The Struggle of Motorsports

Posted by John Anderson on 27th Jun 2014

I’m willing to bet if you are reading this you are in some form or another a fan of motorsports. I am. I love anything that has an engine and can be made to be more powerful.  L-O-V-E-I-T.  And at the end of every day I feel incredibly lucky that I could turn my love for horsepower into a business and it can support my family.  I’m also incredibly lucky to get to be a part of so many different types of motorsports. Through sponsoring events and organizations, competing when we can, helping customers with their machines, or just through the large network of friends who are involved, we get to be part of nearly every type of motorsports out there. It’s not uncommon to find one of us at some sort of motorsport event every weekend.  And being involved all the time with promoters, customers, competitors, sponsors, and fans gives us a very candid and I feel unique understanding of the big picture.  And there is this huge struggle.

The past week or two I have been flooded with questions about a few organizations that we sponsor and have been asked for my thoughts which I have pretty much withheld.  After spending the morning with a race car owner helping him get his car dialed in, it occurred to me that it might be important to share my thoughts.  For those that are not local, there are two dirt race tracks within ten miles of each other.  They both changed management/owners at about the same time a year or so ago.  Unfortunately one of them has decided to make tonight their last race ever and close the track. The other seems to be still going strong.  We have sponsored both tracks and a few folks have questioned our decision to main sponsor the last night of racing at the one track.  I’m actually starting to question it myself after the complete lack of promotion our money has brought us this week leading up to it.  We had budgeted a certain amount of money this year for that race track’s sponsorship.  While we have been disappointed by the lack of exposure we have received this year at the closing track, one of the monster truck drivers performing there tonight is our friend and I figured our money is probably lost either way.  So if our sponsorship of the night helps bring in enough fans so that our monster truck friend has a good show, so be it. But enough about that. I want to give my thoughts about this whole sort of situation in general.

Motorsports is a tough business.  It all starts with the competitors. They are the hero in every motorsports organization. The pure amount of determination it takes to finance, build, maintain, and get your machine to the track every week is mind blowing. On top of that you have to have some skill to pilot it into the winner’s circle. If you have ever been involved first hand with any type of competition vehicle you know exactly what I’m talking about. There are probably very few race car drivers that got into racing because they wanted to make money.  Probably nearly zero that stayed racing after the first year with that mentality. They all do it because they have a passion and a love for their sport. Their business is to compete and their profit is when they win. The fans also are there for the same reason. Their passion is to see great competition between their friends, family members, heros, and incredible machines. They share in the emotion of success or defeat nearly as much as the competitors themselves.

I continue to be completely amazed at promoters and organizations who do not get this. I feel like many promoters get into the business of motorsports figuring they can use their money and “business sense” to turn a motorsports organization into an extremely profitable business.  It takes as much money, hard work, and passion to develop a motorsports organization or track as any other small business.  Unfortunately 80% of all new small businesses fail within the first two years.  You can have the money, either do or pay someone to do the hard work, but the real passion has to be there if you want any chance at all.  Passion is almost the single determining factor involved with any aspect of motorsports succeeding or failing.

One of my favorite quotes comes to mind any time a new promoter approaches me wanting us to sponsor something: “Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find.”  There is nothing worse than a promoter who is telling you about how great something is going to be with a used car salesman pitch and complete lack of passion for the motorsport they are trying to sell you. (btw, I am not singling out our closing local track, I have seen this over and over again in other organizations)  As a sponsor, I’m not stupid.  Since I do love whatever motorsport is in question and I do have a passion for it, it is very easy to pick out a phony.  And I’m not some divining rod of reason.  The racers are not stupid either and pick up on it.  And even though they are marketed to like they are also stupid, the fans aren’t either and pick up on it.  And then that organization is doomed.  Their only hope at that point is to really work hard at selling their weakness to someone’s stupidity.  And then it just gets worse.  Because when you find out that you got sold an old clunker by a used car salesman who tricked you, you too get angry.  The competitor is sold an amazing facility and purse for their efforts.  The fan is sold an amazing event for their admission fee.  The sponsors are sold amazing exposure for their marketing money.  And at the end of the day, everyone may have let passion open their wallet, but everyone knows when they have been sold a clunker.

So if you see an organization that is run by someone with passion for their motorsport, please try to support them.  There are great people out there who are putting in more time than you know, putting up with more bullshit than you know, and making way less money than you can imagine for their efforts.  We do our best to support those people and organizations.  The best thing for all motorsports is attendance in the stands.  If you know of an organization that is going above and beyond to support their sport, get your ass out there tonight and enjoy it.