Will Privateer Teams Be Priced Out of the Golden Age of Sports Car Racing?

Will privateer teams be priced out of the “Golden Age” of sports car racing? That is the fear of team owner Jim Glickenhaus who worries that the costs are just not sustainable for an independent.

In addition to this, I look at the impact that Formula 1 is having on Las Vegas and Miami, IndyCar and the series itself, the economic impact of Thunderhill raceway, developments in the Wakefield Park saga, the business of Tatuus and Saudi Arabia’s motorsport plans.

I also bring you the latest motorsport sponsorship deals and partnerships, potential tension at Red Bull Racing and not one but two lawyers in this week’s Motorsport Movers and Shakers.

All this and much more in the Business of Motorsport on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news racers can use.

Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix

Motorsport.com explains why Las Vegas is key to F1’s growth plans. “The Las Vegas race is going to be a massive noisemaker for our sport,” said Maffei. “And it’ll open up our sport to many people who previously were not aware. While there are 16 and 17-year-olds who are crazed and get up every Sunday morning to watch, there are many people who really do not follow F1. It will be hard to miss F1 after Las Vegas, it will be loud, and we will get a lot of attention. So we’re not only thinking about things which are current, but we’re thinking about things for the long term, to try and to stay in that interest, convert that interest into long-term fans.”

Year 1 in Vegas seems to be going according to plan as F1 VIP packages have exceeded the million-dollar mark. “The average ticket price is $7,000, almost twice as expensive as the average price for the Miami Crypto.com Grand Prix ($4,600) according to a study by King Casino Bonus. A small batch of tickets that were made available last November sold out within 45 minutes of going on sale. Additional tickets (except for the $15,000-a-person tickets to the sold-out Paddock Club) will be available to fans starting March 20. The next round of sales includes private suites and several VIP packages that range between $2,500 and $10,000 per ticket.”

Meanwhile in the other new American F1 race, as the Miami Grand Prix returns for its sophomore year, RaceFans explains how the Miami race will and won’t change when F1 returns for its second race. “Las Vegas is pulling out all the stops for its new event but Miami, sitting on the opposite end of the calendar with a 10-year race deal already agreed, can feel secure in its position for the time being at least. Still, it’s clear the organisers are not being complacent about the areas for improvement which were apparent last year, and have genuinely listened to both drivers and fans to enhance the 2023 experience.”

Planet F1 reveals the contract status of every single race on the F1 2023 calendar. “All of the grand prix venues, which have served on the calendar for varying amounts of time, have contracts of different lengths to keep them in the sport. So, let’s take a look at all 23 contracts active right now, and for how long that is set to remain the case.”

Jody Scheckter has said a South African GP was within touching distance of a return to the calendar but apparent “greed” over fees at Kyalami ultimately pushed Formula 1 away from negotiations. “F1 came over to sign. He had got government backing, some of the wealthiest people in South Africa behind it. Everything was in place, and the guy from Kyalami got greedy.”

London Grand Prix Concept

A Formula 1 race featuring a multistorey pitlane at the ExCeL has been pitched as part of a redevelopment proposal for the London Docklands. “This grand plan to transform the riverfront area in east London has been put forward by the LDN Collective, a group of built environmental experts, and consultancy firm DAR. As part of their bid to create a “globally recognised waterfront destination for sports, leisure and entertainment”, they envisage a London Grand Prix based at a high-speed street circuit. This concept for a London Grand Prix would run in addition to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.”

General Motorsport Industry News

AutoWeek explains how IndyCar needs to evolve in the face of F1’s exploding popularity in the US. “Yes, IndyCar should be worried, it needs to be worried, given how much of a footprint F1 has made in the U.S., not only at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, but also major markets Miami and Las Vegas. F1 has also made a massive impression upon American racing fans’ psyche and memory with the Drive To Survive reality series. IndyCar (which is finally coming out with its own D2S series) is on the verge of being passed by F1 to become the second-most popular racing series in the U.S. behind NASCAR.”

