Here at GBXM, we want the whole world to know the best automotive stories are those of regular folks like you doing big things on small budgets. We leave the big name, celebrity-style stories to the 10,000 other automotive publications on the web. For the most part, we try to find new people with new stories, but we’re going to start following up on past stories more often.
You know it as well as we do – for every day of victory, there are hundreds of struggle. In January 2011, we were tipped to a couple guys trying to raise money for children with HIV/AIDS and get their charity – Camp Sunrise – global publicity at Rally Mexico. We’ve been in touch with Rally Team for Dreams (RTfD) on and off ever since.
What have you and RTfD been up to since the 2011 Rally Guanajuato Mexico?
Thanks for asking these questions, it’s humbling to think that anyone besides my mom cares about what I’ve been up to.
Andrew and I have both still been competing and attaining moderate success in rally, albeit separately. Until missing Rally West Virginia due to illness, Andrew was leading the Atlantic Rally Cup series, and I’m currently the leading co-driver in Open Light and third overall in the Rally America Central Division championship, but as neither of us are running full schedules I would expect our final positions to slide by the end of the season.
I was invited to go back down to compete in the ’12 Rally Guanajuato Mexico; this time with local León, GTO rally team, Full Xtreme, co-driving for Guillermo Sanchez in his naturally aspirated stock Mitsubishi Lancer. It was a crazy experience and, in true rally fashion, we had to press on regardless after a range of issues (you should see what the car looked like at the finish), and we ultimately finished third in 2WD and fifth overall.
I also rolled in a car for the first time, at STPR; it may be odd to admit but it was nice to get that out of the way. Unfortunately, despite both us still rallying, Andrew and I have been unable to compete together, or as Rally Team for Dreams, since our overall win at ’11 Rally Guanajuato Mexico.
You mentioned wanting RTfD to be about more than that one event. What might that look like? (A different charity for each event? Different events? Paint a picture for us?)
I feel that with Rally Team for Dreams we’ve developed a simple and unique platform for raising awareness and funding for charities and I hate to waste that potential by only running one event per year, especially when there are so many worthwhile children’s charity organizations that could greatly benefit from an influx of publicity and funding from a largely untapped source, ie., motorsports fans. Statistically speaking, this demographic has repeatedly proven to be extremely loyal and personally I can’t think of a better way to utilize that loyalty, which usually benefits a corporate sponsor, then to transfer it to a charity.
As I state on our site, my goal is to use my passion for, and participation in, racing to benefit kids facing adversity, and I feel the best way a “regular Joe” like me can do this is by exposing these charities to the masses. This requires competing in popular and well attended, or at least viewed, events, which is part of the reason that Andrew and I don’t compete as Rally Team for Dreams at any of the rallies in the US; NASA rallies attract up to a few hundred spectators each and Rally America attracts perhaps up to a thousand, and that’s being extremely generous. Compare that to the 420,000 fans in attendance every year at WRC Rally Guanajuato Mexico, in addition to potentially 20 million TV viewers, and you can see why we put our focus and effort into marketing towards that rally every year.
So part of the way I see RTfD evolving is by running additional world-level events. While it would be beneficial to spread our mission by running other popular world rallies such as Monte Carlo, Rally Finland and/or Rally Portugal, these additional events don’t necessarily have to be stage rallies, as our model for successfully generating charitable contributions is not reliant on the sport of rally.
We simply (relatively speaking, of course) need a competition vehicle entered in a popular, highly attended, and preferably televised, event; meaning there is no reason we couldn’t expand our market reach by competing in events in off-road/desert racing (Baja, Mexican 1000, or Dakar for example), road racing (perhaps a GRAND-AM/Continental race or the 24 Hours of Daytona), or a host of other forms of motorsports.
Obviously I realize the enormity of the above statement and that these are pie-in-the-sky ideas, but I’m also the same guy that went from merely dreaming about racing, to jumping into road racing and stage rally and winning a national rally in a foreign country in a matter of three years. So despite all the haters and nay-sayers I know from experience how the seemingly improbable can be accomplished when you combine smart people, a lot of work, a bit of luck, and a relentless attitude to press on regardless.
Additionally, as we hopefully continue RTfD at Rally Guanajuato Mexico and expand into additional events, my goal is to partner with two charities per event; one being a US based organization that we would continually support throughout the year, and an additional organization that benefits a cause local to each particular event.
I was amazed at the outpouring of support we received from those in Mexico during our ’11 campaign and feel it’s prudent to apply the immense generosity of those that host and attend events to support the kids in need that reside in communities surrounding the event.
Given that vision, what are you doing right now to make it happen?
I’ve matured enough in the past few years to realize there is rarely anything gained from pretending to know everything and as such I will readily admit that I’m currently stuck on the next “doing/action” step. I’ve been in discussions with several people and a manufacturer regarding different ideas and opportunities, but we all know talk is worthless without action. Unfortunately, action typically requires funding and just like everyone else out there…we have none.
Our financial model consists of two parts, let’s call them Buckets A & B. Event expenses, including everything from entry fees, tires, tow and race fuel, lodging, travel expenses, and repairs to the rally car are in Bucket A. Bucket B contains the money raised through the crowd-funded sale of the livery blocks and goes directly to the charities, (it’s important to note to the naysayers that money from Bucket B never flows into Bucket A).
Like many grassroots teams our Bucket A is quite small; we continually concentrate on being as frugal as possible while still remaining relatively competitive, eg., we race an inexpensive car that we built ourselves, prep the car ourselves, construct our spares package from parts we pull from cars in junk yards, avoid fancy hotels and meals ($5 Subway footlongs FTW), and rely on only a few volunteer crew members. However, due to my apparent ignorance on how to create a winning proposal and successfully pitch companies for financial sponsorship, ultimately our personal wallets are required to fill Bucket A. Currently these wallets are totally devoid of money.
The dilemma is that without solid financial backers, either corporate or benevolent individual(s), we face a serious risk of putting the cart before the horse by trying to fill Bucket B before having enough money in Bucket A to actually run an event.
On the plus side, we have a unique and proven charitable platform and a nearly unbelievable record for the ability to quickly and relatively inexpensively generate global publicity, good will, and money for those that partner with us. And at the end of the day our big predicament revolves around money, a universal problem that with enough hard work and ingenuity can be overcome. So it could be worse.
That said, I’m open to suggestions…
Life’s not a race, but if it were, it would be a series of different types of races. Some days would be all-out drag races, others would be like NASCAR, going round and round and round and round (and lots of contact and crashing), but overall, it would be an endurance race. After all, to finish first, we must first finish.
Rally Team for Dreams has some big dreams of their own and it’s clear they’re not giving up on them.
- Does this give you any ideas?
- How do you approach sponsorship?