On the beginning of the 2013 season the Volkswagen Golf Cup has closed the missing stage of career for both Polish and international drivers before taking them to the wider playing field. The common initiative of the car dealer from Tarnów and the Volkswagen Group Polska has grown to huge sizes during those three years and brought attention of the drivers from the furthest necks of the woods. On the beginning of October the Cup reached its finale, though Janusz Gładysz, the man who dedicated his whole life on working with the Volkswagen brand and is the founder of the Golf Cup, wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t plan yet one another sport project.
Where did the idea of creating the international racing cup came from?
It is difficult to point one special moment or a factor that pushed us to begin the work under the Cup. My whole family for years felt that special kind of love to motorsports and with each stage we always tried something new. Racing has become an integral part of our dealer activity in the Gładysz and Sons company. On the very beginnings we participated in various series and observing the German organization we have decided to transfer it to the Polish ground – firstly in organizing the Golf TDI Cup in years 2005 – 2006, while later on after additional experience from the Scirocco Cup, where my younger son used to start, we hit on an idea of organizing the Volkswagen Golf Cup. The initiative came from the directors of motorsport and marketing of that time in the Volkswagen company and were strictly connected with the import changes on the Polish market. I have received a proposition of organizing the sport cup, which target was, apart from supporting young talents, to build an image of the company to young generation. In the year 2012 we went full throttle with our work to be ready for the start of the season 2013.
The third season of the Volkswagen Golf Cup has just finished. Are you happy with how things went?
By all means. The organization of such big international event wasn’t an easy task, but in my opinion we faced the challenge really well and proved that in Poland the racing initiative can also rise, matching the competition from countries with much bigger experience. The interest in the cup has been bigger and bigger with every season, what proves our commitment and level of the Volkswagen Golf Cup. Our cars were racing on the western circuits, matching the high standards of such series like Formula 1 or World Touring Car Championship. In the result drivers received a better product, while the supporters could follow more interesting races itself. We were also the first ones in Poland to bring the live-streaming to the Internet, we were leaders in many areas.
Could you compare the Golf Cup to the Volkswagen Scirocco Cup? Did the Polish series outrun the German one in some areas?
The Scirocco Cup was our role model, but we faced a lot of opinions from the drivers who participated in the German competition, that we did our job with more passion and heart. Drivers told us many times there was more enthusiasm, the famous Polish hospitality and a better scoring system. We tried to honor each driver so he could have a souvenir for life, while the best ones received big money prizes, which were the support of their further careers. I think we need to thank the management of the Volkswagen Group Polska, who sponsored those rewards, supporting young talents.
What is the opinion of the central of Volkswagen Motorsport about your initiative?
The opinion of Volkswagen Motorsport was one of the most touching and nice moments during those three years with the Cup. Jost Capito, the leader of the German’s company sport department, during the last season’s Scirocco R-Cup finale on the Hockenheimring said that the organization of our cup is on the highest world class and is on the same level as the cup supported by the headquarters. I am really proud and happy that the idea we had few yours ago during a meeting with Stefan Moser, the director of marketing in VW Motorsport, as well as with the chief of motorsport Kris Nissen, with a support of the German company and Volkswagen Group Polska, has grew so much and brought such benefits to VW’s image in Poland.
What are those benefits for the Volkswagen brand in Poland?
One of the ideas of organizing the cup, apart from the sport values, was also the fact that I am continuously a dealer of Volkswagen and my goal is to bring positive results for the image of the brand in Poland and all dealerships. During all this years I have noticed that cars from my brand are bought mainly by older people, or middle-aged. For the time being, the Volkswagen has worked on opinion of a very solid company, but in my opinion we still need to show that it can also fulfil younger generation needs. The sport is strictly connected with emotions, temper and attractiveness. People mind’s remember this and can attract younger people to the brand.
Do you think the Cup is a good way to encourage new clients to buy Volkswagens?
In my opinion the Cup is a perfect way of realizing this goal. The sports rivalry shows that our cars, which are mostly built with original parts, can manage even the toughest conditions. This builds the awareness that Volkswagens are solid and reliable. The truth is however, in Poland this potential is not used to its limit. I think there are few factors which cause this situation. One of them is the fact we have only one racing venue and therefore it is hard to show our Cup to the Polish fan, as we are racing mainly abroad. In my opinion, this way is still very good and may not bring instant effects, but in few years we will see the result among the young generation.
Why the cup has met with such a big interest? What is so special about it?
During the organization of Volkswagen Golf Cup we have introduced an innovative approach, according to which all cars belong to the organizer, who is responsible for a respective preparation of the machines. In each sport discipline those who lose, are always trying to implement the competitors’ cars were more powerful, sometimes even contrary to the rules – here this issue has been solved. Each Golf prepared by the Volkswagen Racing Polska is identical, which makes the driver skills even more important, the drivers have to take care of beating their rivals on their own, as the machine doesn’t give any advantage. This was also one of the reasons, which had influence on the cup’s popularity. Undoubtedly, the big plus were also the financial rewards, which helped drivers to do next step in their racing careers. Very important was also the climate, which Volkswagen created for the drivers, sponsors and partners.
