The year 2011 was a bit of a tough one for IndyCar rookie Pippa Mann. From the high of becoming the first British female to qualify for the Indy 500 -- with a dramatic bump day run, no less -- to the low of being caught up and injured in the multicar crash at Las Vegas.
As Pippa and her people work to find sponsorship -- irons are in the fire but definitely no sure things at the moment based on @PippaMann tweets -- the Woman of pressdog® took time to answer five quick questions.
pressdog: How's the pinkie? Give us a quick update.
Pippa: Actually, the little finger was a little bit of an understatement, it was the right side of my right hand including my little finger.
pressdog: How did your tumultuous 2011 impact you mentally? After working so hard to get some rides, then to have the difficulties, how that that affect/change you? Did you ever have moments when you said "is this really worth it?"
Pippa: Qualifying for the 500 this year was probably the highlight of my career to date -- I think I even place it above winning at Kentucky in 2010, or my first pole in lights at IMS earlier that year. But then to go from that to having the biggest accident and injury of my career in the same year, well I guess it just kind of sums up motor-racing full stop! I definitely underestimated how hard it would be as a rookie to just jump into teams for a few races, and it has made me more determined than ever to try and put together a full time effort for 2012!
pressodg: Describe the process of chasing sponsorship? Is it a lot of phone calls, emails? Do you meet with your people to target certain kinds of business or categories?
Pippa: It is extremely tough! You never know which companies are going to decide they are really interested and go all the way and come all in with you! I have a manager who works on my behalf in the UK and their office is constantly generating content to send out to potential sponsors. Cold calling companies, or sending unsolicited emails rarely gets anywhere, so you have to work with agents to try and get an "in".
There is no specific sector we have been targeting as such -- more just working extremely hard wherever there seems to be a lead to try and make sure my name is in the hat and we chase the lead down. To me, finding the financial backing, is still the most difficult part of the job! Give me a recalcitrant racing car to try and put back on good behavior any day of the week!
pressdog: How does the level of interest or receptiveness to considering sponsoring a driver this year compare to other years? Are people more receptive, less? Is it harder, easier, etc.
Pippa: The level of interest this year has been high, and I've been considered for a number of opportunities. Despite things still being extremely tough, the economy does seem to be recovering enough for more companies to be considering sponsorship in motorsports again. The problem is, as always, is taking things from "interest" to getting the deal closed. I truly believe we are very close on a couple of things, and every day now I am waking up in hope that this will be the day that THAT email hits my inbox and allows us to make this happen. I feel like I am in a permanent state of waiting on tenderhooks right now!
pressdog: What can your fans do to help you attract sponsorship?
Pippa: You know, the fans have been absolutely amazing to me already not only this year, but also last year while I was in Firestone Indy Lights. I already can't thank them enough for accepting me into the sport of IndyCar racing, and into the American racing scene with open arms. Their support helps keep me going during the rough times, and when we strike the good times, I hope plenty of them will be celebrating with me. The fans have already done everything I could ever ask from them and more!