September 3, 2015 at 11:17 am #53825
My first post here I think. Anyways, My son started racing karts last year and did really well winning Kid Karts at OGP. We are now moving up to Micro Max and several people, local business owners, have expressed their interest in sponsoring my son. I never raced before and have never gone through the whole sponsorship thing. I want to be fair for both sides. What should they expect from a sponsorship and what should I expect? We had success last year thanks to Excel Racing and mentioned them every chance we could last season, but weren’t really “sponsored” so I’m not sure how I need to do this so both people are happy.
Thanks for any help!
September 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm #53837
Years ago I was sponsored by Switzer, Hardees and Red Barron Pizza over a few seasons of sprint racing. We were doing a bunch of street racing as well. So for the bigger events we gave a shout out to the sponsor a few weeks out and offered to show any member of the sponsors company, their friends and business partners what a “Racing Kart” is, how they work and why they are hard not to like. Being sure to compare their performance potentials to cars most people can relate to helps to show these ARE real Race cars. Keep in mind most people think of concession carts from the vacation trip when they think of Karting. So showing them the difference with a big smile and politely answering questions with enthusiasm will make a great first impression. It is about passion and excellence.
We were pretty lucky with our sponsors. They did not ask for much except to be included. I did send them race schedules and detailed race reports once a month. Management really liked the “Speed Reports” each month. It gave the workforce as a whole something common to talk about and cheer for. That whole “Team Thing” you know. We also participated in their open house and special promotional events by bringing the “Racing Karts” all cleaned up and looking great. We would wear our driving suits regardless of how hot it was that day. If it was outside and the Sponsor said it was ok we would fire the engine and watch the heads turn. Soon a crowd would gather and the kids always wanted their picture taken in the kart. Parents always love that.
For how much to ask for, first research the sponsor and see how you could help them promote their business. Is it team work, technology, professionalism or excelling in competition that can be leveraged to help. All businesses want to make money and most can be researched to get an approximate annual income level. If you already have their attention and they want to help you, it is important to just ask them how you can help them. Now you just made yourself more valuable. Will your team be an important part of their image. Do they send out monthly advertising and your team will be featured or will it simply be a flyer in their window. How important you are to them should be reflected in how much to ask for.
When I had the sponsorships back in the day, they were “Sponsorships”. Today you are wanting to “Partner” with the businesses. We were able to collect enough to race the whole season with the best equipment. Back then, circa 1992-1995, $5000 covered a lot of racing. Our first year of sponsorship we only received $2000. Others noticed us making it easier to offer and receive more.
So, it is a complicated equation. You are in your second year and are at a great point to establish a fantastic reputation which is always worth more later. If there are indeed multiple people interested in helping you, it might be best to get 2-5 sponsors, at a lower investment level, on the kart the first couple of years. Then you will be building your experience both on the track and off. Every skill counts when it comes to racing.
September 10, 2015 at 1:56 pm #54106
Wow, great response. Thank you so much. Lots of great ideas. I think first thing we are going to make is a website. That will give potential sponsors a quick way to check on progress whenever they want. I like the “partner” idea rather than just sponsors. Thank you again for responding.
September 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm #54167
Keep in mind that sponsorship is zero about you (or your racer). Also the amount racing costs you is irrelevant to a sponsor/marketing partner. All that matters is how much value you can deliver
Ideally you will position yourself (your racer) as a personal brand with an audience of followers which adds to the value you plan delivering.
Be selective about the brands you work with and how you position yourself in that regard. The shotgun approach doesn’t seem to do so well these days. Look for opportunities where your audience and potential sponsors line up, double down your efforts on those rather than chasing every/any opportunity.
Kristin Schwartzlander from Dirtymouth Communications has a lot of insights on this subject: https://www.kartpulse.com/article/184/sponsorship-pricing-it-s-too-expensive-versus-it-s-not-worth-it
You need an online presence for sure, but setting up your own website, then driving traffic to it is probably more trouble that it’s worth for you at this point. My suggestion would be to leverage major social media for now as a starting point and focus on making connections/networking with folks.
