Ready to make your racing your business? Treat it that way.

One of the questions that Carl and I both get asked frequently is: how do you make racing your full-time living?

Right now, I’m putting together a post on how teams make money (hint: hired drivers with 401(k)’s are the exception, not the rule, and those race track checks don’t exactly pay the bills), and today, I want to address just one aspect of that answer:

We treated it like a business even before it was one.

And when I say ‘it’, I’m referring not just our race team. We took everything that aligns with making racing our full-time job seriously before we were required to by our commitments, including this blog, our personal finances, our health, and much more.

It’s very easy to say: ‘when you get to X turning point, you’ll do Y.’

When my only job is racing, I’ll have the time and energy to:

  • Kristin Swartzlander motorsports racing sponsorshipwork out every day,
  • have multiple cars built and lettered,
  • take opportunities for rides outside of my own team,
  • travel to races outside of my region,
  • have a professional crew and appearance,
  • structure my team financially as a business,
  • create apparel and promotional materials,
  • promote myself online and in the community, and,
  • find and activate sponsorships.

Your mind needs that assurance that it’s okay for you not to be doing those things until X happens.

You’re already tapped out. You’re already putting in too many hours. You’re already spending too much money. You won’t have the time and energy to do any of the ‘extras’ until you go full-time.

Except, I’ve found that doing those things before your team is a business is what propels it to that level.

Of course, I know that you know that it’s never going to magically happen without extra work. Unless you’re unfurling lottery tickets like they’re shop towels, you’re not likely to wake up one day and be able to decide you’re going racing full-time.

But, beyond the logistics of making it work for you, there’s an important mindset shift that comes with doing the extra work of being a business before you’re a business that’s critical.

Running a race team as a business requires you to make decisions differently than if it’s a hobby or passion. It requires hard decisions.

For us, some of those hard decisions are equally scary and exciting – that’s the brilliance of going full-time with your passion. It’s terrifying to make leaps that you know might trip you up in the short term but buy you the dream long-term.

It’s also exhilarating.

Over the past few months, one of the hard and exciting decisions we made for our racing business was to sell our four bedroom, 2.5 acre home to move into a teeny, two bedroom apartment. Full disclosure to come as the dust settles, but suffice it to say it was not an easy decision or process.

But we want to do more racing. We want to do more traveling. We want to have more time and energy and money to invest in our team.

So, we could have said that: ‘when we’re ready to do more traveling and an opportunity comes up to invest in our team, we’ll sell the house.’

Instead, we said, ‘let’s sell the house and be ready for when that opportunity comes.’

Now, three months after a few conversations during Florida’s speed weeks and a phone call to our favorite realtor, we have no mortgage payment. We’re not paying anyone to mow 2.5 acres because we already didn’t have time to do that. We’re not worrying about maintaining a home designed to entertain family and friends when we spend most of our time at the track or in the garage with them anyway.

But what about paying rent, you ask? Good question. We’ve owned our apartment for over a year. We didn’t know we’d end up living here when we bought it. But it was part of our bigger ‘treat it as a business plan’ for generating income when we were on the road, focusing on racing.

See how that works?

I’m not saying we have it all figured out. What I am saying is if you want to know how some people are doing it, I’m here to show you.

How we’re doing it? Treat it like a business before you have to, because that mindset, and those decisions, are what helps take it to that level.

You might not know how, at this moment, it’ll happen. But the harder you work on making it into what you want, the more it starts to become… exactly what you want.


P.S. I’ll be putting a special focus on how people make racing businesses work going forward because it’s what I get asked about most commonly by those who are serious about going to the next level. Have questions? Want to share how you do it? Feel free to kick me an email at – I’d love hear what you have to say and see how we can make that content available to go-getters like yourselves.

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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.