EP 007 / 25.11.2020
FROM FORMULA 1 TO FOUNDING THE
MOTORSPORTS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION; REFLECTIONS FROM AN INDUSTRY ICON
Farah Nanji: 0:00
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, and 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, these industries which are 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 in this world.
My guest today is a rather special individual in the world of motorsport Brian Sims. He's been involved with the sport for over four decades and has been a huge part of the changing landscape in motorsport. One of his biggest contributions to the sport was when he founded the Motorsport Industry Association, commonly known as the MIA in 1994. It's a trade association that is recognised as the most powerful business organisation within motorsport, and his 400 Global members represent more than 9 billion pounds of motorsport revenue worldwide. his achievements don't stop there, though, as well as being a lifelong learner and a visiting fellow at several universities around the world. Brian's also had an impressive career in Formula One as the former marketing director of the Lola F1 team, and the commercial director of the Benetton F1 team, a team whose notable members include people like Ross Brawn, Flavio Briatore, Pat Simmons, and drivers like Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Martin Brundle. He was responsible for acquiring lucrative multi million pound deals that brought global names like FedEx, Marconi and Gillette into Formula One for the first time. Brian is a killer salesman at heart. And this is something we talk a lot about in this episode, as well as his reflections through an amazing journey, experiencing the sport in all of its glory and all of its gloom. Just before we begin, if you're interested in watching the video version of this podcast, head over to YouTube and type in Mission Makers, Brian Sims to see the show. I'd love to ask you how it all began, what was the first memory you had of your mission when you were growing up?
Brian Sims: 2:38
I think my first memory was probably thinking I want to be like my dad, my dad was an RAF pilot during the war. And it only has felt that my destiny was to become a pilot in the Royal Air Force. And at the crazy age of seven, at my little local school, I led a squadron to have planes around the playground, or young kids with their wings out making aircraft noises as we ran around, that was really my first memory of a career. And dad was fantastically helpful and took me to meet lots of friends in the Air Force and so forth. So that's really where my life started in terms of thinking beyond school.
Farah Nanji: 3:22
How did that evolve over time into motorsport, which is the industry that you have been heavily involved in, in the last few decades?
Brian Sims: 3:32
In a strange way, I guess. I left school, I didn't go to university, I left school and got a job as a salesman for effectively a builder's merchant. My first job was fitting wheelbarrow wheels, which is very exciting. But the great thing about it, and you have to remember, in those days getting a company car was the bee's knees. You know, I was 19 when I got my first company car. And that was very exciting. And I moved through a couple of companies. I worked for Goodyear, and then I became a Xerox salesman. And they taught me more about professional selling than I ever knew was possible, a really high reputation company. And later through family, I went to a motor race. I saw the youngsters going round in cars, I thought, wow, I fancy that and realise that it took a lot of money even in those days to go motor racing. And so it was simply a case of applying the skills that I learned in the business world in selling to motor racing to get sponsorship. And that little bit I know would be my life for the next 45 years.
Farah Nanji: 4:44
But you had a passion as a driver as well?
Brian Sims: 4:47
Yes, very much. I saved up my pennies, and attended a course over about six weekends at Snetterton for the famous Jim Russell international racing driver course. But that's great. You can learn to go racing, but then to get a car and actually to learn and race, it's a different story. And that's where sponsorship came in. And I managed to put together my first sponsorship deal before I'd ever sat in a racing car other than at the school.
Farah Nanji: 5:16
Wow, that's amazing. You were born to do it.
Brian Sims: 5:20
I've dont know about born to do it. It was a case of necessity. If I wanted to do it, mom and dad couldn't afford to do it for me, so I had to find my own way. And yeah, that's amazing where it takes you.
Farah Nanji: 5:33
It is, and talking about where that's taking you. How has that mission of being passionate about motor sport or driving or liking fighter jets? How has that evolved over time? Where do you see that going?
Brian Sims: 5:47
Well, I was very lucky. In the mid 70s. It was possible to go motor racing in a category called Formula Ford. Formula Ford was a very simple, single seater car with a Ford Kent engine. And you could buy a secondhand car with an engine for about two and a half thousand pounds. Can you believe and you could afford to run it if you had a friendly mechanic, Charmin mate or something who would look after the car for you on a salary? Running, you're earning reasonable money. I mean, the thought, you can't do that today. And so I was able to compete against the likes of Nigel Mansel, Derek Warrick, Jim Weaver, all these famous drivers. And it's an indication of how successful that concept was. That for the Formula Ford Festival, which was held at those days, Snetterton and then moved to brands, there were 265 entries for Formula Ford cars. 15 of the drivers I raced with in those two to three year period went on to become Formula One drivers. Quite amazing.
