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Race Team Startup Advice

Questions on funding your team

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Race Team Startup Advice

Postby Matt » Tue Jul 27, 2004 7:50 pm

I have been racing dirtbikes and snowmobiles for a few years at a local and regional level. I do have a few equipment sponsors, but 95% of the money spent racing has come out of my own pocket.

Three years ago I formed my own race team. The team consisted of myself and two other racers that I met while racing. The idea of the team was to help each other while in the pits and to lower the expense of travel by carpooling to the races each weekend. This saved us a lot of money because most of our races are 6 hours away from home. We also slept on the floor of the race trailer to save money on hotel costs.

I am now forming a National Team for 2005. I am giving myself 6 months to accomplish this feat. I am pouring all blood, sweat, and tears into this team. I have figured out the budget for the season and the total is imense.
To pull this off I will need National Corporate sponsors to back me 100%. To give you an idea of what I am trying to achieve: I am forming a team that will be a mirror image of any Manufacturer's Factory Team.

Though I am only a rookie at running a race team, I am not scared of the unknown. I have the drive and detication to accomplish this mission and I am 100% sure that I will succeed.

If anyone out there wants to know the steps that I am taking to make it happen, here they are.

Goals: I know that it sounds stupid but, WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS!!!! Read them at least once a day. This keeps you focused on them. Also write down a plan of action. How you plan to achieve them.

Research: "The internet is your best friend!" Since your already reading this, you have the tool and your doing the right thing by checking out this site. There is a wealth of knowledge on the "information highway" about race teams and how they operate. There is also a ton of sites about how to obtain sponsorships. All you have to do is a "search" for it. There is a lot of info that you can pay for, but there is also a lot of info for free- if you do a little digging. Learning can only make you better.

Detication: I work 12-14 hours everyday at my job, when I get home I go into "Race Team Mode". I work on the internet and computer for a few more hours before I go to bed. I do all the research and make up all the other tools shown below. I love doing all this work because I know it will pay off in the end. At every waking moment I am thinking about this team. YOU have to make it happen.

Business plan: You should make up one of these if your starting a team. Even if you are just a single racer I highly recomend that you make one!
If you dont know how, do a search for SBA. They will show you how for free. A "BP" can help you tremendously. It will help to reinforce your Goals.

If you have done enough research by now, you should be able to answer these types of questions.

What are my long-term goals?
What are my short-term goals?
How will I go about achieving them?
What is my mission statement? {this should be at the top of your BP}
What is the main demographic of my racing audience?
How will I market and promote my sponsors?
What makes me different than everyone else?

Proposel: Make a professional resume and proposel package to send to sponsors. Explain how they will benefit from your racing.

Sports Marketing Firm: If you already have a good resume and a few years of successfull racing under your belt this might be the way for you. These firms will find you sponsorship, but get paid a percentage for their effort. Be warned though, most of these companies will not want to work with anything lower than Regional series racing. I am working with one of these companies because I am going National and they can provide a lot
more leverage with National Corporate sponsors, than I can on my own. If you are a local racer order the "Sponsorship Coach".

Race Team Promotion: Before I sent out anything to anyone, I had a local graphics shop make up a Race Team Logo for me. It cost me about $250 and is installed on a CD-ROM. It was well worth the investment. Now I can use that logo on all coverpages, letterheads, envelopes, and my website. I am also having that shop make me a huge logo sticker to display on the back window of my pickup truck. Down the road I plan to make up banners, pit-uniforms, t-shirts and all. Remember, Think Professional!!!

At this point I am waiting to hear back from my agency. While I am waiting to hear back I am busy promoting my team even further to additional sponsors. I will keep you informed of my progress.

Matt
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Best of Luck to you

Postby Beverly » Wed Jul 28, 2004 9:13 pm

Wow Matt, it sounds like you have all the elements to make this work! I admire such confidence and that you are willing to keep us up on your progress. I look forward to hearing from you....

