EP 005 / 99.02.2022
TALKING TOURING CARS
Alan Gow 00:00
I could have taken the easy option and taken the cheque from sky will be as big as it was in the old days and lay on the beach and Barbados and, and do very well out of it. But do you know what it's really important for me and the BTCC and the teams and their sponsors that eyeballs. That's the important thing for us to go behind a paywall would absolutely ruin the BTCC, I think. And now we've got a very good relations ITV. Only last year, I highly did a new five year contract with him. So that takes us up to the end of 2026 says guaranteed live all day free to wear on ITV until the end of 2026. And that's such a vital contract to do. And it's incredibly important for the teams. As I said, the teams and the sponsors and everyone else
Farah Nanji 00:54
you're listening to the mission makers show, a podcast that inspires humans to get into the mindset of success. My name is Farah Nanji, and I'm the founder of a business in the motorsports industry that explores leadership lessons from things like Formula One. I'm also a DJ and music producer in the underground electronic scene as a public speaker on key topics like resilience, building high performance teams, overcoming learning difficulties and stimulating creativity. And to tie it all together, I love writing thought provoking content as a journalist for these industries, which is so unique in themselves. On this show, I'm sitting down with some of the most inspiring and driven people I've met around the world to talk about their processes, their failures, the lessons they've learned and how they're truly making an impact for this world. Hello, and welcome back to season three of the mission makers podcast. For today's episode, I'm honoured to be joined by the CEO of the BTCC and president of the FIA Touring Car commission, Alan Gow, Allen has taken the British Touring Car Championship to dizzying heights under his leadership for the last three decades, firmly establishing it as the most high profile series in the UK. As a result, he's received several awards for his work, including outstanding contribution to the motorsport industry. By the MIA. At the House of Lords. We talk about the new landscape for the BTCC following the COVID crisis, his philosophies as a leader, and so much more. So just before we begin, if you're interested in watching the video version of this podcast, head over to YouTube and type in Alan gow mission makers to see the show. And if you're interested in some really cool rewards iDJ lessens the chance to ask our guests questions and exclusive merchandise, head over to patreon.com forward slash mission makers to check out how you can access these exclusive rewards. And thank you to all of you been writing into us and subscribing to the show, it really makes a difference. So don't forget to hit that subscribe button if you love the content we're making here at Mission makers, and help us take this show to the next level this season. Alan, welcome to Mission makers. How you doing today?
Alan Gow 03:06
Very good. Thank you the sun shining, so everything's good.
Farah Nanji 03:09
Yeah, we do love a bit of sunshine here in the UK. Well, talking about sunshine, you are originally from Melbourne, Australia. And you later moved to the UK in your 30s. So take us right back to the beginning what what initially sparked that interest into motorsport. And what was the motorsport scene like in Australia at that time.
Alan Gow 03:30
I wasn't interested in motorsport much at all, except one day my my sister's boyfriend, he was in a motor motor sport and invited me to go along to a local racetrack called called a raceway outside of Melbourne. So I just went along for a day out. And I was absolutely hooked. From there on I thought, I loved the sport. And wanted to get everyone to get involved, you know, not necessarily as a business, but just wanted to get involved in the sport. So I joined a local car club. And just to volunteer and help out at that stage, it was only about I didn't even have my licence. And so it must have been 16 or 17. And join the local character club to help outer race meetings on the weekends. And that's how I got involved and then sort of just grew from there.
Farah Nanji 04:23
That's awesome. And what was the kind of the scene like in Australia at that time?
Alan Gow 04:28
Very good. I mean, Australia is very interested into motorsport. You know, there's one major event we have each year called the betters 1000, which is it's a bit like the Grand National in the UK where everyone watches it doesn't matter whether you're interested in motor racing or not. It's it's a day when everyone sits at home and watches the betters from 1000s. So it's in our culture motorsports very big in Australia. So it wasn't it wasn't a left field, choice of sports or anything to go into In a very vibrant sport, and a lot of the big names in motorsport in Australia were and are household names. So it was a great fit and a great diversity of motorsport in Australia to, the only probably have there is distances. Whereas in the UK, within an hour or two, I can go and visit three or four different race surrogates. But in Australia, that'll take me all day.
Farah Nanji 05:27
When you say diverse, do you want to elaborate a little bit on that?
