NASCAR’s Gene Haas confirms plans to enter an F1 team (UPDATED)

6 Comments

File this in the “out of left field” and “we’ll see if this actually happens” categories, but judging by Gene Haas’ pursuit of Kurt Busch last summer, you can’t rule anything out with his ambitions or desires for his race team.

A German report from Auto Motor und Sport identifies Haas’ Haas Racing team as wanting to submit its own entry for the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship. The FIA has opened a selection process for a new 12th team.

According to this report, the team would be run in-house in Charlotte by former Red Bull team manager Guenther Steiner, with cars initially built by Dallara and engines and transmissions from Ferrari. Haas’ operation does have some of the necessary elements to run an F1 squad, as he is the world’s largest manufacturer of CNC machines, and is also near the Windshear wind tunnel in Concord, North Carolina.

The other two teams identified by the AMS are Colin Kolles’ team and the mysterious StefanGP operation. Kolles has been in-and-out of F1 with the Jordan/Midland/Spyker/Force India and HRT teams, while StefanGP had applied for a grid position in 2010 but was denied.

If you’re skeptical about the American presence, you have good reason to be. The USF1 saga of 2009 into 2010 saw Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson attempt to set up a Charlotte-based squad to enter the 2010 F1 championship, but for a variety of reasons, primarily down to a lack of resources and an unfinished chassis, the team was forced to withdraw before ever turning a wheel.

Haas, Tony Stewart’s partner at Stewart-Haas Racing, is co-owner of the four-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team with Stewart, Busch, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick as drivers. He is not related to Carl Haas, who ran the Beatrice Haas Lola F1 team in 1985 and 1986, and was also co-owner of one of North America’s most successful race teams, Newman/Haas Racing with the late Paul Newman.

UPDATE, 2:30 p.m. ET: Haas confirmed the report. Yes, he’s interested.

“We have responded to the FIA’s ‘call for expression of interest’ regarding a Formula One entry on behalf of Haas Racing Development,” the statement read. “We respect the FIA’s evaluation process and will share more details in the coming weeks.”

And now we begin the wait for more.

IndyCar’s Vasser-Sullivan expand into IMSA for 2019

James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo IndyCar
Leave a comment

Not even one year after returning to the IndyCar ranks, Vasser-Sullivan Racing is taking AIM at the IMSA world, you might say.

While team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan will continue to partner with Dale Coyne Racing on the IndyCar side, they expanded their holdings Tuesday, announcing a partnership with AIM Autosport to campaign a new two-car Lexus-backed RC F GT3 effort in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.

The new team – named AIM Vasser-Sullivan – will replace 3GT Racing, which was part of Lexus’ sports car program launch in 2016. It will announce its two drivers in the coming weeks, the team said.

“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” Vasser said in a media release. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the 24 Hours of Daytona, including a ‘class’ win in 1992 and second overall in 2008.

“The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, with the support of Lexus and our sponsors, has the tools to get the job done and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”

Lexus has made significant progress in its first two seasons in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, having earned a combined two race wins, five poles and finished third in the 2018 GTD Manufacturer point standings.

Vasser and Sullivan were part of the ownership group of KVSH Racing in IndyCar from 2011 through 2016 before the organization folded.

They also owned Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500-winning car.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Vasser, a former CART champion, and Sullivan rejoined forces this past February, just before the start of the 2018 IndyCar season, partnering with Coyne to form a satellite team led by driver Sebastien Bourdais, who previously drove for KVSH.

Bourdais kicked off the new team’s effort with a win in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished seventh in the overall season standings.

AIM Vasser Sullivan will have two home bases for its IMSA program: AIM’s current facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as a new U.S. shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Follow @JerryBonkowski