Pending formal FIA approval, the 2010 FIA GT3 European Championship is expected to feature a notably American accent through the newly launched United Autosports race team, it was announced today. The team will field two factory-assisted Audi R8 LMS racecars, according to co-owner and driver, American Zak Brown.
Brown, 37, is hardly a stranger to international motorsports. He raced his way across Europe in multiple open wheel series during his twenties. He has since become a renowned international racing insider as the founder and CEO of U.S.-based Just Marketing International (JMI), the world’s leading motorsports-exclusive marketing agency. United Autosports’ on-track efforts will be supported with JMI’s full-service resources, applied principally to promoting the team’s sponsors on both sides of the Atlantic.
For Brown, the return to competition on Europe’s legendary road courses is literally a dream come true. “I wasn’t much beyond a kid when I first came to Europe,” recalled Brown. “No bankroll for racing, no sure prospects. I lived hand-to-mouth, saw the Old World and raced on legendary circuits. I matured as a driver and a businessman through those experiences. Now, returning as owner of a new well-prepared team is magic.”
“In creating United Autosports there were a number of different series we considered,” said Brown. “FIA GT3 was an easy choice as it is respected, well-run and offers fierce competition among many of the world’s prestige performance car brands. Beyond that, it provides a nice runway for upward migration to FIA GT1 or the LeMans Series.”
Brown’s first order of business was the creation of the team itself. For that, he turned to long-time friend and previous driver teammate, Britain’s Richard Dean. As United Autosports’ co-owner and Managing Director, Dean, 44, is the chief architect of the team’s preparation and execution on and off the race track. In addition to a distinguished career as a driver, including single-seaters, saloon cars and GT cars, Dean has additionally served as managing director of Ginetta Cars, the largest volume racing car manufacturer in Great Britain. A former winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a driver (GT2, 2006), he has also served as the Director of Zytek Engineering, a Le Mans Prototype chassis manufacturer and suppliers to the F3000 series.
“My role is quite simple,” said Dean. “Put in place a soundly-organized racing operation with a mind toward future expansion. Knowing Zak Brown for a long time and watching what he has created in the motorsports commercial space, I’m excited to have the opportunity to complement that by building a similar caliber racing enterprise.”
According to Dean, United Autosports will first focus on the FIA GT3 series, but in time will consider other opportunities in motor racing, including running an initially limited schedule of events in vintage racing events in North America. “Given our start-up position, we are very fortunate to be aligned with Audi,” he said. “Their sports car racing heritage is legendary and their premium global brand position is complimentary to our own goals for United Autosports.”
Adding to the race team’s managerial depth is John Della Penna, who serves as Sporting Director. No stranger to personally fielding high-profile teams including in CART, IRL, and Ferrari Challenge among others, the veteran Della Penna will preside over various special projects for the team including vintage racing.
Also on the managerial team is John Hogan, who serves as Commercial Director. Throughout his lengthy motorsports career, Hogan has directly contributed to the development and professionalism of the modern motorsports industry. Hogan’s experience includes 30 years at Philip Morris as Vice President, Marketing and Sales and directing the world’s largest single-brand portfolio in racing, the “Marlboro Red” branding.
Along with producing a solid sponsorship base, Brown’s priorities include securing top-shelf drivers for the remaining seats on the two-car team. To that end, he said he will have an especially keen eye for recruiting other American drivers, but mindful of securing the overall best available talent.
Besides Brown himself, another of the team’s driver seats has been filled by talented Argentinean Pablo Perez Companc. A winning campaigner in both sports car and open wheel competition, Companc’s career was temporarily side-lined after suffering substantial lower extremity injuries in a 2007 Firestone Indy Lights crash at Homestead Miami Speedway. Now recovered, he joins the team after recent successful forays in the Ferrari Challenge North American and Argentina’s GT 2000 tours.
Excitement is building around the announcement of a new American race team that will compete in the 2010 season, United Autosports. Here’s just some of what racing’s most celebrated leaders have to say about United Autosports:
“I know firsthand the determination and drive American Zak Brown delivers to the commercial side of Formula One. Since he brings that same focus and intensity to bear in any enterprise, I’m confident his leadership and marketing skills will be of great
advantage to his United Autosports race team.” (Bernie Ecclestone, President and CEO Formula One Management, Formula One Administration)
“The FIA GT3 series has long been synonymous with excellent racing among premium brands. The diversity among car manufacturers, drivers and teams is some of what makes our series of growing public and sponsor interest. Clearly, with its dynamic ownership and American cultural flavour, United Autosports promises to add to that. They are a most welcome addition to our sport and will only make the 2010 season even more engaging.” (Stephane Ratel, Chairman SRO)
“For us as a manufacturer, it is important that our customer racers well represent the Audi brand both on and off the race track. With United Autosports we feel we have added a new customer team that will add to the long-running motor sport success of Audi. In terms of the FIA GT3 European Championship specifically, we expect good results for United Autosports in 2010 and beyond.” (Oliver Straube, Audi R8 LMS Marketing and Sales)
“The customer sport program represents Audi Sport’s third business field alongside our factory programs in the DTM and in sport prototypes. We welcome United Autosports as a new customer team running the R8 LMS from 2010 on.” (Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich,
Head of Audi Motorsport United States)
About United Autosports:
United Autosports is a U.S.-owned professional auto racing team and motorsports development business based in Yorkshire, England. In 2010, United Autosports is expected to feature a two-car Audi R8 LMS team in the FIA European GT3 series.