Alan Gow 05:33
In as much as it's not particularly rooted to open wheel racing or saloon car racing, touring, car racing, or rallying or anything, it's really diverse. And in fact, when I first started off and motorsport, open wheel racing was a big thing. It was called fortune 5000 Back in those days, and that was a that was a big part of Australia and then slink out touring car racing to go from there. And it is now and still is the major form of motorsport in Australia. And then, of course, we had Formula One, we have we have a Formula One race once a year, when I was a kid, we didn't. But we had Formula One, we have a Formula One racing Australia once a year, and are Australian Formula One drivers such as Alan Jones and Mark Webber, and they're generally regarded as a household names as well. So Australia's not particularly routed to one particular type of motorsport over another, that we love our sport, Australians love sport. And it doesn't really matter what it is, whether it be football, cricket, motorsport, we just love their sport.
Farah Nanji 06:38
Amazing. And so what that inspired you to kind of move to the UK.
Alan Gow 06:42
Nothing, nothing inspired me at all. In fact, motorsport was not my business, I had, I had car dealerships in Australia, and I also had a partnership in a race team in Australia. But at the end of 1989, I sort of had a bit of a change in life, and I sold both of my business. And at that stage, I was also married. So I also got divorced, the two word linked at all. But at the end of 89, I thought, you know, for the first time in my life, really, I've got no ties, I've got I've got, I can do what I want to do. So I guess like a lot of Australians, you know, practice casing came over here to use it as a springboard to, to go and see the world if you like. So I came over here, for no, for nothing other than 12 months worth of holiday. For one suitcase with me, I knew a few few people over here before I came. So I came over here for 12 months, and I'm still here. It wasn't it wasn't a plan. It wasn't something that I had ever considered doing. But circumstances changed. I took advantage of some opportunities that opened up to me over here. And as I said, I'm still here.
Farah Nanji 07:58
That's the beauty of travelling isn't it? You never know where the actual destination ends up being. something we'd like to ask all of our guests on the show is going a little bit deeper into their meaning of their name and see if it has any significance to them. Or any maybe, yeah, any any sort of interest to them. And we looked up your name, and it means harmony. So I'm not sure if you're like into that kind of stuff, or if you read into it, but do you have any thoughts about that?
Alan Gow 08:29
No, I'm not into that sort of stuff at all. But and I don't know if I'm a particularly harmonious people, person, either. Lot of people think I'm quite gruff and pretty straight up and straight down the line as far as most of us are concerned. So I guess I'm not particularly harmonious, but I don't think I'm particularly difficult either.
Farah Nanji 08:56
Well, maybe it's been passed down to your children's I know, when your kid says a musician. So maybe it's been passed on instead the the harmonious note. So we'll go a little bit deeper into your most sort of mind. Because you are, of course, very well known as the owner and chief executive of the British Touring Car Championship. So talk to me a little bit about that journey, you know, what sort of, you know, what, what, where did that kind of begin for you and, and what are you most proud of in that journey?
Alan Gow 09:26
As far as the British Touring Car changing guys, I It's, it existed before I came over here. Obviously, I was involved in the Australian during our championship. So when I came over here, the British Touring Car Championship was was a much lower level than what we've come to know it in the last 20 or 30 years. And I looked at it and with with a few others, we saw an opportunity of taking it over. We're taking the rights to it, and then building it into something better than what it is. I gain, it was never part of any grand plan. As I said, I came here for 12 months holiday, that that the opportunities opened up, we saw it. And the BTCC has been around for a very long time. It's the third oldest continually running championship in the world. There's Formula One, there's Nesco, and as BTCC. So it had a great name, it had a great reputation. It wasn't necessarily a forefront of everyone's minds, because it was, it was it was at a much lower level. But then what it became that I, I saw an opportunity of taking it further. And so there's four of us got together and took over the championship and developed through the 90s into, by far the biggest to encourage championship or championship of its type in the world. And then in 19, at the end of 19, sorry, at the end of 2000. We sold it, we had there was an American company came along and made an offer. Shell Godfather one was the offer you couldn't refuse. So they made us an offer to take over the championship. We thought the timing was right to do that. So we sold it to them. And then that I ceased my involvement with the championship at the end of 2000. And then turned out over the next couple of years, that same American company weren't doing very well out of the championship. So kept on asking me to come back and manage it and run it for them, which I kept on saying no. And eventually I said yes. So two and a half years after I sold it, I came back and re re took it over and managed it and build it up to again, what it is now because unfortunately under their under their leadership, it did very badly. It went backwards. And when I when I took it over, I had to rebuild it again. Yeah. And I actually I sort of complain about it now. But I actually enjoyed that. I enjoy the I enjoy the challenge of of taking something and building it up. I've done that now twice with BTCC. very successfully, and I wouldn't have done it the second time, if I didn't enjoy doing
Farah Nanji 12:22
what was some of the key things that they just weren't getting right. Once they once they took over.
