to put its pitlane.” Certainly Liberty is hoping that this era of racing in Las Vegas will differ considerably from their last attempt in Sin City.
- Formula 1 is experiencing a surge of popularity in the United States and Liberty is quite aware of the fact that they need to intelligently capitalize on this popularity to ensure that it is all sustainable. In Why Liberty believe Ecclestone’s ‘old rich white guy’ economic model was holding F1 back, Racefans looks at the different approach that Liberty is taking from Bernie Ecclestone. “Our view has been that there’s an opportunity to be much broader, to bring in gender diversity, to bring in age diversity. And I think that’s worked out well. And I’m willing to take Bernie’s criticism.”
- One thing Liberty has made clear is that they won’t be going to New York City any time soon. “Maffei revealed that Mayor Adams, who was sworn in on 1 January, has proposed a site on Randalls and Wards Island, an area of largely parkland and sports fields across the Harlem River to the north-east of Manhattan. However, he made it clear that the site wasn’t seen by Liberty as suitable.”
- The contrast between Liberty’s approach and that of NASCAR is interesting. In Miami and L.A. Show Formula 1 and NASCAR’s Very Different Dreams, Road & Track looks at these two different approaches to growing each series. “Both events were successful. More than that, both were successful blueprints. For NASCAR, that means potential dates in other stadiums around the country (and maybe even the world) as a way to bring stock car racing to cities without existing ovals or quick access to racing venues. For F1, it means we’ll see more events like the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix, where Liberty (F1’s promoter) will see if the U.S. can stomach a third GP in the same season. But despite how different these events were, iterating on that success carries risk.”
- Autosport Plus has explained the key aspects of Porsche and Audi’s planned F1 entries. “But Audi and Porsche now appear ready to pick up their respective stories. Both have the belief that they can craft their greatest grand prix successes to date, and that includes putting eight-time constructors’ champion Mercedes in the crosshairs. And both are certain that joining the F1 grid from the 2026 season onwards makes absolute financial sense.”
- For weeks now in The Business of Motorsport I have been covering Michael Andretti’s attempts to enter an F1 team for 2024 and for weeks there has been no shortage of reasons that people give in support of or against the bid. While Mike Hull, managing director of Chip Ganassi Racing, has backed Michael Andretti’s’ ambitions to become a Formula 1 team owner, the people that really count are more muted. Autosport explains why $200m won’t convince teams on Andretti’s Formula 1 plans while The Race looks at the fallout from Andretti’s unorthodox approach to F1 entry. “Andretti’s cause has picked up a lot of public support but it’s questionable whether it has been the best tactic in terms of appealing to key figures in the paddock. Last year, for example, a bit of brashness and too much talk in public is said to have been a big turn-off for Sauber owner Finn Rausing handing over the team to Andretti.” Although I must admit, an Audi-powered Andretti F1 team does sound appealing to me.
- Related to the Andretti team plan, Chris Medland argues in Motorsport Magazine that “franchise” F1 teams shouldn’t even get a say on the Andretti entry. “It should be on F1 and the FIA alone to make a call on new teams, based on their commercial viability and sporting potential. Allowing the sport to become a closed shop because the current teams decide they’re in the right place at the right time would be a significant shift away from F1’s history.”
- While things are looking good in F1, things might not be all roses as The Race explains in feuding with star drivers points to a more serious F1/FIA rift. “What’s interesting is that these rules are suddenly being enforced, where the impetus for that has come from, and the political context bubbling away in the background.” One thing that the FIA President did refute directly is that the dispute was not a money grab. “I did not ask for more money but if I had I would have wanted to use it in the right way – to invest in the proper regulation of the sport,” he told the Daily Mail.