Changes to the internal structure and processes within the FIA are being made in an effort to improve the governing body’s efficiency and transparency. “The FIA is, under the new president’s leadership and his team, now going to be a more efficient structure and one where it’s less siloed, where there’s more cross-departmental interaction and more coordination – where there will obviously be budget efficiencies that will be resulting from that.”

With three potential races that could be joining the series in 2024, DMARGE explains how Formula E has sparked a renaissance for motorsport. Giovanni Sgro, head of Maserati Corse: “We made the decision to get into e-mobility… So being in Formula E is an amazing opportunity to showcase not just the brand value in terms of the brand equity or what Maserati stands for as a luxury automobile brand, but to learn. We don’t want to be [just] a participant in this space, we want to lead the space and Formula E although technology transfer is not 100% at this point, everything we learned from the track to off track is really going to help us develop and design high-performing electric vehicles.”

Riding what many are referring to as the “golden age of sports car racing,” Gary Watkins of Autosport explains why the WEC’s eagerly-anticipated new era is unmissable. “That golden era, brave new world or whatever you want to call it is founded on the ability of racing cars built to two different cost-effective rulesets to compete in both the world’s most important sportscar series and at the big races associated with them, the Le Mans 24 Hours and Daytona included. It explains why there are five major manufacturers competing in the Hypercar class of the WEC this year – that’s Toyota, Ferrari, Porsche, Peugeot and Cadillac – and more to come. And that’s not counting the fledging car makers in the fight, the likes of Glickenhaus, Vanwall and possibly Isotta Fraschini, which for the moment are best described as garagistes.” This last statement about the “garagistes” is something that Jim Glickenhaus has an issue with as you will see below.

In anticipation of this “golden age,” the World Endurance Championship has put their live races behind a paywall on their revamped app. As Blackbook Motorsport notes, not everyone is happy about this. “Free coverage of WEC has been available on YouTube in the past, so this transition moves the series behind a paywall for countries that did not have an exclusive broadcast agreement with the endurance championship. Not only is this an unpopular move, but there have also been some negative reviews of the new app, with many fans complaining of live timing not being available during the preseason event in Sebring.”

As part of its commitment to supporting and enhancing opportunities for women across all disciplines of motorsport, Women in Motorsports North America (WIMNA) have announced the third annual Women with Drive – Driven by Mobil 1 (WWD III). The two-day conference will take place November 7 & 8, 2023 at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona following the final NASCAR Cup Series race of the season.

“WWD III will bring together the most successful and influential people to celebrate and continue the momentum created by the first Women with Drive Summit in Nashville, TN, and Women with Drive II – Driven by Mobil 1, held in Concord, NC, which was a sold-out industry summit. Through the years, each event has doubled in size and has quickly become a must-attend event for those in motorsports committed to improvement and advancing opportunities in both inclusion and diversity. Attendees include industry executives, drivers, team members, OEMs, sponsors, race track representatives and anyone working in the sport or wanting to learn more. Registration is Now Open.”

You can watch a video from last year’s WWD II above that discuses the pipeline that needs to be filled with educated, talented, and passionate people. “Where can they get the education that will enable them to get jobs, and how can they get the necessary experience to succeed? Are there any/enough internships? Scholarships?”

Will Privateer Teams Be Priced Out of the Golden Age of Sports Car Racing?

Radical Motorsport are set to open new corporate headquarters at Donington Park. “The move into the former Formula E headquarters comes after Radical Motorsport’s most successful year in its 25-year history, and marks a historic moment for the company, moving the customer-facing sales and marketing teams away from its factory in Peterborough for the first time since its incorporation.”

Caffeine & Machine looks at the cutting edge that is Radical Motorsport while discussing the development of the SR10, or as they call it, Radical’s lockdown project.