Farah Nanji: 6:55
How did you fare against them?
Brian Sims: 6:57
I sat behind Nigel Mansell, on the third row of the grid at Oulton park in my first professional race. Yeah, I was, let's call them a midfield runner. I was okay, I had a couple of sets of second places. But in the main I was midfield, but then you had to think that we've got 100 entries for a race meeting, three heats, 24 cars each. And if you've got through to a final, you've done very, very well. And I used to finish in the final probably in the sort of 9,10,11,12,13. So I was okay. But I'd started late. That was my problem. I started racing, I got into the first, my first racing car, I was 26. So I knew Formula One was never going to be an option.
Farah Nanji: 7:47
Absolutely. So today, what does that mission in motorsport mean to you?
Brian Sims: 7:54
Today motorsport, your views change. I was lucky enough that although I wasn't good enough to win a Grand Prix and get into a Formula One team, I was good enough to be able to become a factory driver for Mercedes. And one thing, life is extraordinary life brings opportunities along and it's taught me that opportunities come your way change brings opportunities. You got to grab those opportunities. My first opportunity came on an Alitalia flight from Heathrow to Johannesburg of our own. Yeah, sitting on the plane, done a season of Formula Ford. And a man sitting next to me on the plane said, I see you're reading the motor racing magazine. Do you obviously enjoy it? I said, Yes, I do. He said, Do do any. And I said, funnily enough, just started. He said, Where are you heading now to the South African Grand Prix to visit my folks down there and go and watch the Grand Prix. So he said, Well, when you get there, here's my car, come and see me. And that man was a Formula One team owner, and went on to become the president of the FIA, Max Mosley. Four years later, I decided to go and spend some time in South Africa looking around, and the Grand Prix circuit at Kyalami. It was up for sale. So I rang Max in England, he remembered me. And he said, What do you want to know? I said, Well, somebody bought the circuit. He said, yes, they have. I said, Well, can you put me in touch with them? Because maybe I can get a job there. Do some marketing, get involved with re school instructing. said leave it with me. The next morning. I got a phone call from a South African called Bobby Hartslief. And he said Brian said I had a phone call from Max Mosley. I'm the new owner of the Kyalami Grand Prix circuit. He said I should meet you and have a coffee with you. What are you doing at four o'clock this evening? We met at the Kyalami ranch hotel next to the track at four o'clock. He was there with his lawyer and accountant for another meeting at six o'clock. I walked out as manager at the Grand Prix circuit in South Africa. It was extraordinary. And that changed my life.
Farah Nanji: 10:08
What happened in those two hours?
Brian Sims: 10:10
Well, the fact that number one, I became the manager of a Grand Prix, so I never worked in Formula One, I never thought I'd get to Formula One, certainly not as a driver. But an opportunity came. And I, in a way, fulfilled my dream of getting into Formula One. It wasn't doing what I wanted or expected to do. But there I am as manager. But life's never that easy. And what happened at the very first Grand Prix that I was managing the circuit, and South Africa was a very popular venue on the Formula One calendar at that time. My very first effort, there was a big political fight between Bernie Eccleston who represented FOCA, the Formula One Constructors Association, and Jean-Marie Balestre, who represented the governing body FISA, as it was called in those days now, the FIA and it resulted in the Italian teams taking the side of Balestre and not coming down to race at Kyalami. The Grand Prix took place, but not as a Grand Prix. It didn't count for points, it became a Formula Libra race. So I wasn't in Formula One actively. The following year, the Grand Prix took place. But another disaster, Niki Lauda, led a driver strike. So for two days, it looked as if there wasn't going to be a Grand Prix. The drivers locked themselves in a hotel in Johannesburg. They came to the track and locked themselves in a coach and refused the race. And that was a baptism by fire when you've got to explain to the managing director of the sponsor of the event, that there might not be a race.
Farah Nanji: 11:50
You've had a fascinating career then going into f1. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that was like?
Brian Sims: 12:00
I carried on a racing career, driving for Mercedes and touring cars, which was great. And then I set up a motor racing school. But then, with massive sponsorship, by now, I'm getting much older. And the word is out that this guy Brian Sims knows how to get sponsorship. So it wasn't long before Formula One came knocking on my door. And I got an offer to work with an old racing driver friend of mine, we used to race in Formula Ford's together, who was the managing director of Lola race cars very, very famous brand. At that time, the largest race car manufacturer in the world. They supplied all the cars that raced in the Indy 500 and they wanted to go Formula One. And I was hired to become the Formula One marketing director.
