Racing fans might be able root for a home team when the U.S. Grand Prix roars into Austin in a couple of years.
On Friday, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, the governing body of Formula One, granted NASCAR team owner Gene Haas the license to form a team for 2015. In a Monday news conference, Haas said the team will be called Haas Formula and will be racing within two years — next season is a possibility if the team can find an engine supplier soon enough.
Haas, founder and president of Haas Automation, is the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Spring Cup Series along with three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. The Stewart-Haas Racing team includes drivers Stewart, Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch.
The return of an American presence to Formula One will be a historic achievement. The last American-owned team raced from 1985-1986 under the ownership of Carl Haas (no relation) and Teddy Mayer, who based the team out of London. The last truly American-owned team was Parnelli Jones Racing from 1974-1976, which employed the legendary Mario Andretti as a driver.
In the Monday press conference, Haas stated that he would look to hire a veteran driver who currently competes on the circuit and have them work with a young American driver. If Haas Formula brings in an American driver, he would be the first since Scott Speed raced for F1 in 2007.
Naturally, the first American team in nearly three decades is huge news for Austin’s Circuit of the Americas and U.S. Grand Prix. Jason Dial, president and CEO of COTA, said in a statement, “News that an American team will be joining the ranks of world-class competitors in the Formula 1 paddock is a tremendously positive development for U.S. F1 fans and Circuit of The Americas, which has given the world’s most popular motorsport a permanent home in Austin, Texas.”
With two successful F1 races already on the books, Dial sees the chance for a stateside fan base to continue growing thanks to Haas Formula. “Giving Americans a natural rooting interest through a U.S.-based F1 team is a great way to grow awareness for F1 in our country. We commend the new Haas Formula racing team for this undertaking,” said Dial.