What You Can Learn from Drivers that Cry Poor (Hint: Don’t Do It)

It’s the same story every week – we pick up the racing paper, turn on a podcast, and log into a social media account just to see a driver patting himself on the back for how much he accomplished despite his lack of funds. According to him, he’s running an old chassis with a motor that’s never been freshened, and he hauls it all to and from the track on his own dime.

But he doesn’t have a day job, he’s running a new chassis, and his sponsor bought him that too-new-to-need-freshened motor.

crying poor

As a publicist, it makes me want to scream for a number of reasons.

I hear it over and over again from clients – the frustration of dealing with drivers that cry poor. They believe that those drivers are gaining fans and patrons – the guy that walks up and buys them a tire because they feel bad for him – by lying about their situations.

But ask yourself this:

How did the people who actually did help non-successful driver X feel when they weren’t thanked? When all they heard was that driver didn’t have any support? Did it belittle their efforts and contributions? You bet.

Having a chip on your shoulder about not having support or real sponsors does nothing but attract pity, at best. If you’re lying about it, it’s worse – it’s demeaning. It depreciates the people that feel they have supported you and makes the fans that cheer for you feel duped when they figure it out.

Yes, there are some people that will give the guy who complains that he’s broke some help here and there. But it’s not a long-term solution, and it’s not free. Help like that comes with a catch. If you accept money, a discount or equipment based on the fact that you just don’t have enough to race on your own, you’ll only have them as long as you’re broke. If you’re successful, they’re out.

I know what you’re thinking: what if they just start liking me for what I do and not just because they feel bad for me? They won’t. Why? Because you’ll run them off in the meantime. They’ll see you on Twitter buying new Nike’s. You’ll take your wife out to a nice dinner. And they imagine that it’s their money funding those purchases. It’s especially raw when many of these people haven’t bought new Nike’s for themselves in a long while.

That’s why need-based sponsorship is never a real solution.

Yes, it’s frustrating to see a guy lie about what he has to get someone to buy him a tire or lend him a motor. It’s frustrating to see guys that don’t have a job ask for people to find him a ride. But whatever they get is fleeting.

Performance-based sponsorship is long-term. As long as you execute the program, whether it’s winning races or showing up for your sponsor’s events, you will have their support.

Don’t whine about not having any sponsors (i.e. devaluing any help you have), and shout from the rooftops how wonderful the people are who already support you. Positive attracts positive, and if you’re generous with crediting others, you have the ability create long-term relationships with generous people.

So how do you cope with drivers that cry poor? I would love to hear about it.

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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.