It’s a fact that in racing, money talks. Yet we don’t talk about money. We don’t share what our sponsorship deal pays for. We don’t say how much we pay out of our own pockets, or the hours we put into our second job. We all want to know how other drivers get on track and often wonder if everyone else gets it handed to them on a platter while we sacrifice to get to the same start line.
We wanted to change that. Here, we start a conversation and talk about how drivers fund their racing. 11 drivers told us what they do. Read on and you’ll learn who works seven days a week, who delivers food on the side, who has a cool clothing brand, and more.
Spoiler alert: Everyone’s doing more than you realise.
💼 The focused and organised one
🇬🇧 Chris Threadgill
Series: Various Ginetta championships
How I get on track: My main income comes from my construction management consultancy business. I take on part-time contracts (2-3 days per week) to oversee construction projects for clients in London.
My sponsors play a central role in my racing life: Smith’s of London is a car service & MOT centre. They service & set up my race car, supply my tyres & also store my race car in their showroom. RNB Electrical & Mechanical Contractors, my other main sponsor, actually got me into racing. The director of the business introduced me to multiple Ginetta champion Michael Crees. I got the racing bug, and things went from there. RNB is pivotal to my racing; as a cash sponsor, they cover things like fuel costs, test day fees, crash damage & general expenses.
My own secondary income stream is a property maintenance and development business. This includes small property jobs such as kitchen fitting, bathrooms, fencing, landscaping, etc. My third personal enterprise is an equestrian transport business, taking horses from point A to point B for clients.
How I balance my time: Income stream one is my main bread & butter, bringing in 75% of my income. Income stream two and three make up the rest. Generally, stream one takes over every Wednesday & Thursday, and then I build an extra day of it over the rest of the working week, in two- to four-hour chunks. Stream two is flexible and usually 1-2 days per week.
Future plans: My plans are simple I guess: to grow with my sponsors and serve them well, and to see my secondary income streams grow, with the hope that I can eventually retire from my main job.
“Construction industry project management is excruciatingly high-stress work. My plans are focused on a future where I can enjoy my work/life balance a lot more.
Without my sponsors, however, I wouldn’t be racing at all. They’re vital to me, so I try my hardest to go above & beyond for them.”
🏠 The asset-builder who works seven days a week
🇬🇧 Kate Yeates
Drives: Renault Clio 200
Series: Still undecided for 2021 – watch this space!
How I get on track: I have three main income streams: my job in car sales, and two side hustles. I also have a brilliant long term sponsor, TorrWaterfield Accountants. My dog-training business is something I enjoy and a small income stream that helps with the little costs. It’s gradually growing and I recently expanded to include an online dropshipping store. My property business is a more substantial income generator. I started by putting my first home on Airbnb when I moved in with my now-husband. I overpaid the mortgage with the Airbnb income so that after a year or so I could borrow enough against the first house to put down a deposit on a buy-to-let property. I have since done this a second time.
How I balance my time: I recently reduced the hours at my job to four days per week and now spend the other three days focusing on my dog-training and property businesses.
Future plans: I am keen to develop more partnerships.I have the time and interest to take others on this journey!
Although there isn’t always a huge amount left over after my property mortgages each month, in a few years they will be repaid and I’ll have a nice income stream. If I needed to, I could reduce the mortgage payments now, by extending the term, and have more leftover cash to fund things like racing.
” I wish I’d started renting out the spare bedroom years ago!”
📺 A stressful job balanced by the fun of YouTube
🇬🇧 James Colborn
Drives: Van Diemen RF88
Series: Formula Ford 1600 (UK). I also compete in the Castle Combe Formula Ford Championship, plus some other races here and there.
How I get on track: I have a single source of financial income, my work salary. I believe that the job I have, which can be very taxing and stressful at times, is worth it for many reasons. One of the biggest is that it affords me the luxury of racing. I knew when I started racing that a fully paid ride in racing is something that doesn’t really exist for 99% of racers.
How I balance my time:
I’ve found success partnering with companies that sell what I’d pay for regularly. Either with trading exposure for discounted parts or opportunities to experiment with new products or product development. This has helped me with reducing the cost of many things like oil, brakes, batteries, lubricants, race car telemetry, and data solutions. I’ve had a relationship with AiM Sports since 2013.
I focus most of my attention outside of work on my YouTube channel and webinars for AiM Sports: including video tutorials, vlogs, and answering questions on AiM products. It’s a time commitment that I’ve found to be worthwhile, both with access to technology and key personnel.
Future plans: I’m really putting more effort into YouTube right now. Since March, I’ve spent time cleaning up my channel. I’ve invested in branding for the channel (Fiverr is the best thing ever!) and I’ve produced more videos this year than in all seven years previously. My subscriber base has increased two-fold this year but so has my effort. The hope is that one day this might be a channel that can be monetized.
“Be vigilant, turn circumstances and events to your advantage, looking at where you can save costs with relationships, and weighing up how much time you can give partners. Have a great website, keep social media content fresh and engaging, and finally take pride in your race car as these are the public exposure points you’ll consistently have.”