Farah Nanji: 12:48
That's fascinating. So how was your whole experience of f1? Different to what f1 is like today?
Brian Sims: 12:57
It was very strange. Working for Lola was great. Our driver that year was Michele Alboreto, who had driven for Ferrari race Grand Prix race winner with Ferrari. And I went and spent a lot of time with Michele. Unfortunately, the car was a bit of a disaster. And the season was more memorable for not qualifying a lot of the races than it was for doing anything else. But it gave me the real bite to do it. But then when I was at Lola, there was another life changing moment in my life, inasmuch that Max and Bernie Eccleston announced that the second most popular formula to Formula One was formula 3000. In those days, it was what is today, Formula Two. And it was where the young engineers cut their teeth. There were lots of engine manufacturers, suppliers, chassis manufacturers, brakes, tires, it was a multi choice formula. And they wanted to make it a single formula. So there's one manufacturer of engine, one fan, one tire, one brake, and that was it, which was for a company like Lola, a commercial disaster, but just created an opportunity. And I saw it and the opportunity was to construct or to develop a motorsport industry in Britain, which was recognised by the government as an industry sector in its own right. And I set up an organisation called the Motorsport Industry Association, which is now 26 years old. And for the first three years, I was co handed over to somebody who could do a better job than I could and take it right on from there. But yeah, that was my first stint in Formula One. And then, as you'll see later, another opportunity came when I moved on in Formula One.
Farah Nanji: 14:51
Yeah. So you decided to leave F1 to set up the MIA? I know that the MIA is very strong. It represents so much of the revenue in motorsport. So is that still a very intrinsic part of your mission? Is that where you focus your energy?
Brian Sims: 15:11
Not now so much. It was a very important part of my life, because it introduced me to a new sphere of motorsport. One of the objectives of the MIA, and I bought in big sponsorship from Accenture and Hewlett Packard, to start the organisation, was to create educational paths, career paths, there was no structure. If you wanted to be a mechanic in Formula One or an engineer, you were told, well go and get a job with one of the small weekend teams, clean the car and work your way up. And you could realise that that was going to change. And we set up an educational programme which resulted in 1997, the first ever dedicated motorsport engineering degree course anywhere in the world. Today, 17 universities are involved in motorsport engineering. I was lucky enough in my latter years to work as Formula One of motorsport industry consultant to Oxford Brookes University, one of the biggest, and best of the lot. So life is as you move forward, and you get older, there are a lot of disadvantages, and getting old. But some advantages. One of them is, you know, a lot of people you grow and get to know some fascinating people, and you learn how to spot opportunities, and make the most of them. And that's, I guess, if I had a skill, it's my ability to sell, and my ability to spot opportunities, make them work.
Farah Nanji: 16:38
You let your intuition guide you in quite a lot of that opportunity spotting?
Brian Sims: 16:45
Yeah, but who could, who could forecast that I sit next to Max Mosley on a plane. But that, and I say, do you know, I talked to a lot of young people lecturing, and so forth. And I say opportunities are fantastic. The word potential is great. But unless you do something about those opportunities, they'll just float away and somebody else will grab them. So you've got to spot them. But then you've got to be prepared to make those opportunities work for you in terms of what you want to achieve.
Farah Nanji: 17:14
That's probably 90% of the job, actually materialising the opportunities that come your way. So with that being said, what was perhaps one of the hardest decisions that you've had to make in order to not compromise your mission?
