Cars / F1

Tom Barker Takes the Thrill of F1 to the Next Level With the Penthouse

Experience F1 from a whole new perspective with The Penthouse by Tom Barker Group.

Sep 20, 2022 | By Joseph Low
The Penthouse
Image: Tom Barker Group

Hello Tom! Tell us a little more about yourself and the Tom Barker Group.

Living in this fast-paced world we are the chosen “money can’t buy experience” partner of many forward-thinking companies who truly value the investment in spending quality time with their most valued clients.

We achieve this through First Class Formula 1 Hospitality Experiences, with our premium F1 suite The Penthouse by Tom Barker Group. We also work closely with them to attain various brand sponsorships and associations within Formula 1 and Formula 2 through our key relationships in the sport. Giving our clients exciting commercial opportunities which would otherwise be unattainable.

This sees me spend my time travelling all over the world between Australasia, Singapore and further abroad with my beautiful partner Emilee as we take on new opportunities and grow the business into a global operation.

What would you say is your motivation behind setting up The Penthouse and Tom Barker Group?

My motivation for establishing our company comes from my two passions in life; firstly, motor racing, Formula 1 in particular and secondly, people, working hard with like-minded people and making great things happen. The thrill of seamlessly delivering a remarkable experience for our guests is hugely satisfying.

“The most dedicate of all pleasure is fulfilling the pleasure of others.”

Jean de la Bruyere

Motor racing is an incredible sport and in many ways a subculture. In New Zealand, we have a very rich history dating back to the 1960s with Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme in Formula 1. I believe this laid a pathway of success for many generations of antipodes on the world stage, growing up around the sport certainly lit a fire in me to go and achieve something great with my life.

I launched The Penthouse Formula 1 Hospitality Experience in 2018 at the Australian Formula 1 as a way of bringing like-minded people together to build closer connections with each other and experience the sport from a new perspective.

Was there a memorable anecdote that you could share with us and what was your reaction?

There are many great stories, having the legendary Martin Brundle (Sky Sports F1 lead commentator, former F1 driver and arguably the most respected face in Formula 1) join us in The Penthouse only half an hour before his famous Grid Walk broadcast on the starting grid of the 2022 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

It was an absolute coup, as Martin rarely does these kinds of appearances, especially on race day. It was a special moment for us all and we are very proud to call Martin a friend. Who knows maybe he’ll make another visit to The Penthouse in Singapore. You’ll have to wait and see.

In your opinion, is creating an unforgettable service experience the best form of hospitality?

Image: Tom Barker Group

Absolutely, I believe when hosting our corporate client’s VIP guests at The Penthouse we are effectively representing each of their brands. Our attention to detail and clear communication are important elements to the process.

With this in mind, our purpose is to create a vibrant yet safe and relaxed environment combined with meticulous attention to detail and of course the best views of Formula 1. Executed correctly by us and it is something they will remember for a lifetime and most importantly create a stronger personal connection to the company.

What do you think is unique about The Penthouse that sets it apart from its competitors?

We encourage our clients to have “new eyes” through first-class hospitality, guest selection, and developing a special relationship with each of them. Everything we do is with huge passion and attention to detail.

Our mission is to help our clients to connect with like-minded people in an open and friendly environment. When enjoying our first-class hospitality they tend to relax and are more open in their conversations, helping them to build stronger relationships with others.

It is here we have seen first-hand many multi-million dollar opportunities arise between our corporate clients and their VIP guests. To come and have fun with us but also give them strong commercial value is the real buzz for me.

The personal relationships we build with our clients are certainly special. Many of whom have become friends, mentors and loyal advocates over the years. They share in our achievements and form part of an ever growing international community of inspiring and influential people.

You have been a partner with the Australian Grand Prix since 2019, how do you think your past experiences will be useful with the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix considering that it will be a night race?

Image: Tom Barker Group

We really cut our teeth with the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, they gave me an opportunity in 2018 to have our own suite, believed in my vision and have been an integral partner in our success to date.

The lessons, opportunities and connections we have formed out of The Penthouse with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation over the past four years stand us in great stead for our expansion into Singapore.

