Motorsport is expensive, very expensive. Without sponsorship many forms of motorsport simply wouldn’t exist at the levels they do today.
Recently I caught up with Darren Morgan of Darren Morgan Racing; the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) Top Fuel Champion.
Affectionately known as Morgs, Darren is one of a handful of professional drag racers whose racing operation is completely funded by sponsorship and local investors. In Australia, the norm is for sponsorship to fund part of the racing program, with a significant portion often coming from a racer’s business interests.
Darren was introduced to Top Fuel in the 90s while crewing for drag racing legend Graeme Cowin, both here in Australia and in the US. In 2004 Darren joined the Lamattina Top Fuel Racing team, putting together the total race package including training the crew, building the transporter, preparing the tooling AND taking on the driving duties, winning the 2005 Top Fuel Championship in the process.
In 2007 Darren put together his own Top Fuel team. Initial investment came from local businesses in his home town of Mildura in Victoria and sponsorship from Rocket Industries.
During our conversation I pick up on reasons why Morgs has been so successful with his sponsorship efforts and maintaining relationships. Darren is simply down-to-earth, approachable, unpretentious and very passionate about drag racing. You can tell that he loves what he’s doing.
And his passion is infectious, which has a positive effect on his crew, his fans and importantly his sponsors.
Darren’s top 14 tips to getting and staying sponsored:
According to Darren, there are no “secrets” to his sponsorship success. It comes down to good old hard work, persistence and delivering beyond your sponsor’s expectations.
- Referrals, referrals, referrals. Hands down, this is the number 1 way to find a compatible sponsor
- Be everywhere – take every opportunity to market your sponsors brand, from onsite to online
- Make sure that your sponsor is part of the team and is able to connect directly with fans
- Provide multiple activation and leverage opportunities for the sponsor. It’s important to provide a range of options that fit with their marketing objectives
- Surprise your sponsor from time to time. Go beyond what’s in the sponsorship agreement to take advantage of new marketing opportunities
- Create unique experiences for your sponsor. A great example is the DMR Top Fuel Simulator
- Measure your sponsorship activities to demonstrate value to your sponsor
- You’ve got to be passionate about what you do. If you’re not, you simply won’t succeed with sponsorship
- Switch from the “me” mindset. Concentrate on what you can do for “them” and good things will happen
- Be available, approachable and polite to everyone. You never know who may come to help you in the future
- Involve your sponsor’s marketing team in the program to maximise value and results
- You must have the infrastructure behind you to make good on your promises to the sponsor. You’ve got to walk the talk
- Knowledge is power – talk to your fans and sponsors about what they want
- Winning isn’t everything. You can’t guarantee on-track success, but you can guarantee 100% commitment and dedication to helping your sponsor meet their goals
The future for Darren Morgan Racing
While Darren has no plans (or desire for that matter) to vacate the driver’s seat, there’s a new generation of Morgans’ coming up through the ranks.
Darren’s three children, Caitlyn, Will and Rory are all heavily involved in drag racing, running in the ultra competitive Junior Dragster division. Could we see one of the young Morgan’s piloting a Top Fuel dragster in the future? Only time will tell.
Thanks to Darren for taking the time to speak with me and share some of his proven ideas on how to get and stay sponsored. I hope you enjoyed his insights and take them onboard for your next sponsorship proposal.
Happy sponsorship seeking… Cheers, Kym.