- Continuing on the FIA theme, Dieter Rencken has an exclusive interview with FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem on Racing News 365 where he explains how the relationship between the FIA and Liberty is strong, but it is the FIA that in fact owns the show. “That he will not, though, be a pushover, was proven by his position on Sprint races during a recent Formula 1 Commission vote: where F1 and the FIA traditionally voted as a block, Ben Sulayem demanded further details on financial and operational implications of sprints on organising clubs and officials. The vote was delayed much to the chagrin of Liberty Media, who realised they merely manage F1; that the FIA actually owns it. That was a wake-up call, and one gets the distinct feeling it won’t be the last time the alarm call shrills loudly.”
- With less than two weeks until the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) president Doug Boules has revealed the circuit is not expecting to sell out its 240,000 reserved grandstand seats. “I think we’ll be really close to selling out reserved seats,” Boles revealed. “I don’t think we’ll get there, but we’ll be close.”
- While the race my not be a sell out, there will be 33 entries for the race. In Paddock-wide mobilization brings Indy’s 33rd entry to life, Racer looks at what it took to get there. “The A.J. Foyt Racing crew, I can’t thank them enough,” Wilson told RACER. “This (car) raced in the GP, they had to split the car on Saturday night, switch out the rear end, put the speedway rear end on and the engine that I’ll be using for the rest of the Indianapolis 500.”
- IMSA has laid down strict criteria for manufacturers wishing to race in the series’ GTP class next year, with a production requirement of 2,500 road cars per year effectively confining the category to mainstream car makers and Team Glickenhaus founder Jim Glickenhaus has never been happy with the rule. According to Motorsport.com, he believes it violates US antitrust laws by discriminating against manufacturers based on their size and scale. “If that happens [not being allowed to race], we will take IMSA to court immediately. But I think they will back down. I can’t imagine they’re that stupid. It’s this simple: we will sell our LMH for less money than Porsche sells its LMDh. This is clearly discriminating against our customers.”
- With their new and as yet unnamed prototype, Porsche hopes it will become its latest legend. “North America always has been and still is an important market for us,” says new Porsche Motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach. “With the same car you can race in the WEC, an FIA championship that includes Le Mans, and in North America, where you have the big races like Daytona and the Sebring 12 Hours. An IMSA entry was one of the core points for us.”
- Daily Sportscar reports that Brands Hatch underwent a major resurfacing program in the most significant relaying of asphalt at the venue in 12 years. “The track surface has been re-laid at several points of the lap and will be ready to be used for circuit action for the remainder of a busy season across the summer months including this weekends’ GT World Challenge, plus later British GT, and GT Cup meetings.”
- Front Office Sports reports that United States federal funds are finding their way to auto and horse racetracks. “The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act tagged $195 billion for state and local governments in anticipation of tax revenue shortages. However, many states boasted large increases in tax revenues in 2021, allowing them to use the federal funds for a wide range of projects.”
- Paragon Speedway, the dirt track in Paragon, Indiana, has new owners. Robert and Jennifer Woodward, and their business partner Darrell Helton, have purchased the facility that has hosted races since 1954.
- The Checkered Flag reports that ERX Motor Park in Elk River, Minnesota, a popular spot in the region for snowmobile and off-road racing, the latter of which includes annual stops by Championship Off-Road and Nitro Rallycross is under threat. Complaints have hampered hopes of expanding the facility and potentially placed its existence on the line. The Elk River City Council held a meeting last Monday to discuss whether to grant changes to the track’s conditional use permit (CUP), though debate has delayed a decision until the COR race weekend on 15/16 July.
- I have reported over the last few weeks in The Business of Motorsport on the sad fact that Palm Beach International Raceway is set to close. But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another often opens and it has been announced that a new state of the art motorsports park is set to open in South Florida. Called Atlantic Farms Motorsports Park, the facility will be a “900 acre world-class motorsport / automotive / entertainment facility that will be home to racing, corporate and charitable events and serve as an automotive research and development track for manufacturers to test, develop and showcase their latest technologies. Atlantic Farms will feature multiple road courses, dragstrip, karting track, car garages, a skidpad, and expansive hospitality and clubhouse space.” Grassroots Motorsports has more details.
