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Exploring the Different Types of Sponsorship in Motorsport 

by | February 6, 2024

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Before you dive in, if you are interested in motorsport sponsorship, check out these titles in our “sponsorship for motorsport” series:

With the worldwide motorsport market valued at $5.11 billion in 2022 and projected to reach $7.47 billion in 2028, sponsorships in this arena have grown exponentially. 

Which type of sponsorship is best for your motorsport league or organization? That’s the question I’ll help you answer today.

This guide will take a deep dive into the types of sponsorship in motorsport, with tips and pointers for selecting the right kind for your organization or team’s needs. 

Motorsport Sponsorship Type: Cash 

What Is It?

Cash sponsorship, sometimes referred to as financial sponsorship, is by far the most popular type of sponsorship relationship. 

As the name suggests, a cash sponsor gives you money. It’s often in the form of a check your motorsports organization can cash and use as you see fit. You will discuss how much you need from the sponsor and what you will use it for. 

Sponsors do not hand out fistfuls of cash because they feel like it. No matter how cool your motorsport organization is or how many attendees come to your races or watch on TV, a sponsor will never give you cash for the heck of it.

A sponsor wants marketing outcomes. You’ll deliver assets and activations, and based on the value of those and your audience, receive a certain sum toward your motorsport organization. 

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How It Benefits Your Motorsport Organization

Cash opens a lot of doors, especially for motorsport organizations, teams, or racers that don’t have a lot of it to spare.

Racers can use the money to pay for vehicle repairs, reskin the vehicle, and update racing attire. Motorsport organizations can use the cash to host races in more cities and towns, create new merch, and otherwise expand. 


You have a discovery meeting with a sponsorship prospect to determine whether they lack audience engagement. They have a sizable audience, but they don’t get enough website visits or interactions on social media.

They seek your motorsport organization to build engagement. You create an interactive exhibit before your race where attendees can learn about the sponsor’s product or service through hands-on touchpoints.

Based on your valuation, where you compared your assets against market value, you deduce your sponsorship property is worth $35,000. Your sponsor agrees to a sum of $45,000 based on your covetable audience and delivers the money. 

Measuring Success

You can use many KPIs to determine if a cash sponsorship is successful, including the following:

  • Tickets sold: The number of tickets your race sells isn’t always indicative of how many butts will be in seats, but this number should go up, nevertheless. 
  • Attendance rate: Here is a metric that should be positively influenced by working with a cash sponsor. More people should clamber to see your races when they come into town. 
  • Television viewers: Expanding your operations into new markets should attract more television viewers to your motorsport organization. 
  • Food/beverages sold: If more people attend your races, the rate of concessions sold at your events should increase in kind. 
  • Merch sold: That also applies to the rate of merch sold. Don’t only calculate what you sell at your races but through your website. 

Motorsport Sponsorship Type: Promotions

What Is It?

The next type of motorsport sponsor is a promotional sponsor. As the name suggests, a company agrees to promote your motorsport organization. 

A promotional sponsor offers cash in some scenarios, or they might agree to pay for advertising, such as for a race or your entire motorsport league or organization. 

How It Benefits Your Motorsport Organization

Working with a promotional sponsor can spread your motorsport organization or league to the masses. 

New leagues especially can benefit from a promotional sponsorship. When a company advertises on your behalf or promotes you in another fashion, people will become curious about your league.

They’ll visit your website, look at your social media, and perhaps they’ll buy tickets to a race or watch you on television. This will increase your league’s capital so you can augment the promotional sponsor’s efforts with your own marketing and advertising campaigns, further expanding your reach. 

Racers can also widely benefit from a promotional sponsor. It’s very difficult to break into racing. Sponsors can help you get seen, but no one wants to take a chance on a virtual unknown, which creates a Catch-22 scenario. 

A promotional sponsor’s backing is like an endorsement. Sponsors might be incentivized to give you a second look and consider partnering with you. 


A promotional sponsor agrees to run a six-week advertising campaign promoting your motorsport organization, complete with a local billboard, 10 radio ads, five television ads, and a spotlight on the company’s website. 

In exchange, you would help the company with one of the challenges gleaned during the discovery session. You can’t do a promotions-for-promotions trade at this stage in your motorsport organization. 

