Some motorsport sponsors are just a name on a car — a simple exchange of money for a logo promotion — but Venturi Formula E sponsor Craft 1861 aims to go so much farther than that. The CBD brand isn’t just a partner of the team in the financial aspect; instead, it aims to deeply integrate with Venturi to prime the team to perform at its peak with an emphasis on, of all things, mindfulness.
I’ll be honest: I’ve been around the block in racing enough to understand that some companies like to throw around words like “mindfulness” in order to seem relevant to ongoing trends. But for Craft 1861, mindfulness isn’t a mere buzzword. It’s an ethos that has translated directly into the team.
“Vulnerability in motorsport is rare,” said Craft 1861 founder Eric Lujan during a round-table chat with the media at the New York City ePrix before pointing out that drawing mental health into conversations of performance in any sport is still a fairly new concept. But in motorsport — a discipline of incremental gains — having a well-rounded and healthy crew is integral to finding that fraction of a second on a lap.
“We put people at the very center of what we do,” added Venturi team boss Jerome D’Ambrosio. “We’re going to find more performance when our team is well taken care of.”
And that’s what Craft 1861 has aimed to do. Lujan has attended several races since his brand partnered with Venturi ahead of the Monaco ePrix, and he’s worked with the entire team to find ways to combat stress, jet lag, and the general wear and tear a mechanic, driver, or other team member can accumulate during a long season. Sometimes, that includes recommending one of Craft 1861's products, like a first aid balm for injuries or a sleep oil to combat the stress of a long-haul flight. Sometimes, Lujan helps Venturi’s crew to find healthcare providers to take care of something like a persistent knee injury. And other times, it’s something as simple as finding ways to make a day at the race track a little more palatable.
“It was so hot in the garages yesterday that I said, ‘If we want incremental gains, let’s get air conditioning next year,’” Lujan said with a laugh.
Lujan was honest when I asked if he’d noticed any massive changes since he and his brand started partnering with Venturi: He said that there hasn’t been some watershed moment where everything clicks and everyone in the Venturi garage suddenly figured it all out. Rather, he’s proud to note that he’s increased a level of mindfulness among the crew that has helped them take stock of their own wellbeing and its impact on the crew. There is, Lujan said, a greater emphasis on rest and recovery. Crew members are pausing to replenish electrolytes. They’re making different choices at meals. And this is only the beginning.
In the off-season, Lujan says that Craft 1861 will be helping Venturi work with physiology labs and personal trainers to develop individualized health and wellness routines for the crew. Prevention, he notes, is far better for the body than attempting to recover after an injury or moment of mental weakness. And going through that process of discovery and the creation of that routine will help crew members identify concerns that they simply would have ignored before. It may not be the environmentally-based concept of sustainability that we attribute to a series like Formula E, but it does bring in considerations about the sustainability of the human body.
At the end of the day, though, the most sustainable forms of mindfulness are the ones that you can maintain.
“Change doesn’t have to be large,” Lujan said. “The best changes are simple, attainable things that you can be doing every single day.”