SPONSORS: RED BULL
Name: Red Bull
Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz was looking for a product to sell when he travelled throughout Asia in the mid-1980s. During his voyages he discovered that the locals were keen on a drink which they believed gave them energy. He tried it, found that they were right, began to study the various ingredients in the Asian drinks and then devised a recipe which he thought would suit European tastes. In 1987 he launched the Red Bull high energy drink into the Austrian market.
The drink includes the metabolic transmitters taurine and glucurolactone, combined with caffeine, vitamins and carbohydrates. When Mateschitz tried to launch the drink in Germany the authorities banned it, claiming it was an anaesthetic. In the end the ban acted as a boost for sales because people wanted to find out what the drink did to them and liked the "outlaw" status which the German ban had given to Red Bull. The drink has since been thoroughly tested scientifically and medically and is now accepted as not being harmful. Since then Red Bull has gone on sale in over 40 countries and has developed an active involvement in high-risk sports in an effort to create a youthful and exciting brand.
Headquartered in the scenic town of Fuschl, in the Salzkammergut lakeland behind Salzburg, Red Bull sold half a billion cans of drink in 1999 and Mateschitz is reckoned to be worth in excess of $500m.
Red Bull's involvement in motor racing began in the late 1980s when Mateschitz sponsored Gerhard Berger and then Karl Wendlinger. In 1995 the company bought a majority shareholding in the holding company which owned the Sauber team. Since then the company has diversified into Formula 3000 and is also supporting teams in German Formula 3, Formula Konig and BMW Formula ADAC. The company is also the major sponsor in the 500cc World Motorcycle Championship.
Red Bull later fell out with Sauber over the hiring of Kimi Raikkonen in 2001 and Mateschitz sold his Sauber shares to Credit Suisse. Since then he has been looking to buy his own F1 team in order to spearhead a marketing drive into the United States of America. He has also become the backer of Eddie Cheever's Indy Racing League team and has started a program to find a young American driver for F1.