Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Gene Haas, The Billionaire with Passion

  • 03 February 2024
  • 3 min read
  • 4 images
Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Gene Haas, The Billionaire with Passion image

Photo credit: Business F1, Haas F1 Team

Gene Haas is a successful American businessman and an exceptionally talented engineer. He established Haas Automation, one of the world’s largest independent manufacturers of automated machine tools. Being the sole owner, he enjoys complete autonomy in choosing the company’s strategies, including its communications. A long-time automobile enthusiast, Haas ventured into American motorsport as a means to promote his enterprise. The motorsport sector was a major customer for Haas CNC machines and was also very demanding. In 2006, recognising a need, Haas decided to build a wind tunnel for the NASCAR team he had established in North Carolina. He purchased a site next the Concord regional airport, and in 2007, the construction of this state-of-the-art wind tunnel commenced. Its sophisticated design features a moving floor and accurately simulates the dynamics of a car on the track.

Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Gene Haas, The Billionaire with Passion - 1The Haas centers are state of the art manufacturing labs providing top-level learning institutions around the world.

Today, the Wind Shear tunnel is widely used by teams in NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One, and the American Le Mans Series.

Haas’s involvement in NASCAR moved up a gear when he partnered with two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart for the 2009 season. His team was renamed Stewart-Haas Racing with Stewart in the driver’s seat. This move marked a significant change in their fortunes. The team hit the ground running, with Stewart dominating much of the 2009 season and securing four race victories before dropping in rankings. The pattern continued in 2010, and Stewart won the Championship in 2011. Since 2002, the team has won 88 races and two championships.

Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Gene Haas, The Billionaire with Passion - 2Gene Haas and Tony Stewart have formed a very successful relationship in Nascar racing.

In the end, it seemed almost inevitable that Haas would venture into Formula One. Recognizing the potential advantages for his business, particularly as Haas Automation Inc was distributing its machinery globally, he was open to the idea.

Haas was approached by Gunter Steiner, who had the ambition to establish a Formula One team with a consortium of partners he had assembled. The only missing piece was funding, which Haas would provide. The project had a promising start, with Dallara providing the chassis and Ferrari the engines and gearboxes in Europe, but the Formula 1 journey proved complex. Gene Haas’s response to the disappointing results of the recent seasons was to forge an even closer tie with Ferrari for 2021 and to establish a satellite factory in Maranello, where much of the future engineering work would take place. The improvement was immediate: the team finished eighth in the 2022 World Championship with 37 points. However, this success was short-lived, as the underwhelming performances in 2022 and 2023 led to a shift in Haas’s confidence towards Team Principal Gunther Steiner – despite him becoming a star of the Netflix series Drive to Survive – who was replaced this year by Ayao Komatsu from Japan.

Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Gene Haas, The Billionaire with Passion - 3Gene Haas is a very popular man in California, where his race team and Haas Automation businesses are based. He is well known across the world thanks to Formula 1.

The unveiling of the Haas Formula 1 team for the season starting in March in Bahrain was conducted in the United States, also home to the sponsor Dorilton Capital, confirming the strategic role attributed by Gene Haas to this venture. The confirmed drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, both experienced and fast, know, like Haas, that the year ahead is one of transition, but the goal is to progress. Gene Haas is not one to mince words: as he did with NASCAR, he will make the right decisions. There’s speculation in the paddock that Andretti and General Motors, two American powerhouses, could join Haas on this adventure that, given Haas’s character, is poised for success.

Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Gene Haas, The Billionaire with Passion - 4Gene Haas’ personal car collection includes this beautiful Ford GT.