Alan Gow 12:28
Pretty much everything to be honest. They they they did a very poor TV deal at the time. So it meant that the vision of the championship around the country was much less than what it should be. So when I took it over, it was only shown on I think three ITV regions and only like a 40 minute highlights. Week after the racist something. It was a very poor TV package. The crowds have dropped, that grid numbers have dropped. Everything about it was was really struggling. So when I took it back over I think I stood on the back of the grid at Donington, which is the first race that I that I, I headed back under my control. And there's only 12 cars on the grid. And that's sort of when I looked at them to what have I done here. I don't know whether I should have done this. But it was just in everything in all aspects, it was just poorly managed. So, you know, they took they took what was was obviously a very successful formula and decided take it improve it and did the opposite. We see that happen in so many businesses, whether it be food companies or whatever, that a new company takes over, decides to apply their own principles and ideas to it and and it doesn't work. And the BTCC was no different to that.
Farah Nanji 14:02
Of course, that's one of the biggest challenges of m&a is, what direction would you like to see for the future of the championship?
Alan Gow 14:10
Well, you know, the direction we have the direction is largely out of their hands because we don't know what traction actually motorsport is kind of take over the next five or 10 years, who who would have thought five or 10 years ago that motorsport will be in the space it is now where we're looking at electrification, and everything else. So I wish I had a crystal ball because then I can set it set to championship on the exact path that we know that is needed. We have five year plans and that's probably as far out as any motorsport kind of caters five years at a time. And if you look any further than that, 10 you're just sort of fooling yourself and you're left to redo those plans anyway. So over the next five years starting from next year 2022. We have hybrid coming in so how It's a very important part of the car market now. And we had to bring in hybrid, because we had to make sure that our racing was relevant to not only the car manufacturers, but the audiences and to the world around us. So that's that maybe a transition to full electric in 2027, I don't know that that's a long way away, it could be hydrogen, it could be, we've got ourselves a very good breathing space over the next five years, to have a look at what technology is going to be like, going forward. And then we can adopt those as we go along. But at least we've taken the first step by going hybrid. And we're the first Touring Car Championship in the world to do so. So we'll go hybrid, and then look at the landscape over the next five years, and then make a decision for our regulations. 2027. Onwards. So what do I see the future of BTCC, just that the future, as I said, is largely out of my hands, what I would like to see as a BTCC in 2027, is not necessarily what the BTCC will turn out to be in 2027. Because we got to be able to be adaptable. And you got to work out what's going what's relevant to the world around us at the time.
Farah Nanji 16:20
Yeah, absolutely. And this this decade that we're in is been such a disruptive decade, and we can't Yeah, it's, as you say, just planning beyond five years, is sort of like, you know, you'll find yourself back in the drawing board at the end of that. So
Alan Gow 16:36
do you. Yeah. And as I said, you know, someone said to me, 10 years ago, look, we'll have to go with electrification. Yeah, we'll have to do partial electric furcation with hybrid and everything else, I probably would have poo pooed. That idea. 10 years ago, I don't think anyone was really thinking about that, as far as motorsport goes. But, but now, as I said, things have changed so rapidly, you you've got to change with it.
Farah Nanji 17:01
Yeah, absolutely. Do you do you see yourself kind of wanting to still be part of it in the next decade, in the roles that you're in?
Alan Gow 17:11
I don't know. I'm not getting any younger. I have I have a five year contract to take me out to the end of 2026. And that may see me at this stage, I'll be 70. It depends on my energy levels. I can't imagine what else I'd wanted to do. But if I still enjoy doing it, and if I still can contribute to the championship as well as anyone else can, then I don't see any reason why I'd stopped. But eventually you have to, I'll see how I feel in five years time. There's a long way to go.
Farah Nanji 17:50
Absolutely. So very excited to see what your what you'll do in this interesting time that we find ourselves in. So one of the amazing things about BTCC is that it stands as one of the highest profile motor racing, motor racing sorry championships, with huge TV audiences. And that's largely due to the fact that it's free to air through ITV which, you know, can't be said for for many other kinds of competitions and motorsport, even f1 As we know is subscription only. So how important is it? Do you think to have this kind of service as a free and accessible for all particularly as we were in where you know, a huge crisis where accessibility for motor boys is not easy? So what are your thoughts?
