Episode 006: Part 1 of 2 – Racing driver Paul Sexton shares his proven methods for landing those elusive racing sponsorships.

sponsorsRacing driver Paul Sexton reveals some extremely useful info to get those sponsorships. 

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Why having a unique hook for your brand is important
  • Where you can go to seek sponsorship
  • Why being on point away from the track is crucial to your racing success

 

 

SHOW NOTES:

Link to Racers HQ podcast on iTunes

Winding Road Racing autocross sponsorship

My Instagram: @CatchMattCovert

Hook-It sponsorship site

Episode 002: Autocross IS Real Racing

Link to Racers HQ podcast on iTunes

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Speaker 1: Welcome to howtobecomearacecardriver.com’s podcast where it’s not about being a racing driver, but learning to become a racing driver.

Here’s your host Matt Covert.

Matt Covert: Yes. Hey, what’s up everybody? Thanks for joining me again on the sixth episode of howtobecomearacecardriver.com podcast. That’s all very exciting.

I’m getting great reviews about this podcast. I guess I shouldn’t say that was unexpected but I didn’t think people would jump on board quite so quickly. I thought it be kind of more a long term thing. 

But thanks for sticking with me and checking out the podcast. I would really appreciate it, if you have time, go to iTunes and give this podcast the review you think it deserves.

If you feel like you have to write something do that as well but just go to the little stars and give it a review you think it deserves. I’m not going to tell you what to put there.

Alright, so today’s podcast, I’m really excited. It’s going to be a new kind of thing that I haven’t done before. I have my first guest to be on the podcast.

I’m going to come back to that in just a second. I have a bit of housekeeping we need to do first.

At this point in time the sponsorship program on howtobecomearacecardriver is open. It’s open to new applications. What I mean by that is if you’re an auto crosser and you want some driver’s support, it be very weird if you say you didn’t because everyone in the racing needs a little bit of help and that’s what my brand is all about.

Part of my brand is helping amateur racing drivers. This past year, I sponsored two drivers. I paid them each $300 for the season. It’s great tire money. It’s fuel money. It’s entry money. It’s whatever you need. It’s not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things but it will help you out and I’m excited to be a part of supporting the grassroots racing community.

I think that’s ridiculously important.

If you want to get onboard with that, please do. You can find the application at howtobecomearacecardriver.com/sponsorship. Just like that.

Alright. Let’s jump back into the content here in this episode. The guest on the podcast I’m having today, he doesn’t have a whole lot of racing experience.

That might sound like you. I hope that excites you a lot. This guy is doing a great job this year getting grassroots racing sponsorship from this autocross season. It ties perfectly with what I’ve got going on in the site and how I want to help other people.

It’s really dynamic. I’m of course offering sponsorships. He’s very good at getting them. So, we’re going to talk to him about what’s working for him as a new driver and what his goals are and how he’s getting help to just go out and do what people love to do.

Just so many people don’t realize that they can get help in their amateur racing careers, financial support. While I’m one of the only people or companies that’s offering financial support, they are out there.

What I’m going to do is I’m going go ahead and put another really popular autocross sponsorship program. I’m going to put a link to that in the show notes on howtobecomearacecardriver.com/podcast6. That company is called Winding Road Racing.

Check them out. They have a pretty good autocross sponsorship program.

The guest on the podcast today, his name is Paul Sexton. I connected with him several months ago. He reached out to me and we talked about some stuff about how his car is handling. He has such a great amateur racing program going on right now.

He has a great brand as well. That’s what got me and initially was just, I mean, he’s just have the full package going full board trying to make his racing career happen.

He’s doing a great job and he has such a cool hook to his racing program. I’m going to let him tell you all about it in just a second.

Without further adieu, I’m going to go ahead and play the interview that I had with him just recently.

Oh, and I have one more thing I have to say. I have to give a huge thank you to Paul for being so gracious during our interview. We had an appointment scheduled at three in the afternoon. I just could not get my audio set up synced so that we could communicate with each other.

