Does Your Motorsport Team Need a Budget?


In a word…. Absolutely!

Budgeting is vital to any enterprise, and it is likely that you already undertake this at some level, even if it is only on the back of an envelope!

What is certain is that careful budgeting can help structure your season. With this said your budgets will only be as good as the information that you put into them.

Taking some lessons from business, it is generally accepted that project management is based on three legs, namely budget, time, and quality. Equally it is also generally accepted that you can succeed with any two of these, but not all three. A case in point is Formula One. Here innovation and specification are the main driving force (quality), and generally these aspects will be required within days (time). Achieving these directly lead to the astronomical costs associated with this branch of motorsport (budget).

Cost overrun is one of the most common failings in projects. When looking at your season it is human nature to be as optimistic as possible – you want the season to go well. With this being the case it is also human nature to underestimate, or even totally ignore, the real cost of competition. Do NOT do it!

When compiling the budget for the season you should very candidly assess how much you can really afford to put into your team. Set your limit and unless there is a clear change of circumstances, such as a new sponsor, stick to it.

Having decided how much there is to spend you should also list ALL the expenses that you foresee for the year. Some of these are quite black and white such as club membership, race entrance fees and your competition license. It is the slightly greyer areas that can cause problems: travel costs, hotels, meals, it is very easy to overlook or understate these, but the net result of this could be catastrophic. In simple terms the more accurate your budgeting is the fewer headaches you will endure over the course of the year.

This may also help you to assess your goals… It may be that buying a better car seems like a wonderful plan, but this falls a bit flat if there is no money left to actually enter a race!

Do Clubmen Need Management?


Okay… So, you compete in Motorsport at Club level. It’s a bit of fun at the weekend. You go out and do your best and of course you are in it to win it if you can. But you don’t actually need to manage your team. It’s too much effort. Or is it….?

Lets think about it logically. In your search for success, at whichever level, it is likely that you will find the time to prepare your car for competition. You may take some driver training at some point to improve your skills. You may coerce friends and family to help out, or at least come and support your efforts.

So, You have a training program, you have processes in place for your organisation and you have stakeholders, BUT you lack anything that links it all together in a coherent way. There is little doubt that this will affect your chances of success.

Even if you have never given management of your team a second thought you will, on some level, have engaged in it. You will have to have made decisions – which competition or events to enter, how much you can afford to spend on your sport and so on. With this being the case, why not take that little extra step and turn a corner in your season?

The benefits of actively managing your team are clear:

  • You will be able to set goals to reach what you consider success
  • This means that you will be able to set a strategy for your season
  • This means that you will be able to plan what you are going to do
  • This means that you will have preparation and finances in place so there are no nasty surprises
  • This means that you can go out and concentrate on the fun part of racing your car!

Think about other amateur sports. You would be surprised if your village football team didn’t have a Manager, a Committee and a Treasurer to keep it all ticking over. Why should Motorsport be any different?

Delving into the world of management does not have to be too onerous. You can take little steps towards leading your team well, but the time spent will pay dividends.

Remember that you do not have to be a professional to act professionally. If you take your management skills seriously and your competition do not then you already have a competitive advantage over them.

Who knows – Potential sponsors may be very impressed by this….!

Marketing Your Team as a Brand


If you are part of a small motorsport team it may seem to be overkill to take time to consider how best to brand your endeavour. This, however, is very far from the case.

Any motorsport team has stakeholders and it is inevitable that at some point you will need something from someone to assist your season or brand. More often than not these stakeholders, be they the bank, sponsors or whomever, will be engaged in business. To be comfortable in dealing with you they will need to be assured that you will bring added value or return on their investment to their own organisation.

It is generally true that customers, irrespective if they are spending five pounds or five million, prefer a consistent, reliable and dependable brand to work with. Think of your own experience. Perhaps you always use a certain brand of Petrol. Perhaps you choose washing powder ‘A’ over washing powder ‘B’, even though it is more expensive as you believe it is a better product. This is branding at work and if you will look you will find that it exists everywhere.

To sum up: the more professional that you and you team appear to be then equally the more comfortable stakeholders will be to work with you!

What is your Team?


If you look at the website or literature of any major company, you will quickly find four main statements that distil its very essence and strategy into words.

In managing your team, the first step that you should take is to step back and formulate similar statements to explain to your stakeholders exactly what your team is. You need to consider:

The Mission: Why does you team exist? What do you want to achieve?

The Vision: What does the future hold? What are your hopes and dreams for the team?

The Values: What does you team stand for? How does it act? What does it hold dear?

The Aims: How will you do it? This is at the strategic level and outlines your plans to achieve your mission and vision. Later there will be tactical goals set to outline the short-term plan for success.

On the face of it formulating these statements should be quite simple. All of these should be short and sweet, no longer than two or three sentences, but it can be surprisingly difficult to summarise your thoughts into so few words.

Committing these to paper may seem like overkill for a small racing team, but they are absolutely vital for managerial success. If nothing else it will lead you to consider in depth what you want to get out of your motorsport, however large or small these desires may be. On a more practical level it explains very clearly to stakeholders what your team is about. This may have many applications. When looking for sponsors it may be beneficial to start with those who have similar values and vision to your own which produces a natural affinity. Your team ethos may be ‘win at all costs’ or conversely ‘fair play’. In either case, or any shade of grey in-between, your values statement will tell drivers, mechanics or other members of the team what is, or is not acceptable. Equally they will be aware of what is the common goal, what are you going to do and how are you going to do it.

Perhaps the most vital aspect of these strategic statements is that they accurately reflect the team. They must be more than just words on a piece of paper, which is a major factor in the difficulty producing them well. Perhaps you can think of major companies who stated that they would act in a certain manner but did not live up to this expectation. Would you wish to be involved with or use the services of such an organisation?

As with many aspects of management self-reflection, brutal honesty and integrity will pay dividends!

Its not all Academic!

I have become quite intrigued by attitudes amongst teams to management principles.

In response I have been busy preparing a paper for the International Journal of Motorsport Management regarding this subject within British motorsport.

To assist please fill in the very simple questionnaire that can be found here:

I will link to the finished paper when and if it has been accepted!


Strategy for Motorsport


I recently re-read ‘Total Competition’ by Ross Brawn and Adam Parr. In it  they ruminate at length about lessons in strategy that they have gleaned from many years associated with Formula 1. To summarise some of the most salient points:

Wherever you finally set the bar for your season, it is vital that you understand that the strategy of motorsport stands on three legs, all of which are interdependent, and all of which will underpin everything that you hope to achieve. Your aim is to maximize the lead that you hold over your opponents in each of these areas. Combined they will form your competitive advantage both on and off the track:

  • Technical Advantage – Winning in itself shows that you hold an advantage in this area. This could be due to driver skill, or a well prepared car. This is how you do things.
  • Economic Advantage – Winning brings tangible rewards. This may be in the form of prize money or increased sponsorship, but the bottom line, as they say, is that the more successful you are the more resources you will have to improve your team. Beware – the inverse is also true!
  • Political Advantage – Winning brings leverage that can be applied to your teams benefit. This may be during commercial negotiations with sponsors, or during technical negotiations with stewards.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Nothing could be further from the truth!

This is one area in which we could help your team…..