• Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing driver opens up about family business
  • “Racing is my vacation!”
  • Thai star right back in championship contention after Nürburgring wins
The image of the powerful mythological lion which adorns the side of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Thai driver Bhurit Bhirombhakdi is far more than a warning to his rivals. The Singha is the mark of a Royal Warrant, bestowed upon the family’s globally-recognised business soon after it was established by Bhurit’s grandfather in 1933, and has adorned every product from the Boon Rawd Brewery since.

Having won the Audi Sport R8 LMS Am Cup championship in 2017, after a storming run of five wins of the seven races he contested, the Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing driver began this season in similarly fearless fashion. Taking on the daunting and unfamiliar Nürburgring in Germany in May, Bhurit trounced the competition with a pair of dominant victories plus a pole position for good measure.

But delve a little into the Bhirombhakdi family history and it is clear the courageous gene is strong. At the age of 57, Bhurit’s grandfather Phya Bhirom Bhakdi - or "Boon Rawd" Sreshthaputra – established Thailand’s first-ever brewery. Eighteen months after opening in 1934, the Boon Rawd Brewery was producing 40% of all beer consumed in the country and, by 1941, Singha’s market share had rocketed.

Today, Bhurit’s father Santi is President and CEO of the company, which has expanded exponentially and now produces and distributes a wide array of products all over the globe, while Bhurit is CEO of Boonrawd Trading Company.

“I focus on trading. Everything - beer, water, soda, snacks, rice, everything,” he says. “I travel all over but I have to maintain the market share in Thailand. On the trading side, I focus only on Thailand where the beer is 61% market share, water is 30%, soda is 95% market share, so we are the leaders.”

While racing may be a passion, and a sport in which Bhurit clearly excels, it remains firmly a hobby. Winning the market share endurance race is top of his list of priorities: “Racing is my vacation!” he says. “My job is to get market share in all categories. This is number one. We also do joint ventures. We support start-ups, small businesses. We give them funding to support them in Thailand. We put money into venture groups, such as Vertex fund which is owned by Temasek, Keroja fund from Indonesia. Also, in the US. I just went to Silicon Valley where there’s lots of potential for future business.”

As a global multinational, the unique Bhirombhakdi family firm has the reputation and resources to hire the very best brains. However, ticking all the boxes on paper does not guarantee a coveted position within the organisation, and Bhurit and his father remain firmly in the driving seat.

“Not many of the family are involved in the business because we hire professionals,” he explains. “Even though all my guys are Princeton, Harvard or MIT graduates, we still have to have the right chemistry together, which means they have to know our culture, they have to know our way of doing business. We create a very strong group of team players. I deploy them on different tasks so it’s easier for me to manage the team.”

Asked whether his motorsport, something which by its very nature requires absolute focus, helps him strengthen his concentration, Bhurit glances at his watch which tells him the race is less than an hour away: “When you race, you don’t think about anything else. You are just 100% focused on doing what you have to do right at that moment.” And with that, Bhurit is gone, heading off to win the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup double-header at the Nürburgring.