Alan Gow 18:35
I tell a lot of tell everyone that I could have taken the easy option and taken the check from sky or VSP as it was in the old days and lay on the beach and Barbados and, and do very well out of it. But you know what, it's really important for me and the BTCC and the teams and their sponsors that eyeballs that's the important thing for us to go behind a paywall would absolutely ruin a B GCC, I think. And now we've got a very good relations ITV. Only last year I hired he did a new five year contract with him. So that takes us up to the end of 2026 says guaranteed live all day free to wear on ITV until the end of 2026. And that's such a vital contract to do. And it's incredibly important for the teams, as I said, the teams and the sponsors and everyone else. I've I understand the subscription argument. And financial it's probably very good. In fact, obviously very good for the promoter. But I don't think it's great for the championship itself. And we've all seen Formula One Formula One is incredibly successful, but there's less people watching Formula One now than they did in 90s in the UK. That's just effect. When it was on the BBC, it was it was seen by 3 million people now. I think skies live coverage figures are just under 2 million. So, so I'm after eyeballs. And I think it's really important to get those numbers.
Farah Nanji 20:17
Yeah, no, definitely. And talking of sort of sustainability and the the future motorsport being electric. What are your sort of thoughts on how the BTCC and the industry at large can kind of meet those goals? Do you have any plans to kind of go net carbon? Or what are your kind of thoughts on that?
Alan Gow 20:39
Well, as I said earlier, that's that's part of the plan over the next five years to have a look at where we go from beyond that, we will be doing small things anyway. We are going hybrid. So we're partial electrification already. And that's in step with what's happening around with with the motoring world. And we're doing other small things like next year, our fuel will be 20% sustainable, which is twice as sustainable as what you can buy on the forecourt and we're banning single use plastics within the BTCC paddock we're doing all those sorts of things to take us to carbon neutral will be a really big step. But that's maybe something we can look at over the next five years.
Farah Nanji 21:21
Definitely. And, you know, with a lot of a lot of the actual impact being from logistics, rather than, you know, waste viewing people coming to the surface and stuff like that, how can a series really offset that sort of logistics, you know, impact.
Alan Gow 21:37
Fortunately, we're only a national series, so we don't have people flying in from everywhere. So, so So our, our travel is really just vehicular. So as far as spectators, you can you can start doing depending on where the venue is, you can start doing more parking rides, and, and train travel and everything else to to venues. And we can look at that in conjunction with the venues but I hasten to add it to the venues that have to look at tetanus. We don't have any control over that. So the venues, and I know the venues are looking at those sort of things going forward. But as I said port can you when when you're when your national championship, you don't have the huge carbon footprint that the other international championships do. So it's a lot easier for us to offset the carbon footprint and to manage the carbon footprint. And then internationals do, I would hate to be an international championship organiser, particularly over the last two years with COVID and everything else going on. But also going forward in understanding your responsibilities as far as carbon or moving towards carbon neutral neutrality. I've got a much easier job than most people.
Farah Nanji 22:52
Yeah, no, it helps that it's it's all in the same country. That's for sure. What so talking about COVID. I mean, you know, we are still speaking at a time where you know, the pandemic still still still around, unfortunately, and motorsport is just starting to bounce back, I guess, what has been the impact for you guys in like, How was your journey like leading all of this through through such times?
Alan Gow 23:16
I, again, because I'm national championship, my journey has been a lot easier than most i i would have hated, as I said to them and international championship and having to deal with all the all the cross border issues and overhead. We had our own, we had our own problems, particularly last year. I probably did something like 30 different calendar variations during the course of the year working out what will happen. We eventually got a year. Last year, we eventually only lost one race meeting, which is which is really fantastic for us. So we got nine out of the 10 rounds, we only so we only lost 30 races in the year. So we only lost three races. And so that was really difficult. But we got through it. And as I said, you know, I don't want to over state how difficult it was for me because it wasn't when I compare it to everyone else doing international competitions. And then this year was a lot easier in the UK, of course, because all we had to do is make sure we started at the right time. So we started a little bit later. So I've done I've done 2020 So So 2021 is a lot easier because we just knew what date we had to start it. Given a lockdown situation in the UK. We started a little bit later. And of course we did Dallas's without a problem. So 2021 was was quite easy for us. Next year. I don't I don't pretend for a minute. The COVID situation has gone away and next year we'll obviously have to keep our eye on it. But we are purposely starting the season a little bit late next year. We're not starting till the end of April. We thought that was a prudent move, given her experiences in the last couple of years. But as I said, I won't overstate difficulties because they're nothing compared to those to do with with cross vacations.
Farah Nanji 25:13
Yeah, no, absolutely. And so when you were living back in Australia, you were involved in the Australian racing team run by the legendary Peter Brock. What were your kind of key takeaways from from working with, with with the team and with him?