We were on Google Hangouts. For some reason I could not get things going. My primary plan wasn’t working. My back up plan wasn’t working. Finally, I had to go to my back-up, back-up audio situation for us to actually get our conversation recorded.

Thank you so much for him. He’s stuck around for 44 minutes past our scheduled start time. I just have to say thank you so much for that. That was awesome.

Alright. Here we are in our interview right now.

We have a story to tell you if you’re listening to this podcast. I have Paul Sexton here. Let me tell you, he is the most gracious person that I have dealt with in a long time.

We had schedule an appointment to start this podcast interview at three o’clock in the afternoon. It’s now 3:47. I spend the last 44 minutes trying ot figure out my audio set up and he’s still here waiting. He’s such a nice guy.

Paul, you’re my first guest on the podcast. Thank you for sticking around and doing this with me. I really appreciate it.

Paul: It’s an honor. I’m just thrilled to be here.

Matt: Thank you. I appreciate that. What are we talking about, like grassroots sponsorship today, racing sponsorships today.

I think this is going to be a really cool dynamic because my little company is kind of got the ball rolling and I have a job or support program. I’m on the kind of the offering sponsorships side of things as well as being a racer who is also seeking help.

I know you’ve done pretty well so far this year connecting with all the companies and getting some support.

I think this is going to be a really cool dynamic. I have to get one thing out of the way first. But there is one thing about you that is blowing my mind. It’s the kind of car that you race with. What kind of car do you race with, Paul?

Paul: 2015 Toyota Prius.

Matt: I got to be honest. I connect with a lot of people. Especially doing Instagram. I like Instagram. I follow seven people on there because there’s a few who add value to my racing world. But as soon as I saw your Prius I was like, “Who is this guy? What is he doing? I have to know more about him.”

This is the first time we talked because we’re using Google Hangouts. This is the first time we’ve talked face to face.

I’d love to hear your story. How did you get in to autocross and how did you get in to a Prius man?

Paul: That’s a long story between the two of them. My first autocross was back in 2002. The local chapter that I run with now which is the Blueridge region of the SCCA they’re actually out of in Virginia. I’m in southern West Virginia.

They came to our local airport back in 2002 bringing out some autocross. I just went and checked it out. It was a horrible day for the first autocross for me to ever attend. There was thunderstorms and rain. They got delayed for almost five hours. But they still had the event. No course walks. They just basically took everybody on the parade lap of the course and just give it their best shot.

Back then I actually had a– well I would consider a more proper car out of 2000 Celica GTS six speed with some tasteful modifications done. Like anyone else who’s new to autocross, I’d had four runs and I screwed up three of them.

In the very last run I actually finished the course but it was so slow. It wasn’t even worth knowing the time. That was just enough to set the hook.

Over the years I was kind of hit and miss as to whether I attend the event or not. My grade towards another car, a Toyota Matrix. Autocrossed it about half a dozen times. I was getting some seat time.

I kind of bounce back and forth but it was 2010 I believe it was when I tried at my first Prius. Why the Prius?

I’ve actually worked to the same Toyota Dealership since 2001 started there and there as entry level technician. Made my way where I am now which is a master diagnostic technician with Toyota. That’s the highest level certification that you can reach for Toyota.

It’s a 48 mile one way commute to my dealership. Fuel is not a cheap thing especially when you drive five to 600 miles a week.

Being at a Toyota dealership and the Prius is there, that was kind of a logical choice.

So I said, why not? I have the car. I was saving some money. I still wanted to race. Here we go to the first autocross in a white 2008 Prius.

Matt: Man, I tell you what. That is really cool. Everyone now is always talking about what the best autocross car is. Obviously, you proved all of them wrong because I think from your story we can ask or obtain that the best autocross car is the one that you already have.

You’re going out there and winning now. I’ve been following you for a while. You’re going out and winning your Prius. That says a lot about you as a driver, man.

Paul: Thank you.

Matt: You also had – that’s the most whirlwind entry I’ve ever heard into the sport of autocross. I’ve never heard anything that’s quite so crazy like that. What was the point where you kind of – because you said earlier that you were kind of a hit and miss as far as attending races or whatever. What was it that kind of changed everything for you since you started to getting more serious and seeking sponsorship?

