Scammin' for Sponsors
By Susan Wade
was brought to Drag Racing Online's attention
that several pro-class NHRA drivers have been
approached by, and appear to have been defrauded
by, a less-than-forthcoming individual regarding
sponsorship. Several from the Pro Stock class,
at least two low-budget Funny Car teams, and
three Top Fuel operations have found out the
hard way that this person has misrepresented
himself, taken their money and so far failed
to deliver any services.
Securing sponsorship deals
is a long, often complicated process, but this
case certainly is not business as usual. We
contacted several victims, who asked not to
be identified. Besides the chagrin of getting
involved with a scam, they said they were reluctant
to interfere with any legal action that might
result from reporting their stories to law-enforcement
officials. Several have said they are not yet
convinced this person will not deliver. Several
also have expressed concern because of a confidentiality
agreement this agent persuaded them to sign.
Some teams will feel the financial hurt much
more than others, but it is no less critical
that these unethical and/or illegal practices
be punished because a few of the victims in
this case might not suffer terribly because
of their losses.
Here are the facts are we
The fuel may be nitromethane, but the life-blood of any professional or
top-sportsman racer is the money from sponsors.
Money buys parts to make the cars go faster. Money pays for travel to the exhausting schedule. Money covers hospitality for guests and keeps brand awareness at a peak. Sponsors and their money keep the NHRA moving into a place that makes it the second-most watched motorsport in America - second only to big brother NASCAR.
With all that money and the competitive nature of drivers and teams, it's not surprising that there are many people trying to get their parts of the pie -- even if it means lying to some honest folks and taking advantage of their dreams.
Enter Paul E. Blackford and Blackford Motorsports.
The approach, the racers we spoke with said, is the same: contact a team with
little or no funding, or someone who has no
title sponsor, tell them that there is a large
has been secured and is just waiting for a team
to be selected. Convince them to sign a non-disclosure
agreement so they won't say a word, and then
ask for a meager retainer - $1,500 up front
for expenses, $1,500 when a contract is signed,
and some other small expense charges in the
$1,500 to $2,500 range.
Get the money, and then tell them the deal is coming - drag them along, assuring them you're working it, milking them and making sure they don't talk to anyone about what is happening.
It has happened at least eight times in the 2003 NHRA season - for a total
of approximately $40,000 - and to some names
that might surprise you. Why do people fall
for a scam and how can they let it happen? Even
more so - why does it continue, what can be
done, and why doesn't the NHRA do anything to
stop it? Can the NHRA do anything to stop it?