Getting Sponsored for Your Pro Ride

Features, Racing I By Jeff Sexton I January 09, 2018

With the advent of Spec MX-5 Challenge, a pro series with a $100,000 prize going to the champion, we've received questions about whether there is a way to get sponsored to run the series. As with almost all pro series (e.g. Global MX-5 Cup, Pirelli World Challenge TC and GTS, Continental Sports Car Challenge TCR, IMSA GTD, Trans Am), especially series below the top level, Spec MX-5 Challenge is driver-funded. Most drivers simply pay out of their pockets, while others raise money from friends and family or from independent sponsors. Often, the amount of sponsorship money only covers a portion of a season’s costs.

We point this out because some drivers are confused about how pro racing works. With F1 drivers, for example, having multi-million dollar salaries, one might reasonably think that the lower levels of pro racing operate on the same model, but with smaller amounts of money. But they don’t. Once you get below F1, NASCAR, IndyCar and P1 level prototype racing, much of pro racing is driver-funded.

That doesn’t mean that no sponsorship can be had. But it does probably mean that you won’t be paid to go racing. And it probably means that you’ll have to put up at least some money yourself.

Raising sponsorship dollars is hard. Sports car racing is not a huge audience sport. TV and streaming audiences are small, if they exist at all. So, to get sponsored you are probably selling based on your relationships, your potential and to generate business-to-business value.

To keep costs down, Spec MX-5 Challenge will not have a TV or streaming package, so if you want to raise sponsorship money, you would mainly need to sell a) sponsor support of your career and/or b) the sponsor’s ability to leverage a very low cost way of sponsoring a sports car racing team/driver. The latter may be of value in employee motivation or brand building. We have also seen some drivers who have executive networks leverage those networks to generate leads for their sponsoring companies.

All of the above work takes time and can be taxing. Some drivers find it is easier or more productive to think about what they are good at, which may not be generating sponsorship, and then do more of that. It is one reason so many drivers are also coaches.

Spec MX-5 Challenge offers a new rung on the pro ladder system, positioned between Spec Miata and Global MX-5 Cup, with $100k in winnings going to the champion. With full arrive & drive service, Spec MX-5 Challenge is intended to be a cost-effective series focused on driver development. If you are interested in becoming a Spec MX-5 Challenge driver for the 2018 season, fill out the easy application form here. Deadline is January 31st. 

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