Paul: That all occurred earlier this year. I’ve been at a lot of autocross for almost four years prior to coming back this year. I really missed it. I missed the competition and I missed motorsport. I’ve always like many other people and everybody that does autocross I’ve always dream to being a race car driver.

I never really pursued it to any means to an end. I never was serious enough about it to go anywhere. So, it’s never too late to try.

My wife was on this fully on board with me doing this year. She basically told me if I ‘m going to do it this year then I’m going to go all out.

So, it’s every event and no matter if it’s close, it’s three hours away, you’re doing every single month for the remainder of the season and you’re going to give in all you’ve got. That’s what I’ve done.

I actually missed the first two points event in the region this year but I’ve done every one since and literally a couple of them have been three hours away, weekends in a hotel to race two day events but I’ve had two second place class finisher this year and two first place class finisher so it’s paying off.

Matt: That’s really great to hear, man. That’s really the only way to do it. I think a lot of people sell themselves short as far as autocross titles though because they just don’t show up. You can’t win if you don’t show up. It’s as simple as that.

I think that’s really great. I’m also really excited that you have support from your family. That’s such a big deal.

A lot of people I talk to that they want to go out and do this stuff but they just don’t have those people behind them saying, it’s okay to go and do this thing that you love and try to get better at it.

That’s awesome. I’m glad that you got that going on.

Talk to me for a second about what you have going on with your current sponsors. I know you can’t get in to too much details because of the way your contracts are written but who’re you tied up with right now?

Paul: Right now I have Ryno power nutrition supplements. I have virus international which is a performance clothing line like and similar to Under Armour as well as Angelo.

Angelo was the last one to come on board. I’ve used all their products. Of course I’m wearing the Ryno power shirt today.

Matt: Yes, I see that. That’s great.

Paul: Actually I have a buddy that’s in Motocross and he’s bringing his son up in the amateur rank. He’s 11-12 years old now. He’s moving his way up. But, he just sent me a text one day.

He said, “Hey, man, can you check out hookit.com.” He said they do sponsorships. It’s not just for motorcycle racers. He said you need to check it out.

So I took chance. I looked on the website and they included autoracing. They included autocross. So, it’s really informal, quick set up of an account.

Of course it’s like anything else more you put into it, the more you’re going to get out of it.

It tracks your performance, it tracks your events, and any pictures you upload and what-not, and it gives you the opportunity through them to apply the sponsorship with different companies.

Of course, I applied everything else I was eligible for which was I think 12-14 different companies. Ryno power was the first one to come back to me. It was probably a day later so I jumped on it.

I’ve had several decline for whatever reason but at the same time I’ve declined a couple. One that isn’t a product that’s going to benefit me and I don’t really want to tie up a company with sponsorship if it’s not a product I’m actually consistently going to use.

Another was another nutrition company other than Ryno power and I already accepted a contract with Ryno power so I didn’t really want a conflict of interest there between two different companies so I declined that as well.

But, yes, I’m really proud of the three that I have. It’s really come a long way in  a very short amount of time this year. You know, sponsorships and then a brief little nod on the SCCA.com’s page with the Prius and then you talking on the podcast, it’s really been a whirlwind this year.

Matt: That’s one of the things that got me hooked so well on you is I mean, you probably not much entrepreneur kind of stuff as I am but Seth Gordon has a book called Purple Cow. 

The whole point is to have something about your brand or your business that is unique enough so that it hooks you and it just separates you from everybody else.

That’s what your car did to me. Instantly, I was like what is this guy doing? He is the only one I’ve ever seen anywhere, so you got a really good hook there.

I’ve actually used Hook It in the past myself back in my very brief motocross days. I’ll put the link to that, it’s hookit.com. I’ll put a l ink to that in the show notes. I think this one’s going to be at– you can find those in howtobecomearacecardriver.com/podcast6, for this would be the sixth episode.

In as far as social media for sponsorship, I don’t know why more don’t use it. You go on there. You have in your profile and you’re basically just updating the HookIt community with what you’re doing. The company’s so interested in having, starting relationships with you. They go and you can sign contracts with them for the season or whatever.

