The Daytona Group has many revenue streams, businesses within a business effectively. Apart from the obvious ones such as the venues we have hospitality, Dmax, Championships, merchandise and education. We have recently fallen into another business which is having quite interesting consequences for me and others in the company.
We have very seasonal cash flow and money can run a bit thin as we go into February -March each year. Late last year, the Technical Director Richard Brunning approached me with an idea that we should go racing. The project required some funding and involved some risk but I gave the project the green light and our BARC Formula Renault team was born. Formula Palmer Audi is no more, along with Formula BMW and if you want to race in the most important and competitive junior Formula, then Renault is where it’s at. Carbon fibre tub, sequential gearbox, slicks and wings – it’s a junior formula 1 car and with 22 cars on the grid it’s where you need to be if you are serious about a career in racing. TOCA
Renault – the next step up, which runs with touring cars has 11 cars on the grid and there are some question marks over the cars as they can be unreliable and difficult to work on. The teams love BARC and, at half the budget, so do the drivers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very expensive; you could buy a house for a seasons racing in BARC, your new home would probably be in Warrington or Livingstone but I hope you get the point.
We had been developing a young Russian driver who came to us a little over a year ago, with no experience, via the Lydd circuit. Ivan Taranov started with some arrive and drive and progressed to Dmax and had expressed a desire to go car racing. We signed up to run Ivan in the Renault series and went to work. We had some kit left over from my racing days and acquired the rest of the gear needed.
Pretty much all of this happened with no involvement from me, which I see as a good thing, the ultimate in autonomy perhaps. The idea germinated in someone else’s brain and he (Richard Brunning) made it happen. To date I have had a limited involvement so last weekend I spent the weekend in the garage at Donington for the first round. I have to say thet Donington looked awful, very unloved, and they are still signs referring to “the Grand Prix Venue”. A little presumptuous I thought – unless they are referring to 92.
Ivan was very nervous and qualified poorly 19th for the first race and 21st for the second. Saturday night, when we went to dinner he was not happy. His old man, who looks half my age, had flown in from Moscow for the race. Sunday morning Ivan went out and nailed it, finishing 11th in both races.
I was up in the media suite and the grandstand watching the race and it occurred to me that we were completely in Ivan’s hands at this point, there was nothing more the Team or I could do and I realised that this really was the ultimate autonomy, no radio link to the driver, the rest of us were passengers on Ivan’s journey. We had a pit board to let him know how he was getting on, we could give him information but no instruction or help.
So we ended up in this part of the business almost by chance, but certainly not as a consequence of any inspiration on my part and this is very significant for me. I could spanner the car if the boys were stuck, but I don’t need to, as I said before, I’m a passenger and loving it. I’m sure that it is a significant moment for any entrepreneur where another member of the team has the idea, and drives it forward and all I had to do was say yes to the risk.
The foray into what is probably the most competitive UK racing series right now has really kindled my passion for the sport and I think I will enjoy the f1 season even more in my new found role as team owner.
Trust is a wonderful thing and the feeling you get as an entrepreneur where someone else runs with the ball, and carries it further and faster than you could is one of the best ones.