IndyCar impresario Carl Haas had been running teams in various North American formulae for years, including SuperVee, CanAm and Formula 5000, and had also become the US distributor for Lola Cars, and had helped them to a position of dominance in the motor racing field. During negotiations for sponsorship, food conglomerate Beatrice offered funding if he also launched a Formula One team to increase their visibility in the European market. Haas agreed, and entered his team under the name “Lola”, despite having no input from the British manufacturer other than his position as distributor.
Forming a UK-based company known as FORCE (Formula One Race Car Engineering) to do the design and construction, Haas assembled some of the top names in Formula One: former McLaren partners Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander, designers Neil Oatley, Ross Brawn and John Baldwin. Ford offered exclusive use of their new turbocharged V6 engine from 1986 onward, once it was ready. In the meantime, with 1980 world champion Alan Jones was announced as the team’s driver for the 1985 season – though with it being a last-minute entry it would be a few rounds before the team were ready to go.
The genial Australian had retired from Formula One at the end of 1981, and had even turned down an offer from Ferrari to take over from Gilles Villeneuve the following year (a decision which he quickly game to regret). However, he had continued racing in the World Sportscar Championships, and attempted a comeback with the Arrows team in 1983, but was unable to find the finance. However, he had let it be known he was still interested in a comeback and Carl Haas was looking for an experienced driver to develop the car, so with Beatrice funding the project, a deal could be done.