Living the Dream One Sponsorship at a Time

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY LIVING
Race Car driver Brian Hudson, right, and his brother, Matt, left work hard at getting sponsors and pushing Matt’s racing career.

BY: Doug Buchanan
Brian “The Hornet” Hudson had a dream to be a race car driver. But every dream comes with a price. And in the world of dirt track racing, getting sponsors can be the difference between living a dream – or letting it go.

   You could say that dirt track racing is in the Hudson brothers’ blood. The boys remember going to the track every weekend watching their father race throughout their childhoods. But when Brian and Matt’s father died, his car went into the garage – possibly for good.

            But a few years ago, Matt and Brian rekindled a dream that had been dormant for years. Matt, the younger of the two brothers, had moved back to the north country after being gone for a few years. On a lark, he went to his dad’s old track, Can-Am Speedway.

    “Six years ago,” he explained, “I went to La Fargeville (Can-Am Speedway) by myself and watched the races. Then I brought my brother the next week.”

    The siblings discussed the possibility of getting into the dirt track racing circuit – and by the following season, Brian was on the track. He took his father’s old chassis and put a body on it, got an engine and some tires … and he was off to the races – complete with his dad’s number 621 painted on the side as a tribute.

But that was just the beginning. From racing fees to replacing motors to oil changes to tires, things can get expensive pretty quickly in the world of dirt track racing. And in most cases, local sponsors make all the difference.

“We’re very grateful to have my employer, Hilton Garden Inn, and Brian’s employer, FX Caprara, on the race car,” said Matt, who, along with his brother, appreciates every sponsorship the team gets.

    “I definitely wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing without all my sponsors,” said Brian. “They all play a part in getting me to the track every week.”

In some cases, sponsors give drivers money outright, which is how Brian, who runs in the Sportsmen class at area speedways, was able to replace his 350-cc motor going into the upcoming season. But in many cases, the barter system is in full effect; in return for signage on a driver’s vehicle, a sponsor will reciprocate with a product or service.

    “I have NAPA auto parts in Pulaski that do a trade with gear oil, oil filters and motor oil,” said Brian. “I have to change oil six to eight times a season, and that’s 50 bucks a pop. So the help is much appreciated.”

For businesses, providing sponsorships can increase name recognition, not to mention bringing in more customers.

    “The dirt track community is tight-knit,” explained Matt. “We say to support the people who support what we do.”

    A great example of this symbiotic relationship is the one the Hudsons maintain with Tunes 92.5 out of Watertown. In return for displaying the station’s logo on Brian’s car, the team gets a commercial spot that runs two to three times a day for the duration of the racing season, which is approximately six months. The ad gives the team a chance to publicly thank all of its sponsors and get word out about upcoming team events or races.

    “In terms of a direct return on investment, it’s not anything you can quantify,” says Tunes 92.5 General Manager Tim Sweeney. “We get a logo on the car. And we appreciate that. But it’s really more of – not my motto as much as the station’s – to always support anything positive happening in the north country.”

    In addition to Brian Hudson, Tunes 92.5 sponsors two other drivers: Frank Sibley, who drives the 92.5 car in the Legends class at Evans Mills, and Jordan McCreadie, who runs in the Modified division at Can-Am.

“The station supports just about any sport or team that we can,” says Sweeney. “Whether it’s the Watertown Wolves or the Red and Black, or the racetrack, we try to support as much as possible anyone who’s bringing something to New York.”

As for the Hudson boys, Brian is in the final stages of preparing for the upcoming season, when he will race regularly at Can-Am every Saturday night as well as participate in a dirt car series that will take the team from Canada to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Matt maintains a lively Facebook page at bhudmotorsports, where fans can see what the team is up and keep up with season standings and results. And, of course, thanking sponsors is always high on the Hudsons’ list of priorities.

For the Hudsons, the races begin on April 27 at Can-Am Speedway, but the race to get more sponsors is already in full swing.

“The more sponsors you have,” said Matt, “the better you’re gonna be.”