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The NASCAR link to a Supercars buy-out bid

Former NASCAR chief operating officer George Pyne is linked to what is expected to be a competitive bid to purchase Supercars.

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Pyne's Bruin Capital business is thought to be mounting a bid for the Australian touring car series via its recent acquisition of TGI Sport.

Bought in partnership with QMS Media, TGI Sport also includes leading sports and marketing agency TLA Worldwide, which already has a significant footprint in Australia.

The bid is expected to come through TGI and TLA using Supercars legend Mark Skaife, who is already aligned with TLA, as the figurehead.

There is another direct link to motorsport through TLA Worldwide CEO Craig Kelly, who used to be the CEO at the Holden Racing Team.

Bruin founder and CEO Pyne would bring his own motor racing experience to any bid to buy Supercars too, having spent a decade working for NASCAR.

He first joined the American series in 1995 and rose to COO, where he oversaw a number of successful broadcast agreements and landed telecommunications giant NEXTEL as the major sponsor on a lucrative deal.

He was also a NASCAR board member before leaving into 2006 to join IMG Worldwide.

TLA is already closely involved in motor racing in Australia, through personal deals with the likes of Skaife and three-time series champion Scott McLaughlin. It also managed the public relations for the Adelaide 500 before the event closed down and had a PR deal with Supercars itself until the pandemic.

Its current active involvement includes working with Ampol on its title sponsorship with Triple Eight and managing the media for the Finke Desert Race.

TLA declined to comment on any potential bid to buy Supercars when approached by Motorsport.com.

Archer Capital, which paid $137 million for its 65 per cent stake in Supercars back in 2011, has made on-again, off-again attempts to sell its share over recent years.

However the effort to offload the category seems to be more concerted at the moment as a number of bidders begin their campaigns to land the controlling stake in the series.

It's thought that a number of different ownership options are on the table from the current model, which sees the teams own 35 per cent, to total ownership from the new buyer.

Alongside the TGI/TLA bid there is also talk that a consortium of high-profile motorsport identities have joined forces in an attempt to buy Supercars.

The consortium is thought to consist of Bathurst 1000 winner Paul Morris, Boost Mobile founder and team sponsor Peter Adderton, SCT Logistics founder Pete Smith, MotoGP legend Mick Doohan and British Touring Car Championship chief executive Alan Gow.

Again there has been little in the way of formal confirmation of the bid beyond paddock chatter, although Adderton has began a not-so-subtle campaign to keep Supercars Australian-owned through his popular Instagram account.

Three days ago he posted a photo of the start of the 1979 Bathurst 1000 with the caption: "I remember sitting on the couch with my Dad as a young kid all day Sunday to watch the greatest race in the world, Bathurst. This is an Australian race and should always be owned by Australians. There are some things we must protect, this race is one of them. Keep [Supercars] Aussie owned...".

He followed that up a day later with artwork of Skaife's face superimposed on the famous Uncle Sam poster with another pro-Aussie ownership caption that read: "[Supercars] fans are not stupid, they see through the American-owned Bruin PE fund's attempt to use [Skaife] as a token Aussie to steal the greatest race in Australia. It must remain Aussie owned."

Another potential suitor is Australian Racing Group.

ARG has been rapidly growing its footprint since it arrived on the scene as the promoter of the new TCR Australia series back in 2018.

Run by ex-Supercars managing director Matt Braid, ARG has since established the local TCR series and now owns and/or promotes S5000, Trans Am, Touring Car Masters and GT World Challenge Australia.

ARG also beat Supercars to a fifth Bathurst event, which has become the Bathurst International, and works closely with Motorsport Australia on the Shannons Championship events.

It's an open secret that ARG tried to buy Supercars at least once before, with an offer – rumoured to be around the $40 million mark – that was turned down in 2019.

ARG is thought to be the least likeliest of the front-runners to make a serious bid, although it hasn't ruled it out entirely.

"ARG has been, and is always, open to looking at various motorsport properties in Australia and elsewhere," Braid told Motorsport.com.

"That hasn't changed. We're always open to possibilities and opportunities. But no comment beyond that."

 

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