Miami Gardens, Fla. ( Associated Press) – Bruce McLaren was a Kiwi who was born and raised in New Zealand. His eponymous Formula One team and high-technology supercar company are based in England.
And yet McLaren wants to be the official team for North America.
Crowds turned up at the Miami Grand Prix’s opening party on Wednesday night when a papaya orange—that’s the shade, don’t get it wrong—appeared on stage. In the city where there used to be superstars and super rich, the audience Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo’s vision.
He was also the owner, but the inaugural Miami Grand Prix Star is built around drivers and, wow, does McLaren have a crew. Norris was voted most popular among women In a fan vote and Ricciardo, the Australian who drinks champagne from his shoes after a win, is the biggest personality in the paddock and counts the United States as one of his favorite countries.
And then there’s the IndyCar trio of Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenquist and Juan Pablo Montoya. First to drive the vast route Around Hard Rock Stadium When he took laps on Wednesday in McLaren road cars.
O’Ward, who turns 23 on Friday, is a Mexican who lives in Texas and is IndyCar’s most recent race winner., Like Norris, she won her favorite driver of the series among female voters. Montoya, part of McLaren’s lineup in Indianapolis, is a former McLaren F1 driver and the Colombian was a longtime Miami resident and one of the race ambassadors. Rosenquist moved to Indianapolis and the Swedes became mixed in the community.
It is the IndyCar team that is McLaren’s ticket to base in sponsor-rich North America that has finally turned the attention of F1, and the major companies are scrambling to join. This is fertile ground for Zak Brown, the head of McLaren Racing, who happens to be a regular California race fan.
Brown has had a meteoric rise from the owner of the Indianapolis-based marketing firm that dominated the market in NASCAR’s recent past and pushed Brown to the front of motorsports. He is now the quirky American running the late Bruce McLaren’s team in his own way.
Brown is a straight shooter who wants to have fun, but takes little credit for McLaren’s gains in relevance, both on the F1 grid and in fan popularity. McLaren was voted the favorite F1 team in a fan poll and Brown said McLaren’s image has been cultivated through its drivers and commitment to spotlighting them through thoughtful social media aimed at the target younger demographic.
“The drivers are the right age, the right personality,” Brown said. “Pato is a combination of Lando and Danielle. Lando is quite reserved. Quite funny. Daniel comes dancing in the garage. So is Pato in his presence. Pato has the youth of Lando and the extroverted personality of Daniel.”
“The drivers are a big part of it. I think the credit goes to our digital and coms teams… What do fans want to see? That’s why we went back to Papaya in the first place. That’s what the fans wanted. Fans knew.” How important they are to us and we have a good two-way relationship.”
The quest to capture the market is working, but not competitive either. Only one team in F1 is owned by an American – Gene Haas – but the series has no American drivers; McLaren signed 22-year-old Colton Herta, a California-based IndyCar star, to a trial contract starting later this year.
McLaren is using this week to continue to build its presence, one of two unimaginable recent US races on this year’s F1 calendar. There is a complete “Speedshop” experience billed as “Top Secret” and “the most immersive (race) experience outside of walking into a McLaren garage.” The Speedshop is sold out and is only offered to members of the US McLaren Fan Club.
At The Wharf in Miami, a customized 2022 McLaren GT is on display throughout the weekend as part of the “Voos Ultimate Ride”. challenge. The car is a collaboration with streetwear brand UNDEFEATED and will be honored at a Formula One race in Austin, Texas in October.
The olive-green car is inspired by the livery designed for three McLarens at this month’s Indianapolis 500 and a video submission will go to the winner of the competition answering “How do you drive change?” The challenge asks consumers to describe the impact they are having in their community every day in 15-30 seconds.
James Bond, founder of UNDEFEATED, said: “Designing the new lever for Vousse and Arrow McLaren is thrilling, the opportunity to help celebrate and help celebrate and reward someone who is working on the ground and giving back is rewarding. ”
Brown just wants to give a McLaren a go and create another new fanbase for the team.
“Without fans, there is no motorsport,” Brown said.
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