IndyCar: Why McLaren stepped up their IndyCar stake

In August it was announced that McLaren would step up to be the majority shareholder in the Arrows McLaren SP team, as it increased its investment to 75 percent.

“We’re in the business of racing,” CEO Zak Brown told

“There’s two ways to deliver value to our shareholders; to obviously be a profitable business, but the bigger win is building the franchise value, the value of the entire operation.”

“By having an IndyCar program, we’ve got something  – a broader, deeper offering for our commercial partners who say North America is really important,” he explained.

“Formula 1 is growing there, but having an IndyCar team turbocharges that.

“We’ve had some partners join us because we had a bigger North American presence and footprint than Formula 1 alone,” he added.

“And then you’ve had Arrow Electronics, who are our title sponsor in IndyCar, who have joined our Formula 1 team.

“So, while IndyCar is a profitable business, it’s great for our brand, we’re [fighting for] the championship, I can also point to [the fact that] it’s helped bring more partners into Formula 1.”

“When I got involved in McLaren, I felt McLaren was, in time, best served being in multiple forms of motorsport, like we have been historically,” the American reasoned.

“That was always my vision when I came in, but it’s all about timing and making sure we’re in a good place.

“When I joined, I joined at the height of our bottom, so that was not the right time because it’s all about Formula 1, that is the center of gravity for us.

“IndyCar now is working,” he continued.

“We’re technically involved, we’re commercially involved, and we felt it was something of a strategic alliance.

“It was kind of renting before buying – is this going to work?

“It clearly is working for us and working for the racing team.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as we stepped up our involvement, we’re [fighting for] the championship.

“I don’t want to take more credit than we deserve, it’s a team effort and Taylor Kiel’s running the team with the existing infrastructure, but I think we helped accelerate some of the performance.”

Zak Brown and Taylor Kiel – Big Machine Music City Grand Prix — Photo by: Chris Owens

“We decided we wanted to make a bigger commitment because in that way, we could have total control,” Brown said.

“That’s not meant to be a ‘I’m a control freak statement’, but when you’re renting a house, you may not put your best furniture in it because you don’t know if you’re moving out.

“And so acquiring the team, now we can put all of our resources behind it knowing that’s where we’re going to be on a permanent basis.”


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