(WOMR file photo)
Gene Haas is looking into the possibility of entering a team in Formula 1, reportedly beginning in 2015.
Haas is co-owner with three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing. According to various reports, Haas’ interest in F1 is the result of an announcement in December from the governing Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) that it would consider entries for a new team beginning in 2015.
“We have responded to the FIA’s ‘call for expression of interest’ regarding a Formula One entry on behalf of Haas Racing Development,” Haas said in a statement released from Kannapolis, N.C., on Thursday. “We respect the FIA’s evaluation process and will share more details in the coming weeks.”
The last United States-based team to attempt to compete in Formula One was USF1 _ ironically, based in Charlotte, N.C. While the team fronted by former F1 television commentator Peter Windsor was granted entry for the 2010 season and generated reams of publicity, the operation never got past the chassis-construction phase and was disbanded.
Haas, however, is an accomplished businessman. He is founder, president and sole-stockholder of Haas Automation, a leader in CNC machine tool manufacturing. Haas, whose CNC Racing joined NASCAR in 2002 as a Chevrolet team, partnered with Stewart in 2008 after “Smoke” left Joe Gibbs Racing to form Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart won his third Cup championship with Haas in 2011.
Meanwhile, Autosport.com reported that “high-level sources” had confirmed that Haas is working with former Red Bull Racing and Jaguar technical director Gunther Steiner on the F1 project. “Haas Racing Development has asked for a license and expressed an interest, but at the moment we have no further comment to make,” Steiner told Autosport. “The FIA is still in the decision-making process and there is still one more step to go before they award the license.”
SHR recently expanded its facilities in North Carolina, which could be part of the run-up to an F1 program. Autosport also reported that Haas owns factory facilities in Brussels that could become a European base. Haas also owns the full-scale Windshear wind tunnel, a facility regularly used by F1 teams for aerodynamic development.
If the project is approved by all parties, Autosport reported that Haas likely would partner with Dallara Automobili to build its first F1 chassis. The Italian manufacturer currently is sole-supplier of chassis run in the IndyCar Series.
For the last five years Gene Haas has been the silent partner of the whole Stewart-Haas Racing, notwithstanding the fact that Haas is definitely the big money man of this organization. This fact was illustrated this past Fall when Haas orchestrated a huge, end around power play unbeknownst to his partner, Tony Stewart. Stewart was recuperating from his severely broken right leg suffered in a sprint car wreck at Oscaloosa Raceway in Southern Iowa, when Haas signed Kurt Busch to drive a Sprint Cup car in a brand new fourth team for SHR.
There is no doubt that Haas the requisite funds to put a F1 program together for 2015. However, he is not the first American in recent times to petition F1 for permission to race with that organization and failed to follow through with the petition. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if the F1 committee grants a license to Haas. More importantly, will Haas be able to get all the entities together necessary to form the team, supply the team, and compete at that level in just one year.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!