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Paul Stoddart

From Academic Kids

Paul Stoddart is an Australian millionaire and owner of the Minardi Formula One racing team.

Born in Coburg, Melbourne, Australia, Stoddart's first business was a car dealership; he was a racing patron from the start and entered a number of his own GT cars in various local competitions. One day, without apparent precedent, the Royal Australian Air Force offered to sell Stoddart an unused fleet of BAC 1-11 aircraft. Stoddart agreed, intending to sell them at a profit to an airline or charter service, but as he got no immediate offers he decided to begin a charter service himself for the express purpose of shuttling gamblers to and from Tasmania, the only Australian state which allowed gambling at the time. This company, after Stoddart moved to England, became European Aviation and had much success as a VIP charter service.

Stoddart returned to racing in 1996 when he purchased ten old Tyrrell F1 cars, a Minardi, a Benetton, and a Brabham for his own use. European Aviation sponsored Tyrrell in 1997; the same year, Stoddart entered his numerous F1 cars in an F1 Historical Championship; he established his own team, European Formula Racing, whose driver Nigel Greensall won the championship in 1997 and 1998.

Tyrrell had almost adopted Stoddart and European Aviation as a technical partner, and were planning a team wind tunnel at the company's headquarters, when in early 1998, British American Tobacco bought out the Tyrrell family and established its own team, British American Racing. Stoddart bought much of the old Tyrrell equipment and became a sponsor of Jordan Grand Prix in 1999; he also entered two drivers in the Formula 3000 championship.

European Aviation moved on to sponsor Arrows in 2000 and his European Racing became the Arrows Junior Team, with driver Mark Webber. Stoddart realized his dream to become a Formula One team owner when Minardi shareholder Gabriele Rumi sold out to him slightly before the 2001 season began.

Under Stoddart, the team has struggled through the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 seasons and remains a perennial backmarker due to its shortage of lucrative sponsorship. Stoddart sold European Aviation at the end of 2002 and Wilux became Minardi's title sponsor. Longtime Minardi sporting director John Walton passed away on the eve of the 2004 British Grand Prix; the team ran a sponsor-free tribute livery for that race, but Wilux subsequently ended its sponsorship, stating that they would rather have been informed beforehand. A lack of sponsorship once again leaves Minardi's future very much in doubt.


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