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Growing up on a farm you’d think I would have some interest in cars or racing but it was never part of my life in any way. It wasn’t until one day around the age of 17 or 18 that I turned on the television and saw a Formula 1 car race. There was something about it that captivated me and drew me in.
I was lucky enough to attend the 2001 United States Grand Prix Formula 1 event and it was there, standing in the upper deck of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that I looked down at the cars screaming by and decided it would be a heck of a lot more fun to be down in the cars driving, rather than up in the stands watching. I guess you could say it was that, coupled with the fact everyone told me it would be impossible for a farm kid from Canada to ever get the chance to do it, which really drove me forward.
I did some research and found that most drivers began a racing career by driving go-karts. So I started my career by racing a 5.5 Honda powered kart in the Manitoba Karting Association. I advanced into a 125cc Rotax Max kart the following season and was again able to have some success on the track. That fall I attended a racing school in Quebec and a few weeks later was off for a test session with a professional racing team.
It was at this test session where my eyes were opened to what the world of professional auto racing was really all about. It was here where I learnt that racing was a sport unlike any other, it was not like hockey, football or baseball where, yes there is money and politics in those sports too, but if you have talent as an athlete you are at least going to get a shot to succeed. In auto racing, you can literally be the fastest race car driver in the world but if you do not have the financial ability to pay the hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars necessary to advance through the levels, you will go absolutely no where.
At this point I had two options; either go home to cry and complain that life was unfair because I had some driving talent but no financial ability to pay the money necessary... or, go out, pull up my socks and try to do something about it. I guess being a bit of a competitive guy, or maybe young and naive, I didn’t want to throw in the towel so I went for it.
I reorganized my life, dropped my football season tickets, stopped golfing (I used to LOVE golf), stopped going out with friends, or anything else that would take money, and decided to put every last dime I had into my racing career in an attempt to get it up off the ground. I also pushed forward in completing my Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) Degree with a major in Marketing.
Volkswagen presented a unique opportunity where they were looking for the top 30 young race car drivers from across North America to compete in a new championship, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. I was selected to this group and although it was not a free ride, at least it helped build the ground floor of what I was doing on the business side of racing.
By this point I knew that success on the track amounted to very little so instead of risking everything on the track, I turned my focus to things off of the race circuit in an attempt to build my business. Fortunately for me, Volkswagen had created a Media Contest where the aim was to find which driver could do the best job promoting Volkswagen. We had to track all of our media attention including, television, radio, print, online, public appearances, etc. At the end of the season I was able to generate over two times the amount of publicity for Volkswagen when compared to any other driver in the championship. Thankfully I was able to win this contest during both seasons that I competed with Volkswagen and this was instrumental on the business side of racing. It proved the concept for me when meeting with potential corporate partners and that by associating their brand with me, I could provide a corporate partner with a unique way to get their brand or product out there in a way that was less expensive than traditional advertising.
After transitioning back to single-seater race cars, both Renault 2.0 and Formula 3, and doing some driving in Italy for a season, I decided to re-evaluate my process of putting together the funds I needed to advance into the highest levels of racing.
It took around a year and half but I was able to put together a solid business plan that would allow qualified investors to buy shares in my Limited Partnership. It is a very humbling experience when other people invest their hard earned money into your venture and I take it as a great responsibility to be a good steward of their investment in me.
We used the initial investment capital to help propel us up into the upper echelons of motor racing and have spent the last few seasons racing on circuits through Europe. Having the opportunity to race in Monaco at the Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 race was definitely a huge highlight and I am extremely grateful to the VAST number of people who have helped turn this crazy dream into a reality, I am forever indebted to each of you.
I am excited to see what the future holds and look forward to continue the adventure of turning dreams into reality while doing the best job possible in returning value to all of my investors and corporate partners.
Thanks again to everyone and hope to see you at the track soon!
The history of Richert Racing in David's own words