Jobs in motorsport management are varied. In many ways more so than in motorsport engineering. Motorsport is a multi-billion-dollar business and like any other global sport there is a hell of a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep all the wheels in motion! From sponsorship to law, media to logistics, the opportunities available at the business end of motorsport are numerous.
Over the last three years, the National Motorsport Academy has made its name in motorsport engineering education. 2021 will make the start of something new. With the launch of the new NMA Business School we’re looking at the jobs available in motorsport management. So, if you‘re a motorsport fan and have gone down the commercial route into a more business focussed role, this one’s for you.
Managing a business as complex and multi-faceted as motorsport is no easy task. Whether you’re looking to work with a team, at a track, directly for a racing series or for one of the governing bodies, you’ll need to be at the top of your game! As we always warn people – competition is fierce for any job in motorsport so your training and experience will count when it comes to getting one of these coveted jobs in the industry.
To truly understand the commercial side of motorsport, you need to go back in time. Our new Business of Motorsport MA takes you back to the beginning and explores how the governance and management of the sport has evolved. Motorsport has always been one of the most expensive sports in which to participate and with huge amounts of money comes huge amounts of paperwork, legal obligations and administrative challenges. This only increases in complexity as time goes on and rules get tighter.
Being at the business end of motorsport requires a head for figures, sharp negotiating skills, an in-depth knowledge of the rules and regulations, an understanding of media and marketing and tireless desire to win – both on and off the track, personally and professionally.
Here are just some of the motorsport management careers available….
Money makes the world of motorsport go round – literally! No other sport requires this level of research and development. No other sport necessitates moving millions of dollars’ worth of vehicles, equipment and people around the world 23 (in 2021!) times in a season, not including testing.
Earlier this year, Planet F1 did a rough tot-up of the costs of an average season in Formula 1 and estimated that a team budget would be between $200- $300 million per year. Let’s just split the difference and assume each team spends $250million – that’s $2.5billion in small change, without even considering how much it costs to run the series itself. How do the teams afford to develop and compete? As much as there is a pot of prize money (you can read more about the financials of F1 here) and some seriously deep pockets behind many of the teams, sponsorship is key to paying the bills in any form of motorsport.
Anyone who has ever had any exposure to competing in motorsport will know that sponsorship is key to having a successful season. Even when you’re starting out, sponsorship can make the difference between having the luxury of a new set of tyres, or the even the money to race a full season. Even the UK’s most affordable endurance series, the C1 Racing Club, costs around £15-£20,000 a year if you’re competing in four rounds a season. Gaining sponsorship at any level takes some specialist skills!
There have been many a book and blog written about the key to successfully gaining sponsorship in motorsport and it’s something that we’ve covered in the past. In motorsport management it takes more than an interesting back story, local support or a cheeky grin to help secure the kind of money it takes to compete internationally. You’ll need to be able to target and acquire meetings with the right kinds of companies. You’ll need to be able to sell the benefits, negotiate the terms, and sort out the legalities. You’ll then need to be accountable to the sponsor for proving their return on investment to keep them on board for future seasons. Let’s face it – no one likes to waste money! It’s a hard slog and many a door will shut in your face, but there are many perks too. Chances are you’ll be working with purveyors of luxury goods, motorsport suppliers, big name brands and media outlets – there’s some kudos in the world of sponsorship. But it isn’t for everyone.
A Career in Motorsport Sponsorship Management is Most Suited to….
Those happiest in a detail orientated sales and negotiation environment.
Our MA Business of Motorsport covers Sponsorship Models in Elite Motorsport & the Role of the Media in Module 4. This is also available as a standalone CPD Masterclass.
Without the media, motorsports would just be a load of people mucking around on a racetrack with no one outside of the track caring who won, lost or crashed out. Let’s be clear – we’re talking about the motorsport management side of the media, not getting a job as a cameraman, reporter, photographer or any of the other ‘glamourous’ roles in the thick of the action. We’re talking about negotiating rights, organising coverage, press liaison – anything which helps spectators and fans to access the action from the comfort of their sofa! Motorsport media jobs can involve working on either side of the fence – for a racing series, team or broadcaster/publication/website.
Jobs in motorsport media are closely related to the marketing function these days. Roles such as Press Officer often report to the Media & Communications chain of command within motorsport, yet many PR roles are outsourced to specialist agencies. Most fans now go to social media or the internet at least to get the latest motorsport news. This has meant the skillset required to succeed in motorsport media management has changed considerably.
The best routes into a career in motorsport media are:
Starting with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Broadcasting, Business & Journalism and obviously Media Studies. Then back these up with as much personal development as possible such as CPD, your own blogs, videos and perhaps a postgraduate qualification.
Making sure you keep up to date with anything and everything motorsport related – not just F1! There are tons of F1 fans out there but taking an interest in grassroots, overseas and less obvious motorsports will prove your diversity and true interest in motorsport media.
Stay up to date with all the latest broadcasting and marketing trends. Put together your own blog/vlog/IGTV channel. Motorsport media functions are active roles, not passive. Get actively involved, don’t be a bystander.
Marketing is one of the main functions of any commercial business. If you’re looking to get into motorsport management in a marketing function, you’ll need a good grounding in all contemporary digital marketing methods as well as a keen interest in motorsport, verging on an obsession!
Marketing is all about connecting with an audience. In motorsport, without an audience, there’s just no point in playing. Despite 2020 being a spectatorless season, any motorsport series worth its salt has put out more social media content than ever before, giving the armchair fans access to more personal trackside coverage. The same goes for the drivers – they’ve realised the driving force fans play in keeping motorsport interesting, whether they can attend the races or not.
Motorsport businesses are household brands. Whether that’s a team, manufacturer or racing series and breaking into motorsport marketing isn’t always easy. You’ll need to demonstrate an excellent understanding of the culture of motorsport as well as an ability to talk-the-talk. You’ll be the protector of the brand’s reputation (which often will be older than you are!) and be expected to uphold their values in all communications.
Outside of digital marketing functions, content marketing is huge in motorsport. Motorsport coverage is still big in print format as well as online. Thousands of column inches are dedicated to motorsport in both dedicated publications and well as the national media and this means that there are ample opportunities for motorsport-mad copy-writers out there.
You’ll need a good level of technical understanding as well as good researching skills. Many websites and publications will accept editorial from freelance writers if the content is good so putting together some exceptional examples of your work will stand you in good stead when you come to pitch articles and ideas.
We’ll be covering the jobs available in motorsport management from a more operational perspective. We’ll be covering motorsport careers in governance, law and finance.