Motorsport V2.0

David Tomlinson


With's decentralised workforce, the project's New Zealand-based commercial lead and ThrillCapital founder, David Tomlinson, gives his thoughts on the past, present and future of racing.

At ThrillCapital, we began life with a small problem. Today, thanks to the PERRINN Team, we have another three very big ones. This is a good thing. Let me explain.

First the small problem. Compared to the three big problems it’s trivial, a little jingoistic, yet fun. It’s why we founded ThrillCapital.

I’m a Kiwi. In the 60s and 70s we had three people at the pinnacle of Motorsport. Hulme a world champion, McLaren who founded a racing dynasty and Amon who drove for Ferrari.

It took us 45 more years to get someone on the F1 Grid again. (Even if he mostly starts at the back of the Grid) What Happened?

God knows our roads haven’t got any better over the last 50 years. They are still winding, challenging and sometimes even scary. In theory, we should still be a perfect breeding ground for racing drivers. Except that today we all know it costs a small fortune to go racing.

Today’s environment overwhelmingly favours the infamous “Pay Driver” like never before. Literal “Bare foot contenders” like Denny Hulme no longer have a chance. Bring at least a million Euro and you have a shot. Today, talent is always trumped by connections to capital.

As all fans know, this corrodes the Sport’s integrity. Imagine if the best young football players had to bring Euro 1M to the table to make it big. As Bernie once said, the best driver in the world is a guy driving a milk truck in China. (Or similar)

So, what to do?

Here’s the theory. What if we reboot the race team business model? What if race teams looked beyond “business as usual” sponsorship, a reliance on pay drivers and a spend every cent to go racing business model?

Instead, what if race teams were treated and founded as a R&D Hub that “just happens to go racing”. A platform to develop technology and talent and business through racing.

PERRINN has the potential to be such a team.

After all, there’s really nothing new to see here. It’s all been done before. Ferrari have always sold cars on Monday to race on Sunday. McLaren and Williams have formed successful R&D tech Hubs to support their racing (albeit long after their founding). In fact, these three teams are the longest serving in the F1 paddock.

Yeah, I hear you say, “Where have McLaren and Williams been lately?” Admittedly, it’s not easy to find the right mix of competition and commerce. To develop technologies, spin off IP, build production cars and go racing. Yet, McLaren and William’s business model means that they can “afford to lose”. It gives them the strong foundation needed to stay in the game long term and fight another day.

<snark alert>Contrast this long term approach with a certain Energy drinks company who threw their toys out of the pram when they stopped winning every weekend a couple of years ago. "They take from us not only time and money, but also the will and motivation,” said Mateschitz of Renault. Sounds like someone needs their Red Bull! </snark alert>

PERRINN has the chance to not only grow from a strong tech based foundation but also to do this from the very start. For ThrillCapital, PERRINN is a conduit to all kinds of exciting technologies tangential to racing (You can check them all out on this site). These technologies have the chance to solve the three big, hairy, global problems mentioned at the start of this post. And, perhaps even ultimately help solve the somewhat trivial but fun problem of getting deserving race drivers funded. This is why we are so excited to be a Perrinn partner.

So, what are the three big, high-impact problems addressed by PERRINN and Project 424?

The first is Green mobility.

Planet friendly initiatives such as the development of Battery, Autonomous and Electric Vehicle development will all be hugely advanced by the PERRINN Project 424. Is there a more engaging way to address global warming than by building the world’s fastest electric and autonomous car to set lap records at F1 tracks around the world before racing at Le Mans?

The second is the reinvention of Social Media.

Today we live in a world where arguably the current giant social media platforms have corroded the level of discourse to such an extent that democratic process itself has been undermined. Paradoxically, in this environment, could a platform, like PERRINN, that is completely open, google searchable, and transparent mean people are accountable for their public actions, words and behaviour?

The third relates to the Future of Work.

Advances in AI and Robotics means humans are struggling to find their place in an increasingly connected and borderless world. The PERRINN platform can foster co- creation, facilitate employment on demand and drive employee engagement by being the “Go to” destination for exciting, high impact projects. Further, the platform plans to use Blockchain technology and Coin to assign, value and reward contributions to PERRINN platform projects.

“If you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.” said Bill Gates.

Unlike Mr Gates, we are still searching for our solutions. So, your feedback is welcome!

In future posts we will take a closer look at:

The PERRINN platform business model and how the platform will be catalysed by the PERRINN Le Mans Project.

How the Motorsport R&D Hub can help drive financially sustainable racing and spawn a Motorsport Fund.

How the Motorsport Fund would apply a Venture Capital/Private Equity Approach to Motorsport Technologies, potentially be underwritten by large tech companies and embody “passion invested” for race fans.

Finally, how all the exciting initiatives outlined in this post complement each other.

Stay tuned!

David Tomlinson