Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
Think about that for a second. List out the times you have been handed something that truly changed your life. Odds are you’re here and you’re reading this because you are in the position we were five years ago. You feel like you’re one break away from proving to the racing community that you’re among the best in the world when the green flag drops or when the amber light flashes.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and start from the beginning by setting the record straight: we didn’t end up behind the wheel of a 4,500 horsepower, 270 MPH nitro-burning rocket because we had deep pockets and a bunch of racing connections. We got to where we are today because we took a chance on ourselves and we worked our asses off.
For all intensive purposes, our racing careers were in a pretty good shape in 2012, relatively speaking, given the fact we were each late bloomers in terms of getting involved in motorsports (neither of us started racing until after high school). At this point in time, we had won 16 National Events and 2 World Championships working on Mark Thomas’s IHRA Alcohol Funny Car. We had recently made our first foray into the world of NHRA Top Fuel drag racing with Pat Dakin, and we were also campaigning a Super Comp dragster of our own as time allowed on a tight budget. All-in-all, we were actively involved with the sport that we loved, but we weren’t progressing in terms of getting MBR to the highest levels of the sport.
Like almost every other kid who falls in love with drag racing, we dream of competing against Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, and the other elite drivers at the pinnacle of the drag racing world. The best of the best in the fastest racecars on the planet. The reality of that situation, though, is that it takes a very, very unique situation to get to that level of racing, and more importantly, an annual sum of money that weeds out nearly every racer before they have a chance to even make it to the starting line. But, every journey has an opening chapter, and ours started with an empty bank account.
This leads us to our first piece of advice: grit, desire, and discipline are free, and the only equipment you need to start just about any endeavor you’ll set out to do.
It was early November and we had just wrapped up our first season as crew members with Pat Dakin when Corey came across an advertisement for a sponsorship contest while reading a drag racing message board. We knew we had a story to tell and a passion for where we were going as a racing team that would radiate through the screen if we had a platform to publish it to. The Search for A Champion contest was our opportunity.
Prior to the contest, we aspired to one day have corporate partners, but we never knew where to begin. The world of chasing marketing partners is intimidating, it’s cut-throat, and there were situations where we internally made excuses for why it wasn’t the ideal time to pursue our initial partnerships. Creating the entry itself was the first time we were forced to sit down and really create a strategy for how we wanted to portray our racing team to an established brand such as Champion.
Once we got the ball rolling, we began to gain momentum and the entry process itself laid the groundwork for the way that we present ourselves to new partners to this day. We didn’t have a fancy setup (we used cardboard boxes for cue cards), but we knew we had a good story to tell and this was the nudge that we needed to step up and get recognized. To be frank, narrowing down our script to create a video that was under two minutes was a monster task, but it was crucial to our success. Along those lines, just like we spent night after night refining our script, we put just as much effort into the production value of our finished product. You don’t need to be a professional video producer, but you do need to put some effort into creating a quality video. This is your first impression to Champion and your level of commitment to the contest really shows in this area.
We had confidence from the way our entry turned out, but being that this was the inaugural year of the contest; we were also somewhat unsure how we would stack up against others since there was no precedent at this time. Over the course of the next few weeks, one thing became clear: this was more than a contest. It was a showcase of the best up-and-coming racing talent in the world, and each racer/team was bringing an army of supporters. It became immediately apparent that we had to find a way to separate ourselves from the rest of the field when the contest went live.
Our contest started the first Monday in January and our entry immediately created a sense of community between our team and our family, friends, and peers that supported us throughout the contest. Self-promotion was not something either of us were very familiar with, but we had to keep pushing to maintain relevance within the contest. One thing that you’ll learn very quickly is the voting process is a marathon. If you’re going to be a contender, you’re going to have to work for it every single day.
We had to be creative and resourceful to keep our supporters engaged and active throughout the contest. We were forced to step up our efforts and increase our digital presence across multiple platforms: MBR social, MBR.com, newspapers, and WFO.com internet podcast. We also created a promotion called “Trivia Tuesday.” Each Tuesday we would post a brief video that asked a Champion or racing related trivia question and post it on our MBR social channels. The winner of the trivia contest would receive a t-shirt, hat, decal, etc. This proved to be an inexpensive, but effective way of keeping our base interested in helping support us.
It was very humbling to make it to the final round; there was A LOT of very good competition. Once we made it to that point, we knew we had to do anything in our power to try to close the deal; you never know how many opportunities like these will come around.
To say it was gratifying to get the phone call from Champion informing us we were the inaugural Search for A Champion Grand Prize winners would be an understatement. After our all-out-effort between the final round and the announcement of the contest winner, we knew we didn’t leave anything on the table and it was beyond awesome to be acknowledged by our family, friends, and peers as the contest winners. It is a great honor to be a part of #TeamChampion; we are among the best up-and-coming talent not only in drag racing, but all of motorsports. This is all still very surreal to us to this day.
It is safe to say the Search for A Champion contest exceeded our expectations, and has most definitely been a game changer for our racing careers. Without Champion’s support, we would not have been able to afford to make the move to the next level and compete in a 270+MPH A/fuel NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster. We are very fortunate to have been able to make an immediate impact in this class by initially partnering with an established team and producing two runner-up finishes and a NHRA National Event win at the Charlotte 4 Wide Nationals while only competing on a part-time basis.
never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.
So now we’re here today, on the cusp of our greatest racing challenge to date: fielding our own nitro-injected A/fuel dragster in fastest class of semi-professional racecars in the world. It’s essentially deja vu from 2012 where all we have is determination and confidence that if we want it, if we do the right things and we keep grinding and working every day, the results will take care of themselves.
The Search for A Champion contest continues to be the premiere way for teams to break into the next phase of their racing careers. Over the the last five editions, the bar has been set, raised, and raised again. As a competitor and someone who is looking to fulfill a dream, we challenge you to dig deeper than you ever have before and put your best foot forward for the 2016 version of the contest. There is no greater equal-opportunity available in all of grassroots racing, and if you don’t take a chance on yourself, why should anyone else?
We’ll leave you with some advice that we read a little while back that we still remind ourselves of every single day: never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.
Search for A Champion Contest and Sweepstakes. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Contest Entry Period starts on November 2, 2016 at 12:00:01 a.m. ET and ends on January 3, 2017 at 11:59:59 p.m. ET. Public Voting and Sweepstakes begins January 5, 2017 at 12:00:01 a.m. ET and ends March 23, 2017 at 11:59:59 p.m. ET. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). Parental consent/age verification required for contest entrants under 13. CONTEST PRIZES (72): One (1) “On the Track” Grand Prize: a sponsorship of $50,000 USD; One (1) “Off the Track” Grand Prize: a sponsorship of $5,000 USD; Ten (10) “On the Track First Prizes: a sponsorship of $5,000; Ten (10) “Off the Track” First Prizes: a sponsorship of $500 USD; Twenty-five (25) “On the Track” Finalist Prizes: a sponsorship of $1,000 USD; Twenty-five (25) “Off the Track” Finalist Prizes: a sponsorship of $100 USD. SWEEPSTAKES PRIZES (200): a Champion t-shirt and hat package ($15 USD each). Skill-testing question may be required. Odds of winning a sweepstakes prize depend on the number of eligible sweepstakes entries received. Void in Quebec and where prohibited. For complete Official Rules including details on how to enter, promotion dates, and prizes, click here. Sponsor: Federal-Mogul Motorparts Corporation, 27300 W 11 Mile Road, Southfield, Michigan 48034.