BlackArts Racing’s Bill O’Brien had big plans for a foray into Asian motorsport in 2014. A racer at heart, he sped onto the scene with only one mission: to build one of the most dominant racing teams in Asia, and to develop local talent for world-wide success.
Bring on 2015 and BAR’s first year in the Asian Formula Renault series with the talented Hong Kong based driver Dan Wells and Zhuhai based Maxx Ebenal, which saw both drivers winning all 12 races. Maxx winning the first two, then Dan Wells winning all remaining ten races consecutively, giving Dan the driver’s title. What a first year statement made by the team.
“This the first time any team has been able to do this, and for us as a new team to do it did, indeed exceeded our expectations,” says the proud Team Principal and Managing Partner of BAR, Bill O’Brien. “We had good, hard working drivers and great support from KCMG, PS and ART (at the start of the season). We also had well prepared cars and good engineers. Most importantly, our team approached the season with a serious dedication to winning and to the development of the team and the drivers.”
Talking to Bill about BAR’s plans for 2016, he tells me that they will stay in AFR with at least four cars running in Class A. “We have recruited several young drivers capable of winning, and this year we have developed our own support, chief mechanics, race engineers and coaches. We intend to continue winning and our objectives are to win the drivers championship and the team championship. I believe we will be the dominant team in AFR again this year.”
BAR are not just a racing team running top drivers on the track to win championships. They also run the BlackArts Racing Academy, which aims to be the best racing school in Asia. This goal will certainly be reached soon as they have star drivers such as A1 GP podium winner Danny Watts, who is currently fourth place in the FIA World Endurance Championship. And Richard Bradley who is leading the FIA WEC, and was the 2010 Formula BMW Pacific champion. Further credit to the Academy as both these drivers are also winners of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010 and 2015.
“We have good progress in professionalizing our race school and BAR Academy is truly becoming the best organized and professional race school in Asia. We have had top international drivers like Danny Watts and Richard Bradley training young drivers in our programs and we have seen some really great progress on the part of the drivers we have trained. We continue to support customer cars racing in various series and we have already scored several class wins and podium finishes this year with our customers. So, I would say, we are on track toward our goal, but we are really just getting started in other key series in Asia.”
BAR also cater to non-professional racers with their driver experience days. Great fun for anyone who wants to get behind the wheel of a racing car and experience the adrenalin rush of speeding around a race track.
In addition to racing in the Asian Formula Renault series this year, BAR will be looking at running in the new Formula 4 South East Asia championship, TCR Asia, and Asia Le Mans. In 2016, they will be learning mode in these series. But with their proven debut successes last year, you could be confident that they will give the top teams a run for their money.
Regarding BAR’s driver line-up for the year, Bill was only able to confirm that NASCAR Europe star Josh Burdon will be a part of the team, and a 17 year-old karting champion, who will be announced shortly.
This year will be an important year for BlackArts Racing as they continue their endeavor to become one of the most successful Asian racing teams, and break into new series, as Bill tells me, “2016 will be a critical year for us. We will see if we can continue to dominate AFR with the resources the team has developed. We will learn about TCR and Asia Le Mans. We will be back in Macau with one or two cars.”
The great thing about BAR is that it’s not only Bill who has the passion and motivation to drive the team to success, but also all the crew involved in the operation. When talking about driver development and the business of motorsport, you get the sense that everyone involved in BAR wants to be different to other team operations in that they “want to be a part of the solution”, as Bill says about developing long-term partnerships that support their drivers.
“It will also be a year in which you will all see us developing new partnership concepts with corporate and local sponsors,” continues Bill. “This approach will be significant for our growth, but also for the growth of motorsports in Asia in general. I am sure you have noticed how many talented young drivers in our region are finding it difficult to get the money and the support they need to move up in Asia and outside of Asia. BlackArts Racing does not want to be just one of the myriad teams out there looking for money. We want to be developing synergy and partnerships that pay off for the sponsors supporting our drivers. We want to be part of the solution!”
BlackArts Racing has all the characteristics of a team that will surely be dominant in Asian motorsport. Certainly after their more than impressive first year in AFR. Coupled with the professionalism and positive ethos of the crew and drivers, you can’t help but think that BlackArts Racing won’t be just champions on the race track, but an important contributor to the development of young talent and the Asian motorsport industry as a whole.
For more information about BlackArts Racing, Academy and driver experiences please visit their website at www.blackartsracing.com. And to stay up to date with BlackArts Racing and Asian motorsport news at www.pittalkasia.com.