Friday, November 27, 2009

Racing for money?

It is probably every racers dream, at some point to win big money in a race.  Dreams are not what keep most of training hard and racing even harder.  For most, I think, it is the thrill of competition and feeling of winning or having a teammate win.  The money and the prizes are nice, but necessary?

Sure we would all love to be like this guy:

When in reality, if we counted on our winnings and sponsorship deals to support us, most of us would be more like this:

I have, along with the help of my team and my wife, promoted 5 races in the last 3 years.  We promoted the Virginia Beach Wheelmen Smackdown in 2007, Sleepy Hole Smackdown in 2008 and 2009, The Smithfield HAMmer Fest 2-man TTT in 2009 and the Bennett's Creek Park Cyclocross Race just last weekend.  In each one of these races we have put our concentration on ensure the permits were correct, ensure the course was fun and safe and ensure that everyone would have a good time.  For all these races what we lacked was a money sponsor.  All cash prizes have come from the entry fees for the day.  So although the prizes were not much, they were a lot to us.  I'm not saying this to make anyone feel guilty or to make us look good, its just a segway to a question I have.

On our first race that we promoted, a storm came through.  So we already had a low pre-registered race because it was our first, it was not BAR and many people viewed it as a training race.  Then the storm came and most racers who showed up that day looked like this:

We had a total of 16 racers for the day.  Some racers were not even held, but if someone showed up, we ran their race and paid the prize money out.  I got a call the next day from someone who won one of the races saying "Disregarding paying my check, my wife said I would never make any money at this sport so I have hung my winning check up in a frame to prove her wrong.  I will never cash it."

This last weekend, after the Bennett's Creek Cyclocross Race I received this email:


Thanks for putting on a great race - it was tough, but
fun.  Go ahead and cancel my check #1038 - I have
shredded it - I'm not racing for money.  I'm sure
your team can use it, even that small amount.

Looking forward to next years.....

Mark Wilson
Speedy's Hot Sauce

I think most local racers don't care about the money.  I'm not going to lie to you though.  It feels good to receive sponsorship, to receive cash payout.  It somehow makes you feel like you are better than you are.  What other adult, amateur sports do companies pay you to wear their logos and you compete for money every weekend?  Not many.

My goal for next year as a promoter is to find some cash sponsors for the race to be able to increase the payout.  But is that important?  For the past 2 races we found sponsors that gave prizes in the form of merchandise.  These weren't the things that set on the clearance rack at the shop either.  These items were purchased specifically for the event.  Is that better then cash?

Cash on a race flier looks good.  People seem to rave over the merchandise prizes we have given out lately.  Is there a balance?  What makes you want to race?  Have you ever not raced because the payout was too low? 

Just some question to stir some debate so I can make next year's races a bigger success.

Thanks to all who have ever raced and supported local clubs.  A special thanks to those who do it because that's what they love to do.

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.

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