Beverly
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Postby Team Owner » Tue Feb 07, 2006 7:50 pm

I'm new here, but I will give you my two cents if you are interested.

Two years ago, after buying everything needed to start a race team.

Truck, trailer, racecar, spares, tires, tools, shop, equpt.

I went out and agressively pursued sponsorship. I owned a car that won 7 out of 10 races that year. Both heats and features. Finsihed 2nd in the points.

I worked by myself 70 hours a week, repairing the car, repairing the equipt., paying the bills, purchasing the replacement parts. Hauling the car to and from the track. Pitting it - sometimes by myself the whole year.

I spent a additional 20 hours a week - going door to door looking for a sponsor. At the end of the year - I was $20,000 in the hole.

The following year - Advance Auto Parts came on board and I thought that I was set - until I showed up at the track and everybody had the same sponsorship deal that I did with them. 30% discount on parts and 1 case of racing oil and 2 filters every two weeks.

I raced another 14 weeks and went another $14,000 in the hole. Unless the car was took out by the competition - or the rear gear broke - which happened two times - it never finsihed worse than 7th.

Everybody would love to race. The stands are full of people that once raced - but quit due to financial reasons. The scrap yards are full of old racecars that are no longer compeditive.

You got to love a guy for trying - but my best advice is for you to get out while you still have a shirt.
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Series contingency

Postby Canuck guy » Thu Feb 09, 2006 6:13 pm

I help out with a series that runs here in Southern Ontario Canada for the past 12 years. It's a series run by the racer, family and friends. Nobody that works on these events even gets paid. It all comes out of our pockets except track admission. All monies go to the racer/car owners. We travel to 6 -7 different short tracks (some 4-5 hours drive) and have a loyal following. We can't even get a contigency sponsorship and have their decals displayed on 25 to 35 race cars competing at 10 to 16 events a year. We're just looking for $1000.00 a sponsor, to try and make a points fund for the end of year awards banquet. These guys do it because of the love of the sport, tearing around in race cars with 500 to 700 HP. I'd hate to see what these older guys have put away when it comes time to retire :roll:
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Postby Team Owner » Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:01 am

Most racers - either have a family buisness where they can purchase the car and the parts and write it off as a buisness expense - ex. advertising.

Where as the little guy that works at Joe's Sunoco and makes $8 a hour repairing cars and then goes home and works on his racecar and buys his own stuff. Usually doesn't have enough money to eat for the week, if he finishes worse than 5th in a race.

Best way to make a little money racing is to start out with a lot of money.
Team Owner
 

Postby jcd » Tue Feb 28, 2006 1:01 pm

Matt is off to a good start, he has the energy and drive and the desire to succeed, topped off with a positive attitude. Attitude is very important, it shows through very clearly in all your business dealings!
Racing is a sport. We do it for fun. I do it instead of snowmobiling and skydiving and other things that have thrilled me but not to the extent that racing does. However, it is a sport that got turned into a huge business and business is all about money. Money comes from your own pocket or your sponsors. Yes it is tough to get sponsors, you have to sell your product and your product is advertising. Advertising is a business best left to the pros, if you tackle it yourself you better learn fast how to be a pro. Image is everything. Reputation is key.
In your hunt for sponsors you'll hear "if I sponsor you EVERYBODY else will complain that I didn't sponsor them". The only proper answer is "it would be great if you sponsored everybody, or an entire class, to take advantage of the advertising it will give you. Please get involved, show your support for our sport, sponsor me or anybody or everybody, but do something!" This shows a much more mature attitude, if all racers had this it would improve. Racers have screwed themselves by being unprofessional and unsportsmanlike in this aspect.
I could go on forever, but let me sit back and take in some responses. I know that we learn more with our ears than our mouths. Let's get this topic rolling, we could all benefit from it!
Last edited by jcd on Tue Feb 28, 2006 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby herbjr » Tue Feb 28, 2006 3:33 pm

You must remember its not always performance on track that gets a sponsor, its the display dollars as we call them. The deal I signed this week has nothing to do with the racing end its showing the race car 10 times for 100.00 each time for 2 hours each time. Its 8 miles from my house so this is very easy for me to do. Get involved with your local school show the car and use the basics. AND DONT BE SCARED TO SPEND MONEY to learn.