General Motorsport Industry News
- Growth Works looks at how Radical Sportscars is filling skills gaps and meeting rapid growth demands. “Although 2022 will mark their 25th anniversary since opening, last year saw a dramatic change in the business with a huge increase in demand for their products. Radical’s CEO Joe says their appeal is that “our products are not dull, they are really, really sexy”.
- Radical Sportscars also announced their dealer of the year awards following their most successful year on record. Radical Midwest Team Stradale and Radical Northwest tie for North American Dealer of the Year while Radical Australia West Arise Racing wins Dealer of the Year Rest of World.
- In a recent Motorsport Series News column, I mentioned that Lotus is returning to motorsport with a new Emira GT4 race car. Autosport has the details on how Lotus is gearing up for its eagerly-awaited motorsport return.“Lotus should be racing, that’s what Lotus is about,” states managing director Matt Windle, who rejoined Lotus in 2017 having previously worked in its Engineering division. “For me, when I came here, it’s one of the things I really wanted to achieve. I’m a big fan of motorsport and I think it’s where Lotus should be.”
- Racing video game developer and publisher Motorsport Games has posted an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) loss of US$5.6 million for the first quarter of 2022, double the amount recorded in Q1 last year. “While we continue to explore multiple funding options to resolve our going concern qualifications, we remain confident in our ability to deliver against our product roadmap,” said Dmitry Kozko, chief executive of Motorsport Games.
- The Red Bull Formula One team have partnered with industrial assembly solutions provider Atlas Copco in a deal covering their power unit manufacturing division. “A little over a year ago we embarked on a remarkable journey – to become the first fully independent complete constructor on the current F1 grid, manufacturing both chassis and power unit,” said Christian Horner, team principal and chief executive of Red Bull Racing, and chief executive of Red Bull Powertrains. “Our partnership with a world leader such as Atlas Copco will undoubtedly help us to make our journey faster, smarter and more efficient – all qualities that an F1 team prizes above all else.”
- SpeedSport has details on the Q&A with Toyota Racing President David Wilson. He discussed everything from the Kyle Busch contract, NASCAR At Le Mans and more.
- Peugeot Sport and Marelli have announced plans to partner on the 9X8 Hypercar powertrain according to Professional Motorsport World. “We are delighted to welcome Marelli on board the Peugeot 9X8 project,” noted Olivier Janssonie, technical director of the WEC program at Peugeot Sport. “This project is a fantastic opportunity to combine our skills and to design, test and race together on the track a new innovative and performant electrical motor that will drive the 9X8 to success.”
- The surge of cryptocurrency sponsorships in motorsport and sport in general has been eye-watering, but do recent price corrections signal some trouble ahead? Front Office Sports looks at how the crash could impact sports sponsorships as well as the pace of new sports deals.
- In The Behavior of the Sports Consumer, SportsTech Biz looks at the impact that inflation could have on sports fan consumption of sports. “The sports industry will most likely be affected by higher rates because of its role in people’s hierarchy of needs and how they prioritize spending. With less cash in hand in the economy– fewer demands for games, entertainment, and overall spending on sports seem like it will happen next.”
- Pfaff Auto, the company behind the legendary plaid-liveried sportscar team has announced that they have become the official dealer for Czinger Vehicles, with locations in Toronto and Vancouver. “Czinger was established in 2019 by Founder and CEO Kevin Czinger, Los Angeles based Czinger is an industry-disrupting performance vehicles brand pioneering a new era in the automotive space by fundamentally changing the way cars will be designed and manufactured for generations to come.”
Motorsport Sponsorship News
Series Sponsorship News
- F1’s Singapore Grand Prix and Singapore Airlines have extended their title sponsorship for three more years. “This year’s highly anticipated Formula One Singapore Grand Prix will be an important milestone for Singapore, marking the return of a major international sporting event to the city after a two-year disruption due to the pandemic,” said SIA executive vice president commercial, Lee Lik Hsin.
