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How is it involved in motor sport?
At one point early in 2018, Rich Energy attempted to buy the ailing F1 team Sahara Force India for £100 million. The deal fell through. The team was later bought by a consortium led by billionaire businessman Lawrence Stroll, father of the F1 driver, Lance Stroll.
In October 2018, after parking the idea of buying out a Formula One team, Storey reportedly attempted to strike a sponsorship deal with the Williams team. It is unclear whether Williams rejected the deal or whether Rich Energy changed its mind, though it was rumoured that Storey left Claire Williams and a number of Williams directors waiting in a restaurant during the weekend of the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas and never showed up. A few days later, the Haas-Rich Energy partnership was announced.
During its sponsorship of Haas, both Rich Energy and its founder gained notoriety due to their social media presence. A tweet posted from the company’s official account before the British Grand Prix in July 2019 announced that its relationship with Haas had been terminated due to mediocre performance by the team, while a tweet posted during the race compared the Haas car to a milk float.
After the race, Haas said it hoped a solution could be found between the companies that would allow the sponsorship deal to continue, but the arrangement between the team and Rich Energy was officially terminated in September 2019.
Since then, the company has sponsored the British Superbike Championship team OMG Racing, as well as BTC Racing’s Michael Crees in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
In 2021, the company’s branding also appeared on the BTCC Vauxhall Astras of Jason Plato and Daniel Lloyd.
What happened with Whyte Bikes?
Whyte Bikes took Rich Energy to court, claiming the energy drink’s logo was an unauthorised copy of its own stag-based logo. Storey argued Rich Energy’s logo was inspired by the deer that inhabit London’s Richmond Park, but to the untrained eye it looked strikingly similar to that of Whyte Bikes.
A judge agreed and gave Storey an unflattering appraisal in her judgement.
“I found both Mr Storey and Mr Kelly [Storey’s friend and logo designer] to be poor witnesses,” Judge Melissa Clarke wrote. “Mr Storey provided different and inconsistent accounts of the development of [the Rich Energy logo], which also conflicted to a large extent with the evidence of Mr Kelly.
“He often did not answer questions directly, preferring to make speeches about his vision for his business or alternatively seeking to evade questions by speaking in generalities or in the third person plural. He only answered several questions when I intervened. He had a tendency to make impressive statements, which on further investigation or consideration were not quite what they seemed.”
The court case also included Storey clarifying his original assessment that Rich Energy had produced 90 million cans — he said these had not been filled or sold at that point. Instead, he estimated the company had sold a more modest three million cans in 2018.
Judge Clark dismissed Storey and his friend Sean Kelly as unreliable witnesses and said Rich Energy could not use the stag logo after July 18 — that part of the sponsorship was removed from Haas’ car in time for the Canadian Grand Prix, although the team’s name remained on the side of the car. Rich Energy was ordered to cover Whyte Bikes and controlling company ATB Sales’ legal costs, totaling £35,416, by July 11. Whyte Bikes released a statement on that date saying that payment had not been made and that it was considering taking further legal action.
It seemed like much of this saga would be resolved in the courts and in the privacy of company boardrooms until a tweet on the eve of the British Grand Prix.
What is its involvement in motor racing?
The tie-up with Haas wasn’t the first time Rich Energy’s name was associated with motor racing. The company first made waves in F1 circles midway through last year when the Force India team went into administration. It claimed to have made an offer to save the team despite being almost unknown in the industry up to that point.
CEO Storey was not seen to be a viable long-term owner of the team and the company’s offer was dismissed, prompting the team to be placed in administration. It was duly saved from that process by a consortium led by Lance Stroll and repackaged as Racing Point, the guise it has continued with in 2019.
Storey then changed his approach from owning a team to securing a title sponsorship deal with one.
He turned his attention to the Williams team during the U.S. Grand Prix weekend in October but then suddenly agreed a deal with Haas — something which appeared to catch Williams as much by surprise as anyone else. It is understood Claire Williams and several senior team members were left waiting for Storey at an Austin restaurant on the evening of the race to finalise the terms of their deal. He never showed up, and a few days later the Haas partnership was announced. It has never been clear how much of this Haas was aware of at the time.