Herb Jr
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Postby jcd » Tue Feb 28, 2006 4:54 pm

Yes, Herb, thanks for your input. Just to get your car in the starting lineup is exposure for your sponsors. To get it in the winner's circle is great, but not always likely! I think it can be compared to radio and TV advertising in that a sponsor name gets put out time and time again, with each playing of the ad the business gains "top of mind awareness" with the consumer public.
Parking your race car at a sponsor's business site for public display is great. If nothing else, racing fans driving by will notice it and in their minds equate their favorite spectator sport with that business. "Top of mind awareness" hits again!
Our little people are huge fans of racing! To get a school behind you is wonderful! My car says "Kalispell Montessori School" on the hood, not because they contributed money but because my children attend class there. After racing season ended it was displayed on the grass there, all students autographed the entire hood area with Sharpies and got to sit in the driver's seat. This really thrilled them and possibly sparked further interest in racing...
Keep it coming! I want to hear more!! This is a great site, am so glad to have found it.
jcd
 

Team Update

Postby Matt » Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:10 pm

Well it has been a while since I posted. Here is the update.

I didn't make my deadline of six months. But I am making a lot of progess, and learning more and more each day about the "business" of racing and our industry.

Through persistance and hard work I have found 10 marketing partners for the 2006 season. We will be starting our series in a few weeks. Our team is now 100% funded, and I will be spending nothing this year out of my own pocket!!!

During my sponsorship search I have also found another 14 major prospects that are interested in our team for 2007!

In case anyone is wondering (and I'm sure you are), in order to obtain these partners I followed the following steps.

Start by making a list of companies that seem like a good fit for your team, sport, series, audience demographic, etc. Then do research on everyone of them. When I say research, I mean checking out their website, reading their press releases, visiting there business if possible (just to do some recon), and always reviewing a financial report on their company. You can find most major companies financial reports online. My favorite site is Hoovers Online.

After it looks like a good prospect, just start calling!!! If they requested a proposal, I sent them one.

To obtain our 10 marketing partners for the 2006 season, I had made over 400 phone calls and sent out over 100 proposals. My total cost for everything was $1,200. That includes proposal cost, shipping, phone bills, fuel for travel, etc. Not to bad, considering that we are now fully funded!!!

And in case anyone wants to know, we haven't started our season yet and I am already working on 2007 proposals and prospects!!!! For 07 I am looking to expand enough that I will be able to quit my full-time job and run my team for a living.

I want to emphasize one last thing. A lot of racers complain about not being able to find sponsors, but how many racers out there are supporting the companies that do sponsor racing?

I make it a regular habit now, that if I am going to make a purchase of something, I will purchase from the company that supports racing regardless of price differance. I then call the company and talk to the marketing department. I tell them that the only reason I am buying from them, instead of XYZ corp., is because they support racing and I have seen their race car, and I also own a race team.

This does a few things. 1. ROI - It tells them that their motorsports marketing program is working and providing a return on investment!!! 2. Low Key Threat to Business - It tells them that you are an avid race fan, you care enough to call, and regardless of brand-loyalty you will buy from someone else if they quit supporting racing. 3. Ice Breaker - It gives you a great way to open a dialog about your racing efforts, marketing successes, and build a relationship with someone in the company's marketing dept. for future endevours.

The reason why I am saying all this is, It Is Important! I just did this the other day to a company, and now they will be joining us as an associate partner this year, and we are already discussing a bigger commitment for 07!!!

