After all the angst and debate in the run-up to its inaugural race, the verdict is in on the Las Vegas Grand Prix, and it is a big part of this week’s Business of Motorsport.
In addition to the verdict on Vegas, there is analysis of NASCAR’s next steps, two conferences you will want to attend and John Doonan’s verdict on the first season of IMSA GTP.
I also have the latest sponsorship deals and partnership news as well as race team moves from around the world and much more in this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Its news racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
Aside from Andretti Global, the biggest talking point this year has been the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The interwebs were awash with negative stories in the lead up to the race over high ticket prices, pissed-off locals and exorbitant hotel rates. Post-race? Not so much.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix, despite all the hype and off-track entertainment is first and foremost a motor race and as a motor race it succeeded admirably. While many were quick to judge after the debacle that was FP1, the race itself was highly entertaining. Even winner Max Verstappen had changed his tune.
While there are areas that will need improvement (schedule timetable, being more inclusive of locals, quicker set-up, and tear down, etc.), overall, the race weekend went exceptionally well, leading many to wonder if Vegas is set to replace Monaco as the race where F1 business gets done. Others, including myself, wonder how this might impact the Miami Grand Prix with its lackluster on-track product.
I have always maintained that the race will remain on the calendar if casinos are making money, and by all indications they did. If the casinos and the State are on board, I think Vegas will remain on the schedule for as long as they are happy. Whether Miami will be a viable race in the years to come is a question that will only be answered in time.
There has been no shortage of coverage of the race from both motorsport and mainstream media. Here is a roundup of articles that look at the race, whether it was a success or not and its place on the F1 calendar.
- A Vegas Post Mortem (The Qualifier)
- Las Vegas delivers solid F1 debut amid teething problems (BlackBook Motorsport)
- The Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix Redeemed Itself on Race Day (The Drive)
- Las Vegas success shows F1 no longer needs Monaco (The Race)
- 10 things we learned from the 2023 F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix (Autosport)
- An Honest Review Of F1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix (Huddle Up)
- How the Las Vegas GP delivered a thrilling race — despite another Max Verstappen win (The Athletic)
- F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix: ‘It has a ‘wow’ setting to rival Monaco’ (BBC)
- The Las Vegas Grand Prix has become the new Super Bowl (The Globe & Mail)
- How the Vegas grand prix carved its place on the F1 calendar (Nevada Independent)
- Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix Is Too Big to Fail (Road & Track)
- Why F1 Has Won Big in Vegas (Athletic Interest)
- Did Vegas prove them wrong? (Racer)
- Las Vegas GP, Liberty Media Hit With Lawsuit Amid Dramatic Race Finish (Front Office Sports)
- Formula 1 in Vegas: Sport or Entertainment? (Motorsport Week)
- Las Vegas GP scores ESPN’s biggest F1 audience since June (Racer)
- Las Vegas GP Smashes Records For Sportsbooks (Front Office Sports)
- What F1 could do to make 2023’s best race even better (Autosport Plus)
- F1 may have won in Las Vegas — but changes are needed for next year
- Lacklustre Miami now under the spotlight after Las Vegas GP success (Planet F1)
- Ferrari to discuss compensation for Sainz damage (Racer)
Last week I mentioned that Arctos is investing into the Aston Martin F1 team for 10% ownership, but this does not mean that Lawrence Stroll is planning to divest himself of the team according to Autosport.
“Lawrence is all in, he’s not going anywhere,” Aston Martin Formula 1 team managing director Jeff Slack told Motorsport.com. “It’s not just the team, but he has this thing called Aston Martin Lagonda that’s a pretty important part of his life too. So the team is the marketing platform for Aston Martin Lagonda. And of course, Lawrence is a very wealthy guy, it’s not an issue of capital. The other thing about these guys, if you dive in a bit, they’re never control guys, they never own and operate anything, only minority stakes. They are never going to be a control operator, they’re never going to be the owner of this team. So that shows you if Lawrence was trying to sell to somebody who ultimately could take control, these will be the last guys you would sell to.”