Williams duly went on to secure Rokit as its title sponsorship for 2019 — it is likely no coincidence Claire Williams said that partnership was based on shared values of “innovation, engineering excellence and trust.”
Rich Energy went on to sponsor Jordan King at the 2019 Indy 500. King’s father, Justin, joined the Rich Energy board of directors in April, a month before the race.
Who owns Rich Energy?
After Silverstone and Storey’s Twitter antics, the CEO then set up a new company called Rich Energy Ltd, but for some reason was rapidly re-appointed to Lightning Volt, sold his shares in the new Rich Energy and almost immediately after, bought them back. This is the entity currently known as Rich Energy and it appears that Storey is presently in sole control.
Lightning Volt was liquidated in January 2021.
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From trying to beat Red Bull to falling behind Williams
William Storey’s eagerness to impress was apparent from the presentation from the car. He called on Haas to beat Red Bull, and when asked about the legitimacy of his company, he responded that “people who question Rich Energy probably doubt the moon landing and think Elvis Presley is still alive.”
Haas finished ahead of Red Bull on the first day of testing, promotion Storey to Tweet: “Our first day in Formula 1 and we are already faster than Red Bull!”
However the relationship with Haas began to show cracks from there, with Rich Energy taken to court soon after as their logo was too similar to that of bicycle manufacturer Whyte Bikes. The judge agreed, meaning Rich Energy logos were taken off Haas cars.
Things got even wilder after the Austrian Grand Prix. Haas struggled to match the pace shown in 2018, finishing behind Williams, who missed test days earlier in the year since their car wasn’t ready, at the event.
A few days after the event Rich Energy tweeted: “We have cancelled our contract with Haas immediately due to poor performance. We actually want to beat Red Bull, but now we’re even behind Williams. That is unacceptable.” Although shareholders tried to save the relationship by removing Storey from his position, the move ultimately failed.
Things went from bad to worse with Haas seeking £35 million in damages, citing a breach of contract since the sponsorship deal was set to run until 2022. The two parties eventually went their separate ways in September, with Rich Energy leaving Formula 1 entirely, and Haas’ financial problems last season likely hinting that the sponsorship deal didn’t pay off.
Taste Test Three: Booze
I’ll admit I was quietly dreading day three. Rich Energy’s effect on me is rather too potent for my liking—it makes me feel like a record executive in the 1980s, only with liquid, and not coke snorted off the dash of a Countach. And it doesn’t taste nice.
But maybe vodka will make it better? Only one way to find out.
Time to crack out a neglected bottle of Russian Standard, a shot measurer thingy, and my final tin of Rich Energy for a lunchtime pick me up. A UK double (70ml/2.4fl oz) of very chilled (I think that bottle’s been in the freezer for a year or two) vodka poured, it was time for a test.
You know what? With cold vodka, a big ball of ice, and cold Rich Energy on the go I didn’t hate myself as much as I did when I had the power liquid on its own. This may be because the cold hides the taste. I was, as before, more energetic and easily excitable for a while afterwards. The comedown wasn’t as harsh either, which may have been because of the vodka.
After a while though, my mouth felt furry and I couldn’t taste the booze anymore, just the overwhelmingly artificial taste of energy pop.
Is it better than vodka and Red Bull? Pass. It’ll keep you alert while you’re filling yourself with booze, which is exactly what it should do in these circumstances.
Of the three tins I’ve put through my system, mixing it has given me the most satisfying experience. This is, however, like comparing the times I’ve broken bones. None were classifiable as “great.”
In Alanis and Elizabeth’s original piece, Rich Energy’s CEO, William Storey, says: “I bought a liquid and a drink from which I then created the brand…” I think he hit the nail on the head with his description: Rich Energy is indeed “a liquid.” Not one I particularly enjoy having in my body. I’m sure if you like energy drinks you’ll enjoy it.
I don’t, and didn’t.
If you can find it and have an overwhelming desire to have more energy than you normally do, then feel a bit rough a few hours later, fill your boots. Do you want people to think you’re ahead of the crowd by ordering Rich Energy as your energy fluid of choice over the Bull? You’ll look like an arsehole at the bar, but those who know what Rich Energy is will probably be surprised that someone else knows it exists.
Now what the hell do I do with the remaining 24 cans of this stuff?