Life Grand Prix Series
|Life Grand Prix Series|
|Engine supplier(s)||Life Racing Engines|
Life Grand Prix Series was a single-make racing series using an updated version of the Life L190 and its F35 W12 engine, a notoriously slow and unreliable car which took part in the 1990 Formula One season but never even got past pre-qualifying as it was often tens of seconds slower than the next-slowest car. The inaugural season was in 1991. The series was owned and managed by Finanz-Sichereit Konglomerat, a Swiss investment company rumored to have connections to Jean-Pierre van Rossem, famous for his Moneytron fraud scheme. However, most of the names of the people running the series were unknown to the public, Dieter Oktor (Chief Medical Officer), Dietrich Anger (Chief Safety Officer) and Walther Rench (Chief Technical Officer) being the only exceptions.
The series was criticized for it's dangerousness, with the Life chassis being perceived as unsafe and crucial parts such as brakes failing too often, sometimes with serious consequences. Additionally, the capability of some of the drivers was questioned. However, the series management replied to these accusations by constantly researching for new ways to make the chassis more durable and introducing new safety measures, such as speed limits on the pitlane.
During 1991 there was a strict limit of 30 regular entries, although some tracks with additional capacity allowed for non-championship guest drives. In 1992 the entry list was capped at 41 cars, with 28 starting each race, while in 1993 the amount of starters varied on each track's capabilities.
A majority of the races took place on circuits which were no longer or had never been used by Formula One, and initially only a few races were located outside of Europe to save travel costs. However, this changed in the later seasons as the exuberant fees charged by some of the European circuit owners forced the series to diversify into more international markets. Many of the overseas races were sponsored by state-owned companies as governments seeked new ways to promote tourism in their countries. However, the massive travel costs associated with these races ultimately negated the profits made from cheaper circuit fees and better sponsorship, and FSK ended their funding of the series after the 1993 season to cut back on their losses. As no other organisation was interested in buying the rights, the series collapsed and all remaining equipment was sold in a series of auctions to recuperate some of the losses. Some of it later resurfaced in the series' spiritual successor, the Rejects-1 World Championship, with the chassis modified to fit the new technical regulations.
The series also suffered backlash from some questionable stewarding decisions, including alleged results manipulation at the 1992 Life SuperPrix of Australia which was red-flagged due to severe accidents caused by torrential weather. The results were pushed back by a couple of laps, which awarded James Davies both the race and championship victory despite crashing out.
In the late 1990s a thorough investigation into FSK's business deals revealed widespread corruption in the series, such as the use of security guards supplied by Cosa Nostra at the 1992 and 1993 Life Grands Prix of Italy.