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Measuring Success

The same metrics for measuring cash sponsorship success apply to promotional sponsors. You might also focus more closely on these KPIs: 

  • Email open rate: Once your name goes up in lights, in a matter of speaking, those who join your email open list should more readily open your emails, whether you have updates, ticket discounts, or specials. 
  • Email click-through rate: Your email subscribers should also click the links in the emails you send, represented by the click-through rate. 
  • Website traffic: How much traffic did your website get before, during, and after the advertising campaign? You should notice a steady influx of traffic that will naturally drop off the further you get from the ad campaign. 
  • Email list growth: The subscribers to your email list should increase through working with a promotional sponsor. However, this is dependent on your website using lead magnets and opt-ins to capture lead information. 
  • Net Promotor Score: A Net Promotor Score is a scale businesses use to determine customer loyalty. Ask your audience how likely they are to recommend you on a rate of zero to 10. Those who answer 0 through 6 are detractors who actively hurt your motorsport organization with their negative opinions. Customers who are 7s or 8s are neutrals. They could swing either way. Those with a score of 9 and 10 are supporters. These are loyal customers who feel passionately about your motorsport organization. The more supporters you have, the better. 
  • Customer lifetime value: Customer lifetime value or CLV determines the projected spending over a customer’s lifetime. Calculate it by multiplying the average customer lifespan by the customer value. 

Motorsport Sponsorship Type: Media

What Is It?

You can also pursue media sponsors for your motorsport organization. Media and promotional sponsors may seem similar, but there’s a key distinction between them. Promotional sponsors are companies, whereas a media sponsor is a media station or organization.

As such, they can provide all the advantages of working with a media organization. For example, they can get and ad about your race on the radio or television, run print ads for your organization, and even feature you on television news.

However, as has been the case this entire time, many sponsors do not do this without expecting something in return. Even media companies struggle, and if you can connect them to your audience, you have the potential for a successful working relationship.

How It Benefits Your Motorsport Organization

Many of the same benefits of working with a promotional sponsor become apparent with a media partner. If your motorsport league was a relative unknown before, you should find that will change rather quickly. 

As more companies become aware of your motorsport league, they might want to work with you. Similarly, motorsport racers might discover it’s easier to find partners and begin growing their careers.


A media partner has recently moved into your market and seeks to grow its audience. You agree to promote the media organization at your next race in exchange for a feature on the nightly news.

Measuring Success

Here are some more metrics to add to your list when determining the value of a media sponsorship:

  • Social media followers by platform: As your race organization’s stock rises, you should see the number of social media followers attached to your accounts increase. Continue posting engaging content to maintain and grow these numbers further.
  • Likes per post: Is your audience engaging with you? How many likes do you get per post? This number should increase after working with the media sponsor.
  • Comments per post: Likewise, you should anticipate an increase in comments per post. Respond to as many comments as possible to connect with your audience.
  • Shares per post: Shares are a measure of success, as your content has a greater chance of going viral if it’s widely shared.
  • Social media mentions: You must track your social media mentions to see who’s talking about you and in what context. You will go from being a virtual unknown to a major player in motorsport through a media sponsor.

Motorsport Sponsorship Type: In-Kind

What Is It?

The fourth type of motorsport sponsor is an in-kind or contra sponsor. An in-kind sponsor does not specialize in money or promotions. Instead, you will receive gifts. 

The nature of the items varies but should be equivalent to what you’d receive from a cash sponsor, or thereabouts. 

Of the four types, in-kind sponsorship is my least favorite because it can be the lowest value. For example, $20,000 worth of branded pens or T-shirts will never benefit an organization as much as $20,000 in cash.

Many contra sponsorships are focused on brand recognition. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll recall that brand recognition is a low-value incentive many businesses don’t focus on. Your motorsport organization needs more than brand recognition too, I’d reckon. 

That doesn’t mean you should eschew in-kind sponsorship altogether. You should use it sparingly and in conjunction with the other types of sponsorships we’ve examined. 

How It Benefits Your Motorsport Organization

In-kind sponsorship can benefit you in some regards. You can save money printing prizes or goods to hand out promotionally. 


You’ve valued and determined your motorsport organization’s sponsorship property is worth $20,000. An in-kind sponsor agrees to give you $5,000 worth of gifts (you’ll work with other sponsors to make up the amount you need). You will help them with one of their obstacles through high-quality, customized assets and activations. 

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Measuring Success

The KPIs we’ve examined throughout this guide apply to in-kind sponsorship analysis. I beg you to be even more stringent about results than usual, allowing little leeway. Contra sponsorship doesn’t always pay back the highest dividends, so if the arrangement isn’t working for you, you might want to pivot to a media or cash sponsor. 

Motorsport Sponsorship Starts with the Right Foundation

It doesn’t matter whether you decide promotional, cash, or in-kind sponsors best suit your motorsport organization or league. You must approach all potential sponsorships the same way, beginning with reviewing race attendance data to extrapolate audience segments, and then prospecting.

From there, you should have a discovery session, propose custom assets and activations, and begin negotiations.

Do you need help finding sponsorship partners for your motorsport organization? Have you failed to get your sponsorship aspirations off the ground? Set up a call with me to discuss your sponsorship needs.