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Motorsports: Sponsorships, Heritage and Riches

The history of motorsport dates back to 1880, but it has come a long way since town-to-town racing and newspaper sponsorships try to get people interested. Read all about the latest sponsorship deals, automobile racing history and the riches of modern drivers here.

Motorsports car

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 29 July 2021 5:20 AM GMT

The biggest motorsport sponsors

Motorsport attracts some of the biggest companies around the world to sponsor full seasons, single events and motorsport teams (e.g. Red Bull). A space on a trackside board can be high-value real estate for businesses wanting to push their brand to a massive sports audience.

Some of the standard motorsport sponsors are from luxury brands, technology, gaming and finance, such as Rolex, cloud provider SAP, online casino company PartyCasino and the new Grand Prix sponsor crypto.com in a deal worth around $100 million. Deals worth these figures are not uncommon at the pinnacle of motorsport racing.

The rich heritage of motorsport

Naturally, each type of motorsport has its own unique and rich history of how it began and became a global sport. But motor racing, on the whole, started in the late 19th century tying in with the invention of petrol internal combustion engines.

The first known motor race was, in fact, used as a reliability test to ensure the automobiles used were fit for purpose. It was a race in France from Paris to a town around 80 kilometres away, namely Rouen. The winning driver of this race drove at an average speed of approximately 24 kph.

A more organised form of motor racing began many years later in Chicago, USA. The race was again between two towns, and local newspapers sponsored them to help generate interest in the new event.

This was copy and pasted across the Atlantic in Europe and further afield. However, racing between towns was soon stopped due to deaths and the risk of injury to spectators and farm animals. That's when a proposal was made to create dedicated tracks for racing.

How much are motorsport drivers paid?

With so much money in motorsports - mostly from big-name sponsors - it is unsurprising that the drivers get paid a big wad of cash for their work. Every time one of these athletes gets onto the track, they're participating in a dangerous sport and putting their life at risk – and they have to train hard. Therefore, most people will not begrudge them a big paycheck.

The amount that motorsport drivers are paid depends on the niche of the motorsport and usually how they perform. For example, F1's Lewis Hamilton earned $30 million in one year, whereas Marc Marquez of equal standing in MotoGP reportedly makes less than half of this.

These figures are before sponsorship deals the riders have themselves with various big-name brands. These sponsorships are part of their brand and usually push their earnings up a few million each year. The more famous and successful the rider, the more the sponsor is willing to pay.

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