Super Black Racing’s V8 Supercars Championship effort could expand to two cars as soon as next year if an ambitious marketing push pays off, says owner Tony Lentino.
The Kiwi businessman, a long-time friend of Prodrive co-owner Rusty French, has entered the championship this season with a single Prodrive-run Ford for Andre Heimgartner.
Having made his fortune selling domain names through his company Instra Corporation, Lentino took the plunge into V8 Supercars with the stated aim of helping young Kiwi drivers.
Encouraged by 19-year-old Heimgartner’s promising early form and the “fun environment” around the team, Lentino has ambitious aims for next year.
“We’d love two cars, that’s the plan,” Lentino told Speedcafe.com when asked of his 2016 plans.
“It’s a big learning curve for us this year and we’re only at the start of the season still, but to really create a Kiwi force we really want more than one car.
“We’ve created a bit of excitement and we’ve got to keep building on the momentum.
“With what we’ve got cooking, if that all works, we’ll expand. If it doesn’t there’s only so much you can pay for, so we’ll take small steps to make it a bigger team.”
The Super Black Ford is being run under a Racing Entitlements Contract leased from DJR Team Penske, which is thought likely to take back the license for its own expansion to two cars next year.
Lentino is tight-lipped on his REC plans, but is understood to have been one of several to post a formal expression of interest on the license currently being tendered by V8 Supercars.
Bids must be placed on the REC by Friday, May 22, with the successful bidder to be announced by the end of the month.
Regardless of the result of the tender, Lentino admits that his ability to expand could be impacted by other possible movements at Prodrive.
Expanding the team to five cars would likely require a rejig of the relationship due to rules regarding ‘controlling’ no more than four entries.
Prodrive’s third car, the Bottle-O Ford of David Reynolds, is however currently without a confirmed driver or sponsor beyond the end of the season, potentially providing a platform for a second Super Black branded entry.
Lentino has meanwhile self funded Super Black’s inaugural year and ambitions to add a second car largely hinge on gaining support from New Zealand’s corporate sector.
Barbagallo saw Instra company Only Domains take over primary backing of the Falcon in the first stage of a program that Lentino promises will marry traditional marketing with his online expertise.
Only Domains, he says, will serve as a “case study to showcase to other brands what we can do” while it appears on the car across Barbagallo and Winton.
“We’re going to roll out a few things over the next few months that’ll make people go ‘that’s quite innovative’,” he said.
“The reality is that companies know they have to shift online but they don’t know how to do it.
“I think our experience in online marketing really helps to create a service that the others haven’t seen. It’s bringing the two worlds together.
“I know it’ll work with our business but it’s about educating the market to get everyone’s head around it.”
With only a limited prior interest in motorsport, which included several tarmac rallying outings in New Zealand, Lentino is making no guarantees on Super Black’s long-term future.
“We’ve got a lot of innovate ideas and if they work then it’ll flourish into the future,” he said.
“If it doesn’t, I don’t want to be a fly-by-night, but it’s not to say that won’t happen. We might only be here for two years and that’ll be the end of it.
“But that’s not our plan. We’ve got to give it a go and that’s what we’re doing.
“The key word out of all of this is fun. Even if we take an exit we’ll know we had a lot of fun. You only live once.”
In addition to Heimgartner, Super Black has also backed Simon Evans in this year’s Dunlop Series, supporting the reigning NZ SuperTourer champion’s tilt with MW Motorsport.