There are other notable Grand Prix circuits around the world, such as Circuit de Monaco, Autodromo Nazionale di Monza and Silverstone, to name a few. Why have you chosen Singapore to be the next pit stop?

I just love Singapore. Watching the first Grand Prix in 2008 on television at 13 years old made me eager to come here and get involved somehow. So to be hosting The Penthouse here in 2022 is somewhat of a childhood ambition achieved.

Maybe it’s the shining lights, and the overall energy of the place but there is just something magical about Formula 1 cars screaming through this city at night that made us know Singapore had to be the next frontier for The Penthouse by Tom Barker Group.

Only in recent years has Asia started to pick up motor racing, how different is this culture from the West?

In western culture generally, we all love cars and the sense of freedom they afford us. Cars are generally accessible for people and also a vital form of transport given the distances many of us must cover in our daily commutes.

From there people become “car proud” and genuinely enjoy the thrill of driving. Race circuits were built to make driving fast in a controlled environment much easier and the fascination with motor racing was born. It really is a subculture among enthusiasts.

Do you think F1 enthusiasts in Asia are generally younger than that of fans in Europe? And why?

Image: Tom Barker Group

Generally yes, I believe the massive growth of E-Sports or simulator competition in Asia recently has played a key role in young people forming a passion for cars and motor racing. Racing simulators are so realistic now and give access to just about every car and race circuit in the world all from the comfort of their living rooms. We are now seeing a cross-over from E-Sports racers being competitive in real-world racing environments which is awesome!

Also local heroes on the Formula 1 grid give the Asian fanbase someone to cheer for, thus driving huge interest. There are currently three exceptional drivers from the region in Formula 1 now which is fantastic: Alpha Tauri has Yuki Tsonoda (Japan), Williams Racing has Alex Albon (Thai) and Zhou Guanyu (China) is driving for Alfa Romeo.

Apart from The Penthouse, where you provide a first-class experience to enjoy the Grand Prix, will you be venturing to cover other prestigious events or tours?

We do a variety of “money can’t buy” experiences predominantly in New Zealand and Australia by combining both thrills and luxury. From high-performance driving with Porsche to golfing at some of the world’s best golf courses, other exclusive experiences include heli-skiing, helicopter winery tours, private air shows by the Red Bull Air Race World Champion and inspiring guest speakers from Rugby World Champions to Formula 1 drivers.

We have an exciting concept that we will be launching in 2023. It will be all of the above combined into one incredible week of first-class adventure and hospitality for a select group of high-performing people.

What are some exciting activities that guests can look forward to with you during this F1 Singapore Grand Prix?

Image: Tom Barker Group
Image: Tom Barker Group
Image: Tom Barker Group

Our guests travelling overseas will be hosted from the moment they land in Singapore till they depart, taking in some of the best restaurants with exclusive waitlists, and enjoying the city from a new perspective.

The highlight is our Formula 1 hospitality at The Penthouse, however ensuring a seamless week with other like-minded people is also important. Our guests, along with our team, are all staying at the Capitol Kempinski Singapore. They are a terrific hotel partner and given the number of guests we have staying, it will truly give the experience a homely vibe.

Do you have a favourite F1 driver?

Yes, I do. It’s a little left of field and he passed away well before my time but New Zealander Bruce McLaren is someone I really admire.

Starting out life completely bedridden as a child with a serious hip issue, he fought on to become an absolute pioneer of Formula 1 both as a driver and founder of the McLaren Racing Team. This is a testament to his incredible spirit and character.

The most amazing story about Bruce I believe was in the 1960s and 70s where he would be flying across the Atlantic multiple times per week tending to his business and motor racing commitments between Europe and the US. Uncommon even today, and totally unimaginable in that era, he proved that no barrier could get in his way to success.

The legacy he has left with the continued success of McLaren Formula 1 Team and McLaren Automotive is very special. He is certainly an inspiration to me.

Any other exciting news to share with us?

Yes, we do. We are very close to announcing our exciting plans for The Penthouse in Monaco and Las Vegas Formula 1 races in 2023. Also some alliances with Formula 1 teams and drivers will give our clients even greater access to the sport and commercial opportunities with global reach.

For more information about The Penthouse, click here.

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