Ferrari is a great example of how a sports car manufacturer leverages the power of motorsport to sell more cars. This is just one of the stories covered in this week’s Business of Motorsport Roundup.
I also bring you informed opinion on the legality of driver contracts, new and resurrected racetracks, the riskiest sports sponsorship categories, an Indy 500 crowdfunding effort and more.
All this on this week’s Business of Motorsport Roundup. Its business news racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
- In the video above, Huddle Up explains why Ferrari needs Formula 1. “Ferrari is one of the world’s most interesting brands. The Italian luxury car manufacturer doesn’t spend any money on advertising. Instead, they pump hundreds of millions of dollars annually into the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 racing team. The reason for this is simple: They know if they build a fast car and their drivers are competitive during Grand Prix weekends, hundreds of millions of people will see the Ferrari brand and desire their product.”
- It is not just Ferrari that is doing well in Formula 1. According to Front Office Sports, more U.S. companies want a piece of Formula 1 as “deals between Formula 1 teams and U.S. companies have grown 66% since 2020.”
- Sports Pro looks at Red Bull and the FIA: What the budget cap breach means and why F1 is at a tipping point. “Whether or not this is enough of a punishment is yet to be seen. If the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes struggle to close the gap to the current constructors’ champions next season even with a considerable advantage in aerodynamic testing time, then questions will need to be asked about the long-term feasibility of the budget cap.”
- Red Bull has settled on a succession plan for the operation of the energy drinks group, including its Formula 1 teams, following the death of co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz last month. Autosport has all the details.
- Sports Business Journal reports that the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix put its first batch of tickets for the inaugural 2023 race on sale today just to American Express card members and they sold out within an hour. This makes sense as rumors have it that American Express will sign up as an F1 global partner in 2023.
- John Doonan, President of IMSA; Carlos Ezpeleta, Chief Sporting Officer of MotoGP / Dorna Sports S.L.; Kevin Miller, President & CEO of United States Auto Club (USAC); John Clagett, President & CEO of Trans Am Race Company; Chris Stewart, founder of Gridlife and Pat McDowell, SCTA President and Race Director are just some of the featured speakers during the 3rd Annual Race Industry Week, Monday through Friday, Nov 28-Dec 2, 2022. It takes place completely online and you can register to attend here.
- Driver contracts have been in the news over 2022 with both Alex Palou and Oscar Paistri involved in some convoluted contract complications. Sports lawyer Gen Gordon-Thompson looks at the situation of motorsport contracts in Using the Motorsport Media: Alpine vs Piastri over at the National Motorsport Academy blog. You can read more from Gen and her advice on what to look for when negotiating driver contracts in my two-part interview with her in News Racers Can Use. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
- RACER has an in depth look at the owners of Pittsburgh International Race Complex and how they came to be involved in owning the facility. “We’ve focused on the things that matter to racers, starting with a track that’s fun to drive,” says Jim. “We added the 1.2-mile South Track, and then paved and updated the original 1.6-mile circuit known as ‘The North Track.’ Both can be run independently, or combined to make a 19-turn, 2.78-mile full course. “From our business background, we know that details make the difference to the experience,” Jim continues. “There’s a 16in. deep concrete base beneath the track paving, which avoids it heaving and settling from the winter months. Once the paving was down, we drove it extensively to make sure we installed the apex curbing just where it needs to be.”
- The Almost Heaven Motorsports Park (previously known as Twin Branch Motorsports Complex) in West Virginia is now open. A “soft launch,” was recently held according to its majority leaseholder, Tom Wilson, the test-and-tune–only event played host to over 300 racers and some 3,000 spectators, who lined their way up the twisting coal mine road and out onto highway 119 to get a first glimpse at the ‘strip that had been talked about for years.
- Wayne Jesel explains to PRI Magazine how and why his company, Jesel Valvetrain Innovation, has continued to be successful in these turbulent times. “We never tried to spare any expense on anything. If it took a better material to make the part live longer or just be a better part, we would do that. We cut absolutely no corners. We felt that if we had the best part out there, that it would be worth the money, that customers would pay extra for the longevity that they would get out of the part.”