Brian Sims: 17:32
Leaving the MIA in a way, It was my baby, I came up with the idea. I've put together a very influential committee, a steering committee of six top people from the industry came up with the idea of approaching the House of Lords. And we had our industry awards there for 25 years now. And my wife went out to work so that I could afford to do this. And then to realise that the skills that were needed to set it up and get it going and bring people in and make it work, were very different from the skills of carrying on and growing, getting involved with government getting grants work in, in terms of the industry matters. And it was quite sad, because it's almost like giving up a child for adoption, I guess. You know, there you are, it's your baby. But it's grown. I was made an honorary life member, one of only four. But yeah, that was a tough, tough hurdle to overcome. Then going. The other thing, which was quite instrumental in my life in change, again, was that I spent a lot of time in South Africa racing, my wife, unmarried, out there meeting and when I was racing in South Africa, and we went back after the elections, where Mandela came in power, and set up the South African Motorsport Industry Association for a very different reason. The British one was to develop the industry. What I found in South Africa was that motorsport could play a very, very important part in helping young black kids whose sole mission in life was to get a job, you know, forget education and degrees and all this stuff. They needed a job in the townships. And probably most of them would end up in car mechanics, but to create an opportunity through education, that for those who wanted to, they could go from in a garage mechanic came into high performance engineering and motorsport engineering. One of the great times of my life was I, as you probably have gotten, you know what I'm going to say I bought in big sponsorship for that. The Dell computer company, their foundation came aboard and Petrona the big government Oil Corporation. And when we launched SAMIA, we were able to fly Rory Byrne, who was a South African, the chief designer for Ferrari Formula One. And the man who designed the cars that Michael Schumacher drove to so many World Championships, flew him down to South Africa. And I'll never forget, he stood up in the audience and said, Forget trying to get a young blacks and African racing driver, there are only ever 22 jobs in Formula One as a driver. But all you kids, if you don't give up maths at the age of 12, there is no reason why one day, you can't work in Formula One, either on the marketing, commercial or technical side. And that word spread around South Africa. And it was, sadly, a lot of corruption, which is well recorded in South Africa, that after four years, we had to give up the whole programme. And, I left South Africa and came back and it was very sad to see because 10, but more than that 12 years has gone by, and none of those kids have gone into engineering skills training that they could have done, all because of some very greedy people who are at the top of the pile.
Farah Nanji: 21:19
How do you overcome those hurdles of corruption? Or do you have to admit that this is beyond your scope?
Brian Sims: 21:25
You have to admit, I spent four years banging my head on a brick wall. The organisation went very well, I had some tremendous players there. But I sat in a room with a government minister asking for money in a brown envelope. How do you get around that? You can't go any higher than that. You can't go to the top finance. One of my biggest supporters out there at that time was a man called Cyril Ramaphosa. Who was then the head of the black empowerment movement in South Africa. He today is the president of South Africa that things have moved on too late. To like wouldn't, wouldn't go back? No, you have to. The sad thing is that the organisation didn't stop when I left, I sat down, I said, I think we need to put a South African in there who can deal with these things. And it lasted six months and folded.
Farah Nanji: 22:24
That's a real shame.
Brian Sims: 22:26
It is one of those things that, you know, you look back on new things, not regret. Because we did it, we started it, we got it there and it was working. But sadness of what it could have achieved wasn't it couldn't be wasn't allowed to be. And I love working with young people now. I get a lot of pleasure out of working with young people, it inspires me. You might disagree, but it keeps me young. For it doesn't look it but I am inside there is still a 21 year old somewhere. And it is working with youngsters because when I was at Xerox, one of my instructors came out with a saying that I've never forgotten, and I've tried to apply it all my life. And that saying was there's only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm. And that's a total lack of it. And, and, and I've tried to live by that and enthusiasm to me, I love seeing kids who are enthusiastic. Because if you can't be enthusiastic with so many things going for you, and you've got a problem. Like You I mean, you've got a fantastic enthusiasm when I first met you on that and you spoke on the phone. And if usually as some people forgive you for mistakes, people you can get away with, get away with murder, I rephrase that you can get away with so many things. If your enthusiasm is there, and people can see it's genuine. It's just people who have to sit there, I can't. I battle with it.
Farah Nanji: 23:59
I think it's really important to surround yourself with tribes of people who admit that sort of energy and fuel as you said, your drive. So with that being said, I mean, have you built up a very interesting tribe or team around you that have kept you motivated to maintain that level, that are on your frequency?
Brian Sims: 24:28
I don't know that I haven't really in many ways. I've surprised myself in so much that I've tried to keep up with social media, which believe me, at 73 years old is not easy keeping up with social media. But I've got about 2000 followers on LinkedIn. And I've tried to understand what youngsters want and try to help. The problem is that motorsport itself hasn't done any favours to young people. And I get appalled at the situation now in Formula One, for example, where talent in most sports, if talent, add termination to talent, and it will get you somewhere in motor racing, talent and determination on its own will not get you anywhere. It's talent, determination and money. And I've, for many, many years been talking to the governing body of the sport in this country, to so many people to try and bring some change, and try to understand and help change the situation. But it's not a healthy situation. You know, we've seen Formula One in the last two or three years, you know, two or three drivers who would not be there if it wasn't for the fact that they had very, very wealthy backing from parents. And to me, Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport. And you expect when you go to a track, or watch it on television, that those 22 drivers are the best 22 in the world. I actually came up with an idea as to how you could change it. And it went down like a lead balloon from the teams.
