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I think there's a significant difference between somebody who does go out and
race, and the kind of lifestyle-ambassadorship Mme. Batty was harping on that
takes away from the ability to support grassroots and elite level racing. If
it's a mix of both, that's a lot more reasonable, but I think the best sort of
thing with that is having a supported grassroots racer who spends their time
giving back to the younger age groups in the same scene - to me that's the
kind of brand appeal I'd be searching for as a marketing manager for a brand
who wants to support that whole scene.
So: what's the worst case for asking a manufacturer, supplier, or local shop
to support a grassroots racer? Getting an answer that they don't have the
resources to support you right now. As long as a rider is willing to accept
that 'no' answer (and not be a dick about it), then pursue it. The level of
support may not be what you've dreamed, but business can be tough and it's
hard to demonstrate that the impact of just racing can bring them sales; but
if one isn't asking for the moon and willing to try some wider audience type
of stuff, sometimes it works great.
To the OP - ask and see what you get. In a lot of regards, the feedback from a
Cat 1 racer who knows the value and opportunity cost of the hardware they use
and run would actually be valuable if you can package it in a way that makes
sense - might have to invest some time in deliberate back-to-back run testing
and some writing for reviews/summaries/race diary type stuff to help make that
value package make sense.
Essentially, I think you could make a good value case for a sponsorship type
deal where a sweet deal on stuff is possible (probably in the near-cost bro-
deal range, not boxes of bling shipped sans questions side of things), but
figuring out ways to make that media friendly work. Probably won't have the
most success with big manufacturer support, but a local supplier, local shop,
or supplier of ancillary gear or other stuff might be excited to get your
feedback and have you as a value-added publicity conduit.
…and if not, you get to keep racing, keep progressing, and keep having fun.
That is still the beauty of grassroots racing, you're not beholden or reliant
on anybody else to go out and have fun, and don't have the pressure from
either of those things on your shoulder.
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