You have mentioned a fierce rivalry. Can you think of any driver during those three years, who deserve to be highlighted?
My role is to treat all drivers equally, so it would be inappropriate to signalize, one is better than the others. For me, every driver who participated in the Volkswagen Golf Cup was great. Both gentleman and the ladies, who are always racing in our cup since the beginning. The fight is really, really fierce and very often a dozen or so can finish the session split by only a second – the grid is more equal than in Formula 1!
During first two years the rivalry has been known as the Volkswagen Castrol Cup, but now it is the Volkswagen Golf Cup. Why did you change the name?
Before the first season we have conducted talks with many potential partners and at the end of the day we chose to cooperate with Castrol. We hoped that strategy partnership will last for the whole three years, but for some reasons not quite clear for me the Castrol brand decided to withdraw after the 2nd year. I would lie to tell it had not affected us, as the smaller budget had a lot of repercussions and organizing difficulties. To finish the answer and close the topic, I can say this decision was painful for us, organizers, as well as the drivers. We had to cut down the amount of rounds, support for the drivers, especially the Polish ones and the marketing activities. We regret that Castrol, which has great roots in the motorsports, withdrawing from their declaration on a three-year relationship, therefore broke the rules, declared by them since years in those areas.
Does the experience gathered during organization of the cup has some influence on the dealership activity?
Obviously, yes. For us motorsport is a very important part of promotion and marketing, that’s why during sells of our cars we are always trying to benefit from racing, to show the reliability of Volkswagen and their ability to challenge even the toughest conditions. More than that, our racing crew is also made of mechanics and engineers, who are working in the dealer companies every day. Thanks to work done with racing cars and the state-of-the-art technologies they can improve their skills, also improving the quality of service.
How did the cup influenced on Polish motorsport?
In my opinion quite moderate. When I was organizing the Golf TDI cup in years 2005 – 2006 I was hoping it would be some kind of a motor which bring changes in our country, especially that our local initiative met with a big success of Robert Kubica on the world arenas. The time goes on and during past 10 years not much has changed. I don’t know the reason, but in our country people still perceive motorsports differently than other sport disciplines. It’s a pity, especially that there are still more and more cars on the roads, young people have more opportunities to buy their own car and education in the automotive culture should be very important – as well as giving those people a chance to try their skills in other, safe conditions, not only on the public roads. We also hoped other companies to get a positive stimulus and participate in motorsports, improving the Polish market. Surely our activity brought some changes, but the effect is quite delicate, because all initiatives, not only ours, didn’t give us new circuits and bigger media interest.
Will the 2015 season be the last for Volkswagen Golf Cup?
A lot of people ask me this question, both the drivers, teams and other sport organizations. Our main idea is focused on two years. We would also like to focus mostly on the Polish market, where despite having only one circuit we’d like to organize two or three rounds. The concept also assumes a big change of the format, as we are planning to organize races according to one of this two options:
– one 1-hour race with an obligatory pit-stop for a 2-3 minute tire change or the possible change of drivers or
– two races, 30 minutes each with a break between them maximally lasting for 3 hours, also with a possible opportunity to switch drivers.
Cars would also be significantly modified to adapt them to different type of rivalry, what is most important, they will arrive in the driver’s or team’s hands, so they can take care of the service on their own.
Why drivers should be interested in such an option? Wouldn’t it be better to keep the current format, where you don’t have to worry about servicing the car?
Experiences gathered during past three years give us the possibility to support technically all teams, and guarantee a full control over restricting the equality of the car rule. This system would be even cheaper, giving a chance to the drivers with smaller budgets. This also make the practice easier, as the driver won’t be dependent from the organizer, as well as the team will be able to present their car in motorsport events, making it easier to find sponsors and establish new relationships.
In which areas Volkswagen would still be involved, after the teams takeover the racing Golfs?
We still want to support the development of the motorsport and the racing drivers. We would still be responsible for the racing weekends, especially in organizing and regulating ways, obviously we would also take care of the technical control, advice in servicing the cars and supplying the spare parts – tires, fuel, etc. The Volkswagen city would also be awaiting for the drivers – pits, hospitality and hopefully still very interesting and high awards for the drivers.
Could you betray a bit more about the format of the new Volkswagen Golf Cup?
Just like I said, we will try to keep the racing weekend a bit more condense. One practice session would be held on the Friday afternoon, while the next day would be assigned for the qualifying session and race. All this due to reduce the logistic costs and make the starts easier for the drivers, who are realizing other duties during the week. It is also worth mentioning, that shorter weekend doesn’t mean less driving.
Is it already known on which circuits will the new cup be held?
The above plans are still in a phase of a concept. If we realize them, we’d like to have 6 rounds in the calendar. Two, or three of them would be held in Poland, while other abroad. We are thinking here about the Lausitzring, which is a modern, located near the border venue, also hosting the DTM series. We would surely visit Brno in the Czech Republic, while the other locations could be Hungaroring in Hungary, Red Bull Ring in Austria or some other known and prestigious track.