In my final bit of Radical Motorsport news, the company announced their 2022 Dealer of the Year. “Primal Motorsports, based at Atlanta Motorsports Park and Team Stradale, based at Autobahn Country Club in Illinois, tied for 2022 Dealer of the Year award for North America, while Radical UAE emerged victorious for the ‘Rest of World’ category. Dealers Radical Canada East, Radical USA Nevada and Radical USA Arizona also enjoyed accolades.”

Thunderhill Raceway Park has released their brand new Thunderhil Economic Impact Analysis. The Economic Analysis and Report was prepared by the Center for Economic Development at California State University, Chico. The survey’s purpose was to determine the track’s significance in and effect on the local economy of Willows and Glenn County. It will allow local entities to leverage the track’s success and notoriety to advance economic growth in the region. The study focuses on the tourism dollars brought in by the track, which can in turn be used to justify expanding businesses to support the track’s visitors.

In addition to races and events, Thunderhill Raceway is a destination for filming car commercials and TV shows including Myth Busters, NOVA, and CBS Sunday Morning News. The track is mentioned in the book, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, later made into a movie. It has also hosted Stanford University, Toyota Development, LUCID, Tesla, and ZOOX.

The complete survey can be accessed here: Thunderhill Economic Impact Analysis

There has been a lot of news surrounding Australian racetrack Wakefield Park since it was forced to close recently. The track has been sold to the owner of the nearby Pheasant Wood Circuit in a move being hailed as a boost for the embattled Goulburn track’s future. In addition to this, there have been $5 million in election promises made for the circuit and Motorsport Australia has released a statement on the importance of the track in light of these commitments. “We have been very vocal since Wakefield’s closure about the importance of this venue to motorsport,” Arocca said. “A commitment of this size is a big win for New South Wales and the broader motorsport community – giving many circuit racers around the state a chance to continue enjoying their passion.”

Staying in Australia, Speed Cafe reports that the City of Newcastle council will have the “final decision” on whether a new contract is signed to hold the Thrifty Newcastle 500, according to the local mayor. “If the NSW Government decides it wants to extend the Newcastle 500 for another five years then our Council will have the final decision on whether Newcastle continues as the host city. We’re committed to undertaking a robust, open process of consultation through consultants KPMG, who are using a range of online, in-person and telephone surveys before, during and after the race period to gather feedback from as wide a range of people as possible. This feedback will allow councillors to better understand the community’s views on issues around liveability, economic benefit or challenges, perceptions of the event and its impact on the visitor economy.”

The Nashville Fair Board approved Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway’s proposal to renovate and lease the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on last Tuesday. “We are thankful to the Nashville Fair Board for supporting the vision to restore the historic Fairgrounds Speedway,” said Jerry Caldwell, president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. “They invested a lot of time vetting this opportunity, and we agree it provides a financially responsible future for the speedway while shifting the risk off taxpayers to a private operator, and completes the restoration of the Fairgrounds with improvements like a state-of-the-art sound-reduction wall that benefits the surrounding neighborhoods. We look forward to working with the Metro Council in the weeks ahead and believe that they also will agree that this is a smart plan for the future of the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.”

NASCAR has launched its immersive gaming experience NASCAR Speed Hub on the Roblox video game platform. Nick Rend, managing director of gaming and esports at Nascar, said: “This is the next step in expanding Nascar’s presence in the metaverse and engaging with the community in unique and creative ways. At Nascar we want to encourage the emerging generation of digital natives to manifest their passion for Nascar racing their own way. Nascar Speed Hub on Roblox is an exciting new space that lets players create and evolve their Nascar story on their terms.”

Will Privateer Teams Be Priced Out of the Golden Age of Sports Car Racing?

Feeder Series has a great feature on race car manufacturer Tatuus. “We have our market. We have the project of the Gen2 Formula Regional car, and Tatuus also has some collaboration outside FIA promoters like MSV [MotorSport Vision] in the UK for GB3. We have an important presence in the USA with USF Pro 2000, USF2000, USF Juniors that have different rules, completely different chassis if we compare with F3 or Formula Regional. We had an incredible 2022. We were engaged in 17 championships; we built and sold something like 200 cars this year, which is our new record … and we had our new headquarters, where we moved in last December to complete this crazy year.”

