Who’s Lawrence Stroll? Lance’s Famous Daddy

Businessman Lawrence Stroll has been attracting the attention of sports media in recent years due to his investments in Formula One. From the entry of his youngest son Lance into the category to the purchase of the Force India team (now Racing Point and future Aston Martin), the Stroll name arouses curiosity in journalists and fans.

However, Formula One fans often end up believing in rumors and having false impressions about the Canadian. Consequently, they do not realize the true intentions of his detractors. In this article, we will explain who is Lawrence Stroll through facts and show to the motorsports lovers who is famous Daddy Stroll.

 

1- The origin of the Strolls

 

The Stroll family, whose original name is Strulovitch, has origins in Russia. During the tsar era, there was intense persecution of Jews. One of the state policies was the pogroms: invasions of Jewish villages accompanied by raids, fires, and deaths. Soon, many Jews had hoped for new times with the revolutions of 1917 (including some leaders of the movements against Tsar Nicholas II, such as Leon Trotsky, were Jews). However, the Communist period did not bring peace to this community, especially in the regime of Josef Stalin. The persecutions not only continued but intensified.

As a part, many Jews fled Russia for democratic countries. A large part fled to the Americas. It was the case of Leo Strulovitch. Resuming life on the New Continent, Strulovitch and his wife Sandra (born in Canada) had two children: Lawrence and Randy. Lawrence decided to follow in the footsteps of his father, a clothing merchant who, years later, became an investor and introduced Ralph Lauren and Pierre Cardin’s feminine line in Canada. He studied, worked, set up his first businesses, and started his initial investments a few years later.

 

Lawrence Stroll and his partner Silas Chou. [1]

 

Specialists point Lawrence Stroll as responsible for the popularization of the Polo Ralph Lauren brand in the European continent and the expansion of Michael Kors in the market. In 1989, Stroll and his partner Silas Chou founded Sportswear Holdings Limited, one of the largest companies in the fashion industry in history, as pointed out by Spanish journalist Jaime Cevallos. The company allowed the popularization of the Tommy Hilfiger brand, which gained a large space in the textile sector. In the 2000s, Stroll and Chou saw some brands that received their investments entered the Stock Exchange, like Michael Kors. The purchase and sale of shares earned a good fortune to entrepreneurs.

In August 1994, Stroll married Belgian fashion designer Claire-Anne Callens; On March 11 of the following year, their first daughter Chloe was born. Their second son, Lance, was born on October 29, 1998. Owner of the Callens brand, Claire-Anne runs her business alone, and her stores are in many cities in Europe, the United States, and Canada.

 

Belgian fashin designer Claire-Anne Callens, Lawrence Stroll’s wife. [2]

 

2- Lawrence Stroll and sport: an ancient interaction

 

In the documentary W5: Lance Stroll Canada’s Top Formula 1 Racer, Lawrence Stroll reports that he raced in the Ferrari Challenge, a competition made by collectors who own the Ferrari model 348, around his 30 years and continued during the childhood of his children, who used to see their father at the event. That was the first insertion of Stroll into the sporting world, long before Lance thought about being a Formula One driver. Soon, the first myth about the entrepreneur falls apart: that he would only have entered the motorsport business because his son wanted to be a driver.

Just as Lawrence acquired a taste for fashion by observing the work of his father Leo, Lance Stroll shares a love of the sport with his father. Motorsport is one of the most expensive sports categories that exist due to the cost of your labor and materials. Consequently, it is necessary to have financial support in the career of athletes, making it impossible for drivers without investments to enter from the basic categories to the highest. Possessing a fortune stemming from his textile business, Lawrence Stroll was one of his son’s supporters on his way into the sport.

 

Lawrence Stroll at the Ferrari challenge with his children. [3]

 

The training of a driver requires investment and athletic performance. In this case, it does not matter if the sponsorship comes from your family or not. A talented driver without a good investment cannot help the team’s budget, and an athlete without aptitude does not achieve impressive results that translate into financial gains for the team. With these obstacles, it is almost impossible for a driver to reach the top category of world motorsport with only financial and frustrating performance. Athletes like this usually abandon their careers in lower stages, such as karting. Also, according to Nuno Sousa Pinto, sports director, the FIA itself made it even more difficult for drivers whose performances would not justify investments in their careers (the famous pay drivers): from 2016, to enter Formula One, they would have to score 40 points in the Super license.

 

3- Lance and Lawrence: father and son in Formula One

 

As the 2014 Italian Formula 4 champion (the first in the category), the Toyota Racing Series in 2015, and European Formula Three in 2016, Lance Stroll earned the points needed in the Super license to join Formula 1 in 2017 for the Williams team. Nuno Sousa Pinto points out that Stroll’s curriculum is more impressive than that of many young athletes who also entered Formula One and, even though having wealthy families, do not receive criticism;

It reveals that, unfortunately, some journalists let personal preferences stand out from the expected professionalism and spread misinformation, ignoring one of the main principles of journalism: ethics.

