Mario Andretti Wants SPAC to Build Brand as MLB, NBA Owners Hit Market

Brendan Coffey
·4 min read

Indy car legend Mario Andretti and his racing son Michael want to raise $250 million in a special purpose acquisition company IPO to “focus on opportunities that can benefit from the iconic Andretti brand,” according to the prospectus filed by Andretti Acquisition with the Securities and Exchange Commission last night.

The duo lead today’s spate of sports figures raising money through SPACs, including another blank check from Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, who has an agreement in place to take sports data giant Sportradar public through an earlier SPAC, and a new blank check by Paul E. Jacobs, vice chairman of the Sacramento Kings.

The Andretti SPAC business plan emphasizes the celebrity of the father and son racing pair, stating that the “legacy has made Andretti a household name with 75% of Americans familiar with the iconic brand,” according to the prospectus. The elder Andretti is special adviser to the SPAC and a member of its sponsor, the entity which puts up the money to cover the costs of going public and in return typically receives large amounts of stock in the resulting acquired company. Mario took the checkered flag 111 times in his career, retiring in 1994. He is vice chairman of Andretti Winery, a Napa winery that is closing, and is also a partner in an unnamed petroleum business and “has his name on” two racing entertainment rides, according to the filing.

Michael is the co-CEO and a director of the SPAC. He garnered 42 career victories in open-wheel racing and now owns Andretti Autosport, an IndyCar racing team. He also owns a minority stake in United Autosports, a large U.K.-based racing group that participates in a series of leagues.

The other management of the SPAC includes co-CEO and Chairman Bill Sandbrook. He is part-owner of the sponsor entity and a longtime concrete executive, leading U.S. Concrete for much of the past decade. Logistics and concrete-industry veteran Matt Brown is chief financial officer of the SPAC and is the third member of the sponsor entity.

Among the other directors of the business is Zak Brown. He is an auto racing veteran and CEO of McLaren Racing, a Formula One team, and the co-founder and CEO of United Autosports. Three other executives with experience in retail, telecom and electronic trading round out the Andretti SPAC board. The entity hopes to sell 25 million units at $10 each, consisting of a share and one half of a warrant to buy an additional share later at $11.50.

Joining the more than 100 active sports-related SPACs in the market is Horizon Acquisition III, the fourth SPAC from Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly. The third Horizon seeks $500 million “to capitalize on the multiple decades of combined investment experience of Todd Boehly” and the board, according to its business plan, detailed in the prospectus filed this morning with the SEC. The filing specifies six areas of expertise, including financial technology, real estate and sports. Boehly owns portions of a dozen sports businesses, including the Dodgers and the L.A. Sparks WNBA team, through Eldridge Industries, a Connecticut-based conglomerate he owns most of. Boehly also has investments in Penske Media, the publisher of Sportico. SPAC investors may best know Boehly for the second Horizon SPAC, which is buying Sportradar in a deal valuing the sports data and analytics business at $10 billion. Boehly also is a manager in the first Horizon SPAC, which is still seeking a target in financial services, and a sponsor of Cain Acquisition, which filed two weeks ago seeking targets in hospitality or “location-based experiences” that could include sports venues.

Paul E. Jacobs, a telecom executive who is a minority owner and executive vice chairman of the Kings NBA franchise, formed a new SPAC filing today as well. Jacobs is CEO of Jaws Juggernaut Acquisition, a SPAC seeking a wireless telecommunications business for $200 million. He formerly led Qualcomm and now runs XCom Labs, a telecom private equity business. He’s created the SPAC with Barry Sternlicht, who is involved with five other Jaws SPACs and is chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital, a real estate business descended from the hotel company.

The Andrettis couldn’t be reached for comment and spokespersons for Horizon and Jaws Juggernaut didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

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