Motorsport: it’s own worst enemy- Brian Sims

By iSportconnect | July 19, 2012

I can still recall the thrill of securing my first ever sponsorship deal. It was some 38 years ago! What will surprise a lot of young drivers today, viagra sale is that I was able to put together a meaningful sponsorship without ever having raced a car before. As I point out during many of my training seminars, denture you don’t have to be a race winner to structure a programme that helps a company sell more of its product or services. In my experience, health it’s rarely what happens at the track that matters to a sponsor, but what you can offer away from the track to help his business.

In the years that have passed since that first deal, I’ve watched as more and more sports are able to increase their share of the sponsorship market. This is often due to innovative marketing and in many cases, a total reshaping of their product. Cricket is a classic example of that, as is Speedway Grand Prix. I must admit that with the exception of Formula 1 and probably NASCAR, I fear for the future of so many types of 4-wheel motorsport in terms of attracting investment from the business sector.

Speedway was a sport that was almost dead on its feet until Ole Olsen came up with a new concept, designed to make it more attractive to the spectator, corporates and TV. The result has been spectacular and has had a major influence on people watching Elite League Speedway on SkySports, as well as the GP series itself.

Recognising that the level of spectator expectation was increasing rapidly in so many other sports, particularly arena sports, Ole took an innovative look at the best and the worst aspects of the speedway.

Whilst the template of short, fast races and night-time racing under floodlights still generated a great deal of appeal amongst the die-hards of the sport, the state of the run down venues, often abysmal facilities in respect of catering, toilets and parking was driving people away in their hoards. Fuelling the disenchantment was the predictability of the racing, with the first rider out of the tapes usually being the winner of each race and the unprofessional state of many of the riders. Ole realised that some major changes had to take place.

What he did was to take a great sport out of the venues that were dragging it down and stage them in some of the world’s top arenas, such as the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Every year the British Speedway GP takes place there attracting crowds of between 45-50,000 whilst TV viewing statistics continue to impress. He also drastically changed the format of the scoring system and improved track layouts to encourage overtaking.

The effect of this makeover has been to professionalise the whole sport, with riders now on a par with their MotoGP counterparts in terms of appearance, fitness and commercial attitude. It has also spread into the national series and generally raised the whole level of the sport, attracting a significant amount of sponsorship in the process. IMG now owns the Rights to Speedway GP, which is a huge endorsement of Ole Olsen’s original vision.

In my personal opinion, motor racing outside of F1 still has a lot to learn if it is to attract serious investment from the corporate world. For a start, I’ve always found that if a sponsorship prospect struggles to understand how motorsport is structured, he doesn’t decide to spend time on trying to do so. Instead, he picks up the next proposal from the pile on his desk and takes a look at that, probably a different sport.

As an example, watch the face of a business who is not a motorsport enthusiast as you try to explain the hierarchy of F1, F2, F3, GP2, GP 3, Formula Ford, Formula Renault, Formula Renault 3.5 etc.

See what I mean?

In football, there’s the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two. Easy to comprehend, which sponsors like.

Another problem is that despite continual statements to the contrary, the sport still doesn’t really understand that the levels of spectator expectation have moved even higher in so many other sports. That has a major effect on the attitude of potential sponsors, who are more often than not trying to appeal to a more inclusive audience. The attraction to them of a bunch of enthusiasts who will sit in the open through rain, hail and anything else that UK skies can throw at them is not exactly overpowering.

I know that there will be an outcry of people pointing out that it’s not the same running a 2.5 mile motor racing circuit as running a modern football stadium. I’m not criticising, just simply stating that sponsors these days have such an amazing choice of options, don’t be surprised when they tell you that motor racing is not at the top of their lists.


About Brian Sims:
Brian Sims is one of international motorsport’s most experienced and successful sales exponents, securing over £60 million of sponsorship deals at all levels of the sport.

He is the author of a highly acclaimed book on the subject of securing sports sponsorship, the second edition of which was published in October 2011.

His career in sport included 11 years as a championship-winning professional racing driver, in the UK and in South Africa.  He also spent some years as the Marketing Director of the Kyalami F1 Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa.

On returning to England, he established the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA), securing sponsorship from Andersen Consulting, Hewlett Packard and Ford Motor Company.  This was the first trade association established to represent the British motorsport industry.

After three years as CEO of the MIA, Brian became Head of Motorsport for the international API Agency who represented the Benetton F1 Team. Brian secured over $14,000,000 of sponsorship for the Team subsequently becoming the Benetton F1 Team Commercial Director.

Brian then spent four years in South Africa, establishing the South African Motorsport Industry Association. In August 2010 he stood down as its CEO, to allow a South African to take over.

His latest major sponsorship acquisition deal is a three-year agreement with specialist insurance group, HISCOX, on behalf of the Official Aston Martin Racing Team, Jota.
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