A Guide to Getting Motorsport Sponsorship


The world of motorsport is exhilarating, filled with high-speed thrills and a unique blend of technological innovation and human skill. However, it's also a world that demands significant financial investment for its participants, especially for the drivers. Unlike in football or other mainstream sports where talent alone can open doors, unless you have a significant amount of cash to back up your talent, then the road to success in motorsport often starts with securing sponsorship.  

With sponsorship, drivers can finance their participation in races, maintain their vehicles and invest in their ongoing skill development. This guide by Ryan Bracha over at GEM, expands upon his article written that features in the first issue of our quarterly magazine GPQ, and provides a great guide to securing motorsport sponsorship.  


The rear of a Citroen C1 racing car

Sponsorship is about more than just a logo on the car.




Understanding the Importance of Sponsorship in Motorsport 

Before I look at the specifics of securing sponsorship, it's crucial to understand its importance in the realm of motorsport. Motorsport is a costly endeavour, from purchasing and maintaining a competitive vehicle to covering the expenses involved in participating in races. Expenses like tyres, tools, paddock shelters and hospitality.  

Unlike other sports, motor racing often requires substantial upfront investment before a driver can even begin to compete, and this runs from youngsters taking part in competitive karting at a local circuit to professionals running on televised events from around the world. If you don’t have the funds to race, then you simply don’t race.  

An article from Driver 61 suggests that a competitive club racing season, with all equipment, gear, and associated fees can run close to £75,000 per season. Racing in the BTCC can cost around £250,000 with an independent team. Very few drivers are paid to race. Therefore, sponsorship plays a pivotal role in supporting a driver's career, providing the necessary funds to compete and, hopefully, excel. 

If you’re serious about competing, whether you’re drifting, karting, racing bikes or cars, then you’ll need to secure motorsport sponsorship. Here’s my guide to getting started in securing motorsport sponsorship. I suppose I better provide some credentials.  

I speak from experience as both a marketer and as a sponsor of drivers, teams and championships. I was the business development and marketing manager for Gala Performance for a long time before I moved across to our parent company Gala Tent, and ultimately heading up our marketing brand GEM. In my time, we had successful sponsorships of the Toyota MR2 Championship and British Drift Championship. We worked with such notable drivers as Tom Ingram, Christian England, Ian “Bizz” Phillips, Max Coates, Alice Hughes and Nick Holmes. All of these people have the same thing in common. They do what I’m about to suggest you do.

 

Build a Personal Brand 

 

Your personal brand. It may be a term you’ve heard before, or it may not. Developing your personal brand is about developing how you want the world to see you. It’s presenting yourself as a marketable asset that people and other brands want to work with. The first step towards attracting sponsors is building a robust personal brand.  

This means developing a strong presence and reputation in the motorsport world. Use all available platforms, including social media and networking events, to promote yourself and your racing career. Remember, sponsors are essentially investing in your personal brand, and hence, they need to see value in associating with you. 

Top tip: Use social media to interact with other drivers and people in the business. Don’t simply talk about yourself; interact with and comment on their posts. Engage them in conversation, ask them questions. Show them you value their opinions. Eventually, your posts will become something of value to them too. Equally, if people comment on your content then don’t ignore it, engage with them. Make them feel a part of what you do. The more they engage with you, the more likely they are to see your future content.  



Identifying Potential Sponsors and Building Relationships 

 

As you build your personal brand, you should also be identifying potential sponsors and building a database of their decision makers and how they operate. What does their marketing look like? Have they sponsored anybody before? Look for brands and companies whose products, values and messages align with your own and those of your audience.  

As part of your personal brand building project, look to engage with and connect with those decision makers. Don’t fly in half-cocked to a LinkedIn conversation asking for sponsorship. It might work for Jason Plato but it probably won’t for you. Build something of a relationship with them, where they are aware of who you are and what you do.  

The key to securing sponsorship often lies in the relationships you build with potential sponsors. This requires more than just sending a proposal; it involves forming connections with individuals within the business. If they know and like you, they are more likely to trust you and consider investing in your career. 

Top tip: Attend networking events and exhibitions such as Autosport International where brands from motorsport are collected into one place. Often, decision makers will be in attendance where you can introduce yourself and your career. I’d suggest you research the brands that you’ve identified and use the job interview approach. If you can demonstrate that you’ve done your homework then are they more likely to remember you than if you walked in for a handshake and a request for ten grand? 



