The business of sports car racing takes up a considerable portion of this week’s Business of Motorsport as new cars are introduced and grids grow.
In addition to sports car racing, I bring you Michael Andretti’s response to those telling him to buy an F1 team, the new Lamborghini prototype race car, a potential new team in IndyCar and more positive developments from the recent NASCAR street race in Chicago.
You will also see how Hertz is maximizing their motorsport sponsorship, the latest racing sponsorship and partnership deals and why Max Verstappen does not want to manage an F1 team.
All this and more in this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
While current F1 bosses say that the best way to join the grid is to buy a team, Michael Andretti says that every F1 team has rejected any sale talks. “We’ve tried. Nobody’s interested,” he told media at Extreme E’s Island X-Prix, as reported by motorsport website.“We’ve been to every single team. They keep saying ‘well, buy a team’, and nobody wants to sell. You go there, and they’re not even interested in talking. I’ve been there, done that, and not happy.”
Williams boss James Vowles has offered insight into how Brexit has impacted F1 teams based out of the United Kingdom competing in Europe. “One of the restrictions that imposes is, for example, should we go to Imola, which is what we did and items get damaged, you still have to return everything back to the UK. Furthermore, in terms of calendar construct, you can’t go UK, Imola, Canada, for example; you have to go UK, Imola, back to the UK, clear items out of carnet, and then on to other countries. There’s movement of people as well that is difficult, so there’s elements of definitely more latency, or more lost time getting through airports on both sides.”
Mercedes High Performance Powertrains Managing Director Hywel Thomas has conceded the exodus of staff to Red Bull’s equivalent operation caused a change of direction. “It caused us to change direction with some things we were doing with recruitment and things, but we have always had a strong pipeline of graduates, we have always had a strong pipeline of young, enthusiastic engineers coming through the system. We have just accelerated some of that and that sprinkling of people from outside that we have always done.”
John WallStreet explains how RedBird Capital and Otro Capital will look to double Alpine’s EBITDA over the next 5-7 years. “RedBird and Otro will have a hands-on role in the franchise’s operations moving forward. They plan to install their proven commercial playbook (think: sponsorships, hospitality, merch, content) and will try and double team EBITDA over the next five to seven years.”
In calendar news, the British Grand Prix is closing in on a deal to secure its long-term future while the French Grand Prix has obtained some political support and a Madrid Grand Prix is potentially a step closer.
Formula One commercial managing director Brandon Snow is set to leave Formula One. Motorsport.com reports that Snow ‘did not want to make a long-term commitment to living in Europe’.
General Motorsport Industry News
Lamborghini has revealed its LMDh car, the Lamborghini SC63, ahead of programs in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup next year. The Lamborghini SC63 is the first LMDh to be built around a Ligier carbon fiber monocoque, with the others being developed alongside either of the other three designated suppliers.
“The SC63 is the most advanced racing car ever produced by Lamborghini and it follows our roadmap ‘Direzione Cor Tauri’ laid out by the brand for the electrification of our product range,” said Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini Chairman and CEO. The opportunity to compete in some of the biggest endurance races in the world with a hybrid prototype fits with our vision for the future of high-performance mobility, as demonstrated for road-legal cars with the launch of the Revuelto. The SC63 LMDh is the step into the highest echelons and into the future of motorsports for our Squadra Corse.”
The new car will start testing next month.
At the other end of the spectrum, Glickenhaus has stated that they will need additional funding to continue to compete in 2024 and that they have yet to make a call on entering the Fuji and Bahrain WEC races. “It’s really if we get sponsors that would enable us to develop the car and keep going, that would be exciting and valuable,” he said. “And if we don’t, it’s not a problem. We have no desire to come up and be cannon fodder. Here’s the thing: racing does sell cars, but the economics of WEC versus the size of our company and the number of cars that we would be capable of producing makes absolutely no sense.”
Mercedes AMG is waiting on LMGT3 details, discusses the internal progress on its GT3 successor as well as their concerns over the escalating costs of GT racing reports Daily Sportscar. “In GT3 we see that the newest released cars are massively more expensive than the previous generation of GT3 cars. I don’t believe that those manufacturers did that just because they can, I believe that’s as a result of the new FIA regulations and measures, so that means also that we will face challenges in the development process of our successor to keep our price level in the range that we stay attractive for customers.”
