Need Sponsors? This SCCA Partner Helps Drivers and Regions Find Them

Life’s rough when the fender on your competition car is as empty as your bank account. You want to compete in as many of the 2,000 events the Sports Car Club of America® hosts each year, but your wallet rudely says that ain’t gonna happen. What you need is a sponsor – or sponsors – to further your motorsports dreams, but you don’t know the first thing about finding potential sponsors, pitching the right person, and then closing the deal. It turns out, SCCA Spec Miata racer turned pro racing hot shoe Mason Filippi had this exact same problem – and his solution for what he calls “micro sponsorships” can be your solution, too.

“When I was 14 and racing in SCCA, I used to try to hunt for sponsors, and I’d go to local coffee shops around Laguna Seca or I would be at Auto Club Speedway and going to a U.S. Majors Tour race and go into a taco shop to try to raise money,” Filippi says. “Then I’d get stopped when they’d say, ‘How do I pay you?’ I’m like, do you have cash? Can you write me a check? Sometimes I’d be reimbursing my dad. It became a very unprofessional manner of collecting those micro sponsorships.”

Filippi had the same issue while fundraising from relatives who wanted to see him succeed in racing. Consistently, the problem was processing payments.

“When I got to the pro level, I was like, why not start a company that helps people with that aspect?” Filippi explains. “That’s where OpenFender came from. ‘OpenFender’ stands for the fender that’s ‘open’ that you’re trying to sell.”

OpenFender is also an SCCA partner.

“OpenFender is a fundraising and sponsorship platform for motorsports,” Filippi says. “We help put the fan, the sponsor, the driver and, in the case of the SCCA, the Regions in one place – you have a micro site where you can place all of your social media and collect sponsorship money. It’s like having an online driver resume, but people can also find you and sponsors can hunt for you.”

OpenFender also minimizes time setting up a website that will help fund racing ambitions.

“I tried to make the easiest platform that drivers can use, spending the least amount of their time on the computer,” he adds. “But at the same time, the site allows them to fundraise, sell their sponsorships, and have an online racing fundraising website that doesn’t cost them anything.”

Filippi Did, And You Can Too

Setting up an OpenFender account is simple and – best of all – free. You begin by creating a profile where you can include anything from a bio to social media links and images, and then dive into the fundraising portion of the site.

“I would say people should set up an open sponsorship campaign for anything like $25 and up,” Filippi advises of the first thing to do when creating an OpenFender account. The next step, he says, is pushing the link to your OpenFender profile through social media and email. You can also print up cards to hand out at local shops when hunting for sponsorships. When people are interested, they click the link and purchase the level of sponsorship you’re offering.

“OpenFender uses Stripe for the payments, which does everything you need to track payments and offers tax info for the sponsoring companies,” says Filippi.

Some success stories include Gage Korn, who Filippi notes raised $13,500 in just two and a half weeks to go to the international karting race in Italy. “He said the best part was sponsors could pay with a credit card or Apple Pay, and it took them 15 seconds as opposed to having to find a checkbook or going to accounting,” Filippi says. “He was able to sell so many micro sponsorships doing that.”

Another racer, Justin Dittrich, had a goal of racing in every state, so he used OpenFender to cover travel expenses. “As creative and as much effort as drivers put in is how much they can get out of it,” Filippi adds.

Giving Back

OpenFender covers its costs by taking a percentage of the money raised through sponsorship campaigns on the website. The portion it takes covers credit card transaction fees and overhead for operating the company. OpenFender uses much of the remaining money to sponsor drivers.

“For every $15,000 we raise on the platform, we take $1,000 of that and sponsor a driver,” says Filippi. “It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’re racing, all they have to do is follow the rules. And the rules are, we teach them how to be a better representation of a brand via the website and our email campaigns – if they follow the criteria, we sponsor the best one with $1,000 that month.”

Filippi also uses OpenFender to attract big sponsors. “We brought on Alpinestars before SuperNats, and they made a suit for a kid that was going to Vegas with a basic suit,” he says. “After that, we brought on Winding Road Racing and gave away a Bell helmet. We leverage having all of the drivers on one platform to bring in bigger sponsors.”

SCCA Regions and Volunteers Can Benefit, Too

Motorsports fundraising possibilities are fairly limitless on OpenFender. Proving that point, Filippi has built OpenFender pages for all of SCCA’s Regions, offering the Regions another avenue for fundraising.

“We’ve made a page for all SCCA Regions, so Regions can use this to fundraise for their volunteers,” Filippi says. “We wrote bios pulling info from all of the Region websites, and we’ve tried to build basic templates. I sent the Region leaders emails on how to do it – and they can change anything they want to in their OpenFender profile.”

Down the Road

What you see with OpenFender isn’t what it will always be. “We’ve got some cool features we’re looking to build into the platform,” Filippi says. “We’re looking to host video, allow for customization on driver profiles, and more. Right now it’s one big template, but we’re going to make it so you can change the colors, upload a logo, and more.”

Merchandise store integration is also on the horizon, as is expanding beyond drivers.

“We’re building another site for everyone who’s not a driver, so if you’re a driver looking for a photographer, you can look for them on there,” Filippi says. “Or if you’re a photographer, you can find drivers. Or mechanics – there’s nowhere for them to advertise their experience right now.”

That’s the future. Today, OpenFender is an excellent tool that opens up a world of possibilities. Regardless of where you are in your motorsports journey, sponsorship – be it from a company or grandma – is always welcome. And for SCCA Regions, donations for volunteers can never be too plentiful.

OpenFender won’t solve all of your funding needs, but it’s a fantastic – and free – tool that can help you achieve your dreams.

Find out more about OpenFender by clicking here.

Photo by Arto Kazakov NOLA Motorsports Park