Farah Nanji: 26:14
But in order to develop talent to be in F1, you need to start from a young age, and you need to still have the money to compete from a young age. We talked about it earlier. I mean, even before you get to F4, you've got karting, which once you start getting into it could easily become expensive. So, how do we level out? Is it down to the government?
Brian Sims: 26:34
I mean, no, I don't think the government plays a role in it. I think it's that Formula One teams are basically lazy when it comes to marketing. Yeah. Because they know that, eventually, there'll be someone, somewhere around the world will fill that second seat in their team, and bring 80 to 90 million, or whatever it is. And we've had so many cases of that, they will argue that's not the case. But we know, in reality, that is the truth. So what you do is, if you are a team, and the teams got together, and said, right, it's in all our interests, that we bring more money commercially into the sport. Because if we don't, we're not going to get the talented drivers coming through. So that's part of the sponsorship programmes that they offer. When a company comes along and says, look, we're interested in sponsoring you, let's say, Force India, or it's not Force India now. But it was, what they could do would be to set up a structure and say, yes, you can come on, be our title sponsor for Formula One. But to do that, you have also got to put money into Formula Three, Formula Two, and Jr. formula for the feeder series. And that way, you're a prime structure of professional racing up to Formula One, club racing, you can never do that. But if your main channel is Formula One, its Formula One is the problem. That's the one that sets the tone for everything else. And people want to see Formula One with the top drivers on the top tracks in the top cars competing, really going for it, not just where we're getting 40 million. So it doesn't matter whether we finish first, second, or third. If they had to go out there and fight to get into the top 10. To guarantee next year, Formula One, you would see some amazing racing. And I've had some real reactions to what I wrote for paddock magazine. And paddock magazine came back and said, Wow, what a fantastic idea. We've sat down and discussed it. And we can't find any faults with it in terms of this. I said the big fault, and that is the Formula One teams wouldn't do it. Because it means the owner switches from drivers to them finding the money. Anyway, if you can't be if you can't be controversial at my age, when can you be controversial?
Farah Nanji: 28:57
Absolutely. So then what do you think of sponsorship now? Do you think that the future is headed more towards people being more interested in Formula E and sponsorship in that, because of the greater impact it has?
Brian Sims: 29:14
I think from Motorsports, there can be a lot of big changes and I think there's going to be a split in motorsport a huge split because when you think about it, Formula One now attracts most of the motor manufacturers the OEMs Yeah, Mercedes Renault the sort of people Honda they want to go where the new car market is the new car market by government legislation here and almost around the world is at the moment electric and don't start me on that one. But they want to go electric so for them, artificial intelligence, robotics, electric cars are the future because that's where they're, they're gonna make their money. The manufacturers are not in Formula One because it isn't that a wonderful sport and we want to give them Public all this, they're in there to sell cars. So that's the first point. So formula electric and, and the categories that are very different driverless cars are attracting a new market or their own. Very few people who are dyed in the wool, dyed in the wool of Formula One fans have really taken to Formula a, that's a fact, not an opinion. So, in my opinion, and a lot of other people I've spoken to, who've come up sort of similar routes, what's going to happen is that motorsport is going to take a big divide, you're going to find that electric, artificial intelligent robotics will go that way, taking the manufacturers with them. And that leaves the public who wants to see entertaining exciting racing, noisy cars, cars that don't look as if they're on rails, and so incredibly easy to drive by compassion that a youngster of 16 can get in and go quickly. They want to see real racing on real tracks. And I think that we know for a fact, historic racing is getting bigger and bigger. Two years ago, I took a group of people. Please don't laugh at this. I was a speaker, a celebrity speaker on a cruise liner did a few trips that year, and I took a group of 60 guys and women, mostly guys, to Monaco. So the historic Formula One race. We also went to the Cannes Film Festival as well which is interesting. Oh, wonderful. But I've never seen it before. grown men. Watching the John players special watching Nicky Lauda as all Ferrari came out of the tunnel. The sound of Formula One as it used to be. cars don't handle as if they're on rails, sneaking under breaking their crowns for the normal that is getting bigger. You've got the Goodwood revival. You've got the Silverstone classic, the Lamont classic. All these big race meetings now and they are filling Silverstone as I went to the Silverstone classic. Both the national and the International paddock were absolutely chock a block full of cars. So you've got this split. And how that is going to develop. It's going to be very interesting. Yeah, yeah, I've just set up another. I seem to set up a lot of associations now. I've set up the historic Racing Association to bring together all of the incredible different types you've got historic Formula Ford historic Formula Three started Lamon cars, Group C, bring them all together, under and to help grow the sport, bring more young people in, and to make it a career option for youngsters, because there's an ageing workforce in historic racing. And these cars in really quick cars, so they need some good talent.
