The Bittersweet Truth about being Sponsored
I'm writing this out of frustration, because I've seen the inner workings of what sponsorship does to someone. This really isn't meant to be a dig to anyone, just things that I've noticed over time. Writing this is actually proving to be quite difficult because after reading some threads on here from individuals that are sponsored, it's actually kind of sickening.
I've noticed one trend lately, the people bringing in the nice sponsorships are the people who don't really need any discounts or financial assistance when procuring parts for their vehicle. People who buy a car, and then proceed to drop $10k to 20k worth of shit into it without even flinching. Then someone goes out and sponsors this individual and gives them all of these amazing benefits, free parts, custom made parts that aren't available to the general public, and those that are, you have to pay a premium for. I'm sorry, a person like that doesn't need to be sponsored. They can obviously afford to buy their own parts and pay full price for them. Just another thing they can throw onto the Amex Black Card of theirs. Another thing I've noticed, these people generally don't know dick about cars. Their idea of working on a car is driving it over to a shop, handing them a piece of plastic with 16 numbers on it and saying "Here, call me when its done." Their idea of a toolbox is a wallet full of credit cards. Sponsors love these guys. They will more than happily support them because they talk all the necessary hype and have a good image.
That's great and all, but if a sponsor really wanted to make a difference and impress some people, they need to redirect their focus. What about those of us without the deep pockets to mod their car and they have to budget just to get a $160 motormount, or a $130 set of mudflaps, or something of that nature. That may not seem like a lot of money to some people, but to some it is. These people here are the bread and butter for sponsors. They are the ones buying 95% of the products that the sponsor produces. Generally speaking, these are the people who do all the work on the cars themselves, or they have friends who can help them do the work. These are also the same people who daily drive their vehicles and amass plenty of miles on them. They are the ones who like to tinker, they love to mess around with stuff and see what gains its going to give them. They can't afford to throw money at something and hope it works. They choose what they do wisely before spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars. These are the guys that go to the track weekly and enjoy getting some passes in, thinking about how they can improve their time, if from as something as simple as an air pressure adjustment, or perhaps some fine tuning on that $695 standback / accessport that they saved for 2 months in order to buy. For these people, modifying their car is a hobby, and they really enjoy it. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into their project. They don't just do it because they want to impress people, no, they do it because they want to have fun, and they believe in making something better. These are the people that see a piece of scrap metal laying around and realize that, hey, with a few bends in it, a couple of holes, and a can of spray paint, you can make yourself a nice little bracket for some aftermarket horns. You wont find these people at a country club on a Sunday afternoon getting in a round of 18 holes, hell no. You'll find them out in the garage getting dirty or you'll find them at the local autocross event.
What's offered to these people? The ones that the sponsors make the majority of their money off of? Essentially nothing. If you plaster your car in their vinyl, you MIGHT get 5% off on their parts. That's pretty much it. Sponsors let the little guy go unnoticed, and yet they are the ones to pay the bills for the sponsors. If sponsors really wanted to get their name out there, they need to help the small guys out further. Why? It's common sense really. Since these are the people spending the money, and constantly working on things, adjusting, and testing things out they offer great exposure. How's that you may ask? Simple. These are the people at the track trying to shave a tenth off their pass, or half a second off their run at the autox. They are also the ones talking to other people doing the same thing. They will say what they have done to the car, and where they got it. Who's advice would you take? The guy that busted his ass to build the car hes got and actually goes out and shows what it can do, or the guy that had everything handed to him, and just parks his car and shows it off? Hey buddy, how did those coilovers work out for you? Notice any gains at the autox? What about the new turbo, shave some time off your 1/4? Oh, you don't know because its a show car and you don't really ever see what it can do. Great. Then you ask the guy that just got in 12 runs at the track. Hey buddy, hows that turbo treating you? Oh man, its great, I'm glad I saved for 6 months to buy this thing and build my motor. It's finally paid off, I'm running low 13's right now. Hopefully with a few more adjustments I can get into the 12's. What about those coilovers? They are amazing! The turn in is much improved, initial bite is a lot better than what it was. I think I finally got it dialed in to where I'm comfortable with it. I'm consistently in the top 2 or 3 in my class now, before I was rounding out the top 10. Hopefully with some more seat time I can start coming in 1st.
But who am I to judge? I'm just the guy with a toolbox full of dirty tools laying on the cold concrete underneath my car smoking a cigarette, listening to some music on the radio, and busting my knuckles. You know who I am when you see me, I'm the guy with dirt and oil underneath my fingernails. Now where the hell is my 19mm wrench?