Providing Value to Sponsors 

 

It’s become almost a cliché in the modern world of motorsport sponsorship, but it’s massively true that most sponsors aren’t going to part with their cash for just their logo on a vehicle, especially if you’re hoping to compete in a lower level series that doesn’t have the exposure of F1, Nascar or endurance racing; they are looking for value and a viable return on the investment they might make in you and your motorsport career.  

Develop a range of unique selling points that distinguish you from other drivers. As Max Coates says in his interview in GPQ, you need to focus on what you can do for the sponsors, not what they can do for you. It’s vital that you understand what makes you investable and how you can return that investment.  

Can you offer them a unique marketing opportunity? Do you or your family have a strong business network of people they could benefit from connecting with to sell their products and services to? Does your engaged social media following put you in the bracket of influencer? Are you able to offer VIP experiences for them, their staff or their clients? The more value you can offer, the more appealing you will be to potential sponsors. 


A man poses with a grid girl at Donington park

Offering VIP access for sponsors and their staff at race events adds value.


Creating a Professional Proposal 

 

Once you have identified potential sponsors and figured out what value you can offer them, it's time to create a professional proposal. Something that fully reflects how seriously you take your career as a business will come across far better than a message at 10pm to a company social media account asking for sponsorship with barely a hello. I can’t tell you how many approaches we had for sponsorship in that way during my time with Gala Performance, and I can’t remember ever approving a sponsorship from those approaches. We didn’t sponsor anybody that couldn’t provide us with a value proposition.  

This document should include details about your racing career, your audience, and the unique benefits you can provide to the sponsor. It's important to back up your claims with facts and figures. This could include your social media following, audience numbers, previous successes on the track, and testimonials from previous sponsors. 

Your proposal should be on brand and well-designed (free tools like Canva make it very easy for unqualified people to create eye-catching designs), personalised to the company or brand that you’re pitching to, running something like as follows: 


  • Introduction to you and your team 

  • Introduction to your vehicle and the series you’re hoping to compete in 

  • What you can do for the potential sponsor 

  • Any vital statistics that can back up your offers 

  • What you hope to gain from the sponsorship 

  • Any tiered levels of financial requests and what benefits they will provide 

  • Other brands (if any) that you have on board and any testimonials that say why they sponsor you 


Make it easy to absorb the information, use infographics and pictures to drive the message. Stay on brand.  


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Considering Product Sponsorship 

 

Whilst you might need tens of thousands of pounds to get going in motorsport, there are other ways that potential sponsors might consider getting on board with you and what you do, without needing to dip too hard into their marketing budget, provided you hit them with a compelling and professional pitch.  

Consider the possibility of product sponsorship, which can be a great way of saving money in other ways. Many brands in the motorsport world offer their products as a form of sponsorship, from clothing to vehicle parts to mechanical equipment and tools.  

If you can get any of the vital equipment provided by way of sponsorship, then everybody wins in a few ways. First off, you’re saving the money that you would have otherwise needed to spend on that equipment, which can then be invested into your racing career. Another benefit for you is that you’re gaining important notable names for your proposal to other brands who might provide cash sponsorship. If you’re good and what you do (and fortunate enough) then you could potentially receive product sponsorship from HRX Racewear, MAC Tools, VBOX and Toyo Tires. These are all big names in the industry, and by being able to add their logos to your proposal, you add the weight of credibility to your pitch.  

The benefits that these brands gain is that you are in and amongst their own potential client bases, a walking, driving and riding showroom for their products. 



A red pop up motorsport tent with a black car

Sponsor relationships don't always need to be about cash if they supply products you can use.


Patience and Persistence 

 

And that was my guide to securing sponsorship in motorsport. I know it's a lot easier said than done, and gaining sponsorship is often a long and challenging process that requires patience, persistence, and a thick skin. You will face rejection more often than you hit success, but don't let this discourage you. Learn from each rejection you get to refine your approach and continue to build your personal brand, and never lose sight of your goals. Eventually, if you do it well enough, those names that rejected you in the early days will be falling over themselves to work with you in future.  


Gala Performance is not currently offering financial sponsorship for the 2024 season, but we may be able to offer product sponsorship of heavy duty race tents or promotional products to the right projects. We look for business savvy drivers and teams who stand out, and are able to show that they will go out of their way to promote their sponsors. If this sounds like you then get your proposal together and get in touch.



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