In the old days, racing was simple: if you were faster than anyone else down or around a track, someone paid you to drive their car. Today, racing is as much about attracting and keeping sponsors as it is about lap times, since teams live and die by sponsor budgets. Money is tight in series with huge fan bases and ample media coverage (like NASCAR), and it’s even tighter in series’ with smaller fan bases.
Take Formula Drift, for example. Drifting may be huge in Japan, but it attracts a much narrower audience in the United States, and media coverage is sparse. When you’re a drift star like Sweden’s Samuel Hübinette, chances are good you race in other series (like the Traxxis TORC) and X Games competition as well. In the case of Hübinette, he’s also a Hollywood stunt driver in his spare time.
Don’t expect to see Hübinette in Formula Drift competition this year, as Formula Drift (via Autoblog) explains that his sponsors and “changed their marketing direction;” in other words, they’ve lost their budgets for sponsoring motorsports. Faced with a severe lack of funding, Hübinette will participate in Formula Drift International demos and may still run a few Pro Championship drift events if he can raise the cash. Otherwise, the Swede is working on “other racing opportunities” (like RallyCross) for the 2012 season.
We wish him the best of luck. In the mean time, here’s a video of Hübinette shaking down his Dodge Challenger drift car.