Farah Nanji: 32:55
Brian Sims: 32:56
It is, but nobody really knows where motor racing is going. But that's how a lot of people see it, that there is going to be a split entertainment type racing, and racing because we're trying to sell cars. And that's the only way we can test and develop those cars.
Farah Nanji: 33:13
So talk to me a little bit about success habits. Do you have any, and have they changed over time?
Brian Sims: 33:20
What I have found is I've been working for myself effectively, yeah, for many, many years now. You do learn what works for you and what doesn't, I have a way of working. I've recently written my autobiography. And so that was an interesting example of this. And I found that I can't sit in front of a computer all day working, it just drives me completely bonkers. So I spend a lot of time all my presentations that I'm doing if I'm working creatively, on sponsorship presentations, or presentations to training education, whenever I get my best ideas, sitting in a noisy coffee shop with lots of people all around me, leaving me alone that made me do that sitting in front of a screen, I didn't come up with any ideas at all, I might as well be looking at a brick wall, you need to be around. you stimulate from that. I'm very lucky that one of the things that I'm very lucky is that you realise how many people you know, in the motorsport world when you get much older and you have that same passion and I would go to an old school reunion fairly recently. I went to the witch number, but it was quite a big one. And what we found there or I found was a lot of people who made a lot of money. I seriously have not made a lot of money in my life because unless you're at the very top in Formula One you don't make these huge fortunes. But I went to this and most of the kids at my school were lawyers, bankers. accountants, all looking very opulent in their pinstripe suits. There are three guys at the place who we all somehow gravitated towards each other in our own way, or very successful. One of them was Ian Gillan, lead singer for deep purple. He's probably made more money than the school put together. He went his own way. And he stayed very young. Why? Because he's passionate about what he does. When I'm, what's his name, another guy called Peter coseley. went into the film industry, his passion. And he stayed young. And myself, in a way, I went into motor racing, and I'm mixing with people, most of them in the motor racing industry. And although I'll tell you a very quick story in a minute against that, motor racing is their passion. And it tells banking, accountancy finance, great, I wish I'd done in one way. But I've been able to do this. And so I meet people all over the world, who we work with in our industry, and you've always got something in common.
Farah Nanji: 36:08
And talk about the industry. Have you been a part of the women in motorsports movement? And I'm sure you must have encountered females in motors. Way back when you started.
Brian Sims: 36:22
A little bit. Well, first of all, I got a Formula One girl, a Formula One driver girl sponsorship to race to Formula One in the South African Grand Prix that was cancelled as a Grand Prix and run as a formula lever race. And name was Deseret Wilson, South African girl brilliant drove a total raced in America in the Indy series. I've worked with Lindsay James, who is an incredible American woman who raced in the 90s, alongside Knight alongside with Nigel Mansell, in Indy 500. I mean to race in the Indy 500. For a woman physically, she's tiny Lynn, she set up an amazing sponsorship programme called spirit of American woman. And she got sponsorship from the big store group, JCPenney, and put together all the different suppliers, toiletries, all sorts of clothing, fashion perfumes on the car and went motor racing. And I've spoken a lot of time with her. I've met Susie Wolff and spoken to her quite a lot about it. I have some quite strong views about about women in motorsport. I met Layla Lombardi that year, I went down with Max Mosley to South Africa. Lila Lombardi was driving the march Formula One car and the only lady to score points in a world championship. And I have some quite strong views on that I didn't if you want to hear those? Well, I don't think that Suzy wolf stood out and said there's a glass ceiling for women in motorsport. I don't agree at all with that. I don't think there is anything that stops a woman being a successful motor racer or has done over the years, that is any different to what stops a young guy being a top racing driver. It's down to money, talent, if you've got talent at a young guy, but no money, you are very lucky. If you get through it, there's a glass ceiling. If you've got talent, as a woman, as a racing driver, there is no glass ceiling. But if you haven't got money, it's going to be difficult. What I believe is that there are some women who've done incredibly well. And Lindsey James talks to me about this, she's now set up in America, a programme called Women in winner's circle to promote women in motorsport. But she said, The worst thing you can do is women need to realise that there is nothing to stop them anymore than a young guy. It's not a sexual thing at all. And most driver racing drivers will tell you that physically. Maybe at some levels in IndyCar racing, Lin said was 200 and sort of 60 miles an hour banking, physically is very, very demanding. And even for young guys, they've got to really build up a lot of muscle strength and so forth to do that. But it's all about not standing up saying I'm a woman, I want to go motor racing, I'm different. It's about saying I want to be a racing driver. And there are quite a few women who've done that, and didn't get the publicity, but just got on with it. And so you've got a woman now that we're forming a formula w. w series.
