Main Photo Credit: Dave Wilson (used under the Creative Commons Attribution License)
“Can I really get paid to race?” Yes, you can! Making a profit as a racer is much more difficult than it once was, but it is still possible to make some money and offset some of your racing costs through sponsorship even if you are an amateur, club-level racer.
In this 5-part series I’ll explain everything you need to know to attract sponsors and become the rider that companies WANT to support!
Here’s the breakdown:
Part 1: What Is Sponsorship? – The 3 Main Types of Sponsorship Deals
Part 2: Who Would Sponsor Me? – Switch your Mindset and Think Like a Marketer
Part 3: Stand Out! – Get Noticed and Prove You Mean Business
Part 4: Your Sponsorship Packet – Plan Ahead and Create a Winning Sponsorship Packet
Part 5: Hustle – Seal the deal!
Part 6: The Perfect Promoter – Keep Your Sponsors Coming Back for More
Part 1: What is Sponsorship?
In this post I’ll list the different kinds of sponsorship support available to you, define each category, provide examples and even include links to some sponsorship programs you can apply for today!
According to everyone’s favorite online encyclopedia, “to sponsor something is to support an event, activity, person, or organization financially or through the provision of products or services.”
In our case sponsors may support your race campaign in one of many possible ways but most will fit into one of these three categories (listed in order of difficulty to obtain):
- Discounts or Freebies – Almost anyone can get some of these
- Contingency – All you have to do is win
- Cash or Credit – Most desirable and least likely, but not impossible
DISCOUNTS / FREEBIES
Discounts for racers are by far the most common form of sponsorship and often all you have to do is fill out a form and/or answer a few questions and then BAM you are a sponsored rider! It really is that easy. I hope I didn’t just burst your bubble…
If your application is accepted you will typically get a sponsorship packet in the mail with some stickers, posters, patches, or other promotional “goodies” as well as instructions on how you are expected to promote your sponsor and the terms of the discount program.
If you follow the rules of the program you will now receive a “racer discount” on their products for the season (most companies will require you to re-apply every year).Example: Apply for Scorpion Helmets sponsorship program for a discount on Scorpion products for the 2014 season!
Freebies (i.e. free products or services above and beyond typical promotional “goodies”) are a bit tougher to get and usually require developing more of a personal relationship with the business. It may seem counter-intuitive but you probably have a better chance getting freebies from smaller, local vendors than from the big boys, but I will go into more detail on that in a later post.
Freebies can range in value anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred (or even more if you are really lucky) and can come in many shapes and sizes. Here are a few examples of freebies I have received and/or seen others receive:
- Free Paint Job – Ask a local paint shop to paint your fairings for free in exchange for a placing their logo on the side of your bike and offering to promote their shop to all of your racing buddies.
- Free Oil – Find a local vendor looking to grow their business and offer to help by recommending them to all your friends. They may throw in a free case of oil as a gesture of goodwill.
- Free Food/Drink – Do you have a favorite up-and-coming food bar, sports drink, or [fill in the blank] that you think other racers would like? Ask them for a free case to bring to the track along with a banner and some stickers to promote them in the pits.
Some other companies who offer sponsorship programs with discounts/freebies:
This is FAR from a complete list, but it should give you an idea of what is out there. Just do a google search for <Insert Company Here> + “sponsorship program” and see what pops up.
Contingency money is another common form of sponsorship available to any racer, but as the name suggests it is contingent on two things: 1) Using their product(s) and 2) Winning.
This makes contingency tougher to get, especially for newer racers, because unlike discounts and freebies that are available to any racer regardless of skill, contingency money is only available to those capable of getting on the podium.
Every year companies release the details of their contingency programs including eligibility requirements, payout tables, and claim forms. This info is available on almost every race organizations website. Here are a few links to check out:
Let’s look at a specific example: Bridgestone Tires contingency program for WMRRA. From their website you can see that they offer payouts in a number of different classes, here are a few of them:
600 SS, 650 SS TWINS, 750 SS, OPEN SS, OPEN SUPERBIKE
1st – $300
2nd – $200
3rd – $150
This means if you take 3rd place in the 600SS class you could make $150! Not too shabby! “But how do I get paid?” Allow me to explain.
- Stickers*: In order to receive this contingency money you will need to follow the instructions on the claim form. In this case you must display 2 “Bridgestone” stickers (1 on each side of your bike) and run Bridgestone tires (both front and rear).
- Claim Form*: Once you meet these requirements you’ll need a tech inspector from the club to sign the claim form and submit it to the contingency coordinator.
- Get Paid: After you win you should receive your contingency money in the mail. Some companies will send you a check and others will give the money in the form of credit that you can use toward future purchases of their products.
Chances are you are already using products that qualify you for contingency, so why not slap some stickers on your fairings and fill out a form? You never know what’s going to happen, and this way when you do get your first podium, the victory will be that much sweeter because you’ll have some free $$$ coming your way!
Here is a list of a few other companies who offer contingency programs (there are many others):
- Manufacturers: Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda , Ducati
- Tires: Dunlop, Pirelli, Michelin
- Other: EBC (brakes), Pit-Bull (stands & accessories), Vortex
CASH / CREDIT
Last but not least is the mother of all sponsorship deals: cold hard cash. These deals are the most difficult to get and also the most desired. In order to land one of these deals you will have to put in more effort than filling out an application online or putting some stickers on your bike, but if you are willing to put the work in, you may be surprised who is willing to chip in to support your racing addiction.
I will go into more details in a later post but here are a few quick tips to help you land a cash/credit sponsorship deal:
- Create a Race Resume / Flier – include specific details on how you will promote your sponsors
- Look the part – if you want to earn money like the pros you need to look like a pro.
- Hustle – Get to work knocking on doors, making calls, and setting up meetings. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Example: this isn’t exactly a cash deal, but a local Cycle Gear location used to offer our race team $25 gift cards for a podium finish and $50 for a win in any class. In exchange we placed stickers on our bikes and vehicles, wore their shirts in the pits, and promoted them to all our friends.
Check out the next post, Part 2: Who Would Sponsor Me, where I’ll show you what sponsors are looking for and help you create your own list of companies that are most likely to say “yes”.