Ferrari has yet to make a decision on whether it will sell the 499P to customer teams, with the head of the company’s Competizione GT department stating that a customer program is too complex for the near future. “It’s too complex to handle the whole thing. So we’d rather wait and see. It will certainly not [be] in the near future. It’s a consideration to take into account so many elements that we don’t want to sacrifice or lose the effort into many other fields and other teams.”
Audi Sport customer racing will shutter its factory-supported GT3 activities and eliminate its works driver pool at the end of the year as part of a major restructuring from the German manufacturer. They are also ending their Dakar Rally program.
“All of the cars which are in the hands of customers, we will provide engineering support, we will re-homologate. We have an engineering team who will bug fix, if bugs come up and all that. We will continue to give 100 percent support to all those cars in the hands of customers, also for the future. It’s not the end of Audi Sport customer racing.”
IMSA has stated that it expects its fields to be poised for multi-class growth in 2024. “It’s early days right now, but our forecasts are indicating that there would not be a decrease; quite the opposite,” IMSA President and CEO John Doonan said. “So we may end up in a similar manner as we were at Daytona with waiting lists, in a similar manner that we’re actually in right now for Petit Le Mans. Or in a situation like we were at Watkins Glen where we used every single pit stall possible. Given the forecast, given the conversations we’re having with all of our race team stakeholders, I think the fans are going to be in for a real treat in ’24 with strong car counts.”
Michigan-based Pratt Miller Engineering, whose team has built and run the factory Corvette Racing program since its inception in the late 1990s, is developing a plan that would bring its Pratt Miller Motorsports division into the IndyCar paddock as a competitor. “We’re still working through what’s required on the business and technical side of things, but we feel there’s a really good opportunity for us to be in IndyCar in the next couple of years,” Pratt Miller Motorsports VP Brandon Widmer told RACER. “We’re not going to rush into it. We’re looking for the right opportunity for us, and we want to put together a program that’s competitive so we can be racing for wins and championships.”
As part of a plan established by team owner Michael Andretti and his new partners in the team, Andretti Autosport will be changing its approach to how its IndyCar Series team is constructed in 2024. “I don’t think it’s a secret that we’re looking at having four cars and no paying drivers next year,” Andretti COO Rob Edwards told RACER. “What Michael and Dan have talked about is moving away from the paid-ride model to where we’re choosing all drivers.”
Green Savoree Race Promotions, which operates four of the 17 annual NTT IndyCar Series races, is close to formalizing a new agreement that will keep its marquee Toronto street race on the calendar for years to come. “We are very excited to be back in Toronto, ticket sales are very strong, and we’ve seen a real big enthusiasm for motorsports, especially in car racing, since the pandemic. Our goal is to remain here in Toronto and Exhibition Place for a long time and we’re working through those details. We’ll have some news to share, hopefully soon.”
The IMS Museum is set to close for 18 months as it undergoes a major renovation. A lot of the rest of the fundraising for the project came from the museum’s ‘The Stories Behind the Spectacle’ fundraising campaign. The project is expected to close the museum for around 18 months, with it reopening to the public in April of 2025, just in time for the 109th running of the Indianapolis 500.
With news that NASCAR’s Chicago street race had strong merchandising sales, John WallStreet explains how the race has opened the doors to expansion in the Northeast and internationally. “The event’s success opens the door for the sport to “explore other markets and locations, both domestically and abroad [without tracks],” Ben Kennedy (SVP, racing development & strategy, NASCAR) said. Cities in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Mexico are at the top of NASCAR’s expansion list.”
The WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca race circuit in Monterey, California has reopened after an eight-month renovation costing US$20m. “As part of the upgrades, the entire 3.6km circuit was repaved, and a new start/finish bridge was constructed to enable pedestrians and carts to move safely between the parking and hospitality areas and the race paddock. During the work, there were multiple setbacks caused by stormy weather and flooding.”
