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Mark Horne

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.