WHETHER it be junior karting or Formula One, it’s always an ongoing battle for even a tiny share of the available sponsorship dollar.
During the past 10 years, for any number of reasons, it has become increasingly more difficult.
So we sought out some advice from a few guys who have been up against it yet have still managed to keep themselves afloat. And successful against the tide.
Riley Racing has had an enviable record in recent years finishing second in the AUS Formula1000 Western Australian Championship in 2014, winning the title in 2016 and finishing third last season.
F1000 is that super quick wings and slicks category that is the fastest at Barbagallo Raceway. And RR certainly seem to punch above its weight.
Owner Tim Riley is in his second term on the committee of the WA Sporting Car Club, custodians of Barbagallo – the State’s premier motor racing venue. The club is fast getting back on track after a few years of turmoil which saw it flirt with self-destruction.
Now well on the road to recovery, the club’s next major challenge is ensuring a bumper crowd for Round five of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, May 5-7. There’s an awful lot riding on that.
“We’re a team of ordinary folk taking on some highly professional race entrants,” Tim Riley said.
It hasn’t been an easy road. Timbo – as he is known – has been unemployed for nearly two years following the mining downturn. Son Ben, team pilot, is a gas pipeline inspector. “We don’t own a company and therefore cannot get financial assistance by that traditional mechanism,” Timbo said.
“Having said that Arise Racing– the professional ‘arrive & drive’ company, who will run nine AUS F1000 cars in 2017– have helped us and other privateers when we are struggling. They’re a commercial enterprise, but also pleasantly sportsmanlike.”
How then does Riley Racing get the financial and technical support they so desperately need?
“Well, we focus a lot of effort on sponsorship and delivering value to our supporting companies,” Tim Riley said.
They’ve managed to tap into a veritable goldmine at Edith Cowan University, whose remarkable motorsport engineering programme has been mentored from near inception to the present by former WASCC president and WA guru, John Hurney AM.
“RR gets considerable help from ECU students keen to get hands-on experience, in particular Joel Cadlolo and Abanob (Bob) Girgis.
“It isn’t easy,” Riley said. “Many potential sponsors have been burned by bad experiences. If you think sponsorship is about putting stickers on a car, you are likely to be missing the point.
”Often success means maximising adhoc opportunities – like meeting F1 superstar Daniel Ricciardo and getting personal shirts signed.”
Typical durations for Riley Racing sponsors are about five years and have always ended amicably.
“And terminations have all been as a result of macro scale changes to the individual companies – beyond their control or ours.”
According to driver Ben Riley: “The financial input enables us to better equip the car, hold more stock of critical parts (many of which have significant lead time issues when procuring from overseas).”
RR’s principal sponsor for the coming season is a popular boutique outfit based in the Kimberley – Matso’s Broome Brewery, supporters since 2015.
High-end firm Infiniti Designer Pools, have been with RR for three years, and have been involved in major projects including for Crown Casino, Mindarie Resort Marina and RAAF Learmonth.
The team’s in-kind sponsor, Savage Suzuki Midvale, according to Tim Riley: “have been awesome.”
Edited by AC