Gene Haas made the rounds Saturday in the paddock at Circuit of the Americas, enthusiastically shaking hands and attempting to convince people in the business of Formula One that an American race team will succeed.
The past, the present and the future perhaps aren’t looking kindly upon his plan, but Haas is getting the pieces and finances in place for a 2016 launch of Haas F1 Team.
“We’re just getting around the garage,” Haas told USA TODAY Sports after a day of meeting with F1 officials, manufacturers and team principals Saturday. “We had several people from different teams come up and shake hands and introduce themselves. We’re just becoming more noticed around here. It’s going to be a quick year next year, and I want to make sure people know who we are.”
Haas already has a technical partnership in place with Ferrari, and he says things are moving forward with the plan for a team headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C. It’s an extremely tough sell in light of the circumstances surrounding Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, but Haas remains optimistic.
Two F1 teams, citing financial difficulty, dropped out in the week leading up to the United States Gran Prix. Three others are said to be considering a boycott of Sunday’s race, although all three took part in Saturday’s qualifying.
“You’ve got to love controversy, don’t you?” Haas said. “There have been 50 years of controversies in the way things have evolved (in F1). Exotic cars and six-wheel cars and 1,000-horsepower cars and (various) rules — year after year, there is always a pressing event, but that pressing event has been going on for 50 years. This is just one of those pressing events.”
Perhaps best known to American race fans as Tony Stewart’s partner in Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR Sprint Cup, Haas, 61, is the founder of Haas Automation, a computer numerical control machine tool manufacturer. If the truth be known about Stewart-Haas Racing, Gene Haas is the money man! He is the person behind all of the dollars of that organization, and the person who signs all the checks!
Nevertheless, Haas said he isn’t concerned that his project won’t work. Originally scheduled to launch next season, he has postponed the launch earlier this year to 2016.
“I dont have any second thoughts about it,” Haas said. “If anything, it seems like a natural progression with what I’ve done in NASCAR and with my company, Haas CNC. This is a natural event to go on in the international market with international racing.”
The concern over smaller teams being outspent by manufacturer-based teams is the topic of conversation in the F1 world this weekend. Haas says he’s still organizing the funding, but he’s approaching it from the perspective of an experienced race team owner. (I am not sure what exactly Haas means by that statement.)
Haas’ venture into the Formula One world coincides with his corporation, Haas CNC, moving into the global business world. All in all, this American race team trying to merge into the F1 world is going to be a huge adventure. Formula One race team budgets are astronomical! In comparison to a NASCAR budget, maybe 15-20 million a year, the F1 budgets can exceed 100 million a year!
Gene Haas may have the connections to pull off this move into the high tech, high budgeted, elite class of global racing! Time will be the telling factor.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!