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Haas Lays Out Plans For Move Into Formula One

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 14 2014

Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, talked about his venture into F1 on Monday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – California businessman Gene Haas said Monday he believes basing his Formula One operation in Kannapolis at the current Stewart-Haas Racing location will be an enhancement rather than a distraction to his four NASCAR teams.

“There are a lot of similarities between both forms of racing,” Haas said. “Both teams use wind tunnels, a lot of CFD computers, both teams need a seven-post rig, which we have at Stewart-Haas Racing.

“One of the biggest things we can take from Formula One is what we learn in aero. Formula One teams are much more into aero packages, especially when it comes down to things like brake ducting and radiator intakes, how air comes back out the wing. These are things the NASCAR teams are just starting to touch on now that the bodies have been regulated in how the air goes over them. I’m hoping knowledge from one side can transfer over to the other.”

Haas was notified last week he had been granted a license for an F1 team. However, he has yet to decide if he will enter competition in 2015 or 2016. He described one as too close and the other too far. He noted there were currently three engine suppliers and they were required to make their engines available.

Guenther Steiner, the team principal for Haas Formula, said during Monday’s press conference that he couldn’t speak as to who was on the short list for the team’s designer.

Haas said he would initially like to have an experienced Formula One driver, probably someone familiar with the current engine package rules. However, no decision had been made. Eventually, he would like to have a young American driver. He doesn’t foresee anyone on his current driver roster making the transition from NASCAR to F1.

Haas admitted his primary objective in fielding a Formula One team was to promote his California-based company, Haas Automation.

“I like Formula One from the marketing aspect of it,” he explained. “Every market is important. Formula One goes all over the world and to compete in a world market and win is something that’s very hard to do and that’s going to enhance the brand name of Haas Automation. And that’s the ultimate goal – to improve our standing in the world so we can sell more products in the world.

“NASCAR is a more domestic series. From a racing standpoint, virtually no one else in the world knows what NASCAR is. Formula One is probably the most watched motorsports in the world. Formula One has a worldwide impact, which I find is great. My initial plan is to sell more products in the world.”

Haas’ effort will be the first time in at least five years that anyone has attempted to field an F1 team based in the United States. USF1, which was the last attempt to have a United States presence in the international racing organization, was based in Charlotte. However, that team soon closed its doors without ever entering a race.

“USF1 was a startup with no resources,” said Haas, who admitted there would be a long learning curve and they would lean heavily on a technical partner for help. “I’m partners with Tony Stewart in a race team. I have a machine tool company, a rolling road wind tunnel (beside the Concord Regional Airport that will need to be modified to run a scale model). I have a lot of the infrastructure needed to succeed. USF1 didn’t have that. I have 50 percent of the parts available to do what we need to do. I feel we can fill in the remaining bits of the puzzle.”

Haas already has developed the team’s budgets and he said he wouldn’t simply throw money at the operation.

“Yes, it’s expensive, but we’ll have our own way of doing things,” Haas said “Too many teams go out there and throw money at it. We won’t be doing that. We understand racing. We’re going to spend our money wisely and do it with an American flare for design and efficiencies, and that’s how we’re going to control our costs. We’re not going to be a European-led team. We’re going to be an American-led team and we’re going to do it the way we think is the most efficient.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 14 2014
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