United States Sports Academy |
Atte Varsta of Finland has been working for years as a drivers’ personal manager and team manager in rally and rallycross. He recently discussed issues related to working in the world of motorsports.
How professionalism has evolved in motorsport over the last few years: Motorsport in general has become more and more professional on every level. In order to gain success, you need to have the latest technology, best people and efficient practices. Many professionals have entered motorsport with a method of “learning by doing,” but competition is so fierce today. In order to reach the highest level, it requires closer collaboration between educational institutions, motorsport organizations and professionals on every level in motorsport. The biggest change is the involvement of car manufacturers. With manufacturers coming into the sport, it means the technical and sporting level has increased significantly along with making the sport more costly. The more costly a sport is, more professional behavior is required. Furthermore, increasing costs are challenging for the sport because they make it extremely hard for private teams to beat factory teams. And I believe that the biggest challenge is still ahead of us. For example in rallycross FIA (governing body for world motor sport) is introducing electric engines to World Championships in 2021 which may increase the costs even more. I certainly hope that it isn’t a showstopper for private teams.
Managers in Rally and Rallycross: Surprisingly, professional driver managers in rally and rallycross are still a rather rare profession. A manager is a person who nurtures the driver from beginning to the highest level of sport in a way that driver can fully focus on driving. Managers basically take care of the driver’s professional matters like contracts, partners, branding, coaching, training, and medias among other things. As the costs have risen rapidly and focus on the driver management has transitioned more onto financial side. And this makes things harder for everyone especially professional managers. In many cases drivers need more “selling agents” than proper managers.
What does it requires to be a star in motorsport? Of course, in order to be star and successful professional in motorsport you need to have talent to drive fast. But that’s not enough anymore. You need to have charisma, an outgoing and social personality, able to speak multiple languages, be good with the fans and sponsors, and have a presentable personality, etc. Motorsport is a harsh business with big involvement of money. Drivers are the ambassadors for the teams, car manufacturers, team and personal partners and role models for younger fans. It’s a 24/7 job and driving is just small part of the business. The most time consuming part is to make sponsors and partners to look good in order to make their businesses flourish.
Why are Finns so successful in motorsport? This is the question I’m asked quite often and I don’t have an exact answer for that. Finland is a small country with only 5.5 million people and still we produce top-level drivers in motorsport year after year. Maybe it’s the heritage, maybe it’s because we have places to practice such as driving in the woods and fields from an early age or maybe it’s because we have always had iconic role models which young talents can follow. All in all the fact is that the most famous and recognizable Finns around the world are motorsport athletes.
Atte Varsta is an experienced motorsport manager and well being entrepreneur. Varsta is a co-founder of Proftraining Finland specialized in well being and training concepts for athletes and consumers. He is also G-Fors Renault Rallycross team’s Team Manager and partner of V&V Sports Management. Varsta manages drivers, having been part of nine World Championship titles, one European Championship title, one Global Rallycross title, nine Finnish Championship titles and five other World and European Championship medals in rally and rallycross throughout their respective careers. Varsta is also Member of The Board at Finnish Sports Managers Association.