- Billy Godbold, the former valvetrain engineering group manager at COMP Cams/Edelbrock Group, has announced a new venture, Godbold Engineering, based in Lakeland, Tennessee. “Godbold Engineering is a new motorsports engineering firm that uses applied physics, metallurgy, testing, and surface engineering to solve complex problems in motorsports. The firm incorporates a weekly contract model, but also offers seminars and single projects.”
- NASCAR fans attending this weekend’s championship finale at Phoenix Raceway are set to benefit from a partnership with Amazon, with the technology giant’s ‘Just Walk Out’ and ‘Amazon One’ technology both being utilized at a professional racetrack for the first time. The innovations allow fans to purchase snacks and beverages without waiting in line at checkout. Fans can insert their payment card or hover it over an Amazon One device at the entry gate and they will then be charged upon exit.
- In Saudis in sport: Ambitions much larger than sportswashing, Play the Game looks at what Saudi Arabia is attempting to do with all their sports initiatives. “In this analysis, senior analyst Stanis Elsborg argues that the term sportswashing simplifies and does not encapsulate the sports policies of many authoritarian regimes. He supports the argument by showing how central sport is in Saudi Arabia’s strategic roadmap ‘Vision 2030’.“
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
- NTT Data will be leaving Alex Palou and Chip Ganassi Racing for the upcoming 2023 IndyCar season, moving its major sponsorship presence over to Felix Rosenqvist at Arrow McLaren SP. Despite this move, the departure of the decade-long sponsor will not jeopardize Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 10 Honda according to the team. “RACER understands CGR, which has expected the change for some time, has a full roster of sponsors assembled that will be announced in the near future to replace NTT on the entry driven by 2021 series champion Alex Palou.”
- JR Motorsports has renewed its partnership with Bass Pro Shops for 2023. “Bass Pro Shops will return to JRM in a multi-faceted capacity with drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Josh Berry and Carson Kvapil. The trio will compete in multiple racing series with partnership from the outdoor and conservation company founded by noted conservationist Johnny Morris.”
- Julius Baer has been announced as the title sponsor of the inaugural 2023 Julius Baer Sao Paulo E-Prix, which will take place on 25th March at the Sambadrome, just one month after the world famous São Paulo carnival happens at the same venue.
- The Haas F1 Team and OAKBERRY have teamed-up for the remaining races of 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. “OAKBERRY is a company designed to meet an unattended demand in the food market: healthy fast food. The Brazilian brand’s açaí – a type of berry native to the Amazon rainforest – is 100 percent natural and seeks to preserve as much as possible all the benefits of the açaí berry throughout its production process. Founded in 2016, OAKBERRY now has over 500 stores worldwide and serves its famous bowls and smoothies in five continents, including at select Formula 1 events.”
- Formula 1 has announced a renewal and expansion of their partnership with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) that will see “the world’s most comprehensive cloud platform become a Global Partner. The partnership will begin a new phase of innovation and digital transformation of the sport. AWS and F1 share a passion for technological innovation and will work together to build the fan experience of the future.”
- The Las Vegas Grand Prix has announced T-Mobile as its wireless 5G provider for the 2023 race. “The 5G Advanced Network Solutions (ANS) public mobile network will boost 5G connectivity on and off the track. This will cover the paddock building, garages and pits to ensure all operational requirements can be facilitated with good network speeds.”
- From oil and gas to betting and crypto, Sports Pro ranks the riskiest sports sponsorship categories. “So, I thought it might be a useful exercise to go through some of the most prevalent sectors investing in sports sponsorship today, with the help of some recent examples, to get a better idea of what partnerships now look like through the eye of the fan.”
- KORE Software has announced the launch of their latest product the Portfolio Optimization Platform. “After the acquisition of Hookit in February of 2022, the two leading sponsorship performance organizations have spent the past nine months integrating their solutions into one industry-defining product, providing brands and rights holders with a single-source for managing all aspects of their partnerships and maximizing returns.”
The Business of Running a Race Team
- Crucial Motorsports will enter McLaren’s new Artura GT4 car in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge next year, with a two-car GS class effort planned alongside possible additional entries in the new VP Racing SportsCar Challenge. “We are excited to announce this program after many months of planning with McLaren Orlando,” said Nash, who serves as the Crucial’s motorsports operations director. “I cannot be more excited to have such an enthusiastic partner in this venture into the GT4 ranks with us.” According to Sportscar 365, “in addition to its IMSA commitments, the team is also evaluating potential efforts in Pirelli GT4 America and GT America presented by AWS with the car.”
