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June 26, 2023

Rob McElhenney, Ryan Reynolds among group investing in Formula One team Alpine

The star owners of the Wrexham AFC soccer club are joined by actor Michael B. Jordan in the $218 million deal

After getting a taste of sports ownership with Wrexham AFC, actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds are expanding from soccer to Formula One racing. The pair are part of an investment group that has purchased a stake in the F1 team Alpine.

The French team, owned by automobile manufacturer the Renault Group, said Monday it received a roughly $218 million investment from Otro Capital, RedBird Capital Partners and Reynolds' Maximum Effort Investments. McElhenney, the cocreator and star of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," is part of Reynolds' team, as is "Black Panther" and "Creed" star Michael B. Jordan.

Formula One racing has surged in popularity and grown its U.S. presence in recent years, with last month's Miami Grand Prix and plans for the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas in October and the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November. The sport's emergence in the U.S. has been aided by the Netflix series "Drive to Survive" and an ESPN broadcasting deal signed last fall.

In 2020, Reynolds and McElhenney took over the Welsh Wrexham AFC to revive one of the world's oldest pro soccer clubs to its former glory. The team's journey has been chronicled on the FXX series "Welcome to Wrexham," whose second season is expected to premiere later this year.

Wrexham recently earned its promotion into England's League Two – the country's fourth-highest division and the first rung on the full-time professional ladder for its clubs — for the first time since 2008. The club will come to Chester next month to face the Union's reserve team in a friendly at Subaru Park.

Alpine F1, led by drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, ranks fifth in the constructors' championship behind Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari teams. The team's history in F1 goes back to 1981, when it raced as Toleman and was based in England. After that, it had one of its most successful runs as the Benetton team before being bought by Renault in 2000.

Renault said the collection of new backers will hold a 24% equity stake in the team. The investors previously have backed other sports teams and organizations including the Dallas Cowboys, Fenway Sports Group, the NFL and Toulouse FC.