Alan Gow 25:27
Well, Peter was, and I'm not sure if you know that Peter was one of the legends or the probably the greatest legend in Australian motorsport. He was literally a household name. And, and I know, it's easy to say a household name, but he was a household name. You could talk to anyone who's who's, who has no interest in motorsport, or anything like that. And didn't mention the name, Ben Brock may know who he was. So Peter was, was probably the most naturally gifted driver I've ever seen. But the biggest takeaway I have with him, he was he was incredibly good responses and people. Sponsors loved him, because he knew how to act and behave in front of them and do all the right things. But more than that, people adored him, because he would spend hours talking to the fans, you know, and it doesn't there's no, there's no prima donna about Peter Brock. Even though he had the stages of being the highest profile driver in the country, and as a senior house, told me, he would walk down the street and people would stop him all the time for an autograph, he could never go anywhere. But after a race meeting, he would stand at the back of his of his transporter race transporter, and sign autographs and talk to the fans and have photographs taken with him. For hours, like hours, we're not talking about 30 minutes. If a race had finished at five o'clock, he'd still be there at eight o'clock at night in the rain, talking to the fans, and dealing with parents. And that was my greatest takeaway from Peter, he was such a people person. And, and he never complained because he said, You know what these people give me my living, they give plenty allow me to do what I enjoy doing. The least I can do is to give them a couple of hours of my time on race day. And and so that was that was my greatest takeaway from him. So every time I hear a driver being a bit of a prima donnas and and you know, complaining about how many autographs they have to sign and everything else that really doesn't sit well with me at all.
Farah Nanji 27:41
It's part of the job and it's the responsibility as well that that you take on when you when you become a public figure. So it's great to hear that he was
Alan Gow 27:49
just like any job you can you can, you can choose, you can choose to do it willingly, or begrudgingly, you know, but you shouldn't do it anyway. So if you're going to do it, you might as well do it willingly. And enjoy it instead of standing there and bemoaning. Hey, you,
Farah Nanji 28:05
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Alan Gow 28:50
record you have to sign autographs.
Farah Nanji 28:52
Definitely it's not that's not going to go away ever. So yeah, exactly. You may as well roll up your sleeves and find some sort of happiness within it. Definitely agree and you've also been a behind the scenes catalyst for many important contributors to the sport such as Lando Norris and Michael Massey. So talk to me about that and also what you what you first saw in them when you when you started working with them.
Alan Gow 29:18
I don't know that Lana narrows I mean that Linda was merely a driver in our support race. So I knew lender from a very early age and I knew of him and knew his father from a very early age and in fact, I introduced his father to Zack Brown who runs an experiment. I started that relationship with him. But I can't stake any claim to Lando success at all. He was a great little driver and he was doing genetic juniors in our support race championships. That's when I first saw and Michael Messi, Michael I gave him his first job in motors Thought he was he worked for me in Australia In Australia. At that stage, I had a company called tow for Australia, which is running a series down in Australia. And Michael was just a young guy and out of out of Sydney, and we gave him some weekend work, and then gave him a full time job. And that was his first full time job in in motorsport. And then he went on from there. And now he's a Formula One race director. And I take a bit of pride in the fact that I had something to do with that.
Farah Nanji 30:31
Absolutely. Well, appreciate appreciate the insight into London as well. And I appreciate may not have been a very, you know, like what you said, but definitely that introduction to Zac Brown. I mean, could his course could have maybe been different had that not happened? So there's definitely
Alan Gow 30:48
well, you might be right, but Lando is such a talent that he would man who don't and don't worry, we've landed down where he was anyway. So I don't really take your time, all I did is probably make it a little bit easier for
Farah Nanji 31:01
sure. Sure. Absolutely. So we are connected by your lovely wife, who her and I met through the FIA girls on track, which was Dare to be different back then. And something I do like to ask all my guests as well, you know, whichever industry they come from is about sort of women in leadership and women in motorsport women in music, to talking about motorsport. I mean, what are your thoughts on it? How do you believe we can get more women not only just as drivers, but also into the top roles of the motorsport industry?