September 15, 2015 at 8:55 am #54269
Most sponsorship in karting, at least at the local levels, is more a nice guy type thing. Someone is a friend of the family, or works at a place, or something like that. Just throwing some money or product at you because they want to be part of the “team”. The value they are getting for their money is in the spirit of giving. I agree that a website is probably a waste of time and money, particularly because social media has all but replaced them for this kind of thing.
As drivers get more experience and travel around to where lots of eyes are seeing them and their sponsors, then there is a possibility that a sponsor could realize some actual monetary value out of their deal with your driver, but this is still pretty uncommon in karting.
I don’t want to sound negative about getting sponsors in karting, but its important to be realistic and understand that very few of these deals are really benefitting the sponsoring businesses, other than making them feel like they are part of something unique. If your approach gets you money by filling their need to be part of something, then go for it! If people want to give you money to hang out with you, by all means, let them.
The real sponsorship in karting is getting free stuff from kart companies that want you to use their products. I would guess that 90% of the “sponsorship” in karting is this type of deal. Very few people, in the overall scheme, are actually getting cash to put toward racing, unless its done by Dad’s friend, or uncle Ron’s biz, or something like that.
Good luck and have fun!
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September 15, 2015 at 3:27 pm #54282
Um..we’re talking about a kid kart/Micro driver here…leveraging your “personal brand” is a bit much at this point. As Tim correctly pointed out, local businesses sponsoring kid sports is a goodwill gesture, not some part of a grand marketing scheme with expected returns. And keep in mind sponsorship brings pressure to an activity that for a little kid should be about fun and learning. If a local business wants to help out, that’s very cool, but their expectations from the relationship should be a hearty thank you and a decal on your kart. Bottom line is their isn’t a whole lot of sponsorship in karting, even at high, national level stuff. Every parent/family there is forking over 99% of the budget. Karting isn’t a big enough market for equipment makers to give away too much stuff to very many people. If they do, it isn’t the big ticket stuff. It’s a captive market; no one gets free motors in a single motor series when everyone has to buy the same motor anyway.
September 16, 2015 at 6:28 am #54303
The three steps to kart racing sponsorship.
1. Obtain competitive equipment
2. Campaign said equipment successfully
3. Give up all hope of finding meaningful sponsorship
Not always true but overall that about covers it.
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September 16, 2015 at 7:21 am #54323
There’s a LOT of merit to what Tim talks about. The goodwill type of sponsorship. Historically they have been the most common ones for sure. For the most part that’s where my sponsorship came from when I was actively racing.
The evolution of the web and social media has opened up new opportunities and avenues that did not exist before.
When I say build an audience, that doesn’t mean you have to become the crazy super serious baseball dad forcing your kid to be some kind of groomed performance puppet. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s something you and your child can learn about, have fun with and discover together.
Grow an audience/following with your adventures and stories. Be personable, human not a machine. The pressure level is entirely up to you.
In simple terms, you’re telling your story on the web. If nothing else, this adds value to any goodwill sponsorship you’ve acquired.
Wild Duck Racing is a great example of a father and son doing just that: http://wildduckracing.com/
Crowdsourcing, like what DarkhorsePros offer is another option to generate $. I’m bearish on that however, you’d really want a following of some sort beforehand for it to be a success.
October 14, 2015 at 11:03 am #55417
Geez, Last few comments are about as positive as a 90 year old ladies pregnancy test. I’m not expecting a free ride. I’m not expecting Google to sponsor my kid. I am and always have been only looking for small local businesses to help us and in return give them some publicity through social media and website promotion. I have plans to also have meet and greets at said businesses that can bring interested people to their doorstep. So far we have managed to secure 3 sponsors and I thank everyone on here who has been so helpful.
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