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Beaver Falls, PA 15010

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Contact: Mark Bergfelt, Executive Director

mark@bergfeltracing.com

724-462-7440

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This article appeared in the Summer 2009 American Muscle Kart, Volume 2 Number 2. It discusses how racers can unwittingly offend sponsors.

Are We Our Own Worst Enemy
Mark Bergfelt, Executive Director of the Unlimited All-Stars

As some readers may know, my real job, you know, the one that pays my mortgage is that of a Technology Teacher.   That’s the politically correct title.  I prefer to just say that I’m a shop teacher.  I’m writing this about a week after giving my students their final exam.  When handing in his finished exam one of my students commented, “Wow, I expected that to be pretty hard but it actually was pretty easy.”  Well, did you study?” I replied.  “Well, usually I don’t, but I really wanted to pass this class, and I was not too sure of how I was doing, so I decided to study this time.  I don’t usually do that.” said the student.  “So was taking the time to study worth it?” I asked.  “I guess it was.” said the student.


If you spend any time with the student that I just wrote about, you would probably be impressed with how well he speaks and explains his ideas.  He’s a pretty intelligent kid but his grades would indicate that he’s slightly below average.  Somewhere along the line he got the impression that he was not worthy of high achievement and he figured that he was not all that smart because he did not ace all of his tests and assignments like some other kids.  He just came to the wrong conclusion that he just must not be as smart.  So he put himself down, and thought less of his own ability. For some reason it never dawned on him that the kids doing better than he were just doing things differently. After spending some time with him, I’ve come to realize that he, like so many others, is his own worst enemy.  He was not doing much to help himself and even worse, many of his actions were more harmful to himself than anything anyone else could do to him.


Far too often UAS racers are their own worst enemy too.  If you read the chatter on the internet forums, and do a lot of bench racing, it is often mentioned that “what we need are more sponsors”.  I agree that that would be really nice and would make a lot of improvements to our activities possible.  There are a lot of people working diligently behind the scenes to try to do that but the task is far from easy.  One of the reasons that it is so difficult, is that for every step we take forward, some racer will make a thoughtless comment in public at the race track, or even worse on an internet forum, that highly offends a sponsor that we found, only to offend that sponsor causing the sponsor to say the heck with that UAS and pull his sponsorship.  Sometimes those comments are meant as a joke, or are just an innocent thoughtless comment but sometimes they are out of spite.  Regardless the result is the same.  The sponsor goes away and other potential sponsors get wind of it and stay away as well.


By nature, UAS racers are typically independent people who take pride in their ingenuity and ability to take care of themselves.  We also tend to be a bit on the stubborn side and as a group are pretty outspoken.  What would you expect from a group of people who get their kicks from sliding around dirt tracks in tiny unguarded machines that are way overpowered and just inches away from some other guy doing the same thing?  All the while we are trying to out do the other guy.  As a group, we are not the kind of people who take kindly to being told what to do nor do we rarely pass up the opportunity to defend ourselves when someone offends us.  Too often in the passion of those exchanges we get stupid.  We say things that that make ourselves look silly, spiteful, vulgar, selfish, narcissistic, arrogant and just plain ignorant.  What some don’t realize is that when they act that way they really say more about themselves than the person that they are trying to “straighten out”.  Sometimes in those exchanges the product of a sponsor or potential sponsor comes up and a comment is made that infers or directly states that something is wrong with that product or service.   The result is that the sponsor is offended and no longer supports the UAS.  We all lose.


The title of one of my past articles was “We’re All in This Together”.  Like it or not, each UAS racer represents the entire group to fans and the general public.  When one of us looks bad it can make all of us look bad.  While I’m a staunch believer and supporter of free speech, I also promote the idea that with that and any freedom is responsibility for using it with wisely.  We are accountable for what we say and write.  With that in mind, please consider the consequences that may result when you are about to comment about a sponsor or sponsors product in a public forum.  More often than not that witty  comment that you think is the cool thing to say could be just the comment that sends the sponsors running away and just because your experiences with a product where not what you wanted, there may be many others who really like that same product.   Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.


Many UAS racers have received the benefits of the contributions of our generous advertising partners over the years.  It goes a long way when racers contact that sponsor to express gratitude and publically thank those people for their support.  Keep in mind that the main reason that businesses offer their support is to bring positive attention to their product or services resulting in sales and a boost to their bottom line.  If they don’t get that or even worse lose sales, they simply won’t want to be involved with supporting the UAS.


The Unlimited All-Stars is a great show to see and it can be a great place for businesses to promote what they do.   We all would like to see more advertising partners take advantage of that opportunity and those who are actively pursuing those people sometimes  get frustrated in that effort but I still believe that we can succeed in that endeavor.  Maybe we are our own worst enemy.  Maybe we all just have to do things a little differently that we used to.