Alan Gow 31:34
And my thoughts are, hopefully the same as everyone else. And that is there's no reason why women can't be successful within motorsport, and they are at all levels. I mean, if you if you're talking about Formula One, everyone concentrates on there's no female Formula One driver, okay? No, there is one day there probably will be. But no, there isn't. But that doesn't mean that women aren't successful in motorsport. There's, there's been very successful drivers from from in all forms of motorsport, whether it be touring cars, where the BMD cows with a B, sports cars, whatever it is, all sorts of successful females involved in in motorsport. And then off track, there's very important females involved throughout the sport, you know, FIA level at local level. I, I honestly don't understand the argument of we need to why can't we get more women involved in motorsport, they are involved in motorsport. There's no barrier to them being involved in motorsport, and, and that I see I deal with them all the time, I deal with women in motorsport every day. So I don't see this, I don't see this sort of glass ceiling that the people talk about. But unfortunately, the focus seems to be always on Formula One. And people seem to think that the, the value of women in motorsport is, is seen as you have to have a Formula One driver, and I don't agree with that. I just, I just don't know this fantastic female drivers in all sorts of classifications. If one gets into Formula One, or one or two, get into Formula One, and they don't win a race or don't win championships doesn't doesn't mean anything. That just means is 19 other guys in there that don't win races or championships, too. So I'm probably saying it very bad. But I but I just don't, I don't get the whole. Why are we worried about women in motorsport? I see them, as I said, all everyday as engineers, every every BTCC team, and our headline has a female race engineer. And multiple females working for the teams. We had, we had two drivers last year, which are female drivers. So I don't see the problems of females in motorsport. I just think they're part of motorsport. And that's just part of the part of the makeup of motorsport. Formula One is a different is a different thing. But yeah, maybe a girl get into Formula One soon and shut out.
Farah Nanji 34:19
I mean, obviously, the whole world is waiting for that moment. But yeah, as you say, yeah. If if, if, if they lose or win it, you know, it will be, as you say, 19 other drivers who don't get that, that sort of when. So they're there. I think they also have, you know, there's this kind of like, fear, I guess, of like, how will they get eaten up really, by the public, which is sad, but yeah, I mean, I do know,
Alan Gow 34:45
but it's a shame. It's a shame, as I said that the people are, there's an expectation that women in the females in motorsport the value will only be seen If there's one formula, and I just think that's so wrong, you know, there's there's just females in all branches of motorsport winning races and do very well.
Farah Nanji 35:11
I mean, one of the things, I think, is also that because of the internet, and because of, let's say, the, the changing hands a Formula One as well, and how there's been a lot more insight into the actual workings of Formula One, and also, you know, different different motorsport championships. And I think now, now there is more of a kind of, like, you know, spotlight and there's more interviews and things like that, and people are seeing, you know, you've got, you've got fantastic women who are part of the sport, and then obviously, you do, you do need, kind of, you know, like, like what the FIA is doing with girls on track, like, a place like that which, which starts from the grassroots and kind of plants the seed at young, young stage. So that's, that's for sure. And so, you are at the sort of top of the multiple entry, you've been in there for a while, and you've, you've affected real change in growth. So in terms of the actual future of the sport, and I know, we've touched on it a little bit, but what are the sort of top three things that you want to see for the future of this sport as a whole,
Alan Gow 36:17
to be questioned? I don't know if there's anything that stands out that shouldn't be doing that as not actually now addressing I think this board has been very good at identifying what it needs to do, certainly, as far as the near term outlook is that I've identified inclusiveness identified women, as far as I've gotten women that don't really notice board programme. And the, I've identified the sustainability aspects and environmental aspects, I think motorsport just has to be a little bit careful going forward of, of, of the environmental aspects. And, and to ensure that we, we have a sport that is enjoyable, but that people can't, can't look at too harshly and start to question why we're having motorsport, that's the last thing we want to see happen. So motorsport has to behave responsibly. And in order to secure its place in the world, I would hate it to ever become a pariah where people look at it and say, we shouldn't be doing this sport. So we've got to be very careful on that going forward. But other than that, I think I think this board is addressing it pretty well. I'm involved in the FIA, at many different levels, and there are all sorts of programmes going forward to address where the sport should be in the world, and how it should be conducting itself. So I'm not sure I have three things that I could identify that, that absolutely need to be done. But certainly, the environmental aspect is, is key, because that will, that will set the agenda for how the sport is looked at going forward?
Farah Nanji 38:11
Yeah, definitely. And it from sort of what your what you've been involved with the FIA and your, your observations of the industry, I mean, what what do you personally think can be done to kind of level the playing field a little bit in terms of the financial barriers that that definitely exist?
