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Victoria resident looks to revive Theodore Racing

The minimum startup cost for a Formula 1 team is about $100-million – a sizable sum despite Teddy Yip’s family’s wealth.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

On May 19, 1983, Teddy Yip Sr. missed the birth of his namesake son while watching American Tom Sneva win the Indianapolis 500.

Mr. Yip Sr. was already a very successful Hong Kong businessman, having gained a monopoly gambling licence in Macau, a place that came to be known worldwide as a gambling mecca. A driver himself, the elder Mr. Yip went on to form the Theodore Racing team in the 1970s and had international success on the Formula 3 racing circuit.

Now, his son, a resident of a quiet Victoria suburb, wants to kick the tires of one of the flashiest ventures in sports: A Formula 1 franchise.

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"It's definitely an aspiration," Mr. Yip said. "It's not easy to bring about."

In a rare interview, Mr. Yip said the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) is opening up a new spot for an F1 racing team with a Jan. 3, 2014, application deadline. Mr. Yip said he is a long way from being ready for that call. But he's got his eye on the next one. He said he has facilities and maintenance staff already in place in England. The minimum startup cost would be about $100-million Canadian – a sizable sum despite his family's historic wealth.

"You have to have the commercial partners to be able to do it," he said.

But before then, Mr. Yip is looking to broaden his racing horizons.

"We're looking at expanding to another [racing] series [next] year," he said, adding that he, like his father, likes the American racing scene. He added: "I'd like to support Canadian motorsports. We're pretty close to a couple of things."

Mr. Yip has spent his whole life around the F1, F2 and F3 circuits and the Grand Prix circuit.

Theodore Racing competed in them all and, in 1983, Brazilian Ayrton Senna won the British Formula 3 race under the Theodore banner. Mr. Yip has a photograph of his father, Mr. Senna and himself taken that year. Mr. Senna went on to win three F1 driver titles.

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Mr. Yip's father died in 2003. The son became heavily involved in the business of the racing world in his own right when the Status Grand Prix team, founded in 2005, approached him. Status called him the team principal and investment catalyst, but his Status business card modestly says he is a director.

Along the way, Mr. Yip has met some luminaries in the motorsport industry, including F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, two-time F1 driving champion Emerson Fittipaldi and 1978 F1 driving champion Mario Andretti.

"I was totally starstruck," Mr. Yip said of his meeting with Mr. Fittipaldi.

This year marked the 60th anniversary of the Macau Grand Prix and the 30th anniversary of Mr. Senna's Formula 3 victory in the Macau race under the Theodore banner. To mark it, the junior Mr. Yip decided to revive the Theodore Racing name, which had been missing from the Macau Grand Prix since 1992.

Yet he appears totally unaffected by the surprising notion that an F1 franchise might grow from a base in Victoria and has no plans to move to facilitate his new venture.

Mr. Yip had been living in Britain for 13 years and first came to Victoria to visit friends in 2001. He's lived there since 2002 and said he spends about eight months of the year there.

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"The West Coast is just a place that I love," he said.

Indeed, the quiet of Victoria suits him. He said the public speaking, spotlight and interviews his father excelled at are not among his favourite things.

"He was so outgoing [that] everyone else was in his shadow," Mr. Yip said of his father. "Most of the time, I try to avoid it."

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