South Australian businessman James Rosenberg has emerged as a key player in Matt Stone Racing’s push to join the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship grid in 2018.
A long-time supporter of young talent in circuit racing and speedway, the Barossa Valley-based farm machinery dealer owned a Supercars Racing Entitlements Contract from 2010-14.
He ran fellow South Aussies Tim Slade and Nick Percat during that period, before eventually handing back his REC (subsequently sold to Triple Eight ahead of 2016) due to a lack of sponsorship.
Sponsoring Hazelwood in a small capacity during recent years in Super2, the opportunity to help another Adelaide-raised youngster join the main game grid has Rosenberg prepared to return to REC ownership.
The unassuming Rosenberg has to date been a silent player in the concerted push to get MSR into the main game that is also being backed by Brisbane-based IT entrepreneur Jason Gomersall.
The effort remains without a REC, but discussions are currently taking place between Stone and Jason Bright that could see the current #56 entry bought by Rosenberg.
Bright has a two-year deal to keep his REC at Prodrive, but the Melbourne squad is known to want out of the agreement in order to purchase another REC from Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.
While there remains much play out, Rosenberg believes the combination of Hazelwood, Stone and Gomersall is the perfect group with which to formally return to Supercars.
Rosenberg, with Tim Slade in 2012
Rosenberg has a long-time friendship with the Stones and ran his REC out of the old Stone Brothers Racing from 2010-12, before leaving after a single season in its Erebus guise.
“I do it because I can, really. To be honest I really can’t help myself!” Rosenberg told Supercars.com of his motivation.
“For me this is the perfect fit. Jason Gomersall is a very smart businessman and I’ve helped out in a minor way for a while with Matt and Todd.
“Todd is ready for it, he really is. It won’t be easy but he’s winning in Super2… he’s ticked the boxes.
“Of all the kids I’ve been involved with, he’s worked harder than I’ve ever seen outside the car. He’s just a good young kid who is very, very dedicated.
“The Stones are very good friends of mine and Matt is another Jimmy (Matt’s father) through and through, he’s got all the skills to run a main game team. He deserves the opportunity as well.
“Supercars needs that new blood with young drivers, but also team owners.
“We looked at doing this last year, but we felt it was a year too early. Now everything is right, but we’ve just got to see what happens from here.”
While Rosenberg is prepared to fund the REC, negotiations will take place directly through Stone and Gomersall, who has put the operational budget together for 2018.
With the team planning to continue to run in Super2 regardless of the fate of its main game push, Gomersall says he’s relaxed about the current state of play.
“It’s hard to say what the cut-off date is,” he told Supercars.com of when a final decision will need to be made.
“If a REC turns up next week, we’re good to go, and if it turns up in February we’d have to assess if it’s the right thing to do.
“Every week that goes past makes it a little harder to plan, but we’re relaxed about it.
“A couple of years ago [at the end of 2015] we had everything we needed [to succeed in Super2] other than a car and we were able to find a good car at the last minute.
“Up until that point it looked like we were running out of options. So we’ll keep the faith that it’ll work out again.”