🎯 Two incomes and a future in NASCAR
🇬🇧 Keenan Tully
Drives: I am hopefully signing a partnership deal in January in order for me to race four races in a NASCAR series next year.
Series: The past four years I have raced in a series on the short ovals around the UK called Stock Rods, and then my plan for 2021 is to transition into NASCAR’s ARCA series.
How I get on track: I have two separate income streams. I am a race mechanic for the racing team 24/7 Motorsports, and I also have my own mobile valeting business. These two income streams alone won’t fund the USA ventures, though for the last year they have funded my UK racing.
How I balance my time: I’m hoping to find a sponsorship opportunity or another side hustle to help further my career.
Future plans: Going forward I am actually moving to the USA in October of 2021, so when I move, both of my income streams will stop by necessity. I am hoping to grow the valeting business as much as possible in the next 12 months and maybe let someone else take it over, but time will tell.
“The good thing about my jobs is that they are both self-employed. It can get quite hard juggling booking-in jobs for myself, and working on the days I am needed in the workshop with the team, but I manage! I do my sponsorship work in the mornings and evenings, I wake up at 5am every day and get to work. I can sometimes then be doing sponsor work until 11pm, but I try to always give myself six hours sleep minimum.”
⛽ Smart purchases mean more track time
🇬🇧 Brett Murray
Drives: MG ZR 1400 Stage rally car
Series: Association of Eastern Motor Clubs stage rally championship.
How I get on track: I work in the construction industry, and as a trained electrician have the chance to use this as a skilled side hustle. I also have two sponsor schemes offering a percentage off parts and equipment: Opie Oils and Demon Tweeks.
How I balance my time: I do as much as I can myself. I work on the car and purposefully chose regular racing over car quality. I want this to be fun and that for me, means track time and affordability.
Future plans: Much of the same. I have a lovely young family and want to spend time with them, and pursue racing, too. Future plans will focus on the best ways to balance my commitments and how I can fulfil the desire to race and financially afford it.
“Quantity over quality, and always within my means. I love tinkering with the car on my driveway, (the glamour of racing) and know when to step back from upgrade ambitions!”
🎓 Sharing what he knows to drive his own ambitions
🇧🇷 Adriano Medeiros
Drives: Lotus Elise and Ginetta G40
Series: MSVR Elise Trophy Championship and Britcar Trophy
How I get on track: This year, I participated in two different championships, one in part and the other in full. The Elise Trophy Championship will be three or four races by the end of 2020. Those races were covered by the client that owns the car and paid me to race professionally in his car. I have been coaching this driver for a couple of years.
For the Britcar Trophy, I did a full season: the drive was paid for by my coaching service fees to my co-driver.
How I balance my time: Driver coaching is my main job so I had plenty of free time due to the current situation. A lot of my work has been lost as a consequence of lockdown restrictions.
Future plans: For 2021 there is an opportunity for me to race in the Britcar Trophy again. I plan to generate some income to contribute to my participation in this championship. There is a possibility to race at Club Enduro, too. My plan is to chase small companies and businesses to sell the opportunities that can be generated from these options. Increasing my social media following is crucial for me at the moment. I think having a side hustle could help — though I need to understand more about it, to be honest.
“My story and driving situation are quite particular and different from so many others. The years of struggle to learn English and engage in a closed sport has left me lagging behind, in finding the means to go racing. I chased the driving dream in a few wrong directions, but believe I will be able to catch up and make something out of the years I have left to go racing.”
🏃 Chasing sponsorship to avoid burnout
🇺🇸 Devin Giles
Drives: Honda S2000 and a Corvette
Series: Time attack events (S2000) and the Gridlife Touring Cup (Corvette)
How I get on track: I work as a track tech for the Canadian Pacific railway as my day job. I also run a podcast, do motorsport photography and I design and sell specialised car parts.
How I balance my time: Doing so much, I find myself getting burnt out a lot of the time. I hope that finding sponsorship can take that away.
Future plans: I want to stop selling parts, to focus on podcasting and photography. Those are things I enjoy doing and if I can make money off of it, that’s a plus.
“I only want to do things that interest me – it can make them easier to do, even when I go all in.”
💪 The determined and disciplined young gun
🇺🇸 Darius Cherry
Drives: After smashing up a Honda Civic Type S, I took the lessons (the mental, the physical, and some corrective driving tuition!) and moved on. My new car is being worked on right now.
Series: I’ve just moved to Arizona and expect to be racing in a local series for 2021.
How I get on track: I work two jobs. I’m a full-time chef and a Lyft driver.
How I balance my time: Both jobs are financially rewarding, but most importantly I’m disciplined with my time and think about the cost-effectiveness of my lifestyle and employment choices. I purposely live a 15-minute walk from the restaurant where I work and moved to a party town (Phoenix) that has a 24/7 economy, so my Lyft work is lucrative whenever I can give time to it.
Future plans: I intend to keep working hard! This is all in my hands. The COVID pandemic? I used the time to network online, learn about branding, and how to start seeking sponsorship (Get Paid to Race!). I’m inspired by what Davin Sturdivant is already doing, too. I see collaborations, merchandising, and sponsorship as part of my future efforts.