PRI looks at how car counts have rebounded to, or even exceeded pre-pandemic levels from the entry-level ranks to premier road race events across America and how the momentum will carry over into 2023. They look at Trans Am, USF Pro Championships, SRO Motorsports America, the US Touring Car Championship, and the National Auto Sport Association. “Road racing in North America is happily healthy at all levels, with series of all sorts reporting expanded interest from competitors, sponsors, and tracks. There’s pronounced momentum and opportunities for racers just learning their craft or for those with experience hoping to move on to higher plateaus of the sport. PRI Magazine interviewed some of the players in North American road-course competition, who discussed their recent successes and predicted still better times to come.”

Both Racer and Blackbook Motorsport take a look at how Saudi Arabia is building towards a diversified motorsport portfolio and growing their motorsport influence.

“The thing that we’re really working on now is we’re building a state-of-the-art facility in Qiddiya. It’s a motorsport city — it has more than 13 tracks. It’s for circuit (racing), for cars, for bikes, for drift, for drag, for rallies and motocross so it’s going to be available for our youth to come and enjoy their hobby in a safe place and also for us, give us the opportunity to prepare the next generation of drivers.

Forbes tells the story of How ‘Days Of Thunder’ Got Formula One World Champion Jenson Button Interested In NASCAR When He Was 8. “It was Days of Thunder that brought me to NASCAR. It was the first time I’d gotten to see NASCAR. It was a movie, so as an 8-year-old, I thought it was insane. It was worlds away from European motorsport.”

EveryRealm has released their Immersive Media Market Overview. “Younger generations are ushering in a transition from 2D social media platforms to social, virtual video-game-like worlds. This is the transition to immersive media, where static social media scrolling is being replaced by fully formed digital environments, or virtual worlds, where people not only interact with each other, but curate digital identities spanning their avatar appearance, virtual home, and possessions. Immersive media is becoming an increasingly popular leisure activity to the detriment of other media formats–a trend which marketers and companies need to prepare for.”

Thomas Alomes, head of market insights at Sports Tech World Series, picks out three takeaways for sport from this year’s gathering of executives from across tech and entertainment. AI is not the new NFT, crypto clings on, and other sports industry learnings at SXSW 2023.

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.

Business of Motorsport

The Business of Running a Race Team

Business of Motorsport

AutoWeek explains why Jim Glickenhaus sees a dark future for privateers in big-time sports car racing. “When this thing started, it was going to be a cost-effective answer to LMP1. Now we’re facing guys who are out-spending us 10 to one. It’s becoming untenable. We have, I believe, the lowest cost car, running costs. But we still haven’t been able to sell customer cars. We’re looking for sponsors. If we don’t find car buyers or sponsors, we’re going to find other mountains to climb.”

Marshall Pruett explains in Racer why Abel Motorsports is a rising Indy NXT force. “I’ve always been confident in our team, and maybe some of the reason everybody hasn’t seen it is because I’ve been improving myself as a driver,” Abel said. “And now, to finally be able to share what the team’s capable of, is really cool. My engineer Kent Boyer has won 1000 Indy Lights races, so it’s good to have someone like that in my corner who, when we go out and start leading races, it’s not a shock. Big things are ahead for Abel Motorsports.”

Chip Ganassi Racing is still working out the exact logistics for its second Cadillac V-Series.R entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans according to its global director of operations Mike O’Gara, who indicated that it could utilize a separate chassis from its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship car. “We had to plan for it no matter what,” O’Gara told Sportscar365 in regards to the second Le Mans entry. “Now that it’s confirmed, the pressure is on to actually deliver. Equipment, trucks, all that stuff is underway.”

