SEPTEMBER 16, 2008
A sign of the times
McLaren's head of race operations Steve Hallam is leaving the team at the end of the current season to take a senior role in NASCAR. There are currently no word on what that role will be, but it is a significant hiring nonetheless as few Formula 1 engineers have gone to NASCAR in the past. The obvious exception is Cosworth's Nick Hayes, who joined Richard Childress Racing as Engine Development and Research Director back in 2005. Since then more F1 technology has gone into NASCAR, mainly through confidential consulting deals on engines, but increasingly NASCAR is seeing F1 as a place to recruit. Hallam is a Formula 1 "lifer". He worked at Team Lotus from 1982 acting as race engineer to Nigel Mansell and then Ayrton Senna. The relationship resulted in 16 pole positions and six wins before Senna went to McLaren and Hallam found himself working with Nelson Piquet. In 1990 he went to McLaren where he worked with Gerhard Berger, Michael Andretti and Mika Hakkinen, and engineered the Finn to the World Championship in 1998 and 1999.
The team is also losing one of its oldest marketing man as Peter Stayner, the head of partner management, is departing for a job at the new Abu Dhabi circuit, where he will have an important management role. Stayner started his career in circuit management, running the Mallory Park track before moving to Snetterton and ultimately Brands Hatch, and eventually became Operations Director for the entire Motor Circuit Developments company. in 1984 he became Events Manager at the Royal Automobile Club's Motor Sports Association and then in 1989 was approached by McLaren. He has been there ever since.
Stayner will be the third McLaren man to be involved in the new Middle East circuits with Bahrain being run by Martin Whitaker and commercial management at the Dubai Autodrome coming under Peter Burns.