Alan Gow 38:27
No, that's not sports, like sports has always been incredibly expensive. It's obviously more expensive now than ever has been, but everything else sells your house. So as your car, everything is expensive. So it's, it's silly to look back on 20 or 30 years ago, and look at how cheap sport was because then you'd have to also live in power cheap, as I said, your car or your furniture, your houses. So, it's unfortunate but noticeboard is to a large degree in elite sport because it requires money to operate at a at a much higher level than you do if you want to go and do athletics or, or football or whatever, certainly at the lower ranks. So I don't I don't know if financially you can level up the sport. I really don't I think you'll always have those sorts of disparities in the cost of competition and the cost of entry tests as other things that the sport can do in order to make the the cost of entry into the sport as low as it can be. But as you go up the ranks you'll always get to hurt love. This is how much is gonna cost this is how much it's gonna cost. And any other any sport that uses equipment like this yachting is a very good example. You know, we can all started off yachting by going and getting a really cheap little boat and bottle around the Solomons, that once you start getting up. Now you're talking about millions and millions and millions of pounds in yachting It's the same thing when you're using sophisticated equipment, the costs go up accordingly. So I don't know what you can do to level up the sport, but all you need to do is is make sure that the entry level is is as reasonably and financially as practical as possible.
Farah Nanji 40:18
Yeah, absolutely. And that being said, a season and carding could be 100 100 grand. So,
Alan Gow 40:23
you know, it doesn't have to be yes, the problem is we've allowed it to become 100 grand a season in karting with a lot of control a lot more control can be a lot less than that, we've allowed it to become that much. It's when you get into into motor racing, and particularly nowadays, we've got such high safety standards as the costs go up. Now, in the old days, people would say, Well, you go from karting into Formula Ford, and Formula Ford, in those days was a very cheap spaceframe chassis single seater with sort of road tires on it and everything else. People don't want to race those sort of cars anymore, they want to race, a carbon fibre tag with the halo and all the safety equipment they can because of a father is not gonna strap his 15 year old son into anything but the safest racing car he could put him into. And that costs money. And that's the unfortunate part about it, that costs money. So, so as as the sport as you go up the ladder, and it costs more and more, because the safety aspect goes up accordingly. And then you've got all the other programmes around it that you have to do to control. But you
Farah Nanji 41:38
know, definitely, when you say that, it doesn't have to be 100k. Like, is that are you? Are you referencing the same point there about safety? Or is there more the the kind of maybe the profitability side of it more that you're referencing?
Alan Gow 41:54
No, I see. I think it's just more the profitability side of it. My, I haven't looked at charging for a long time. But the last time I didn't, there was an extraordinary amount of money spent in in carving, where there was a lot of head trash transporters full of engines and spirochetes. And everything else and cutting was always meant to be and I'm probably being bit too simplistic, but it was always meant to be dead and allowed on the trailer and taken down and and have me go, I shouldn't have said lad, but a dad and the son or daughter going off in karting. But now it seems to be that karting is much more professional, much more expensive. So therefore you are looking at 100,000 pounds for karting season. And all I'm saying is it doesn't have to be that. Because the cats aren't that much different to how they were 20 years ago, they haven't got the safety standards and the carbon fibre chesties and everything else and racing cars have. So there's no reason why it should be 100,000 pound. So you know, they started recording authorities need to have a look at that. Sounds like it might be entry level. A lot cheaper than that.
Farah Nanji 43:05
Definitely. Thanks for shedding your sharing sorry, your insight onto that. In your journey, has your leadership style changed or varied between the organisations you're involved with? Or the teams that you're you're working in running?
Alan Gow 43:21
I don't think it has I don't think I've I don't think I have a particularly brilliant leadership style anyway. But But what I'm what I'm seeing become quite good at is empowering the people that work for me and the people who work for me, have worked for me for a long time. Now I have my technical director at Vid riches who has been with me since 1994. I think my coordinators been Masons 2003 The PR agency that I use have been with me since the mid 90s. You know, I'm, I'm very loyal to my, to the people who work for me, but but I'm only loyal because I trust them. And they know what they're doing. And I don't think for a minute that, you know, if if I if I get run over by a bus tomorrow, they would they wouldn't need me to carry on with the work they're doing. They know exactly how to do it. They know when to do things and how to do things and know how I want things done. So I'm very good at once I trust someone and once I've given them all the knowledge that I need to I leave them to it, they know what to do, and I empower them to do so. That's my management staff. You know, there's there's a few there's a few very firm things that they know and that is I must know everything. I'm a bit of a control freak as far as that's concerned. So they have to tell me everything that's going on and they can never not tell me something that's gone wrong. Because I need to be the first to know when something is a problem. Not the last person to know from them first person to know I can help them fix that problem. And we can move on. And let's face it problems come up all the time. So that, you know, there's some of my golden rules. I'm the first to know. And never the last. But there's there's also other things that I that I give to them that I continue to really let them prove themselves to me. And then after they prove themselves, and then I'll give them the freedom. So initially, I won't have better control on very much a control freak. But once I've proven their ability to do it, I won't keep questioning it. I'll keep I'll let them do it, and just get on with it. But yeah, I don't have I don't have a particularly brilliant management style, my great failing. And I admit it to everyone is that I'm very bad at congratulating people, we're on a job well done. I come from the basis of why should I congratulate someone if they've done job that I paid him to do? Now, that's not a particularly brilliant way of managing. But that's the sort of way I was always brought up. So I'm really poor at congratulating Mark, when that when we know when when I should do. And I know no matter how often I admit it, that that's a that's a failing, I still haven't been over corrected. So the people that work for me are used to it, they know that don't get a pat on the back every every day. They know that they're appreciated and respected in many other ways. Very interesting.
