While money is certainly an important component of racing, don’t let it be your excuse for not winning races. Beat your competition with intelligence, innovation, and persistence—and the money will follow.
When Brian Deegan entered the 1997 Supercross race at the Los Angeles Coliseum, he had a serious technical disadvantage to most of the other professional riders. Deegan’s Suzuki RM125 was virtually stock compared to the army of modified,top-dollar bikes that his competition rode. Deegan was a young, self-funded privateer and knew he couldn’t compete with the millions of dollars of research and development, factory support, and sponsorships that the other riders received. He had to compete on a different level. So, he trained. And he trained hard.
Deegan knew that he could offset his mechanical handicap with a physical advantage. “It doesn’t cost any money to train,” he said. Deegan ran three to five miles every day and worked out incessantly. He jogged to the local park where he did wind sprints, stairs, and benches. He avoided junk food, soda, and anything else that would slow him down. He knew that if his body was in better condition than his competitors, he could beat them with endurance.
The race leader, Rob Reynard was a factory Honda rider who was a feared competitor with state-of-the-art equipment. After the gates dropped, Deegan, ona stock bike, followed Reynard on his modified bike around the track. Midway into the race, his prediction came true. “About half way he started fading,”Deegan reflected. “I couldn’t believe it. I blew by him and that was the end of the story. I wasn’t tired at all. For that moment, all that hard work I put in actually worked. I was ready for it.”
Despite having a slower bike and no money, Brian Deegan won the 1997 AMA Supercross that night because he prepared for it. As he approached the checkered flag, Deegan jumped off the bike and ghost rode across the finish line.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Brian Deegan lives by that principle. He explains, “When I won the LA Supercross, that moment defines the saying, ‘Preparation meets opportunity.’ It was exactly what happened that night. I practiced every day. I trained hard. I ate right. I couldn’t afford a gym membership, so I trained like Rocky. I used whatI had at the time and I won that race on a stock bike I bought at a shop.”
Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher and war strategist wrote, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” When Deegan entered that historical race, he was up against the stiffest competition of his life. The best riders in the country were there. The competition was fierce, but Deegan had no doubt he could win; and, he told himself he would. “When I got into the lead that night, I was thinking, ‘Man, you worked so hard for this moment and it’s here. You’re not going to get tired. You’re NOT going to fade.’” And, he didn’t.
To this day, Brian Deegan’s drive has not slowed, and he still practices good habits. He eats healthy and exercises daily. Staying in shape and being prepared is part of his lifestyle. Confucius said that men’s natures are alike; it’s their habits that separate them. Practice good habits and you too can achieve great results.
Never let money be your excuse if you’re underfunded compared to the competition. Find other ways to gain an advantage. In the end, your sponsors don’t care how much funding you have. They care about how you represent their brand. Make that an image of success and you’ll both win.