” I came late to driving (I didn’t get my license till I was 19!) and except for watching F1, didn’t have a childhood background that involved karts or cars. But once I had decided this was for me, I quietly got on with making it happen. I learned through gaming and joining small racing clubs. I washed cars at dealerships and for race teams, to network, show my work ethic, and see what best practice looks like. Watch me succeed.”
⌚ Round the clock effort and plenty of hustles
🇺🇸 Davin Sturdivant
Drives: TaG Heavy Kart
Series: Regional competition karting series (ICP Cup). Occasional sim racing leagues.
How I get on track: Many, many ways! My day job as a sales lead at a technology consulting firm, working as a consultant for Studio Rhoad (a sponsor which turned into a business partner), occasional investments in the stock market, selling merch through a joint-venture brand ‘Not Famous Racing Driver‘ and sponsor-style partnerships through the relationships that I’ve built up over time.
How I balance my time: They work together, as they fund my racing as I need them. I need to pay my bills and rent first, and now that I’m married, I have other long-term responsibilities that I put my money towards first. So that means racing is as active as my liquid cash flow will allow.
Future plans: To be honest, this is a conversation that I have with myself fairly often. Ideally, my income from my day job is allocated more for my adult responsibilities. Doing consulting on the side, investing, and leveraging relationships becomes ever more important for racing. I’d count these as my side hustles.
“Some years, I’ve had very successful years and done a ton of races. Other years I’ve worked hard and barely done any races. But if I don’t stay in the game, I’m not sharp when an opportunity does come.”
📦 Doing whatever it takes to succeed
🇺🇸 Dennis Gur
Drives: SCCA Spec Miata and NASA Spec miata
Series: We run in AER American endurance racing. I do have goals to run in GT World Challenge in the future.
How I get on track: I’m the manager of a car dealership in Bay Shore, New York state. When times are tough I’ve also worked for DoorDash, and I’ve sold stuff on Facebook. I also volunteer my time and skills with a great racing team called Ives Motorsports.
How I balance my time: I mostly work Monday to Friday with my regular job and volunteer on the weekends when the team wants my help. I haven’t worked with DoorDash in a while but I sell on Facebook regularly, mostly car and computer parts.
Future plans: I’m always working hard to expand our business. I think it’s important to throw away your pride, ignore the naysayers, and do whatever it takes to make your dream come true.
“I think that an important takeaway, to afford racing if you aren’t able to do so at the moment, is to volunteer your time with a team, show up 100% at the track, and network. Eventually, you’ll find someone that values your time and talents to work with you. “
🚜 Staying professional and hardworking keeps sponsors wanting more
🇺🇸 Austin Paul
Drives: Sport Mods and Modifieds
How I get on track: My income falls into three streams: I work for Willis Automotive of Des Moines, Iowa as a Lexus technician, investment from my family’s feed transportation business, and the team I run has some great sponsors (including Willis Automotive who finally said yes after five years of me asking!)
How I balance my time: I work Monday to Friday at my day job, then commit to putting in the hours in my early mornings, after work, and at weekends. I’m a lucky driver, in that I have a great team around me, our crew chief has been with us for 10 years.
Future plans: You can never have too many sponsors or partners! So we will always work towards those. When we go to potential partner meetings I can say to them that we as a team are smartly dressed, don’t drink or smoke, and are willing to be great representatives for their brand. We do car shows, take the cars along for grand openings and business show days for our partners. We also want to keep working with product companies so we have the best equipment we can.
“I’m stubborn, I don’t quit, I want to make it happen.”
The hustle ain’t for everyone.
From these 11 very different stories, there are themes that run through them all. Here’s what we picked up:
Realistic and methodical thinking
Do you rush ahead and only think about getting into that seat? The drivers we spoke to clearly take the time to plan, recognising what they need to do and how to do it. They have specific plans that grow with them and know that not every year is going to be big-time: some are growth years, some are learning years.
Grit and determination
Are you only excited and motivated by the big picture and the big dreams? That’s hard to find on a wet Tuesday test-day where nothing’s going right. The determination to succeed has to be your driver. No questions and no ifs or buts.
Willing to put the work in
Without exception, every driver we spoke to is putting 100% into their choices and their life. 5am starts, second jobs, partnerships, promotional work, and networking. This is more than racecraft, this is a lifestyle. If you’re not all in, you’re halfway out.
Total lack of arrogance or entitlement
You’re not entitled to a seat just because you’re any good. Be humble enough to know there’s always more to learn. Success does not come to you, people don’t have to like you, parents don’t have to buy you a ride and companies don’t have to sponsor you just because you know you’ve got skills. Hard work and talent, beats talent alone. Believe in yourself, but don’t believe the hype.
Enjoying what you do matters
This is supposed to be fun. You’re not supposed to get into debt, you’re not supposed to burn out and you’re not supposed to alienate friends and family with a racing obsession. Involve everyone you love, share your dreams with your team, find your niche for now (it might change and grow later), and see where it takes you.
Thank you to all our featured drivers. Let’s keep the conversation going. Join the Racing Mentor Sponsorship Community on Facebook.