Genoa Lights, a successful Indy Lights Team, has made a move unique to the auto racing industry. They have decided to offer out partial ownership in the team much like the horse racing industry. Known as syndication, it’s a successful technique of ownership that allows all team players to benefit from funds and allows each owner to experience a potentially excellent return on that investment. In addition, it assists in drawing the best talent to the team, making winning more probable, and draws good sponsors too.
We recently met with the President of Genoa Lights (Speedway Stables), Mark Olson, to learn more.
Julie- Tell us about the past success of Genoa Lights.
- Fastest lap and new track record at Palm Beach International Raceway during testing
- Fastest lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway during testing
- Fastest lap at Kentucky Speedway during testing
- Fastest lap at Sebring International Raceway during testing
- 1.5 seconds faster than the next closest car in the rain at the St. Petersburg race
- Pole position speed in qualifying and a second-place finish at the Long Beach race
Julie- What happened after that?
Mark– In June, (after an inspirational finish in the Freedom 100 on “Carb Day” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway), Genoa decided to park the team and begin preparing for 2010. Genoa strategically decided to sit out the remainder of the season in order to preserve its resources for 2010 and beyond.
Julie- This ended up benefiting the team, from what I hear. Tell us more.
Mark– Yes, this strategy appears to have paid off, with several veteran drivers and a handful of IndyCar® teams looking at Genoa to be a strong partner in 2010.
Julie- What triggered you to try syndication?
Mark– I actually had the idea to syndicate car racing teams before I ever started car racing. My first exposure to syndication was in the spring of 03 while attending the Masters Golf Tournament. We were staying in Aitken, South Carolina, which is a big thoroughbred horse community. I went out to watch the early morning training sessions and had breakfast at the diner where jockeys ate. It made for some interesting eavesdropping. Since then, I have met several owners and learned more about the business. And somewhere along the way, I wondered why someone had never applied the syndication business model to car racing? The last three years have been spent working the kinks out of the business model.
Julie- What has been the response so far?
Mark– A lot of excitement. Everyone that I have personally introduced the idea to has been excited about the fresh approach, the opportunities and the numbers. Last night, over a holiday week, we sent out an introductory email to our fan mail list (about 550 members) and by morning we had 38 hits on the website. A 7% click through rate during evening hours during a holiday week is a great response for a typical email campaign and it gives us confidence to announce it to a larger audience. We are also using social marketing to spread the word.
Mark– The team owners will be able to attend (in person and via conference calls) our weekly team meetings where we will discuss operational issues, sponsorship, drive status, logistics, and the other day-to-day stuff. The owners also will elect a three member advisory board to assist in the day-to-day direction of the team.
We don’t expect that the team owners have the experience to actually run the team, although they may. But we feel it’s important that they are actively involved in the process, understanding all the moving pieces and buying in on the decision making.
Further, the systems will be in place to handle all of the event-based logistics. The team owners and guests will have VIP status to all the events and there is a ton of organizing that goes hand-in-hand with that. But we will get it all covered so team owners don’t have to.
Julie- Where do we go for more information?
Mark– Fill out the Information Request Form. We will get back to you quickly with any questions or concerns you might have.