1 (edited by m610 2023-02-24 07:38 PM)

Topic: Race Sponsor, but...

Hi, haven't been on the forums in a while but this seemed to a better place than Facebook for this post.

Last year an acquaintance from the Opel world helped underwrite our Thunderhill race, which made all the difference because I was broke. Anyway, the deal was I run the engine he built, and if it worked out then he'd sell kits so people could build their own. The engine was a bored out Opel CIH 1.9L block with a crank from a diesel Opel, custom rods, and fancy-ass pistons. Displacement was up around 2.5L, compression at just over 200 psi, and it pulled and revved nicely.

This year someone gave him a 3D printer for Christmas to use to make D&D figures or little Yodas or whatever. Instead he designed a totally new fuel injection system and distributor. He wants me to run it at Thunderhill this May. What I'd do is get the Tinyvette ready to race, then he'd show up and we'd swap parts in an afternoon, then go racing. I'm willing to give it a shot, and I have a normal 2.0 motor ready as a spare if we need it.

So far so good.

And he wants to drive the car, the world famous Bonneville/Cannonball Opel GT. [Joking about famous.] He's never raced before, which is not the main issue here. We have a 20 year old women racing with us now (in the Opel wagon) and she had never raced before. We've had several total rookies in the past as well. So what's the problem?

Sometimes when talking to a person about driving for us they immediately start saying all the wrong things. Like the guy who looked at me all serious while telling me "I can win it for you." Totally the wrong thing to say, had obviously no clue what Lemons race was like, didn't even seem to understand that he'd be one of four drivers, and winning was not important to us. Well, this new guy, the potential sponsor, kept telling me how he drives aggressively in DC traffic, about the speeds he runs on the beltway and how he gets past slower cars, etc. He seemed pretty impressed with himself. He kept using the word "aggressive" and eventually I asked him if he was driving as if fighting? Maybe he meant "assertive". He sort of agreed that was a better word, but he kept coming back to his DC beltway antics. I kept trying to tell him that above all we need clean, fast, driving, with no drama and no incidents. There are three other drivers who are expecting to drive that day, and a big part of his job is to bring the car back in for the next driver. I could almost hear him nodding his head over the phone, while looking for a way to reassert his own idea of how racing was done. I could tell he was resisting as I told him he'd go out there and get passed a dozen times a lap and might pass 3-4 cars, and it was his job to make sure those went well, the art of being passed and all. Once in a while he might catch a car to dice with, and that is really fun, but aggressiveness is totally out of bounds and will guarantee he'd get himself into trouble. Then somewhere along the line he said something to the effect of, it's a race car so if I wreck it it is no big deal. At that point I'm sure he was thinking more about his EFI system, but WTF? Some people watch way too much TV.

I don't think I was getting through to him that this was not beating and banging, not Days of Thunder, not anything he had seen in the movies. This was about good, clean, fast, and competent driving. It wasn't a bar fight. All those other drivers out there on track with him, they are his friends. He'll be hanging out with and partying with them later that night.

Once I had a young driver, someone I knew from around town, who had repeatedly dismissed Lemons racing as not being real racing, not like the SCCA, etc, which he did a bit of. Then I got a call and he asked to drive in the true-24 at Reno-Fernley, promising to drive in whatever manner I called for. Well, our spotter told me he was out there driving as if he thought he was Aryton Senna, but without the skill. Soon after he BF'ed. He had attempted to dive bomb another car and knew he screwed up, backed off and went off the inside of the turn and hit the curbing hard coming back on, doing a fair amount of damage to the air dam and suspension. Later, during his second stint, he BF'ed again, I forget why. Those were our only BFs all weekend, 2 of maybe the a total of 6 we've had in over 10 years of racing. The lesson for me was a driver will drive "their way" regardless of what they tell you and regardless of what they say, even if they were sincere. Once they are out on track again they are going to revert to their own nature and driving style.

So now I have DC Beltway guy talking about driving. I'm thinking of putting a sign in the car that is constantly in his field of view, saying "Clean, consistent, safe, and bring the car back for the next driver." I'm thinking of asking for a sizable deposit from him, refundable if he does not have contact with another car. And I am thinking of taking a pass on the whole sponsorship thing and staying home that weekend.


Re: Race Sponsor, but...

A few points.

I grew up in Los Angeles and learned to drive there, but I've driven and ridden motorcycles in various places around the world. The Beltway has got nothing. It's just parked or not. An "aggressive" driver is probably just changing lanes every time somebody leaves an opening in parked traffic.

That said, when I met my first Lemons team captain that was my sales pitch. "I know LA traffic and can deal with it." He put me in a bone stock Hyundai Excel with snow tires on it in a really small field. Good plan on his part. I won't claim to be squeaky clean and my teams are even less so unless I'm running with someone else, but I try not to over-drive my talent or the car at hand and I've gotten better at that over the years. I also have a pretty cavalier attitude about the cars I bring to a race (like it says in the rules: if you aren't prepared to take home a mangled lump don't take it on the track), but I understand other people have more emotional investment in their cars.

I am now on the wrong coast, near your potential sponsor and nearer a craigslist ad for a replacement car for you for close to the right price (but certainly in the Lemons official budget). Make him appear with that if "racecars are disposable." I'll help facilitate, mostly so I don't succumb to the Opel disease. Taking a spare Opel to you should bring new consideration to the disposable nature of a fragile European car on track with a GINORMOUS Pontiac Bonneville. Also show him a picture of the Bonneville in the background of two Miatas and a side-by-side of the GT and a Miata.

https://norfolk.craigslist.org/pts/d/ha … 91176.html

That guy

3 (edited by MZAVARIN 2023-02-26 01:27 PM)

Re: Race Sponsor, but...

so my cousin, who is in business/banking, told be the best financial decisions/deals he's made  were the ones he walked away from, going with his "gut" feeling....