Good Luck In 06 Everyone!
Matt
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Postby jcd » Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:45 pm

Way to go, Matt!
You touched on something I feel strongly about. Yes, always do business with sponsors of local racing! And let them know why! This tells them that their advertising dollars spent on sponsorship is paying off! This is big.
Thanks for reporting that it cost you $1200 to land these sponsors. Now please disclose about how much sponsorship money this gained you, let's study this a bit.
I think most racers are terribly unprofessional in this aspect of their "business". Most would shudder at that $1200 spent and look at it as "could have bought fifteen tires for that much". They aren't thinking big enough. They don't understand business. They need help more than we do, but aren't gonna get it until they understand the business end of the sport.
I kept a spreadsheet of my racing costs last year. Every dime spent and every dollar from sponsors and winnings. Guess what? I came out $130 ahead. Which helped in a credit card payment, yes the credit card that built the car over the last three years...
So I can say this is a sport which I had to invest in to buy the gear, and had to work hard at to be competitive, but it didn't actually cost me anything to play. Sure beats golf...
jcd
 

Postby Matt » Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:09 pm

So far I have gained 15k. I'm still working on closing a few more deals. With the 15k alone we can run our series fully-funded, so it will be even better once I close a few more.

Whatever you do, DON'T GIVE UP!!! I ended up calling companies everyday from May to December, and it was only when I was about to call it quits for this season that I found a few hits!

Also, to give you an idea of what it took - I added up my phone bill minutes that I used to make sponsorship calls. It added up to 2400 minutes or 40 hours of talk time!!! Normally my ear would be hurting but, it goes fast if you only do an hour or two of calling each day.

Also, the way to do it is to make up a call list the night before. I do this on a large tablet. I put down the date, company's name, phone #, and contact person. That way you can just go down the list, and you can write down notes on the same line. Then later I put all this info into my computer along with the outcome of the call. Whether it be - I left a message or they were not interested.

To do this and be successfull you have to be organized. I record every phone calls outcome into my call log. It keeps it very organized. It can get extremely confusing when your trying to close 6 deals at once and you forget what they said or who wanted what!!! Also if you get confused and call the same company (who rejected your offer) a second time, it shows how disorganized you really are and you will look like a total jackass!

Anyway you look at it, it was well worth the hard work. Thanks for the feedback guys.
Matt
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Postby herbjr » Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:44 am

The thing about the 3 companies I've been about to Partner with is they dont care about how we do racing. They want to know "when is that car going to be in front of my business." I'm doing a display next week where I told the guy I would give him one car for 2 hours. We are bringing 3 cars for 3 hours. It will cost me about 10.00 in gas extra to bring the 3rd car as we have a 2 car open trailer. Under Promise and Over Deliver.

Herb Jr
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Postby LFT » Sun Jan 14, 2007 8:43 pm

Matt,

Would you mind sharing your business plan?

Thanks!
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Postby pistoncrazy » Fri Jun 08, 2007 4:36 am

:twisted: we are the people our parents warned us about...... give it your best shot and knowone can say you didnt have the balls to try.. fail and its o'well i give it my best ..... succeed and reap the rewards and fame ...all the best champ and remember to take it on the chin.
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Postby Matt » Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:53 pm

2007 Update:

I have hired two pro riders for the season. We have 23 sponsors. We are racing 30+ races in 3 National series. Our total budget this year is 100K. We are showing excellent results taking a few wins and podiums at local/regional races, and top 5's and top 10's at National events. We are consistently in the Top 10-15 out of a 40 rider field. Our sponsors are extremely happy, and our primary sponsor has already agreed to support us in 2008 with a larger budget.

For 2008 I am looking to run a four rider team, hire a mechanic, buy a tractor/trailer transporter, and possibly quit my full-time job. Our 2008 Projected Budget is 250K.

I'll post some new sponsorship and marketing tips soon, so keep checking back. Thanks for the imput everyone.
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