Another billionaire owner looking to sell stakes in his motorsport venture is Stephen Ross according to Forbes. “Ross is in talks to sell his stakes in the Miami Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium and F1 Miami Grand Prix. Ross is looking to invest more in sports and real estate, someone familiar with his plans told Forbes, and it’s understandable why Ross would sell some equity to fund those future investments: “Valuations for sports properties are high (making equity cheap), and debt is expensive,” one person told Forbes.”
There are huge financial implications and F1 careers on the line in Abu Dhabi finale according to Planet F1. “AlphaTauri have picked up their pace and the performances of Alex Albon in particular have put Williams in prime position for a big payday by sitting P7 in the Constructors’ Championship. Every place in that table is worth millions to every team in prize money, with the smaller teams placing huge weight on where they finish – and if Williams can hold on, it would represent their highest finish in the table for six years.”
Despite the announcement that GM has registered as an F1 power unit manufacturer with the FIA, F1 team bosses were still wary of the Andretti-GM bid when asked in Vegas.
“If the question is on GM, I think every single new engine supplier is welcome in F1,” Vasseur said. “But it’s not the same story as the 11th team. It’s two separate questions. I think the real question is on the engine supplier and we can have a new engine supplier.”
How did Netflix’s first foray into live sports featuring F1 drivers and pro golfers battling for the inaugural Netflix Cup go? It was the perfect crossover event for the PGA Tour, F1 and Netflix according to Forbes.
“We have two great shows: Drive to Survive and Full Swing,” Tony Finau said. “For Netflix fans and everyone watching, I think it’s a cool opportunity for them to see the drivers and the golfers collide, and obviously it’s something we love to do, but also something the drivers love to do. I think the crossover hopefully is that a lot of the F1 fans respect golf and maybe we start to get more of an F1 following from this just because their favorite drivers love golf and play golf. I know Drive to Survive was amazing for F1 and I think Full Swing has been great for us as well and hopefully, this just continues to piggyback on the game of golf moving forward.”
General Motorsport Industry News
NASCAR had several business wins to point to in its 75th season, as a steady leadership team further revitalized the sport, but it still faces questions after a season with lower ratings and unfinished cornerstone agreements. The NASCAR Cup Series finished its 36-race 2023 campaign with an average of 2.86 million viewers per event, down 5% from 3.03 million viewers last year. Despite some positive momentum, multiple challenges await during the offseason, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern runs down NASCAR’s to-do list for the offseason.
Meanwhile, North of NASCAR’s border, the NASCAR Canada Series has rebranded and shifted to a presenting partner model. Known as the NASCAR Pinty’s Series since 2016, the shift sees it renamed as the NASCAR Canada Series. Pinty’s will remain as a presenting partner of the series and will be joined by waste management broker Evirum.
Outgoing Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards will join Supercars as its General Manager of Motorsport, the championship has confirmed according to Speed Cafe. In doing so, he will replace Adrian Burgess, whose impending departure from the position of Head of Motorsport was announced last week.
In IMSA President John Doonan’s column 268 Days of Racing – Years in the Making, Doonan looks at the past present and future of IMSA with racing legends Scott Pruett and Hurley Haywood.
“In 2024/25, The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will grow more: Acura, BMW, Cadillac, and Porsche will be joined by a new GTP carfrom Lamborghini. With Aston Martin’s recent announcement, the future continues to look bright in 2025 and beyond. The GT classes will also see increased OEM participation, including in the Michelin Pilot Challenge.”
Feeder Series looks at why Asian junior single-seater racing remains ‘a big growth market’ despite recent upheaval.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, East Asia has been cast aside as a destination for international junior single-seater racing in favour of the Middle East. Blue riband events such as the Macau Grand Prix are now back on the racing calendar as the region opens up, but the Formula Regional Asian Championship (FRAC) has not gone ahead as planned. Feeder Series analyses the series’ prospects and the shifts in the wider Asian single-seater scene with Josh Evans, the owner of Evans GP, and Jason Grant, coach of GB3 driver and onetime FRAC entrant Costa Toparis.”
