Americans have had a tenuous relationship with Formula One racing. There hasn't been an American driver on the grid since Scott Speed in 2007 and a grand prix winner (let alone a world champion) since Mario Andretti retired in 1982. The United States Grand Prix has been an on-and-off affair over the years with more homes than a foster kid, and there hasn't been an American team on the grid since the 1970s. But that's all starting to change.
The US Grand Prix has settled in to the Circuit of the Americas for its third straight season now and there's talk of another race to be held in New Jersey. Californian racer Alexander Rossi has been working his way up to F1, winning races in feeder series like Formula BMW, Formula Renault, GP3 and GP2 while acting as test driver for the Caterham F1 team. And NASCAR team owner Gene Haas has been granted license to field an F1 team that he intends to do from his base in North Carolina starting in 2016. But when he does, he won't be the only American with a stake in F1.
The latest investor to get in on the action is one Brad Hollinger, an American businessman who owns Vibra Healthcare and runs 90 hospitals across the United States as well as a dozen senior care facilities under the Hollinger Group banner. Now Hollinger is reportedly buying five percent of the Williams F1 team, with an option to buy another ten percent later this year.
Those shares have until now belonged to one Toto Wolff, a former racing driver and established motorsport executive from Austria. Wolff bought half of AMG spinoff HWA (which runs, among other things, Mercedes' DTM operations) in 2007 and co-owns a driver management agency together with Mika Hakkinen. But he really entered the scene in 2009 when he bought 15 percent of Williams, which in turn named him its executive director in 2012. The following season Mercedes lured him away to serve its larger organization in that same capacity, but while he obviously resigned from any remaining management role with Williams, he apparently hadn't managed to find a suitable buyer for those shares until now.
Hollinger is apparently just such a buyer. He's said to own a few historic F1 cars and is eager to promote grand prix racing in the United States. We wouldn't be surprised to see the Vibra Healthcare or one of its properties advertised alongside Martini on a Williams racecar soon, either.