Farah Nanji 46:36
Well, thanks so much for sharing that with us. And yeah, the first I mean, the first step have changed anything is awareness. So you know that that's always one thing. So we're going to go into our audience q&a. And actually, the first question that we've got sort of ties into these insights that you're sharing with us about your sort of leadership style and, and things and this question comes from Louise in Germany, and she asks, What's your number one piece of advice for anybody wishing to start their own business?
Alan Gow 47:07
Number one piece of advice is just do it. I come from the JFDI sense syndrome. And I guess you know, what JFDI means. But that's, I think that's from being Australian. But that's what I've always done, let's just do it. You know, you can you can sit around and strategize and think about something all the time and wonder if you should do it, and then that moment will pass, you know, have a look at it. And you I always look at what's the worst that can happen. If so, if I fail during that, what's the worst can happen. And if I'm not afraid of the worst thing that can happen, then I do it. You should never do something if you're afraid of
Farah Nanji 47:56
though, definitely very, very good advice there and definitely agree because by the time you've sat there sort of thinking so in depth about it, which you need to do, obviously, to a certain degree, but you know, the world moves so fast that time waits for no one so
Alan Gow 48:10
and, and as I said, if you're if you're afraid of failure, then you'll never be truly successful at it, because you'll always be protecting the failure part of it. So, you know, you've just got a really just got to make up your mind that you're gonna do something and do it. And you've taken you've taken into consideration the failure aspect and what can go wrong. Once you've come to once you come to grips with it and say, Okay, I can handle it. If it goes wrong, then you just do
Farah Nanji 48:39
exactly exactly. What this sorry this question is from Liam in London, and he asked, What's your favourite race circuit in the UK?
Alan Gow 48:51
This is probably one of the probably a lot of people weren't when think of him it's called CROSS CiRCUIT, which is up in the north, near Darlington. It's an integral part of the world and as a racer to drive van it's a really good circuit it's a combination of twisty fast sections. It's it's it's a good it's a great circuit to drive on. So it's probably not everyone's first choice because most people will come up with brands yet still so no Donington and maybe thrust them that the craft is actually my favourite because I actually enjoy driving around. So enter produces good racing as well.
Farah Nanji 49:31
What do you enjoy driving around there?
Alan Gow 49:34
Well, I have a Porsche. So I have I have a Porsche supplying me with our official cars. So this year, I have a Porsche. Panamera Turbo S, which is an incredible carts 640 horsepower and four wheel drive twin turbo V 82. Incredible car so that aligns your driving.
Farah Nanji 49:58
Nice, nice And so we're going to go into our final section, which is our quickfire round. And we've got five questions for you. And not more than 60 seconds on each. So do you have a favourite driving song?
Alan Gow 50:21
I don't think I do. Listen to you ever listen to music? And so the answer is no. Sorry.
Farah Nanji 50:30
Okay. Do you have a all time hero in the motorsport industry?
Alan Gow 50:36
In the industry or in the sport? Oh,
Farah Nanji 50:38
sorry, in the sport, I should say Peterborough. Okay, fair enough. We hear that you've held a pilot's licence for a number of years. Do you prefer flying or being on the open road?
Alan Gow 50:54
I prefer driving particular alongs it's the right road in the right car.
Farah Nanji 51:01
True. As an Australian home annoy your neighbours?
Alan Gow 51:08
No, either, but I've never watched either. So really, either.
Farah Nanji 51:15
Wow. Okay. And lastly, Alan, something we love to ask all our guests. At the end is what are you most grateful for this month?
Alan Gow 51:26
This month? The fact that I'm still alive and healthy. And, you know, as you get older, you get more appreciative of how you're feeling that I'm, you know, I love my life. And I'm healthy and happy. And that's all I can be here where it's all I can wish for.
Farah Nanji 51:48
Yeah, no, definitely, especially in these times. What Alan, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been a it's been a real pleasure to hear your thoughts. And yeah, we really appreciate your insights. And yeah, thanks so much.
Alan Gow 52:01
My pleasure. Good to talk to you too.
Farah Nanji 52:05
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