---I think you answered your own question (?learned a lesson): " a driver will drive "their way" regardless of what they tell you and regardless of what they say, even if they were sincere. Once they are out on track again they are going to revert to their own nature and driving style."
(no sign will change the way he drives, either)

---I love to have newbies on the team! (when they have realistic expectation and know their limits).  The excitement they give off is priceless!  And they always appreciate and are super grateful for your trust in letting them drive your car.

--I predict, at best, he will earn you black flags and your car will be parked, at worst, he will wreck the car.  As you said, he is there to test his system,," I'm sure he was thinking more about his EFI system,".   Also, (important to me), is that he will put a big stain on your car/reputation...word gets around in Lemons....

---"it's (YOUR) race car so if I wreck it it is no big deal."  Do you agree?  If you agree, then fine, maybe you can afford to lose ($4000) or so dollars, in addition to the "blood, sweat, and tears" etc.   And its no big deal to him, he got to test his system.

-  I realize Lemons is expensive for most people.  Right now, you are broke with a great Lemons car.  But after he drives, you will likely be "Broke" with NO Lemons car....(consider covering expenses with Arrive&Drives....you don't even need to drive, just have fun hanging out with everyone!

--If you really want to have him drive, a "Deposit" might work out.  Since it is only a race car (worth $4000?), then that could be his deposit in case he totals it?  Refundable, or partially refundable if partially wrecked (realizing no one else will drive after that...), and $500 per black flag he gets, regardless of fault...?

---I hope he plans to pay you as an Arrive&Drive....

--Remind me, how may people out there need his Opel engine and expertise?

-I agree, you need to be prepared that your race car will be totaled at each race.., but the drivers you pick will determine the odds of that happening.... I realize my A&D team mates pay/contribute money to "race" and not "granny drive" around the track, but Lemons driving/racing is different from Chump Champ, Lucky Dog, IMSA, Circle track, etc.

anyways, to each his own....every team is a bit different....just my 2 cents....he would just not fit in on our team....

Good luck, hope things work out for you and you make it to the track!

MarioKart Driving School: 1987 Honda Prelude Si (Opus #28) 
Loudon, NH 2014 - Millville, NJ, Lightening 2019 (RIP)
New and improved: 1987 Honda Prelude Si (Opus #11) Pittsburgh, PA 2021 - ??
and finally won something, Class C Win: Loudon, NH 2022

Re: Race Sponsor, but...

I believe this person just wants to use someone else's "disposable" racecar to test his system.

... and should build his own.

Re: Race Sponsor, but...

Thanks all, for the replies. My gut really does say he's a bad fit as a driver.

I've heard back from my core team and they will trust my judgment. One person suggested this new guy attend a driver's school first, and I think this is a good idea. If he attends one he'll get somewhat sorted out in another car and in a much better-controlled setting, plus it will be an admission on his part that he just might not know it all from watching people do it on TV and is willing to humble himself and learn from those who do.

My core team includes a guy with 40 years of experience in the SCCA and VARA and he instructs at some events. Another was the lead instructor for a group that hosted track days, and he did that for over 10 years but had never raced until he joined my team. I had over 100 hours of seat time at track day events, in my street car, before I got in a race car. That first race for me put a big demand on me. I knew the track well, but there was so much else to learn and learn quickly. It was quite an experience and I still remember my first pass the way I remember my first time with a woman. So something that seems so ordinary now was a kinda life-changing to me back then, a passage into manhood, sort of, in a sense. Well, not manhood really, maybe racerhood.

Anyway, I'm thinking more about my team now than the car, and I owe it to them to make the right call here. It might end up being I turn the guy down and we don't race at all, or he gets his feet wet before Thunderhill and everything works out.


Re: Race Sponsor, but...

I think DirtyDuc is right, make him bring you another Opel if he has the attitude that race cars are disposable. I don’t feel that way about mine, I’m pretty sure you don’t feel like that about yours. Large refundable deposits, also a solid idea.

Barring any of that, though, I wonder about just assigning him the last stint. If his EFI setup is all that, you’ll get to drive, your core team will get to drive, and he’ll get the satistaction of the checker. Or if it breaks, bullet dodged, and he’ll have some data on the weak points of his untried setup?

Tradewinds Tribesmen Racing (The road goes on forever…)
#289 1984 Corvette Z51 #124 1984 944 #110 2002 Passat
Gone but not forgotten, #427-Hong Kong Cavaliers Benz S500
IOE (Humber!) Hell on Wheels (Jaguar)

Re: Race Sponsor, but...

I'm thinking a compromise that might satisfy him is to let him take the car out on track on Friday, but not let him race until he's done a driver's course or at least a couple of track days in his own car.

Re: Race Sponsor, but...

m610 wrote:

I'm thinking a compromise that might satisfy him is to let him take the car out on track on Friday, but not let him race until he's done a driver's course or at least a couple of track days in his own car.

I'm having flashbacks to when the new guy moneyshifted the Scoupe on Friday and blew our engine

https://24hoursoflemons.com/blog/racing … o-running/

Everything dies baby that's a fact,
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back?