Athletes need time to adapt to the category in which they work. The criticism of Lance Stroll during the pre-season was, from a journalistic point of view, hasty. The first half of 2017 confirmed it, as Stroll scored his first points at the Canadian Grand Prix and finished third at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, breaking his first record: youngest rookie to score a podium;

A pay driver would never get such impressive results because he would not have an aptitude for the sport, only financial contribution. At the Italian Grand Prix, Stroll broke the record for the youngest driver to start from the front row, proving his potential and talent for motorsport.

 

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix’s podium. [4]

 

In an interview with Canadian broadcaster RDS in 2018, Lance Stroll stated that his father is a businessman and that he invests in ventures that he is sure will work. Therefore, Lawrence Stroll’s interest in teams, from Prema Powerteam to Racing Point, goes far beyond interaction with his son: these are opportunities for high investments.

It is worth noting that the only drivers on the 2020 grid who came from more humble families are Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas. Everyone else comes from families with high financial conditions: some from the middle class like Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, others from more affluent classes. However, all, without exception, have financial contributions, whether from their families, companies, or even both.

Some drivers were born to entrepreneurs (Lance Stroll, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, and Sebastian Vettel) who work in different areas such as fashion, investments, automobiles, engineering, among others;

Others are children of athletes (Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr., and Pierre Gasly), soon also have privileged conditions since birth. The driver’s origin does not interfere with his performance because, as Lawrence Stroll defined, parents do not drive the car for their children.

 

4- The rumors: reporting before knowing the truth

 

In 2018, with Force India sale to the consortium led by Lawrence Stroll (also formed by Silas Chou, Michael de Picciotto, John McCaw Jr., John Idol, Jonathan Dudman, and Andre Desmarais), the media speculated that Lance would move to the team immediately, as the engineering department of Williams failed in making a competitive car;

When Esteban Ocon left the team after the season, his fans and some journalists immediately blamed the Strolls, as if the French driver had his situation already assured before the sale of the team;

However, as Joas van Wingerden reported, Toto Wolff was already considering taking his patron from Force India. The negotiations failed because the ties between Ocon and Wolff were viewed with suspicion by the other teams, as stated by Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull. That was proved in 2019 when Ocon undid his ties with Wolff to get an opportunity to return to Formula One for Renault.

At the time of the purchase of Force India, Sergio Pérez was more attractive to investors than Esteban Ocon due to his consistency in scoring and sponsors. That, added to the intentions of the French driver manager, ensured that the Mexican was the best option to race alongside Lance Stroll. Also, the Canadian presented good prospects for the next seasons due to investments and his achievements in the debut year.

 

Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez at Racing Point. [5]

 

In 2020 there was a similar situation. Sebastian Vettel did not have his contract with Ferrari renewed because his work was not meeting their expectations. Racing Point owners considered contracting him because of his past as a four-time champion and his financial investment. Although it seemed apparent that the team would not choose Lance Stroll to give Vettel his seat, this is not just because he is the son of one of the owners. There are indeed companies that prioritize family ties and, if their members are not prepared to take this kind of responsibility, the business ends up going bankrupt. But this is not the case observed in Lawrence Stroll: the success of his investments is due to care in decisions.

That means that family ties are not the deciding factor for choices like this. What was discussed was which of the two drivers, Stroll or Pérez, would have more chances to bring the results that the team intends to achieve in 2021. Both have impressive achievements, differing in career time in Formula One: Pérez has ten, and Stroll has four. In technical terms, the two can be considered experienced drivers. However, the Mexican is more likely to retire early, as he is 30 years old and is in Formula One for a decade. Having both good sponsorships, sports investors find more prospects in young athletes, such as Stroll.

It perceives that business involves much deeper issues than just kinship ties. Investment in Formula One is high risk and therefore, decisions require caution. Of course, the inconstant narratives of Racing Point difficulted the understanding of the facts, so laypeople in business can judge this is a case of a father protecting his son. That is why one must coldly analyze the facts to disclose the information correctly.

 

5- Conclusion

 

That is the story of Lawrence Stroll: a man who built his fortune with investment and entrepreneurship, works that require a lot of commitment and caution. If you expected the stereotype of a wealthy heir to large capital, married to a socialite and a playboy child, look for someone else. Maybe you will find a driver’s father with that profile, but that is definitely not Lawrence Stroll.

 

Update (October 9th, 2020): As revealed by Adam Cooper in the website Motorsport (check here), Sebastian Vettel bought shares in Aston Martin before signing his contract. It proves what was said here: the hiring of Vettel instead of the renewal of Sergio Pérez was due to business, not a priviledge of Lance Stroll for being the son of the owner.

 

Bibliography

 

 

Photos

Note: None of the photos used in this article belongs to me. This site has informative intentions, not commercial. The links where I took the photos are indicated below. All copyrights reserved.

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