Farah Nanji: 39:38
I think that money will be the ultimate deciding factor moment in time. That's definitely the case. There was a statistic today, 8% of karter's are female. And that's today, right? So I think there has to be a massive change in mind sets from the young age of, this is something that we could do mergeable in itself is not an accessible sport or career path for the most average human being. So you're going up against an 8% statistic, and then you go to compound that with like a hell of a lot of money. So the person who's gonna make it into f1, is more than likely going to be a man because you've got 90% more whatever people in the lane build. Why hasn't it got to that stage where a team can say, we see the value in this, we see this driver, we want to give her that chance?
Brian Sims: 40:41
Because there hasn't been anybody good enough to say no, or hasn't had the money? Yeah, I think what I'm saying is, I think Formula One is wrong, because it's doing that with men. It's effectively saying unless you got the money, if you've got the money, you're good enough, get in a formula, within reason. I mean, yeah. But Formula One's been saying that for a long time, I know two or three. Right now, young drivers, credibly talented, out there, trying to find 350,000 pound to get on the ladder. Now, whether they are male or female, in fact, I think females have more advantage, because it's there, there are less of them at the moment in terms of out there. What where I think women have gone wrong, is the way they've gone about the marketing side of it. And in your great market here, and I'm sure you'll appreciate this. So many women have sent out photographs of them, I want to be the first woman to go into Formula One, I want to I'm a woman that instead of saying, okay, here's a business plan for your company, that is gonna give you this, this and this to help you sell more products or services. Then you talk about whether you're male or female, any more than I would I don't walk into companies, I'm a man. And I've got this amazing thing built around men to get me into Formula One, I go in and help you sell more products and services. And if more women had understood that I had quite a disagreement with Suzy over this, because when she started data would be different. I said, I don't think that's the right way to do it. I seriously don't think it is. I said, I think what we should be investing in is far more programmes at the lower level where you can get any youngster in the same same thing. If I go tangent a little bit for a minute. It's the same in engineering motorsport engineering. There is nothing to stop women coming into motorsport engineering, it's just that they haven't there hasn't been the demand. Because sport hasn't promoted itself as accepting them, and saying, this could be a great career for you as a woman just as it is as a man. So it's a combination of things
Farah Nanji: 43:02
Dare to be different is trying to showcase through these days in schools and bringing in some people.
Brian Sims: 43:09
Yeah to a certain extent. Yeah.
Farah Nanji: 43:12
You know, the exposure. I'm sure in school, we did not get that exposure, right?
Brian Sims: 43:17
Well, yeah, I won't go into details. But I got Oxford Brookes in university involved in the data. And they pulled out because they were being asked for money and all sorts of things, which they said, that's really not what it's about. But I just feel that we've missed the plot a little bit. And I think that what is needed is a programme to sell motor sport to young people in a way that they can afford. make it attractive to them, whether they're male, female or not, but have the opportunities there for them to do it. And you'll find it or take care of itself. But I just, I find it. Yes, I managed to get a career racing up to very high level, just one step below Formula One. Not because I was a man or because I was a woman or anything. I got it because I was able to get companies to see how they could sell more products by getting there. And nobody has really turned around to motor racing young people and said, This is what it's about. We're going to do an embark on a training programme helping you get sponsorship. I went to the MSA and said why don't we go out to British industry and set up campaign backs by you called, what mode? The name of it, what can motorsport do for your business. I did not want to know. And that is where it's wrong. companies don't understand sponsorship because they're not in the sponsorship business. What they do is sell their products. It's our job to go out and say this is how sponsorship can help you do better with your business. And by the way, you get some fun and enjoy Timing out of it at the same time, we don't do that. We assume that companies know how to get money out of working in motorsport. They don't. They are as ignorant of sponsorship, as most racing drivers actually are, when it comes down to it. You know, there's a strong saying that, take the travelling people like dinos, Emperor Ellie, who came on courses, learnt the hard way, and is now educating others in how to get sponsorship as well. But most youngsters don't want to know they'll spend 500 pound on a new helmet. But you say to them spend 500 pounds on a training course to learn how to get money for not doing. So I think there's a very fundamental point that's been totally missed. And that is getting people when they're very young, and explaining how it works. And at the same time, going to the business world and saying, We don't want charity, we don't want you, just let's help this kid. He wants to go Formula One. But this is a fantastic opportunity to sell more products and services. We'll show you how that works. put those two together, and you've got a fantastic platform. But if that
Farah Nanji: 46:10
People who aren't in f1 yet, are they really that attractive to a brand?
