You will never get rich rallying. Here’s the deal. Even if you grew up karting in Europe and somehow managed to score a ride with a manufacturer, the number of WRC seats available seems to get smaller every year. The vast majority of rallyists do it for fun. Cash prizes are the exception – not the rule – and they’re seldom enough to cover entry to the event where they were earned, let alone recoup all the costs in getting there.
We have a saying, “How do you make a small fortune in rally? Start with a large one.” For all but a small few, rally is a money pit. The big, independent names you see in rally – go ahead, think of a couple – made their fortunes elsewhere. Even the manufacturers at the top of the game spend more money on rally than they make from it. If rally was profitable, don’t you think Lancia, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Subaru would still be backing factory teams in the WRC?
So why do we do it, then? If rally is a money pit, why do we regular Joes keep doing it? Why do people like Ken Block do it? Simple. Because rally is fun. It brings us together with dozens of likeminded people who enjoy witnessing the spectacle of motorsport in the wild as much as they do making it possible in their own individual ways.
That said, my time in the sport leads me to believe rally might be a means to a decent living, if not from actually campaigning a car in any particular championship. There are professional service teams and performance shops involved at pretty much any rally you might attend. I’ve spoken with more than a couple of these people over the years – at rallies and right here on GBXM – and they all relate the same message: Provide a valuable product or service – and prove that value in the heat of rally competition. That’s the only real way to realizing the old adage, race on Sunday, sell on Monday. The trick, here, is having a business which is complemented by rally, rather than dependent upon rally.
That’s pretty much the rub with most forms of “playing with cars,” isn’t it? We tend to think, “I love doing this. How could I make a living doing it” When the first couple things coming to mind don’t seem to pan out, many people walk away. You will never get rich rallying, unless you find a way to adapt what you love about the sport into something closely related. Even then, there’s no guarantees.
What kinds of rally related business models can you think of?