CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Gene Haas wants double the profits of CNC machine manufacturer Haas Automation to $2 billion a year — a goal he believes he can only accomplish by tapping into the global market.
And how does he do that? By starting a Formula One team, of course.
Haas insisted Monday he is serious about fielding an F1 team based in North Carolina, on the same land in Kannapolis that houses the Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR team he co-owns with Tony Stewart.
"We want to be an American team. We think that has the most sizzle to it," he said.
Haas, through Haas Racing Development, paid a $5,000 application fee to F1's governing body during an open application period for new teams interested in racing in either the 2015 or 2016 season. He said he has received some frank advice from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone about this venture.
"Mr. Ecclestone doesn't think I have enough money to do this. He doesn't think we will get the license. So my chances probably aren't that great of a shot," Haas said.
Haas didn't blink when asked Monday if he'd be willing to help fund Kurt Busch's potential Indianapolis 500 entry — "He hasn't asked me," he said — and is already paying anywhere between $12 million and $20 million out of pocket for Haas CNC to sponsor Busch's new fourth entry at SHR — an endeavor that required significant capital improvement at SHR headquarters.