Brian Sims: 46:16
I mean, otherwise, how would I have got my first ever sponsorship deal?
Farah Nanji: 46:19
No, of course. Just playing devil's advocate.
Brian Sims: 46:21
Yeah, no, that's the problem. It's scale.
Farah Nanji: 46:26
What is it that will really set them apart from their competitors?
Brian Sims: 46:38
My first sponsorship deal, which I mentioned, I didn't explain what it was. That was when I was driving down the street in Maidstone. And I saw a big sign at the side of the road, Victoria's nightclub opening here, in I don't know what it was two or three months time, I went back, I didn't have internet to go and do any research, I went to the local library and newspaper offices and found out and it turned out that they were going to be giving a business lunch to launch this club. And it was a member's club. It doesn't take a lot of rocket science to work out that if it's a new club, they've spent a lot of money on the building. And what do they want, they want memberships and when to sell memberships. So I found a way of helping them through my motor racing programme. I've never been racing before. So I put together one, how they could sell more sponsorship by having a race car in the shopping mall on a Saturday morning in Maidstone with a promotional person selling subscriptions alongside with opportunities to go and have a track day and all this stuff. And I've got a sponsorship deal. And they were delighted because they sold more subscriptions. Now, it didn't matter, I could have been a girl doing that just as easily. If a girl went to them, they'd have got the deal. And that's what's missing is you can't expect parents, youngsters to pay 350,000 for a seat in Formula four cars and understand how to go out and find the money for the business world when nobody within the sport is doing blind bit of help to help them get that money. It's a hell of
Farah Nanji: 48:13
A lot of money. And it's not something that just stops.
Brian Sims: 48:15
I told you it was a bit controversial. But yeah, that they're strong feelings that I have based on experience. They're not just picks out of the sky. And I've seen time and time again, ideas to get women into motor racing. And they all miss the basic point that you don't have to do that. It's how to get anybody into motor sport. It's that easy. Anyway, there we go. Hopefully one day somebody will wake up to the fact.
Farah Nanji: 48:48
Let's just hope it's sooner rather than later. Things change. Brian, thank you so much for your time.
Brian Sims: 48:55
No, I hope I haven't been on to many boring stories, because it's been lovely talking with you.
Farah Nanji: 49:05
We will be speaking to you very soon.
Brian Sims: 49:07
Farah Nanji: 49:10
You don't get the chance to meet or even learn from someone like Brian every day. Every time we speak. Brian always shares fascinating and empowering insights with me. And something I've always admired about him is just how passionate he is in helping others to succeed and transmitting the most precious currency of all knowledge to the future generations. There's a lot to take away from this episode. And I think particularly one of the things he said that really stands true in this current moment is that when we look back, hopefully we'll see a life journey that was extraordinary. And that journey, what opportunities to all of us. Change is inevitable. And sometimes that change is very uncomfortable. But all movements have changed, bring opportunities in some shape or form. And we have to come out of that change with growth and with a mindset of winning, because as Brian says, You don't have to be a champion. To be a winner. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to listen to this episode. I hope you're leaving with some great inspiration that can help you with whatever you want to achieve in your life. If you enjoyed today's episode, be sure to subscribe to your favourite podcast platform so you can be notified when a new episode is posted. It would also mean the world to us if you could rate and review the show and share it with your friends so we can reach as many people as possible. If you want to reach out to me as well you can get in touch directly at dj.n1nja on Instagram and Twitter. That's dj.n1nja and also Mission Makers on social media. Thanks so much again for listening. Until next time Mission Makers stay safe and have an amazing week.
Lessons To Fuel Your Mission
Humility goes a long way
Learn from everything in your surrounding
You don't have to be a champion to be a winner
Who you know is just as important as what you know
Change brings opportunities no matter how uncomfortable