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We created this nine page tour to answer 98% of your questions about Driver Development in general and Ron Sutton's Winner's Circle development program specifically. We hope you enjoy it & learn a lot.
The goal of this tour is to provide families with key information and clarity to make an informed decision, before sending the driver's application to RSWC. We suggest you read it thoroughly ... as this is a big decision ... a lot like deciding which college is best for your son or daughter. To go to the next page, click on the arrow in the bottom right of each page.
every good young driver could become a professional race car driver. But in the most expensive sport in the world ... car racing ... the reality is the path for most young racers and their families is unclear, complex, and unfortunately expensive ... with little to no room for taking the wrong path, "experimenting" or "trial & error".
Ron Sutton's Winner's Circle is simply the most comprehensive Driver Career Development Program in the United States. That's not just a statement ... it is fact. This will become clear as you go through this tour & learn what all RSWC has worked over the years to put together for young talented drivers.
Ron Sutton's Winner's Circle (aka RSWC) receives 700-1000 resumes each year from drivers and/or their parents. After resume review and interviews, each year we narrow it down to 20-40 drivers to do full race track testing and try-outs at our talent search event we call "The Shoot-Out". The few drivers chosen from the the Shoot-Out, that showed us they have what it takes, are invited to join in the Ron Sutton's Winner's Circle Driver Career Development Program.
We are not a typical driver school or rent-a-ride business. This is a comprehensive driver career development program with 30 race teams, 12 veteran driver coaches, 29 training classes with top trainers, 30 On-Track-Training programs and more. While we do have sizable sponsorship money available for RSWC drivers, this is not a free ride. We wish we had the funding to do that. But, if a driver races ... someone has to pay for it. While RSWC does raise sponsor money for our drivers, it is only a portion of what is needed. The family has to raise the majority of the money through sponsors and/or benefactors. RSWC is VERY good at teaching our families how to raise the funding to race. More on that later in the tour.
We are not the "official" anything for NASCAR or individual Cup Teams. (NASCAR does not endorse any development programs.) We are an independent talent scout and driver development program focused on finding and developing young talent. If a driver has what it takes ... RSWC is the best program to train, coach, race and develop them towards a career in professional Stock Car racing.
Some recent RSWC successes are:
"I've known Ron Sutton for several years. His Winner's Circle talent scout and driver development program is one we have followed with great interest. His program produced Joey Licata Jr., a tremendous talent that races for us. We have enjoyed our relationship with Ron and the Winner's Circle."
Kerry Scherer, President
Cunningham Motor Sports, official driver development partner for Penske Racing
"As an independent talent scout and driver development program, Ron Sutton's Winner's Circle offers a valuable service in presenting Roush Fenway Racing with talented development drivers & prospective sponsors."
Steve Newmark, President
Roush Fenway Racing
In this web site, we will explain how we view the racing environment ... and what is involved in getting young drivers all the way to a career with top racing teams.
We all know, only a percentage of drivers really have the talent to be professional car racers in the top circuits of motorpsorts. The sad fact is ... capable drivers do not always make it ... and often watch from the stands ... while drivers with similar talent, but with better funding or the right connections are in the cars on the track. The main challenge for up and coming drivers is ... there has been no single "standardized" path to a racing career ... like there is in basketball, football, baseball, etc.
There are a plenty of veteran racers, shop owners, fans, etc ... with opinions on how to become a professional race car driver, but when we look at their results, it is clear that they do not really know how to get drivers to the big show. Opinions are cheap ... facts are hard to come by. One easy fact: There is no single clear, straight-forward path. Unlike the NFL, there is no college draft structure in place. There is no one predefined "system" that all the teams use.
Professional racing is very fragmented, with no standardized process for scouting, recruiting and developing new talent. Each of these stars were developed different ways. The individual team owners & management, have varied beliefs and philosophies about who they want to drive their cars ... and why. They are influenced by their sponsors, their budget ... or lack thereof ... the people they trust ... and their own unique belief system, likes, dislikes, tastes, etc.
What is clear now ... is that the top Cup teams are signing talented drivers ... at much younger ages than 15-20 years ago. A few teams started the trend of finding young talent and paying for them to race and develop their skills in the mid levels of racing. Other teams that were used to going to those mid level racing series ... and signing drivers ... started finding the talented drivers were already signed to a team. Those teams have now been forced to follow suit ... and scout, recruit and develop young talent for their race teams also.
Things have changed ... for the better ... for families of young talented drivers. For most families, the thought of paying a half million to several million dollars a year for their young driver to race at these upper levels is unrealistic. Starting in the late 1990's and increasing after 2000, if top Cup Teams were impressed enough, they would sign a driver and pay for their racing up through K&N Pro Series, ARCA, Trucks, Nationwide, etc.
The current horrible economy has temporarily reduced the number of teams capable of doing that. There are currently only a few Cup teams funding drivers in development today, and we are clear who they are. But all indicators are that most of top Cup teams will return to funding young development drivers as the economy turns around. They need to insure the have future stars, as that is their product.
Just for reference, here are some annual budgets to field a winning operation in higher level racing series:
Unless a family is very wealthy, or has an incredible sponsor already in their pocket, these series are out of reach. Fifteen to twenty years ago, drivers had to work their way through these series on their own ... and win at these levels ... to be "noticed." Today, the situation has changed. The top race teams are signing drivers BEFORE they get to these series ... then running them in these same upper-level series ... BUT on the team's money. It is a major difference. A difference that means families with talented young drivers and less money ... still have a shot.
Please do not misunderstand our message ... racing your young driver still costs you money. In the most expensive sport in the world, someone has to pay for the driver to race at all levels ... until they get hired by a top tier team. But unlike 15-20 years ago ... your family does not have to personally fund all the way to the top levels to get hired by a top team. You do have to go get sponsors today ... and that is where RSWC stands apart from any other development program. We have a proven strategy to take sponsors into varies series of professional stock car racing with a RSWC development driver.
Myth #1: "If I just win races ... it will work out."
Myth #2: Professional teams are watching the ladder system for their next driver.
Myth #3: There is a ladder system.
First, winning is only a part of the equation. Winning is absolutely necessary! But winning alone won't get a driver to a racing career. Unfortunately there are extremely talented racers that won a zillion races ... watching racing from the stands or their sofa today. There is a whole lot more to getting to the pros than just winning races.
Second, the Cup team scouts are not watching entry level racing series to find their next star. Why not? Two reasons. One, because they have so many talented drivers knocking down their doors ... everyday. Good drivers, with winning resumes, talent, personality, dedication, motivation, good looks, etc. And, they have driver development programs, like RSWC, referring talented drivers to them.
Third, the concept that there is a "ladder system" in racing. There are many different levels or steps in racing ... but there is no "ladder" that automatically leads to a career.
Most young Drivers coming into the upper tiers of professional stock car racing over the past 20 years have come one of two routes: Open Wheel or Modifieds/Late Model Stock Cars. This is why RSWC develops drivers in these series.
So, what does it take for a young driver to make it to the pros?
We have asked and listened to the key decision makers of top Cup teams over the last several years, and compiled the 23 key ingredients. The list is long, more or less in order ... and each one is critical.
Top Teams ... and therefore top Driver Development Programs ... look for:
The list above, the driver needs to bring to the table. If chosen by a good Driver & Career Development Program, the young driver can gain the next 11 that are needed to get to a career:
Each of these decisions are critical ... because if you make the wrong choice ... you can't turn back the clock and make your driver "young" again.
To go to the next page ... click on the arrow in the lower right of each page.
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