In episode 4 of Artists, Engineers, and Entrepreneurs (ae2) we learn about going fast. Greg Gill, President of SRO Motorsports America, sits down with us to discuss the business of auto racing. SRO Motorsports America is part of a global group that organizes and promotes GT (grand touring) races internationally.
Ever since man could walk, Greg explains, we've had an inherent need to "get there first" and answer the question "how do we get there?" And so, racing of all kinds was born. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s car culture of California, Greg has always had a love of cars and going fast. But it wasn't until he went to college to study engineering (expecting to start a career in building or architecture) when he fell into publishing magazines, that he started a career centered around cars.
GT races are unlike Formula One, which race open wheel cars, or NASCAR, which race cars that look almost identical to each other. Instead, SRO races feature cars that are actually recognizable – "souped up" versions of existing sports cars. In auto racing, there are two kinds of race backing: factory-backed racing and customer-backed racing. In factory-backed racing, the car OEM builds a car because they want to prove it in a racing setting. In customer-backed racing, an owner buys the car from the OEM and finances the racing. SRO races are a kind of hybrid of the two. They are customer-backed races with OEM support.
SRO's business model is similar to a B2B (business-to-business) model. They have three groups of stakeholders: the sponsors, the owners, and the spectators. One of the things that Greg does for his sponsor stakeholders is to help them create a business case for sponsoring a race. Sponsorship, he explains, is not just about advertising – it's about partnership and connecting with your customers. For the owners, GT racing is about feeding their competitive ethos. It's about spending a lot of money for something that can't easily be replicated.
In today's digital world, spectators have a whole new way to engage with racing. Thanks to the popularity of e-sports, spectators can virtually drive some of the cars and courses being raced on the speedways. When we taped this episode, Greg discussed how e-sports would affect motor sport. Since then, SRO has pushed forward, making e-sport an integral part of the SRO experience, giving the SRO fan the experience of competing with and against drivers on the track.
Watch the complete interview below.
ae2 is a web-series from Hiller Measurements is a long-form interview-style program that explores thought leaders at the “business end” of companies, creative works, and research. In each episode, Hiller Measurements’ President Jeff Olsen explores the creative drive, personal motivations, and stories of perseverance of visionaries who are still “in the hunt.”
Through ae2, our aim is to find the business model in the engineering mind, the drive and technique a gifted artist is developing, and the impact for good that outweighs the personal risk taken on by bold business creators. Overall, the goal of our series is to inspire viewers to step out, build, and create.