Get Sponsored | Riding Skills Series

Because a little help goes a long way

Riding Skills Series - Getting Sponsored

Imagine for a second that you’ve decided to make the transition from trackday enthusiast to racer. You’re six races into the season and doing well. Winning races, even. Now imagine that you’re doing all this on a minuscule budget that’s heavily thwarted by day-to-day expenses and bills. For riders in all tiers of racing, but mostly riders like you, sponsors offer a level of support that keeps the aspiration of racing alive and well. But how do you acquire sponsors? And more importantly, how do you keep them coming back?

Just as much as a riding technique, business savvy is one skill that can significantly benefit your race program. And while every company is different, here are a few key points for obtaining—and maintaining—support.

To start, it’s important to understand that sponsors are not a “get out of jail (debt) free” card and that the relationship should be mutually beneficial; you’ll help them just as they help you. Josh Bennett, the managing director for Pilot, a custom suit manufacturer currently supporting multiple AMA and amateur-level racers, explains: “As an emerging brand, brand awareness is key for our continued growth. If we have a rider that gets a lot of press no matter the finish, this is equally as good for us as a high-profile rider that is on the podium and gets a lot of press. We also hope that the rider has influence on others to purchase our products.”

Riding Skills Series - Getting Sponsored
The best way to repay a company is to put its product in front of people at every opportunity possible, ultimately raising awareness. Winning races helps too.

Racer websites and social media allow you to promote sponsors outside of the track. The occasional blog, Twitter, or Facebook post with link to a sponsor’s product and brief description of the features you like is just one way to help promote those who endorse you. The key words, again, are mutually beneficial.

Every sponsorship program will vary in size; the brick-and-mortar motorcycle shop down the street may agree to buy your race tires, whereas a brake pad supplier may offer you 40 percent off product. Regardless of the product/help being offered up, it’s important to keep sponsors up to date with results. Bennett notes that, “At a club level, it is very important [to receive updates after each race], as we don’t have the time or staff to look for all riders in all regions and organizations.” Corey Neuer, president of CT Racing, the West Coast Pirelli Tire Distributor, says that, “Another key thing is loyalty. At least in the tire world. When I see a guy who’s working his butt off and always kind of pushing the brand, not bouncing around, I’m more excited to help him out.”

Outside of strong results and brief progress reports, the next best way to satisfy a sponsor is to maintain a professional race program. “The program, no matter the size, must look professional, consistent, and clean at all times. Rider, bike, and crew (if applicable) must flow and look the part,” Bennett says when asked what he recommends for an amateur rider seeking sponsorship in this tough economy. Keep in mind that when representing a sponsor, your actions and appearance are a reflection of theirs.

A sponsorship opportunity won’t grow from thin air; creating and maintaining a relationship with various companies will take hard work. Build a résumé that discusses past success and future race plans (what race series you’ll compete in, bike you’ll be racing, and expectations) then send it to those whom you feel you can properly promote at the track, keeping in mind that, for budgetary reasons, some companies only agree to sponsorship programs during certain parts of the year.

With a little practice you’ll be able to open more doors than ever before and hopefully keep your racing ambitions alive without simultaneously maxing out the credit cards.