- The Japanese Grand Prix will again be sponsored by Honda, which owns the Suzuka circuit where the race takes place. “It is great pleasure for Honda to be named as the title sponsor of the F1 Japanese Grand Prix to be held at the Suzuka Circuit which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year,” said Honda communications operating executive Koji Watanabe.
- Alpine has announced that they will be the partnering with this year’s French Grand Prix. “For the first time since its reintroduction to the F1 calendar in 2018 there will be an Esteban Ocon and Alpine Grandstand, marking two additional chances for fans to support a French driver racing for a French team at its home race.”
Team Sponsorship News
- PremiAir Racing and Subway have extended their partnership for the remainder of the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship. “After joining PremiAir Racing at the start of the 2022 season as naming partners, Subway has been impressed by the achievements of Jacobson and the entire PremiAir Racing Team.”
- McLaren Racing has extended their SunGod partnership to the Extreme E team in addition to their Formula 1 team for 2022. “The partnership expansion represents McLaren and SunGod’s unified sustainability values. SunGod is a certified carbon neutral company and since the start has aimed to make better, more sustainable eyewear to the highest standard.“
The Business of Running a Race Team
- Saudi Arabia’s first female racing driver, Reema Juffali, has set up her own sportscar team by the name of Theeba Motorsport with the aim of competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours. “I came into motorsport a little bit later in life, so I decided that in order to fast track my learning single-seaters would be the best way,” Juffali told Autosport. “But endurance racing was always the goal, and after last year I felt I’d made some advancement and that single-seaters had served their purpose. Down the line, Le Mans is a goal.”
- New Formula Regional European Championship team Race Performance Motorsport, which was confirmed in February as joining the series to replace DR Formula, has had a tough go so far but intends to run third driver and move to new facilities. “Where a signature is also needed is R-P-M’s purchase of a new factory in Italy. “Once that’s all sorted, we’ll be able to start renovating the factory and I want to put in a simulator and a driver training area,” Donegan says. No private testing means “you need to be on the simulator before each race as well”.
- In the 2022 season, BMW M Motorsport’s real-time video documentary ‘Mbedded’ continues to offer exclusive insights behind the scenes of the racing program, accompany management in their roles, and give viewers a totally new perspective of the big decision-making processes. The sixth episode begins by following Andreas Roos at his first race as Head of BMW M Motorsport in Sebring. Part two offers an exclusive first insight into the complex process of manufacturing the hybrid drivetrain for the BMW M LMDh car. You can watch the video above.
- Campos Racing started its motorsport journey in 1998 with two Spanish drivers in its seats. Now, 24 years later, it continues its founder’s legacy of supporting Spanish talent as Formula Scout explains. “Adrian Campos Jr has been in charge of the team since his father suddenly passed away at the end of January 2021. He sat with Formula Scout in the F2 paddock at Imola last month to discuss his father’s legacy and the team’s future plans, together with two of his current Formula 3 drivers who highlight how the team remains crucial for Spanish motorsport in particular.”
- Era Motorsport team owner Kyle Tilley said he’s “looking forward” to working with M-Sport in a second LMP2 entry for the remainder of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. According to Sportscar 365, the Indianapolis-based team will supply an Oreca 07 Gibson and equipment to the legendary British operation that will make its prototype debut beginning with next month’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
Movers & Shakers
- According to SpeedCafe, PremiAir Racing has signed former Triple Eight Race Engineering chief mechanic Matt Cook as its team principal. “In doing so, Cook becomes the second high-profile departure from the Banyo-based team to take up a team principal role after David Cauchi left to join Grove Racing in the most recent off-season.”
- SpeedCafe also reports that Team 18 has added to its management ranks with the recruitment of Bruin Beasley as team manager. “There’s some challenges that the team has got and I like a challenge and it’s something that I wanted to get involved in,” Beasley told Speedcafe.com, having already begun working with the squad.