Excerpts from the book “DRIVE TO WIN” by CARROLL SMITH
How Do I Go About Finding a Formula Racing Sponsor?
It’s as if people think that finding a sponsor is like finding a drugstore. The usual whine is, “I know that I have the talent, dedication and balls to get to Formula One or Indianapolis – but I don’t have any money, and no one will sponsor me”.
The first thing you have to realize is that there is no valid commercial reason for any corporation to sponsor anyone in the lower levels of motor racing. There are only two valid reasons for commercial sponsorship – product recognition / identification / advertising and Research and Development.
We can pretty much forget about R & D until you get to Indy, F1 or NASCAR and even there the validity issue is pretty shaky. So far, as product recognition, etc., goes, the reality is equally grim – the real media coverage is so minimal as to be non-existent. The second thing you have to realize is that the only person who is going to find sponsorship for you is you. Once you get these two facts through your head you can concentrate your energies and abilities on those who might actually be willing to help.
The only reason that anyone is going to sponsor your Formula Ford (through and including Indy Lights) car is because he or she likes racing and/or being associated with racing and cannot afford to sponsor an Indy Car. It helps a lot if they believe in, respect and like you. Once you have realized this simple fact you will stop spending money on “press kits” which are actually given away to kids and on “sponsorship proposals” which are actually money makers for the so-called sponsor finders who charge you for making them up and distributing them.
So How Do You Find a Sponsor?
There are a few basic rules that are worth discussing.
The first rule is that you ask! You ask a great many potential sponsors for support, and you do not get discouraged when prospect after prospect turns you down. Sooner or later, you’re going to score – if only because you finally run across a prospect whose curiosity and/or sense of adventure outweighs their common sense.
The second rule is that you will get nowhere by telling a prospective sponsor what he can do for you – that’s obvious. Spend your efforts telling him what you and your program can do for him. The object, of course, is to narrow the odds of success. There are a lot of possible ways of doing just that. There are also two methods that historically have always failed. We’ll talk about the guaranteed failure modes first:
- Don’t pay someone else to find sponsorship for you. They will take your money. They will be “on the verge” of a really big deal forever. They will need “just a little more” expense money or promotional money to close the deal. The deal will never come through. Even the ones who do it for “expenses and a percentage of the money” never find Make no mistake; there is no altruism out there. The only way that a young driver is going to find sponsorship is to do it himself.
- Don’t pay out a lot of money for “press kits” or “sponsorship proposals” to be mailed blind to corporations or other prospective sponsors. The press kits wind up being given to kids at the track and the sponsorship proposals end up in the circular file at. However, many corporations they get mailed to.
The rules for success are less simple. There are no guarantees, and we are not going into any detail here. When it comes to looking for sponsors, there is no sense at all in looking for them in your living room or at the beach. There is even less sense in sitting by your telephone waiting for it to ring – it won’t. You have to go where they are – and you have to do it in person.
Reference: “DRIVE TO WIN” by CARROLL SMITH