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Racing driver hopes EIS will be a winning formula

Formula 1 fans can invest in the career of up-and-coming driver Justin Wilson through an enterprise investment scheme.

The Justin Wilson EIS has been established to raise the $1.5m contribution that Wilson needed to secure his 2003 contract with the small Italian F1 team Minardi. Many drivers who move to Formula 1 bring sponsorship with them but this is difficult to obtain.

Minardi needs the money because it operates on a tight budget compared with bigger teams such as Ferrari and McLaren. It has competed in F1 since 1985 but its results have been modest. However, it has a track record in establishing the careers of drivers such as Jaguar&#39s Mark Webber, Renault&#39s Fernando Alonso and Jordan&#39s Giancarlo Fisichella.

Wilson won the inaugural Formula Palmer Audi championship in 1998 and was the first British driver to win the FIA International Formula 3,000 championship in 2001. Formula 3,000 is one step below F1.

If Wilson is successful at stepping up into Formula 1, investors could double their money. Once this has been achieved, 10 per cent of his income until 2012 could provide a further return. This income – estimated at between $1m and $10m – will be derived from driving contract retainer fees, personal sponsorship, car sponsorship, product endorsements, merchandising spin-offs and personal appearances.

Motor-racing fans who like the novelty factor of investing in a sport star&#39s career may find it appealing, especially if the tax breaks are useful to them. This EIS is different to many in that it invests in a person rather than a company but this also makes it high risk. Motor racing carries the risk of serious injury, which would obviously affect investors&#39 returns, as would Wilson&#39s failure to make it on the F1 stage.



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