2021 Sponsor Profile: KONI North America

KONI North America is a valued partner of the Canadian Touring Car Championship presented by Pirelli.  While to some, KONI might seem to be a new brand entering motorsport, that could not be farther from the truth, they have a rich history in motorsports dating back to the 1950s, racing everything from touring cars to GP3 to Formula 1. 

KONI is part of an organization that has great passion for racing across the world.  We are honored to be associated with such a distinctive brand and we are proud to share part of their history with you.  

Founded in the Netherlands in the 1800s, KONI was a family-owned company for over 150 years. In the mid 70s, they were acquired by ITT Inc, its current parent company. 

KONI was the first to invent the fully adjustable shock absorber, aside from their involvement in racing, the commercial and industrial sectors are some of their biggest markets. KONI also has a high-performance line dedicated to the automotive industry and available across Canada through a selection of dealers.

From supplying shocks to almost every high-speed train in North America, to supplying around 80% of the world’s busses and public transit, KONI has become a widely used brand most people might not know about. In addition to their products being used for street cars, they also supply the military and most of the world’s wind turbines.  

The first motorsport event that KONI took part in goes as far back as the 1956 Tulpenrally. Rally car racing is a sport with the extreme need for shock absorbers and this proved to be a successful experience for KONI and the inception of a growing involvement in racing.  Their following move happened by helping one of the most prominent F1 teams, Scuderia Ferrari, with their suspension issues at the Nordschleife circuit. Two years later, KONI officially joined Scuderia Ferrari. 

Debuting at the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix, after this successful partnership, KONI won its first F1 World Drivers Title in 1971 with Jackie Stewart. Stewart took six victories in that season with Tyrell, and the addition of teammate Francois Cevert’s victory at the end of the year was enough to give KONI their first world constructors championship. 

KONI’s involvement in F1 was a highly successful one, ending up becoming the sport’s winningest shock absorber. Their most recent F1 venture was as an official technical partner of the Sahara Force India F1 team.

KONI is still highly involved in racing and has a very extensive portfolio of partnerships in Europe, United States and Canada in open-wheel and touring car racing. 

KONI’s connection to the CTCC started in 2019.  The man that made it happen, Allen Briere, Sales Manager, Automotive and RV Products at KONI North America, met Dominique Bondar, General Manager of CTCC at the Motorama Show in March 2019 as both were exhibitors at the show and their respective booths were located only a few meters away from each other. After a pivotal meeting at the event, a deal was created and KONI became the CTCC’s Gold Partner.   

“I was up at Motorama when Dominique [Bondar] came up and although she didn’t know me, she started talking to me about John [Bondar],” Allen said. “I didn’t who he was or who anybody was but she was great, took me over the CTCC booth I met John and I thought to myself ‘I think we got something here.’”

Allen determined it was a great way for KONI to get into the Canadian market, but most importantly, the perfect way to get the brand back into motorsports after a short hiatus. 

Allen himself has always been a racing guy. Prior to and even after joining KONI, he could usually be found in and around the race track either in the stands or behind the wheel. As a road racing guy, he is very knowledgeable about cars and is able to talk the talk as well as walk the walk. At the end of the day, KONI strives to promote the united interests of motorsports. 

“I set up a booth, give things away and just talk to people,” Allen added. “Nothing is going to make me happier than somebody that just says “you got me interested in motorsports”. I’m trying to give them gateways to show them that they could be like them [CTCC Drivers] one day.”

What makes the partnership so great between KONI and the Canadian Touring Car Championship presented by Pirelli is that they are appealing to the fans in the grandstands.  Race enthusiasts can relate to the production-based cars and potentially own a street version of one of the race cars. That’s what makes motorsport, well motorsport. 

Written by Alex Gallacher/ CTCC Communications