A new team on the horizon: Howard & Law Motorsports (Team HLM) will bring a new unique approach to the Grand American Rolex Series this year. Team owners Frank Howard and Peter Law will partner with Infiniti to compete in the popular GT class.
The question is when and where? The two did not hesitate in their answer: "When everything is right!" they said in tandem during an exclusive interview.
Howard and Law are not two to just jump into the fray, they bring to the table a unique business approach -- not just a "we want to go racing" style. Not a surprise considering their backgrounds.
Howard is a businessman at heart, after graduating from Ohio University in 1974; he began a career as a water chemist before moving to Cincinnati for a position as a synthetic lubricant chemist. In the meantime, he developed a keen sense and interest in the world of business when he moved to Chicago and earned a Masters in Business Administration.
He switched careers by taking a position at Mead Corporation where he fine-tuned his financial and operational skills with marketing. Over the years, he developed his own business philosophy and formed his first company in 1987 and became a successful businessman. He now owns Southpaw Enterprises, Inc. and manufacturers, distributes and sells products on an international basis to occupational and physical therapists.
Law has a connection in motor sports, besides being the father of racer Darren Law, he has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Australia. His career in racing began in 1968 with the (Roger) Penske organization on the Can-Am cars, the team placed third in the championship. He also has been involved with Penske on Indy cars.
In 1971, he returned to Australia to start his own team in the Australian Touring Car championship for two years. A results-oriented professional, Law has accumulated more than 30 years in business, along with his experience in motor sports. He returned to the United States in 1973 to oversee the racing operations of an IMSA G.T.U. team, they won the 24 hours of Daytona that same year.
Two years later, Law opened Ecuire Motors, servicing exotic cars. By 1979, he founded Peter Law Imports, Inc. based in California. Before he sold the company to move to Arizona, it became the largest independent BMW facility in Orange County.
Law retired from his racing career to coach his son's career. But the business side of life returned when he formed Garrett Sports Marketing.
Like Law, Howard also has jumped into a race car, "I'm a business man and I picked up racing as a hobby. Next thing you know I got real enthused about it," said Howard on his racing in the Sports Car Club of America amateur events.
Their backgrounds explain their unique approach to entering the Rolex Series. "I looked around that there is a lot of opportunity in motor sports and I found that the industry was pretty ripe for business," explained Howard on why the two are taking on this new venture. "There's all kind of racers here but not a lot of business people and there is a lot of money being spent. So if that in mind, Peter and I kind of hooked up -- not sure how really -- but we started chatting and we found out we had the same philosophy and we formed the partnership."
"Our approach is business-to-business, providing value to businesses through motor sports," continued Howard. "Then, we had to decide where to go and there are a lot of series out there. After our analysis, we felt that Grand Am was the right place to go. It has the right demographics and the right venues for us to provide value to our business customers."
From that point, the two determined what the product would be, besides the car of course. "We are looking at this strictly on the business side from our presentation to marketing to advertising to value for our customers," Howard said.
Law explained his side of their philosophy. "I came into from a different angle from Frank. He came in on the purely business side. Whereas I have been in the sport pretty much all my life. What I have seen in sportscar racing, which has always been a passion of mine, is that whenever the factories come in, the sport is high in the ratings, but when they pull out, it spikes down. When Grand Am put this business model together in 1999, I really felt that hey somebody really has it in sportscar racing on how this should be done. And I agree with Frank, that the idea of doing this as a business-to-business is the best way to do this as a level playing field."
The two realized that a sponsor for any team can come and go and are treated only as VIP's and not as a business partner. "All of my businesses have been built primary on building the relationship with my customers," commented Howard on why they building the new team on the business relationship approach.
"Team HLM is the brand/product which we are selling," said Law as Howard added, "So our idea is a new approach."
"We want to give people a really good value for what they buy," added Howard. "What we can market is the fact that we have a company that can put people together."
They are not entering the series with their eyes closed. They know they have a new idea. "One of the hard things to do is how to sell the product where people can understand it," said Howard. "It is a new avenue what we are doing and that is what makes it difficult."
Will the new approach work? Only time will tell. However, with the combined backgrounds of the two partners, the idea may take off which will open doors to a new way of approaching auto racing.
"It will allow our customers to operate business so we will offer a venue where they can do just that," Howard said. "They can be at the event as part of the happening, not just there as a spectator. That is our added value."
Look for the team to debut their two GT class cars when the "time is right" this season.