(WOMR file photo)
NASCAR team owner Gene Haas says he plans to field an American-based Formula One racing series team within the next two years. The team will be called Haas Formula, he said Monday at a news conference. Haas says he should know within the next four weeks if the team will begin racing in 2015 or wait until 2016. Furthermore, he says part of that depends on how long it takes for Haas Formula to find an engine supplier.
Haas Formula would become the first American-based Formula One team in more than three decades to join the racing series. Although there’s plenty of skepticism over his decision, Haas says, “I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought I was going to fail. But that’s the challenge — proving other people wrong.”
The motivation for Gene Haas is two-fold. Primarily, Haas, who owns one the largest CNC tool manufacturing operations, wants to market his products globally and F1 will allow him to “enhance his branding” on a greater scale than NASCAR, which is limited to North America. “The ultimate goal is to take the image of Haas Automation and turn it into a brand that is desired and high-quality and known throughout the world,” Haas said. “The ultimate goal would be to double our sales for Haas Automation. I think it’s going to be positive. As an indicator, I’m using the relationship with NASCAR that we have here including the brands we have in the United States. We have a very good market share, good market penetration and it’s as simple as to replicate that overseas.”
Secondly, despite short-lived effort of the USF1 team, Haas is convinced that an American-based team can compete against the established F1 juggernauts of Europe. Haas feels that with the current F1 rules packages, the timing is right for an aspiring team to enter the series and dispel the notion that “Americans can’t do it”.
“I’m here to prove that we can do it, and we can do it with a budget and we can be efficient at it and we can win at it,” Haas said. “That’s what I’m going to try. I’m not saying that I’m better than anybody else. I just have a different way of doing it, and people that I work with think differently. That, I guess, is going to be the secret to our success in this business. We’re going to spend our money wisely. We’re going to do it with an American flair for design and efficiencies, and that’s how we’re going to control our costs. I don’t — we’re not going to be a European-led team. We’re going to be an American-led team and we’ll do it the way we think is the most efficient. Yes, this is an ambitious undertaking for Haas. He wasn’t joking when asked about his budget that “it’s going to be billions and billions” to be operational. And he has just over a month to inform the FIA as to whether Haas Formula intends to race in 2015 or 2016. Certainly, Haas’ timetable will depend on the support of his technical partners. Similar to his introduction to NASCAR where he relied on Hendrick Motorsports to get up to speed, Haas will rely on the relationship of his potential F1 partners as well.
Formula Haas’ home base will be in Kannapolis, N.C. adjacent to the existing Stewart-Haas Racing shop. The company is currently adding 150,000 sq. ft. With Haas Automation satellites in Brussels and Shanghai, there is already a global base, but Haas expects to have a secondary shop in either Germany or Italy likely dependent on whether he partners with Mercedes or Ferrari. Haas will likely use Dallara for his chassis, but his eventual goal is to develop the components to compete for the Constructors championship.
As for prospective drivers, in the beginning Haas would like to use racers that are already familiar with the current engine rules package then eventually phase in American talent. Formula Haas team principal Guenther Steiner would prefer not entertainment drivers searching for buy rides but rely on racers with raw talent. For now, Haas intends on maintaining a clean car free of sponsorship outside of the Haas brand. He believes that any additional support would “dilute” his marketing strategy. However, a five-year plan is in place to “make this a profitable enterprise” and that will involve additional sponsors in order “to make money and compete”.(motorsport)
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!