A businessman and passionate motorsports fan tries to imagine a new kind of future for Formula 1.
As the highest class of single-seat auto racing and one of the most popular sports in the world, Formula 1 is an international event that gathers people from all over the world, both in the audience and in the paddocks. However, the championship is more popular in Europe and Americans are a bit of a rarity here.
Forbes tells the story of Brad Hollinger, an American who owns a stake in the famous Williams Martini Racing team, a successful businessman and, of course, a huge fan of motorsports. Hollinger loves everything about Formula 1, but he thinks the event would benefit hugely from the potential of US sports fans and the generous contribution of popular American brands.
The article picked up by gambling news invites sports fans to exercise their imagination and see what Formula 1 would look like if it were more… American.
F1 needs more promotion in the US
As one of the world’s most widely followed sports, the F1 group generated $1.7 billion in revenue last year. Ferrari alone achieved a valuation of $1.2 billion according to Forbes. In the article published by the popular American business magazine, Hollinger talks about the domestic and international opportunity that would bring Formula 1 to a whole new level.
“These cars are the most sophisticated moving machines in the world,” Hollinger told reporters. “The timing is opportune for the sport in the US, we need to help promote it,” he added.
When it comes to business and investments, the man knows what he’s talking about. Hollinger is a successful healthcare entrepreneur, who founded his own empire of retirement homes and senior care centers. By this summer, he had built a 5% stake in Williams and says he has the options of increasing that percentage by a few points if he feels like it.
The businessman did not want to reveal how much he invested, but the magazine put a $290 million value on the F1 team back in 2012. That price tag could come in much higher this year, following a 15 million-a-year deal between Williams and Martini.
Ferrari disappointed this season, while Mercedes secured the constructors’ title. On top of that, one of its drivers – Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg – will become world champion at the last race in Abu Dhabi.
“The financial logic is there, but there’s always going to be winners and losers, you can’t always be on top,” said Hollinger.
A sport for multi-cultural America
The businessman is convinced the F1 could grow in the US, where the population has become more diversified and is increasingly cosmopolitan. Those who follow Formula 1 championship make up a different demographic from NASCAR and IndyCar fans. Hollinger describes them as “highly-educated, multi-cultural, and generally wealthy” people.
Three days of racing drew a crowd of 237,406 fans to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. More than 100,000 showed up on Sunday alone, to watch the big race. Hollinger thinks “Austin is the right place” for the event, but added that the Northeast and California have great potential to attract huge crowds to the tracks.
Formula 1 already has a huge audience in the US, but interest would grow considerably if one of the teams had an American on board. Forbes recently reported that Gene Haas of the Stewart-Haas Racing team competing in NASCAR is trying to bring an American team on the grid by 2016.
And with F1 being popular worldwide, it would be easy to get large corporations in the mix. Just imagine what it would be like to have Apple, Facebook or other American brands as sponsors!
Sports betting, the cherry on top
If we’re going to fantasize about making Formula 1 more American, why not take things further? Sports usually goes together with wagering and betting on the international auto racing championship is very popular in Europe, where most countries are open to the idea.
Since 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act makes sure to restrict sports betting in the US to four states. Over the past few years, supporters of the gambling industry have been trying to convince politicians to change American gambling laws to allow players to place wagers on their favorite sports events.
New Jersey lawmakers took a few steps in that direction, by passing a law which promised licensed casinos and racetracks in the state would not be prosecuted if they add sportsbooks to their current offers, but a federal court could overturn it. But if players had both a US team to route for in the F1 and access to online sportsbooks in the US, profits could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
Those are a lot of ifs, but there is a chance it could all happen in the future. Experts know the plan would work, but it also depends on investors and lawmakers.