The only problem that I’ve seen time and time again with sites like HookIt is that people see the magic word sponsorship and they just loose all their brand power.

Like you were saying, you turned down some contracts that do not have anything to do with your life, stuff that wouldn’t fit in your brand. I think that’s incredibly smart of you because some people will sign anything.

Some of these companies, they’re so obscure like if you’re a motocross rider and you’re signing a contract for like just a casual jacket company. You’re going to buying their jackets well, you don’t need them. You’re actually spending money.

I know you, you’re really intelligent. You’re using Ryno power. I know you’re a huge proponent of fitness. We’re going to touch on that later. So, you’re actually using the resources that are available to you.  I think that’s really smart.

I’m glad you mentioned the SCCA homepage. Then you and your friends were featured in SCCA.com’s homepage. Is that right?

Paul: That’s right. Around fourth of July weekend they sent out a post on us on Instagram but it was on Instagram and the Facebook page and all their other media outlets. They wanted your story. They wanted stories of SCCA members and viewers and it didn’t necessarily have to be a racing story, just any story that they can share on their page.

At first I didn’t really want to share anything. I was like, well, I won’t make it on there. I’m the guy racing the poor Prius. Nobody wants to read about that. But there’s something told me, hey, you need to do that. Take a few minutes and just post something down and send it in, and I did.

It turns out I was the first person to respond and the first person to be up on the site.

I was thrilled. To me, it’s a big deal. That’s the whole sanction body behind what I do in autocross. All the operation and forms of motorsports that turn left and right.

To me, its’ a big deal to have my bright red car on there even if it was something brief it was still a nod to what I’m doing. It is just one more thing to add to my portfolio.

Paul: Yes, I think that’s really cool. I have definitely never been featured on the homepage. I’m kind of jealous that you have. I think that’s really cool. I go on there about four to five times a day depending on what research I’m doing. I’m really excited for you, man.

That’s a really cool accolade to have your pocket.

Paul: Thank you.

Matt: Let’s talk for a second about the general state of grassroots racing support. Here we are talking about local and regional autocross. We’re not talking about nationals, or pro solo. We’re talking about regular guys like you and me and everyone else that we know who could use just a little bit of help.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot out there. I’m really glad you found Hook It because it’s really useful. Where else have you seen opportunities for people to build relationships with other companies inside the motorsport community?

Paul: Really, I haven’t. My employers helped me out a little bit. They didn’t want to be advertised much because it is more of you worked for me so I’ll help you out but I really don’t want to be approached by anyone else kind of deal.

I don’t advertise the fact that they do help but I approached probably a dozen different companies those in and out of the automobile world and one, no one had any interest, but two, no one had ever heard of autocross.

I think that’s the biggest thing that’s hurting us is, especially in my area I’m sure it’s the same everywhere else, they follow primetime motorsport but at the same time, you and I both know, autocross, SCCA solo is the largest form of motorsport as far as participation in the country yet really no one really knows about it unless you’re directly involved in it. That’s a really big hurdle to overcome when you’re looking for sponsors.

Matt: I agree with you a 100%. I think the participation rate at this point is well over 40,000 people. You’re right, I mean, the participation numbers are absolutely there. But at the same time nobody seems to care about it and I can’t figure out why because I think it was Episode number two at this podcast which you can find at howtobecomearacecardriver.com/podcast2. That was all about why autocross is a completely legitimate form of racing. It is.

We know Randy Popes launched his career out of it. It’s the safest play to go and throw your car out on the parking lot for 40-50 bucks a day you can’t beat that.

But for some reason people just don’t feel like that’s a real racing because they’re used to watching the NASCAR guys and stuff like that. That’s a huge bummer because how are we supposed to get our name out there otherwise?

It’s just kind of a conundrum that hasn’t been solved yet and I think that’s a bummer.

The other problem with autocross, because there’s no people watching it, even though there’s so many people participating nobody goes to watch autocross because let’s face it, it’s a little bit boring to watch as a sport.