Autosport reports that Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says its satellite Formula 1 team AlphaTauri will stay in-house but must be more cost efficient for the Red Bull group. “It’s true that AlphaTauri’s ninth place in the constructors’ championship is not what we expect,” Marko said in an interview on the YouTube channel of Autosport sister publication Formel1.de. “That means there has to be an improvement. It is also true that the financial commitment at AlphaTauri is too high, this means that we also have to do something on the sponsor side, on the revenue side. In the course of this process we also discussed the possibilities, but it was always very clear that AlphaTauri would remain in-house. That is an important part of our junior work. As mentioned, neither sporting performance nor financial performance meet Red Bull’s standards, so we have to do something to change that.”

Meanwhile in AlphaTauri’s siter team Red Bull Racing, there are whispers of discord unfolding behind Red Bull’s dominant F1 start. “But while his achievements for Red Bull are substantial, the fact he existed almost separately to the empire – with his direct line to Mateschitz and Mateschitz only – could make Marko a less natural fit for a company now taking on a more traditional corporate structure. Horner has no control over Marko. Marko’s always been outspoken and happy to launch verbal grenades into situations.”

The Haas Formula 1 team has issued a statement suggesting that a report its parent company broke Russian sanctions was wholly “false”. “In a detailed statement hitting back at the claims, Haas has made it clear that it has always been in full compliance with US government laws and that no machines have been exported to Russia since 3 March, 2022.”

Motorsport Movers & Shakers

Business of Motorsport

Podium Life sat down with Cara Krstolic, the Director of Bridgestone Race Tire Engineering & Production and Chief Engineer for IndyCar Tires, to discuss her path to Firestone and a push for equipping motorsport better for a sustainable future. “So my biggest lesson I would say is really build an effective team and then rely on that team to do what their job is. Step back and trust them and then support them in the areas that they can’t manage alone.”

Business of Motorsport

Williams have announced aerospace veteran Frederic Brousseau will join the team in the role of chief operating officer. Brousseau has 26 years worth of experience in the aerospace industry, most recently working as vice president of operations for the Canadian subdivision of the American company Pratt & Whitney. “There is no better feeling than setting out on a brand new journey and working towards achieving your dreams,” he said. “It has been an exciting beginning of the season and I am looking forward to joining a team with such Formula 1 heritage.”

Business of Motorsport

Andretti is understood to have signed ex-Renault technical chief Nick Chester as the technical director for its Formula 1 project, following his departure from McLaren’s Formula E team. “The Briton started in F1 with Simtek in 1994 before moving to Arrows in 1995, later becoming the engineer for Damon Hill in 1997 before working with Mika Salo and Pedro de la Rosa. He then moved to Benetton in 2000 to join its test team, staying with the Enstone outfit through its various guises for almost 20 years.”

Will Privateer Teams Be Priced Out of the Golden Age of Sports Car Racing?

The MotorMouth Podcast has a great interview with motorsport lawyer Anastasia Fowle. “Anastasia is an impressive woman, the first non racing driver and first woman to take the role of Director at the Grand Prix Drivers Association. She admits to being uncomfortable on a podcast (not that it shows) but totally at ease taking the lead surrounded by F1 drivers and top brass. She’s also General Council at the Maserati MSG Formula E team while holding down various other senior roles.” You can listen to the podcast here.

Business of Motorsport

LawInSport chats with race car driver turned sports lawyer Jirí Janák. “Of course it was very difficult for me to finish my racing career. It was not just my work but also my passion and I, of course, did not want to leave. But I had no other option. During the last four years of my racing career, I was also studying law in the Czech Republic because I felt that it might be useful in the future. Then when I finished my racing career, I passed the bar examination and I joined the biggest sports law offices in the Czech Republic, which was doing a lot of work for the motorsport organisers, teams, for the Autoclub of the Czech Republic (Czech ASN), and some international work related to motorsport, which was of course very, very intriguing for me. So this was my kind of “transition” into the law.”

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.