Guest Blog: On Track For The Academy with Rob Oldland #4

Guest Blog: On Track For The Academy with Rob Oldland #4

With the start of the season currently on hold, Rob Oldland shares the experience he gained when seeking sponsorship for his racing, and reveals the additional logo he plans to carry to promote a fantastic charity. 

In this month’s article I was hoping to update you with the private Caterham Academy testing day at Castle Combe, and the progress with securing sponsorship. Sadly I will only be able to fulfil one of these. The unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic has caused disruption, chaos and sadness for everyone in the UK and around the world. Initially, Motorsport UK confirmed the suspension of motorsport activities until the end of April. While this would have postponed the sprint race at Aintree, track days were still going ahead. Soon after, Motorsport UK suspended all racing until the end of June which also postponed Anglesey and Knockhill races, and track days also then succumbed due to social distancing. This is the current situation as I write this article. Caterham, BSRCC and Motorsport UK are working with the circuits to complete the season if at all possible and are keeping us well informed. Due to the large Caterham Motorsport grids we will have priority over many other race series and it is still hoped that a full season will be held this year. Of course I am disappointed, although having the Academy postponed is a small issue compared to the impact we are experiencing.

Before committing to the Academy I had to do my sums to work out if I could afford to compete. Despite applying ‘man-maths’ my conclusion was that I couldn’t. Or at least I couldn’t unless I was prepared to make some sacrifices and think creatively. In a previous article I mentioned sharing this car with my eldest son to help offset the cost of the required race gear. In a later edition I will go into more detail of the additional costs to consider when budgeting for a race season. But what I will say now is that I still had a shortfall in my balance sheet. If I was to be able to afford to compete I needed to raise more funds.  The answer? Sponsorship.

Here’s how I approached finding a sponsor. The first step was to send a list all of the prospective companies I thought I could approach to Caterham for their approval. This step is important as any sponsor must not conflict with the championship sponsors. My mantra for sponsorship from the beginning was to make sure I could really provide great value to the sponsor(s) - not just putting their company name on the car and taking their money, but really returning them value for their much-needed investment. I designed a presentation which I could easily tweak to make relevant for each company I approached. The presentation included additional benefits I had identified the sponsor would receive to provide them with great value for money. The car could be displayed at their business premises for a promo day, provide passenger hot laps during a track day for the sponsor and their employees.  The sponsor’s employees could enjoy a day at one of the series races, including a tour of the paddock and lunch. In addition, the car would be displayed at many public events throughout the year, so would be shared by the public on Instagram and other social media. Caterham racing is televised, has a significant online audience and of course Sir Chris Hoy as an ambassador. Finally, I included a representation of what the car could look like with their sponsorship design which always created excitement!

I am delighted to confirm a sponsorship deal was secured in March with a local company, SOAR Electric Karting. It’s so exciting to have the opportunity to be involved with this brand new, state-of-the-art indoor electric go-kart centre which is currently under construction in Gillingham, Kent.

Additionally, I am proud to carry the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance logo. This is an opportunity to give a little back and promote this fantastic charity at no cost to them.  The association with the Air Ambulance is via Garry Hooton one of the L7C’s ARs and currently part of the AR9. Garry kindly helped me to build the Academy car and will join me for each of the races. I thought this would be a nice gesture as Garry’s wife is the Marketing & Communications Director for the charity, plus we spend lots of time blatting around these counties!

The next step was to bring the graphical representation of the car to life. Here I was able to save money by using some of my other skills and equipment, vinyl design, cutting and application. When I built the car, I wrapped the car in white vinyl as this would give me a great canvas for adding sponsorship. Onto this I added individually-cut pieces of vinyl to recreate the design of the SOAR go-kart, then added the Caterham championship decals - it now looks like a proper racing car!

By thinking creatively and using some of the computer skills I have such as PowerPoint, Photoshop and Illustrator, combined with the time to apply the vinyl, being prepared to have sponsorship on my car and the willingness to share the excitement of a track day or two, I was able to secure the funds I required to race. As stated in my first article, I was prepared to make sacrifices to be able to enjoy a season of motorsport.


Founded in November 1989, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (AAKSS) is the UK’s busiest and one of the world’s leading Helicopter Emergency Medical Services.

Its highly-skilled medical teams utilise state-of-the-art helicopters, emergency response vehicles, innovative technology and cutting-edge medical equipment and techniques to provide world-class, pre-hospital emergency medical treatment.

AAKSS serves a resident population of 4.8 million and millions more who pass through the region. It works collaboratively with the wider ambulance service and more than 20 hospitals including Major Trauma Centres in London and the South East.

As operational crew, AAKSS has 40 doctors, 34 paramedics, and six dispatchers (who allocate missions from the ambulance control room) as well as a further 38 support staff and 210 volunteers.

AAKSS is the only air ambulance service in the country to fly around the clock. One helicopter operates 24/7 and a second for 12 hours every day. When the helicopters aren’t available, primarily as a result of bad weather, the medical crews respond using emergency response vehicles.

AAKSS responses are targeted to the most seriously ill and injured patients. Last year, medical crews responded to 2,506 incidents with 862 taking place at night (between 7pm and 7am). 66% of missions were tasked to helicopters and 34% to rapid response cars. 37% were road traffic incidents, 25% accidental injury, 18% medical, 8% assault, 6% intentional self-harm, 4% sport/leisure, 1% exposure and 1% other.

It costs £38,740 per day to provide the service with 89% of funds raised by the public.


Rob is a keen Caterham enthusiast. It took him 25 years of dreaming before he was actually able to own his first Caterham and now he's on Caterham number 4. Working his way up through the range from Roadsport, 420R and 620S, Rob has now embarked on the exciting journey of the Caterham Academy as an introduction to motorsport. Rob will be writing monthly blog posts following his progress in his first year racing Caterhams. 

This article originally appeared in Lowflying, the Lotus Seven Club magazine for Caterham and Lotus Seven enthusiasts – you can find out more here