EXCLUSIVE: Supercars’ overseas FIFO plan
By Mark Fogarty
Monday 29th May, 2023 - 5:32pm
Off-shore fleets of Supercars could open up international expansion options in an innovative Fly-In Fly-Out (FIFO) business model.
RACE chief Barclay Nettlefold has confirmed that basing race-ready fields of Gen3 Camaros and Mustangs in strategic overseas locations is a scheme that has been discussed as a long-term target.
Nettlefold, chairman and key shareholder of the Supercars-owning RACE (Racing Australia Consolidated Enterprises Ltd) consortium, is convinced the latest road-look V8 racers have global appeal that could justify stationing extra sets of cars off-shore to facilitate foreign races, most likely aligned with Formula 1 events.
“That plan is just an idea,” Nettlefold revealed to Speedcafe and the Parked Up Plus podcast.
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“It’s not something that we’ve actually really talked about, other than that [idea] because of the work we’ve been doing on Gen3.
“But, you know, we now have a product that’s so relevant to the world scale and world marketplace. So why wouldn’t we be considering having discussions like that?”
Under the plan, teams would run cars equivalent to their own Australia-based machines permanently based in regions as diverse as North America, Asia and even Europe.
Personnel would meet up with the cars and back-up equipment at the overseas events, flying in and out like FIFO mining workers.
After the initial cost of building an extra fleet of racers, the concept would eliminate the huge cost of air freighting them, along with spares and equipment, to overseas events.
It would also, for example, enable Supercars to race on the F1 Singapore Grand Prix support card within a few weeks of the Bathurst 1000 without serious disruption.
It’s a bold idea that would rely on RACE investment and financial support from overseas promoters.
According the Nettlefold, the proposal is consistent with the potential for international expansion outlined in the prospectus of RACE’s purchase – valued at more than $100 million – of Supercars from Archer Capital and the teams late last year.
“We are certainly considering, is it viable to build another set of cars and leave them off-shore?” he said. “So we can ship them around and then teams get up on planes and get out at the tracks?
“If you go back to the investment memorandum, that Archer and [then Supercars board member] Roland Dane and everyone presented to us, the key growth objective was international.
“So, we’re not doing anything that’s uncommon or different to what we were sold and what we were told would be a great opportunity.”
The ‘FIFO’ idea, as unorthodox as it may be, also meshes with Nettlefold’s ambition to establish Supercars as a major F1 support category in major markets.
A self-acknowledged motor sport neophyte, he believes Gen3 and its raw V8 racing spectacle can add value to selected F1 events, especially in the booming USA market where Chevrolet and Ford have strong presences.
Speedcafe understands that the idea of off-shore fleets of Supercars came from Nettlefold’s early notion that Chevy and Ford could be convinced to fund the construction and operation of a full field of team-aligned Camaros and Mustangs for events in the USA and Canada.
Limited interest from the manufacturers, already heavily invested in NASCAR and other local series, changed the skew of investigating foreign fleets.
It is known that Roland Dane was a proponent of selling Gen3 for racing in other regions, with the design adaptable to other body shapes and production-based V8 engines.
Update/correction: Roland Dane was not on the Supercars board of directors when the sale decision was made. Dane, a Speedcafe contributor, also rejects Nettlefold’s assertion that he was party to any investment memorandum outlining international expansion. He has no other qualms with the story.