A couple of observations from the racing world that I think crossover to the business world. First of all much of the racing world has been hit hard by the troubled global economy, resulting in good drivers losing their rides. In some cases replace by drivers with less experience but great sponsorship. Two ago Tony Kanaan lost his ride when his main sponsor pulled their support. He spent the off season marketing himself to potential new sponsors until he had raised enough money to pay for half a car. His new support landed him a potential ride only to lose the ride when the owner’s sponsor walked away. Kanaan continued his quest and landed at KV Racing last season where he finished fifth in the championship.

Fast forward to 2011 F1 driver Rubens Barichello finds himself on a very poor performing Williams Race Team. By the end of the season his F1 future was in doubt as the team began to look for deep pockets to aid in the development of a new car. To fight for his ride Barichello raised a reported $5 million in sponsorship. But he still lost his ride at Williams. In steps Tony Kanaan, Barichello’s countryman and close friend. He offers him a chance to test the KV car at Sebring, withing minutes Barichello is running laps as fast as any Indycar driver.

Some business applications:
1) If you don’t want to be a cog in the machine, you should figure out ways to obtain sponsorship instead of a regular job.
2) Sponsorship comes with performance.
3) Kanaan’s success and Barichello’s future success can be attributed to expertise as outlined in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers.
4) Learn from your past experience and seize opportunities when you find them.

Check out the links to some fun racing photos and a few stories.