Darren Cox
Creator GT Academy

The number of entrepreneurs that have had a Hollywood movie made about them is tiny. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Jordan Belfort, Howard Hughes, Darren Cox .

Orlando Bloom plays Darren Cox in the movie Gran Turismo. It tells the struggle, wins and failures Cox endured to get his breakthrough idea agreed, funded and renewed in a big, conservative corporation.

Challenges Cox faced included the 2008 financial crash and a tragic accident. His ultimate success against the odds not only resulted in the Hollywood movie but also the opportunity to help shape the media and gaming world of F1 in the eye of COVID and the Drive to Survive phenomenon.

Darren Cox is a pioneer in the F1 Drive to Survive era who has had his biggest project turned into a major Hollywood movie.

As F1 grows exponentially in the ‘Drive to Survive’ era Cox is at the centre of the media and marketing transformation.

His professional motorsport journey started when in 2005 he conceived an idea well ahead of its time. He asked the question - could a Playstation gamer transfer from his sofa to the race track?

‘Gran Turismo’ tells the story of how Darren fought to launch and keep the ‘Gamer to Racer’ concept against pressure from Nissan and Playstation and some big challenges including a fatal accident involving one of the gamers.

His story of innovation and grit to change the face of Motorsport has many parallels to todays challenging environment. The project was eventually launched in 2008 at the moment of greatest peril for the Motor industry for decades and under instruction from Nissan President Carlos Ghosn himself not to ‘advertise’ sportscars.

Later, as founder and CEO of a start up independent F1 media group he drove the business to lead in terms of results and reputation in the F1 paddock within 3 years, exploiting the tsunami of interest generated by Netflix.

Innovatively using separate brands to target two different audiences he instilled a ‘digital content first’ mindset into his organisation that drove both brands to top all KPIs for views, listens, visits and engagement.

Regarded as the ‘godfather' of racing esports, he led the charge towards using gaming as a route to new audiences for Motorsport before founding his independent F1 media company.

Both genres were forced together when weeks after launching his main F1 media brand COVID hit. Darren quickly switched his new ‘real world’ media platform into running a weekly esports brand that was broadcast by ESPN and other global TV companies in place of traditional sport for large parts of 2020.

As well conceiving GT Academy and other start up motorsport brands Darren is also behind landmark projects and concepts such as the Deltawing Le Mans entry, a new Marketing media awards platform for Motorsport and has run esports teams for Mercedes F1, Racing Point F1 (Aston Martin) and Fernando Alonso.

Darren talks with openness and humour about ‘failing to win’ but ultimately delivering breakthrough innovations despite inherent industry inertia. His stories of building a F1 media group from scratch with the challenge of COVID balanced by the opportunity that Drive to Survive and new F1 owners Liberty provided, illustrates some of the best insights on how the new F1 media landscape can be exploited by brands.