So, if there’s no viewers, there’s very little advertising inside the industry which I think is completely mind blowing because for someone who’s in a very niche specific business like me, I want to advertise to guys like you to other drivers, people who can go to my website and learn about driver theory and skills and stuff like that to be better drivers.

I’m like, holy cow, there’s 40-45 thousand of these people out there and no one is advertising to them.

I’m really excited about having a sponsorship program that is completely dedicated to just the drivers because it’s the perfect target market to me.

Paul: Absolutely.

Matt: That being said, this episode is going to air after August first. At that point the sponsorship program will be open. So, if you’re interested in getting driver support – I’m going to keep going on that.

Paul: What happened?

Matt: Are you back?

Paul: Yes, I’m back.

Matt: Okay. That’s alright. No, problem. We can fix that. No big deal.

What was I saying? I was saying…

Paul: August first.

Matt: Yes, August first, thanks.

The sponsorship program will be opened to new applicants on August first. I’m not talking about giving discounts or products or sending you stickers like I’m offering real money to race in autocross because like I said, I want my website on the cars on people inside the autocross community, the drivers themselves because all the drivers see all the other drivers. Its’ a great market for me.

If you’re looking for help, for driver’s support, I think I’m the only company out there offering straight up money as autocross sponsorships. I’m really excited and proud to have that.

August first, Paul, I’m hinting at you a little bit, August first, remember that date. That’s when the program opens.

Paul: That’ll be the first one you’ll get.

Matt: Alright. I’m glad to hear that.

I got to come back and talk to you about fitness because I know you’re a huge CrossFit guy. I think it’s CrossFit, right?

Paul: Yes, it is.

Matt: I followed you on Instagram and you have all kinds of great posts about fitness and a lot of good motivational stuff. Talk to me for a second about what you’re doing fitness and why do you think it’s important to what you want to accomplish.

Paul: Even outside just the general rule of being fit for everyday life, in the racing community, especially in the operational lines of this sport. You know, you have racers that are hours long which you’re resting the car lap after lap. You can’t be out of shape if you’re going to do that.

At the same time if you’re out there like we are at the lower level trying to be noticed, trying to be seen, you have something to offer potential sponsors and potential car riders if you’re going to get to that point, not just your driving ability but you’re going to have to have your whole image, it’s going to have to be part of your selling point.

If you’re not in shape, if you’re overweight, that’s not to project yourself as a market label tool to drive someone’s car, to represent someone’s brand. It wouldn’t look good on one of my sponsors.

Ryno power is, I’m not doing anything to stay in shape as a driver. It’s been official overall if your goal is to get passed just the Sunday autocross.

Matt: Got it, yes. That makes a lot of sense. You actually just reiterated multiple points that I’ve already – it’s not released yet but I have recorded the fifth podcast episode already. That’s all about your personal brand and how you present yourself to other companies.

You basically just summed up my entire episode in a few sentences. So, I’m really excited that we’re on the same page about that. That’s really awesome.

I think we’re probably going to have to cut it off right about there. I had initially planned on talking to Paul for 15-20 minutes about sponsorship from my end and from his end. But I mean – that’s what’s happen when you put two very passionate people in the same room talking about thing as they love.

We talked for almost 40 minutes. There’s definitely going to be a part two to this interview. There’s so much more value in the second half. I hope you come back and listen to that one as well.

Thank you so much for coming and listening to this. I can’t believe how much positive feedback the podcast is getting. I know I asked at the beginning of the episode, if you have time, please go on to iTunes and give this show the rating you think it deserves. Whatever that might be.  If you have time, make a little write up in the little review section. That’ll be really helpful for me. I’d really appreciate that.

I will talk to you soon. Again, if you’re racing this weekend, please have an awesome race weekend. If you have anything you want to talk about with me please feel free to reach out to me to the website. I love meeting new people. I will talk to you all soon.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to howtobecomearacecardriver.com’s podcast. For more free information about improving driving technique, understanding vehicle dynamics, and the winning motorsport and lifestyle, visit howtobecomearacecardriver.com.

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