Racing simulator locations showcase the power of the Formula One brand

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Formula One has always enjoyed being a traveling circus. But as the Global Racing Series leaves town, its American owners want to make sure it’s not out of sight and out of mind.

F1 Arcade, a racing simulator experience that combines a day or night with gaming, has been implementing expansion plans, especially in the US, as it tries to get closer to fans of the sport, reach new demographics and stay connected throughout the year.

According to Adam Breeden, chief executive and founder, F1 Arcade caters to young people who „love experiences” and „don’t want to eat and drink”. Breeden has a long history in „experiential hospitality,” having previously co-founded the ping pong bar chain Bounce and the darts-themed Flight Club.

The difference this time is that his latest venture is one of the most popular brand names in the game.

„With the F1 brand above our door, there’s an inherent trust with it, but also the burden of a greater responsibility to deliver quality,” says Breeden.

The business model is based on food and beverage venues and simulator racing

„It allows us to offer a champagne cocktail rather than a normal burger. We could easily do this without the F1 brand . . . but maybe I underestimated the power of the brand.

F1 Arcade is the latest part of the game’s commercial rights owner’s strategy to get closer to its audience. Liberty Media chairman Greg Maffei has made it clear that the group wants to strengthen its relationship with F1 fans – another step in the plan launched with Netflix. Drive to surviveA dramatic documentary series, it is widely considered to have boosted the sport’s popularity.

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This helps explain why Liberty is investing in F1 TV, a direct-to-viewer media service. More recently, Liberty decided to host the Las Vegas Grand Prix instead of the traditional model of outsourcing the event to another promoter.

„One of the historical challenges for business, I would argue [that it was an] A wonderful spectacle, but when the circus comes to town, [F1] „We don’t know who attended, why they attended, what their real preferences are, or what they want,” Maffei told the FT earlier this year.

Liberty Media and F1 last year led a £30mn fundraising campaign at F1 Arcade, which also won the support of McLaren Racing chairman Zak Brown and its driver Lando Norris.

The themed restaurant, bar and gaming venues are an example of how a Formula One owner can license the motorsport’s brand to bring in new revenue streams.

The flagship site, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London, is due to open before Christmas 2022. Now, F1 Arcade, which has already expanded to Birmingham in the UK and Boston in the US, plans to add locations in Washington DC and Las Vegas. It plans to open more than 30 locations by the end of 2027.

The business is trying to capitalize on the sport’s unprecedented popularity in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of fans attending races in Texas, Miami and Las Vegas. The company already hosts „watch parties”: live screenings of the Grands Prix for American fans. Corporate events are another target.

John Gardner, US president of F1 Arcade, says customers there spend more and have different habits to those in the UK, which requires another approach.

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„In England, everyone’s focused on the race – not too many drinks.” Gardner says. „In America the bar is full all the time [and] They still engage with Sims throughout the race.”

Even so, the company is competing for customers at a time when many are increasingly careful about how they spend the pounds and dollars in their pockets. Breeden acknowledges the challenge, but believes a focus on quality will ensure customer loyalty.

“We plan to develop F1 Arcade locations strategically, balancing speed and capital expenditure. The US market is extraordinary, with enormous potential for growth,” he says.

The company is developing its „virtual currency and loyalty program,” he added, „to create a frictionless experience for guests and collect valuable data on their preferences.”

Liberty Media’s development will open up more opportunities for F1 Arcade. The American team announced in April that it had agreed to buy MotoGP, the elite motorcycle racing series, pending regulatory approval. So will the commercial bring MotoGP to the F1 arcade?

„You have to have motorcycle simulators, but Playbook is ready to do a different kind of simulator concept,” Breeden says. “It is not out of the question; We need to look deeper into it.”

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