Much has been said about the large-scale efforts made by Liberty Media to have Formula 1 breach the walls of America’s cultural fortress. While the world championship’s commercial rights holder initiated a multi-platform marketing and promoting blitz, this push is universally associated with the Netflix docuseries Drive to Survive. Formula 1, though, had ambitions to cast an even wider net for potential fans and considered creating an animated series to appeal to a younger generation.
As reported by RaceFans, F1's director of media rights Ian Holmes recalled the concept while speaking at the BlackBook Motorsport Forum in London earlier this week. Holmes said: “Essentially, we want people to engage with our sport in any way that they want to. We want to make sure our offering is as broad as it can be. Drive to Survive has been a very successful pillar of that, but we also want to engage with children, for example. We want to do an animation series.”
Not much more is known about this unpursued concept beyond Holmes’ comment. It’s not surprising, because youth engagement is a big promotional aim of any major sports organization, including Formula 1. Officially-licensed video games are usually the most visible aspect of these efforts to attract younger audiences. Formula 1 has a long-running official game series developed by Codemasters and now published by EA Sports. An animated series would have allowed Formula 1 to engage with an even younger age demographic.
I’m just going to take a moment to mention that NASCAR had its own animated series in the early 2000s produced by Saban Entertainment. Just take a moment to give it a look:
NASCAR Racers didn’t feature any of the drivers or teams from the then-Winston Cup Series. The animated series was set in a fictional setting where NASCAR recently launched a new national series called the Unlimited Division. This Unlimited Division was an outlandish racing series that featured internal combustion-rocket hybrid cars, ridiculous looping circuits, emergency escape-pod vehicles and women drivers in the field. NASCAR Racers aired for two seasons on Fox Kids before being canceled in 2001.
One can only speculate as to what a Formula 1 animated series would have looked like and if it would have featured any of the drivers or teams from the world championship. While McLaren’s Tooned shorts offered a peek at what is possible, a regular series would likely differ greatly to be sustainable long-term.