There are numerous racing series available around the world to interest the racing driver whether they are just out of karting, a club racer or a gentleman driver. One racing series that is growing from strength to strength are the various Radical Cups that use race cars from Radical Sportscars. I spoke with Jonathan Scarallo, Team Manager of Group A Racing about their experience with racing in the North American Radical Cup so far, Formula 4 and building a framework to help a driver in sponsorship acquisition.
What is the background of Group A Racing?
Group A Racing was started by my dad primarily to support my older brother’s move into cars from karting. He had pretty much won everything at the national level and wanted to start in cars. Initially he ran with various teams, but my dad wanted more control and he wanted to do business his way which was based on integrity and being completely open and honest with customers. Once my driving career came to an end, I continued on running the team.
What series do you race in?
We have raced in the Lucas Oil Formula Series as part of our Driver Development program, the US Formula 4 series and the Radical Cup North America. We are the only team to have raced in every race event although not every season of the USF4 Championship and we are now a Radical Sports Cars dealership in addition to racing in the series.
Why do you provide a driver development program? Who is it aimed at?
Our Driver Development Program is aimed at young drivers with little to no experience in racing cars. It is important for me to take care of my customers and sometimes a young kid out of karts is just not ready to jump into something like F4. There are more cars on the track with a higher chance of being involved in a crash and the experience of the drivers on a track racing in a pack is often quite low, so it is important that the kid is ready to tackle that. Not only are the budgets higher in a series like F4 but the crash damage bills are as well. By participating in our Driver Development Program, a young driver gets individual coaching in a series that is perfect for the beginner. In addition to the on-track aspects of learning racecraft we also teach the kids about the business of racing which is just as important as the driving.
Tell us a bit about this off-track instruction.
Racing is expensive as we all know so unless a driver has billionaire parents, they need to understand the business of the sport. Motorsport is very different from stick and ball sports and it is up to the driver to find sponsorship so understanding that process is extremely important.
What a lot of drivers and their parents don’t understand is that sponsorship is more than just slapping a sticker on a car, it is about building a relationship with the sponsor. It’s a business not charity so you need to understand what kind of business the sponsor is in and then ask yourself questions like; What can you do for them? What does the business need? What possible B2B and B2C opportunities can you expose them to through your racing? Do they have offices, stores or branches in the locations where you race? Can you use the race as an incentive to the sponsor’s employees in that region and therefore do I need to up my game in hospitality at those tracks? How can we incorporate their needs into my racing activities that will help them increase their business and return on investment?
We don’t actually go out and get sponsorship for the driver, but we show them the foundations of how to get sponsorship, the various options and opportunities that they can make available to potential sponsors so that they can stand on their own two feet when acquiring sponsors. We also explain that it is a lot of work and that they need to hustle and be entrepreneurial.
Why should a driver consider the Radical Cup?
The Radical Cup is a great series for both gentleman drivers and young drivers as well. It is extremely well run and very professional, the hospitality they offer trackside is second to none and each race weekend offers a tremendous amount of seat time for a budget that is roughly the same as an F4 campaign. They race on a number of great tracks all over the US and they share some race weekends with F4 and Indycar and their Road to Indy program. And for young drivers, there is a growing number of younger drivers racing in the series because it offers an excellent springboard either to sportscar racing or other open wheel series further up the ladder. And for a young driver they can only benefit from being exposed to more experienced drivers who also often are business leaders. They will learn racecraft from them and the networking opportunities are tremendous. Not only that but there are an amazing number of opportunities to race these cars both at the national and club level, not to mention that there are Radical Cup series running around the world.
What kind of facilities do you have?
We are based in New York with workshops there and also run a facility at MSR Houston during the winter months. At the track we have a state-of-the-art transporter that was previously owned by Richard Petty Racing with a lot of advanced equipment not found in many paddocks such as a shock dyno and a chassis dyno. We offer extensive video coaching trackside with full debriefs utilizing iRacing while incorporating video footage from the drivers on track session along with a comprehensive data review. We also offer full hospitality services for the driver’s sponsors.
Why should a driver consider Group A Racing?
We offer excellent and extensive coaching as I mentioned but more importunately, we are firm believers in running our business with integrity. We care about our customers sometimes to the detriment of our bottom line but that’s how we like to do business. And we believe in being open and honest. I always say my best quality is my honesty and my worst quality is my honesty, but I know that by being upfront and honest I am doing what is right. When we quote the price to go racing with us, that is the price. There are no hidden charges or missing fees and that is why the people that race with us stay with us.
Anything further to add?
As a driver, keep your eyes open to any and all possibilities and opportunities. Do not rule out any series or opportunity to get behind the wheel. And run your racing like a business.
To find out more about Group A Racing you can check out their listing on Motorsport Prospects here. For more about the Radical Cup both in North America and globally you can check out the Radical Cup website here as well as the North American Radical Cup listing on Motorsport Prospects here.