When I first read the press release headline about Superleague Formula, I was under the impression that someone was trying to create a hybrid sport that combined soccer (football for everyone outside the states) and open-wheel auto racing. Here’s the headline, “Two Great Sports, One Thrilling Championship, Today heralds the launch of a major new initiative that brings together two of the world’s most popular sports: football and motor racing.”
Even though that sounds like a pretty ridiculous idea, and by ridiculous I mean awesome, the headline was misleading. The proposed Superleague Formula will in fact be another open-wheel racing league where the teams cars are done up in paint schemes of famous football clubs from around the world, and presumably they will have a direct affiliation with that club.
While this isn’t as exciting as open-wheel polo, it is still an interesting idea. I’m all for new racing leagues and venues, and this new series actually sounds pretty decent. This is partially due to the V12 engines which will be powering the series. There’s not much that can compare to the howl of a race prepped V12, and with Formula One dropping to V10s then V8s, CART relying on turbocharged V8s and IRL using a naturally aspirated V8 as well, the sound of open wheel racing just hasn’t been the same.
The single-seater formula series has already got the nod from many of the leading football teams including AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, FC Porto and Olympiacos, and are in negotiations with Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Valencia (Spain); Inter Milan (Italy), Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseille (France); Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 (Germany); Basel (Switzerland); Galatasaray (Turkey); Anderlecht (Belgium), Goteborg (Sweden) Moscow Lokomotiv (Russia); Boca Juniors (Argentina); Flamengo (Brazil); Club America (Mexico); Shanghai Shenua (China) and Samsung Bluewings (Korea) to fill the grid. The goal is to have a field of 20 cars for the first race which is tentatively scheduled for August 2008.
Proposed AC Milan car
Alex Andreu, the Spaniard who is heading up this campaign has high hopes for the series, “Extensive research shows that our concept will be embraced by fans of both football and motorsport. We conducted focus group research sessions with season ticket holders at 10 of the top clubs throughout Europe”.
“We have developed a strong investment package which has attracted investors from throughout the world. Our revenues will be shared equally between the football clubs, the teams and a strong ROI for our investors.”
The cars themselves are single-seater open-wheel chassis’s constructed by Elan Motorsport Technologies in the US. As mentioned above they sport acoustically magnificent 750bhp 4.2-litre V12 engines designed from Menard Competition Technologies and the cars will be heavily regulated to provide an equal playing field with emphasis on driver skill and pit strategy. The prize for each round will be over a million euros making it a worthwhile effort if you reach the top of the podium.
A1 Grand Prix, Czech Team Car
I hope that this series gets going and has a successful season, but I’m a bit skeptical about the whole idea. A few years back a very similar open-wheel series was born called the A1 Grand Prix. Billed as the World Cup of motor racing, this series sported cool looking spec open-wheeled cars with country-specific teams and drivers. It was a great idea to pit countries directly against one another in a motorsports setting, and the addition of many former driving greats running in this series added to its promise. I even watched a couple races and the action was great. But after two full seasons the future of the A1 GP is up in the air. It seems likely that the same might happen for Superleague Formula. Of course if they get the right TV deal, the right sponsors and fun to watch competitive racing it could be a huge success.
F1, Formula One, A1 Grand Prix, Superleague Formula, Soccer, Football, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Spain, open wheel, racing, grand prix, CART, IRL, Indy, V12, V10, V8