Forbes explains how with the return of the SRX Series, plans have emerged to solidify the series’ future. “Like any new business, we have challenges,” Pyne, who is the CEO of Bruin Sports Capital, said. “When you start something from scratch and you have to pivot, we’re not perfect, and so we’ve had to have our challenges. But on balance, I’d say we’re very pleased with the results in all of the key categories: Media, competition, drivers, sponsors, tracks. The whole thing just feels really good.
The Brisbane Auto Mall project has been cancelled due to a number of factors. “We are are of course disappointed to hear this venue will not proceed, however we also understand the decision made,” Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca said. “While this venue would have been mainly used by auto manufacturers it was still a potential boost for our sport. We remain in constant dialogue with the Queensland government about future opportunities and will work with existing venue owners to continue growing our sport across the state.”
Digital asset investment firm GEM Digital Limited has announced new investment into Veloce Media Group. According to a statement, the Bahamas-based company will invest up to $50m into the decentralised gaming and sports media company via a structured token subscription agreement. London-based Veloce consist of a number of gaming teams and brands, including Veloce Esports, Extreme E team Veloce Racing and Quadrant, a joint venture sub-brand backed by Formula 1 driver Lando Norris.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is happening this week and in describing the event, Sport Industry Business has described it as the biggest car culture event in the world. “We have over 70 partners and some of them have been with us from the very beginning. It’s quite unique to have such a fantastic group of luxury, automotive and technology companies all together. Mastercard is Presenting Partner of Festival of Speed where a great number of partners activate each year – Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Genesis, Jaguar Land Rover, Lamborghini, Lotus, McLaren, Porsche, Polestar, Roger Dubuis, Rolls-Royce, Sky, Toyota, Veuve Clicquot, to name just a few.”
This Lawfare article is a very informative read on the current PGA-LIV deal but also for any sports entity considering operating in a country or region with a troubling human rights record. “If a company wants to engage with a country with a troubling human rights record, it must operate responsibly.”
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
Daily Sportscar breaks down how Hertz has been able to maximize their ROI with their recent Hertz Team JOTA sponsorship investment. “I gotta tell you,” Scherr responded. “This has taken on sort of a life of its own well beyond that which we thought it would. There’s a lot less we need to do to activate and put this out than we thought we might need to. It’s sort of taking lift, people are just undeniably attracted to what this car looks like and what it means.”
Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.
- William Byron gets new primary sponsor for Bristol and Las Vegas playoff races
- Busch Light to become primary sponsor for Chastain from 2024
- DTM and DAZN agree non-exclusive broadcast deal
- MotoGP signs three-year fan-centric deal with NSN
- Nascar signs Gen.G esports partnership
- Snap-on Extends Partnership with INDYCAR, IMS
- Women in Motorsports North America & Lime Rock Park Announce Venue Alliance
- For One Nascar Sponsor, Disruption Is An Okay Thing
- iHeartMedia Named Official Media Partner of the Skip Barber Racing School
The Business of Running a Race Team
Max Verstappen has recently revealed that he is better off being a driver and does not want the job of managing a team. Having joined the Red Bull fraternity full-time back in 2015, the two-time world champion knows very well how a team is run, and this is the reason why he never wants to be a team principal with colossal finances at stake. “Verstappen has seen Christian Horner throughout and knows what it takes to keep a $3,000,000,000 team of this stature on top for years. While the star driver wants to open a racing team in the future, he never wants to be a boss citing the draconian responsibilities a team principal has in an F1 team.”
Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.
- Optimum “Ready to Go” in Proposed McLaren LMGT3 Effort
- DW EVANS GT: A New Racing Car Team Aims to Elevate GT Racing in Asia
Motorsport Movers & Shakers
As Alpine shuffles their motorsport management structure under CEO Laurent Rossi, Bruno Famin has been named as Alpine’s new vice president of Alpine Motorsports and a member of the Alpine Management Committee. He will lead all of Alpine’s motorsport activities and report directly to Laurent Rossi, Alpine’s CEO.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) has appointed Travis Auld, a senior figure at the Australian Football League (AFL), as its new chief executive. Auld replaces Andrew Westacott, who left the AGPC at the end of June after 11 years in the role.