The full lineup of speakers have been released for the 4th Annual Race Industry Week and it is impressive:
100+ Race Industry Leaders are confirmed, including Chip Ganassi, Owner of Chip Ganassi Racing; Adrian Newey OBE, Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull Racing; Tony Stewart, Owner, Tony Stewart Racing; Bobby Rahal, Co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing; Steve Phelps, President of NASCAR; Mark Miles, President & CEO of Penske Entertainment (IMS, INDYCAR and IMSP); Cal Wells, CEO, Legacy Motor Club; Jay Frye, President of INDYCAR; John Doonan, President of IMSA; Jeff Dodds, CEO of Formula E; Carlos Ezpeleta, Chief Sporting Officer, MotoGP; Ricardo Juncos, President, Juncos Hollinger Racing; Frédéric Lequien, CEO, FIA WEC; Rick Ware, Owner of Rick Ware Racing; Beth Paretta, Owner of Paretta Autosport; John Force, 16-Time Funny Car Champion; Doug Kalitta, 2023 NHRA Top Fuel Champion; Richard Petty; F1; NHRA; FIA; USAC; WRC; Pikes Peak; Trans Am; GM; Ford; TRD; Oreca; Mazda; SRO; World of Outlaws; E1; Gridlife; SVRA; SCCA; Papadakis Racing; SRX; Extreme E; Time Attack; Le Mans Classic; SCORE International; FD; DTM; Super GT; TC 2000; Dakar; Land Speed; F1 Powerboat and many more….
No charge to attend. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
General Motorsport Industry Quick Takes
- For Sale: Historic Grattan Raceway in Michigan (The Drive)
- Exploring the revamp of WRC’s Rally.TV, ‘the home of offroad motorsport’ (BlackBook Motorsport)
- When Opportunity Knocks: Off-Season at Race Tracks (PRI)
- Another Record Setting Year for Lime Rock Park (Lime Rock Park)
- 2023 SCCA Board of Directors Election Results (SCCA)
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.
- MoneyGram Sees Brand Evolution Thanks To Partnership With Haas F1 Team (Forbes)
- AlphaTauri ready to announce new F1 name for 2024 as US sponsors join (Autosport)
- SAP joins Mercedes F1 team as official partner from 2024 (Autosport)
- Hendrick Motorsports partners with Constructor to enhance real-time team racing strategy (Constructor)
- Michelob Ultra Aims to Find Drinkers Through Racing Documentary Placed on AMC, BBC, Roku (Variety)
- Mercedes F1 and WhatsApp launch messaging partnership (BlackBook Motorsport)
- Alfa Romeo F1 esports sign X-Bionic supplier deal (BlackBook Motorsport)
- Red Bull F1 agree Tag Heuer extension (BlackBook Motorsport)
- THG to activate Williams F1 partnership with Right Formula (BlackBook Motorsport)
- New brand partnership category at Autosport Awards (Autosport)
- Formula 1 Zooms Into America’s Sports Marketing Conversation (Sportico)
- Heineken counting on F1 Las Vegas to boost Silver: ‘No. 1 priority’ (Sports Business Journal)
- Formula 1 content to be added to STN Video’s platform in new partnership (Sports Business Journal)
- MSR renews key partnership (Speed Cafe)
- Haas agree F1 headwear partnership with New Era (BlackBook Motorsport)
- Audi brand will not be part of new Sauber F1 identity from 2024 (Audi)
Team & Manufacturer News
Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.
- AWA receives first customer Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs (Racer)
- WAU splits CEO and team principal roles (Speed Cafe)
- Team 18 names Adrian Burgess as team principal (Speed Cafe)
- Briscoe convinced privateers like Vanwall can still succeed in WEC (Autosport)
- Maserati and MSG: A blossoming partnership learning from their mistakes (Motorsport Week)
- Mike Harmon Racing name restored for 2024 (The Checkered Flag)
- Versa Evans GP Announces Entry Into Eurocup-3 (Evans GP)
- Top BMW GT squad Walkenhorst switches to Aston Martin for 2024 GTWCE (Autosport)
- Porsche to “Harvest A Lot More” After First LMDh Campaign (Sportscar365)
- LMGT3 Manufacturer Limitation a “Surprise” to Mercedes-AMG (Sportscar365)
Motorsport Movers & Shakers
As Netflix cameras rolled, former F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer had wisdom to impart to Boardroom about what it really takes to build a winning team in the world’s biggest motorsports competition.
“It takes time to change a team’s culture and working practices to gain more knowledge in areas that greatly impact performance. And if a team’s culture doesn’t allow it to operate in lockstep in all its departments, you’re going to notice that on the grid.”