Rumblings, August 1971

•Sponsorship.—Motor racing depends very much on sponsorship these days, so we listened with interest to the views about it expressed by Mr. Brian Robinson, UK Regional Marketing Manager of Wiggins Teape’s NCR Paper Division, when he addressed some journalists and racing drivers at the imposing London headquarters of this Company the other evening, under the shadow of St. Paul’s.

Wiggins Teape sponsor the Malcolm Gartlan-prepared Chevrolet Camaro driven by Brian Muir in the RAC British Saloon Car Championship (described in Motor Sport last March) and had just concluded a competition relating to this sponsorship. The winner had to decide the order of importance to the sponsors of six aspects of this considerable financial backing of an American car driven by an Australian in British races. The judges, who consisted of BRSCC Secretary, Nick Syrett, M. J. Dixon of Castro!, B. Muir, Mr. Robinson, your Editor and (an elusive) Graham Hill, decided that the best solution was that sent in (on NCR carbonless copying paper, naturally) by Mr. P. R. Penn of New Malden, one of more than 2,000 entrants. He decided that Wiggins Teape had come into motor racing because:

“(1) NCR paper is given a progressive image as it is associated with a progressive sport, (2) Wiggins Teape make NCR paper which is advertised on the Camaro, (3) Wiggins Teape give their customers a day out at the races, (4) NCR paper multi-part forms moves faster in the office, Just as the Camaro moves faster on the track, (5) By having a competition, Wiggins Teape can have an insert printed on NCR paper and show the public how it works and, last, saloon car racing is a sport worth supporting”. Item 3 relates to WT having brought along over 2,000 people to motor races, two-thirds of whom were new to the sport.

So now you know! Sponsorship is a complex business, with many facets, but racing might not survive without it. Mr. Robinson had this to say on a subject which concerns many racing teams: “It is not merely a matter of putting a car on the track and sitting back and watching for results; in my view, and that of my company, the car was only a starting point and the exploitation of that basic sponsorship is most important. In so far as the car on the track is concerned the sponsors’ first concern is simply that the car will always look good and perform well. The NCR Paper Division has ventured into event sponsorship, with the Championship round in the Silverstone Martini programme, and will be repeating this at Brands Hatch on August 30th. ‘The NCR Paper chase’ introduced an innovation in that trophies were given to each of the four class winners, and certain liquid reward was made available to the winning team’s mechanics. Wiggins Teape are currently thinking very deeply about their degree of motor racing involvement next season and, although it was a little too early to make any definite announcement, it was felt that they would have something interesting to say before very long.”

In a final comment Mr. Robinson stressed that motor racing currently depended very heavily on sponsorship, and nothing could be worse for the sport than to have a sponsor come in for a season or two and then pull out in severe disillusion, wondering what they had got to show for their money: to the sponsor the result is largely measured in publicity and these results depend heavily on the communications media. In Wiggins Teape’s experience the motoring Press had given full value in recognition of the sponsor’s role.

“The big grey area still remains,” he said, “with the National Press, who seem even more reluctant than ‘Auntie BBC’ in wanting to name sponsors. This situation will have to change if the sponsors’ interest is going to be maintained, and there is currently some thought about establishing a club or league of sponsors, to ensure that reasonable recognition is given in the Press to the role that commercial organisations are playing in maintaining a very exciting spectator sport.”

Owners of NSU Wankel Spiders will be interested to learn that a reader, Mr. B. B. Billingham, is hoping to form a register of these cars of which he understands there are about 20 in this country. Mr. Billingham has easy access to spares and also a lot of information on running these cars. He can be contacted at 15 Angmering Way, Rustington, Sussex. (Tel. Rustington 6050.)

Page Tours have announced their most ambitious motor-racing trip yet. It is a five-day tour to America, including a visit to Watkins Glen for the US GP; full details are available from Page & Moy Ltd., 221-223 Belgrave Gate, Leicester, LE1 3HW.