On the Right Track

Currently safeguarding the interests of drivers and teams up and down the paddock, Robert Cain, Head of Corporate and Commercial, talks through the trials and tribulations of an ever-changing landscape.

Working across the legal sector of the motorsport industry, few are better placed to advise on the potential pitfalls and dangers awaiting across this unique landscape than Robert. Having enjoyed over twenty years representing various stakeholders across the sport, including drivers, teams and suppliers, Robert can speak with -real authority on a world that has dramatically altered since his first chance involvement.

After being first exposed to the weird and wonderful world of motor racing by his grandfather, it was in Robert’s professional career as a lawyer where his interest in the sport began to take a more serious turn.

“It’s an overused cliché but it is the speed with which everything happens in motorsport that first grabbed me and I am talking about everything beyond the track. The industry is so dynamic and everything needs to be done five minutes ago. The world of law is one predicated upon careful consideration and proper planning, so combining that with motorsport is an interesting mix.”

Despite all the changes the sport has been subjected to in recent years, one of its most enduring constants is that it remains an industry built upon relationships. Unsurprisingly for Robert, it was a brief, informal chat with a contact that pre-empted a career’s worth of work.

“If you’d have told me that a coffee with David Whitehead would have taken me to the places that I have, I’d have laughed at you. My first touchpoint was with Motor Sports Development and the World Rally Championship. I met David for a chat and ended up doing all of their legal work.”

“That showed me how rewarding working in motorsport could be. You immediately felt part of the team and were expected to perform to the same levels, speed accuracy, reliability and all on a budget. That first introduction came in the late 1990s and prompted a journey that took us to the very heights of professional motorsport, working on budgets that were upwards of $35 million, as well as the very lows and the fall out with Hyundai Motor Corporation.”

As time went by, Robert became further engrossed in the sport joining the Motorsport Industry Association, working for suppliers, before becoming heavily involved with the Racing Steps Foundation.

“Like most industries, motorsport is all about connections – it’s about people knowing people. It was through that network that I was asked to work with the management of the Racing Steps Foundation. The Foundation was designed to support British driver talent who otherwise couldn’t progress their careers – it was an amazing project and I count myself very lucky to have been part of it.”

With the money involved in  elite motorsport multiplying year by year, the importance of sound legal advice continues to grow ever stronger. A part of Robert’s role with the Racing Steps Foundation was to safeguard young drivers from the dangers of an increasingly commercialised sport.

“Some memorable career milestones within motorsport include ending up at a tribunal in Frankfurt bringing a massive claim against a major motor corporation and having the chance to represent a GT team at the FIA in an appeal against a disqualification decision.”

“Despite all the glamour associated with cases such as those, I value just as highly my work with younger drivers and making them aware of the significance of signing on the dotted line. Legal support for young drivers is important, teams are often hesitant to spend a modest amount getting it right at the start when they could be spending that amount on new tyres. But this can lead to a more expensive problem when things go wrong and everyone reaches for the contract.  At times, it has been about urging a cultural shift to educate stakeholders on the importance of protecting themselves and making sure that what they sign is what they think they have agreed.”

Through his current work with Blaser Mills Law, Robert continues to advise two strands of the industry; motor racing itself and those involved in the supply chain.

“Our current work sees us touch the sport in many ways. The engineering side is fascinating – advising motorsport component suppliers not only on their supply into the sport but also on diversification into the sectors. The demand for legal support in motor racing like much of sport continues to increase as the “players” become more aware of the need for clarity in their obligations to each other and to record this in writing and not just rely on a handshake – whether that’s a good thing is a different question!”.

While Robert’s passion for his motorsport-related work is abundantly clear, like Blaser Mills Law, his work extends far beyond that. A full-service, leading law firm based in the South East, the firm is proud to offer a comprehensive range of legal services to both businesses and private individuals.

Contact Robert Cain on 07764 244953 or rcc@blasermills.co.uk if you would like to hear more.

Thank you to MB Partners for organising this interview for their Partnership magazine.