NASCAR team owner and manufacturing tycoon Gene Haas is officially set to bring a Formula 1 (F1) motor racing team to the United States after the sports governing body, the FIA, approved the team's 2016 application on Friday.
The announcement marks the first time an American team will participate in F1, considered the the pinnacle of motorsports, since 1986. The team will be headquartered in Kannapolis, North Carolina with a base in Banbury, England.
The company has been investing heavily for more than two years to create a state of the art facility in North Carolina that features its own state of the art wind tunnel and sophisticated computer modeling systems needed to create the advanced open wheel race cars.
Haas is no stranger to motorsports after having won two championships in the intensely competitive NASCAR series and appears dead set on duplicating this success in the most global sports arena on the planet.
“We have a NASCAR team that is racing over ten years now, and we’ve been successful. We won two championships. We understand racing and we are approaching racing from a different point a view from our predecessors,” he said at a recent company event in Portugal.
“As important as it is to build your own cars and have technology, we also think it is important to win races.”
“We are looking at it from the racing standpoint. We are at the track to compete, and to achieve that we looked for the most efficient way to do it. I won’t say that we are going to compete with Mercedes and Ferrari, but we will be prepared,” he added.
Haas has smartly partnered with motorsport legend Ferrari to supply engines and technical expertise to his newly founded team. While the team will now officially be on the grid for 2016 it has yet to announce a driver lineup.
Haas has said initially he will likely stick with F1 veterans and will not seek an American driver for the inaugural season. Industry insiders expect that to change quickly in the coming years in order to tap into the huge fanbase of a country with over 300 million people and zero representation in Formula 1.