- Daily Sportscar reports that Algarve Pro Racing is closing in on their 2023 programs. Entries in IMSA, Asian Le Mans Series and ELMS in LMP2 all look to be happening.
- Japanese Super Formula racing outfit Team Goh have announced their split with the Red Bull Junior Team. Team Principal Kazuhiro Ikeda: “It’s a real shame, but today the Red Bull junior programme we had been running has come to an end,” Ikeda wrote. “We were not strong enough to get tangible results. We are sorry. Our activities for next year and onwards are still to be defined, and we are working on it now.”
- Arrive Drive Motorsports have announced that they have acquired the F1600 assets of Exclusive Autosport. With cars, data, setup, and more thanks to @exclusiveautosport we are ready to hit the ground running. Seats now available for upcoming events at Sebring, Homestead, NOLA, and COTA – as well as multiple private testing opportunities as we interview drivers for the 2023 Formula Race Promotions F1600 Championship and the SCCA Hoosier Super Tour / Runoffs.
- Marotti Autosport has launched a crowdfunding effort for their ‘Spirit of Speedway’ Indy 500 entry. “Our race fan investors will not only own a part of the car, but they will also have exclusive access to team announcements, driver autograph sessions, and team dinner leading up to the Indy 500. This ownership also provides first-class hospitality during the May and July Grand Prix weekends, and of course, the coveted Indy 500,” said Team Principal Will Marotti.
- David Gilliland Racing will become Tricon Garage and move from fielding Ford to Toyota entries. It is a reuniting for Gilliland and Toyota, who previously worked together in 2018 and ’19. “Toyota is pleased to rejoin Tricon with this expanded partnership,” said Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson. “We are excited for this new opportunity for our Toyota development drivers and partners to experience Tricon’s success and winning culture. The Truck Series is very important to Toyota, and we know Tricon is going to continue to deliver for us as we begin our 20th season in the series.”
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will expand its team for the Indianapolis 500 with four Honda-powered cars. RLL heads into 2023 with its three-car full-time lineup of Graham Rahal, 2022 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Christian Lundgaard, and Jack Harvey, and will grow to four for the first time in its 30-plus years of operation.
- Blackbook Motorsport look at how 23XI Racing are making a difference in NASCAR. “The team’s approach is unique in Nascar and could even benefit the series further down the line. Lauletta admits that the sport needs “to start attracting a wider and new fanbase” while also keeping its core product and audience in place. This is something that 23XI Racing have already made progress on and now hope that the sport at large will be able to follow their lead.”
- Grassroots Motorsports looks at the safety factors built into their FIA-certified Mercedes-AMG GT4 race cars. “FCP Euro is one of those IMSA teams, and it campaigns the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the Michelin Pilot Challenge. While the Mercedes-AMG program is managed by the automaker, the cars are built and developed by an outside partner–in this case, HWA Team. In addition to GT machines, HWA Team has also constructed cars for DTM, Formula E, Formula 2 and Formula 3.”
- Motorsport.com explain how McLaren Racing are using technology from Webex in their race operations. “Every area of race operations activity is scrutinised to try to find a competitive advantage, from front jacks that shave milliseconds off a pitstop, to new communication methods. Increasingly F1 teams are turning to technology partners to give them new tools. One area where a lot of effort is being focussed by McLaren is the future of race operations, in particular high-speed connectivity and the internet of things.”
Movers & Shakers
- Phoenix Raceway has appointed Latasha Causey as its new track president to replace Julie Giese. “Latasha’s track record speaks for itself as a highly experienced executive that prioritises relationships and giving back to the community – also core values of ours at Nascar,” said Chip Wile, Nascar senior vice president and chief track properties officer.
- Tommie Estes, a name that has been a fixture in dirt track racing for over 45 years, was named competition director for USAC’s Circle Track division. Estes will lead the USAC Silver Crown National Championship in all forms of competition and be an advisor to USAC National Series Director Kirk Spridgeon, who will continue to oversee USAC’s AMSOIL National Sprint Car and NOS Energy Drink National Midget divisions.