How to become a sponsored RC driver – the correct way!

Introduction.

If your into RC car racing and have competed in club racing events. You may have seen around the pits that some drivers are “sponsored”.  If not the next time you attend an event at your local track ask around. The amount of sponsored drivers at club level has increased substantially since 2012.

To become a sponsored driver you need to be a helpful person. Not just a good driver and consistent winner (a huge factor). You must also be approachable. Support other drivers track side, share your setup sheets and document your findings. Add value and you will make the hobby a helpful place to be. 

There are very few sponsored drivers in the RC car industry who make a living from racing. Most RC sponsorships you will come across will be discounted rates on products. It’s very important that you understand the terms and conditions when you enter into a sponsorship agreement. Some sponsorships can require you to purchase a certain amount of products or attend a given list of events. Most sponsorship deals do not include travel & accommodation costs.

Sponsored for the right reasons.

The wholly grail of sponsorship, the free products, $$$ a career path!  Slow down a little, chances are you are reading this because you are looking to get your first sponsorship deal. There is a right way and a wrong way.

Before you go any further think why you got involved in this hobby.

  • How did it feel when you first drove your car round a track?
  • Remember when you attended your first race?
  • When you built your first professional race kit?
  • Collecting your trophy on your first win?

Most of these will result in a feeling of fun, it was exciting or nerve racking. It’s important you remember these. I have personally seen drivers obtain sponsorship deals just because they like the title. Only later to find out they are no longer having fun.

Sponsorship should be hard to obtain. Think of it like a business, a sponsored driver is essentially employed by the company to promote the products. It doesn’t matter on your level of sponsorship, you need to believe in the product.

If you attend racers of all levels (club, regional & national) and finish consistently at the top of the pack. Are an approachable person on and off the track. Genuinely believe in the products you race with. Document your set-ups, race reports and go out of your way to assist new comers. Then sponsorship maybe a good route for you to take.

Build a portfolio.

Pen and paper is your best friend here. Each time you attend the track race day or practice, record what happened. As your skill level naturally improves over time you will have a backlog of past experience to look back on. Take pictures off your setup sheets and results. Share them on social media or store them locally on your computer.

  1. Set-up changes – when you try a new setup change document your findings. It doesn’t matter if it made it worse or better. Explain what happened and you will start to build an idea of what effects set-up changes have.
  2. Results – create a spreadsheet of all your race results (take pictures of event result listings for proof).
  3. Set up sheets – found the ideal setup for a track? – share your setup sheets on social media.
  4. Race reports – even when you have had a bad day at the track writing a report could be helpful to another racer.
  5. Trophies & plaques – may sound simple but I see people leave the track and not claim there trophies/plaques all the time. Top tip for the presentation pictures. When it comes to your turn to have your picture taken.  Ensure your holding the products your looking to get sponsored for.

Sponsorship opportunities.

The best opportunities for sponsorships are when you are approached by a company. That means that a company has spotted you as potential professional. They see the value you add on top of the results you achieve and think hey lets give this racer a chance.

The alternative is too seek out sponsorships for yourself, try these methods:

  • Speak to your local track owner. They will personally be involved with various different types of people in the RC industry. Racers, manufacturers, news companies, distributors, shop owners etc.
  • Where you purchase your kit. Lots of shops have sponsorship opportunities some actively advertise on there websites.
  • Team drivers. Speak to the other team drivers at your local track. These already have sponsorship deals and their team maybe looking for new members.
  • Win racers. This works better if your able to win at high profile events. You can be spotted as a club racer if you are in the right place at the right time. However you stand a better chance at high profile events.
  • Share your race reports & setup sheets. This goes back to being helpful, share your findings with other racers.
  • Approach manufacturers. I wouldn’t advise you to do this unless you have results to back you up. Send them your results, show them your using there products.
  • Google sponsorship deals. To my amazement I tried this and found 3 companies who were actively advertising their sponsorship program.

Types of sponsorship.

The rare sponsorship deals, let me rephrase that “the very rare” sponsorship deals, are given to top level drivers. These are people like Ryan Mayfield, Ryan Lutz, and Ty Tessmann. They are fully sponsored drivers who are paid to race remote control cars. These are some of the best drivers, they fly all over the world to compete. When new comers think of sponsorship this is what often springs to mind. However there are various sponsorship deals, and new types are coming out all the time.

  • Full sponsorship – paid to race & fully supported.
  • Full support – free products from a manufacture, shop, track or distributor who covers engines, tyres, fuel etc.
  • Results based – this is often a condition of a sponsorship deal. Some drivers can be paid based on results.
  • Discounted rates – higher discounts usually come down to your experience level. These can start from 10% and go up to 75% or you could be offered free shipping on orders.

If you can get yourself a team drive these can include a range of products at discounted rates from one place.

Sponsorship application form.

These can vary from one to another. If you have followed the advice under the “build a portfolio” section, this shouldn’t be to difficult. If you just have an email address present yourself in a professional way. Start small by making yourself known at the race track. Help people in the pits and introduce yourself.

If you approach a company who does not attend the events you do, send them your race reports and ask questions. I’m not saying send them an email every-time you attend a track. We are not trying to be annoying here. Use common sense; if you create a report that provides high quality useful information, then share it. Build a relationship slowly don’t just randomly ask for a sponsorship.

Conclusion.

Remember RC racing is for fun, sponsorships can add to that or take it away. If you actively pursue a sponsorship opportunity do it for the right reasons. Getting your first sponsorship will be the hardest part. Only choose companies and products you are 100% committed too. When an RC sponsorship opportunity arises, (it will if you put your mind to it) take the time to understand the terms of the agreement.

Don’t agree with some points mentioned or think I have missed something in this article. Great! pop them in the comments below and we can discuss it.

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