Motorcycle racing is an expensive sport to undertake. It's even more expensive when you don't have a big name sponsor plastered to the side of your bike. Jake Holden, who took second during the first AMA Daytona Sportbike race at Infineon, lost his sponsor at the beginning of the season. But Holden and the newly named Jake Holden Racing team are soldiering on, and they're doing it with the help of their fans.
When Roberson Motorsports withdrew their sponsorship, due to unrelated financial reasons, Holden and his team were left with a difficult decision to make. Throw in the towel or hit the road and hope for the best. Of course, it wasn't much of a decision to make. Jake Holden was going racing, he just had to figure out how to fund it.
Luckily for Holden, a lot of people want to see him racing. Holden's family and friends pitched in to get Holden to Infineon. Fans donated to his racing effort through Without Ego Media. Jake's competition even chipped in, with one team stepping up to give Holden some fresh tires for the race.
“It's amazing,” said Holden. “Everybody's been kicking a little bit extra in, and it's really helping us push this thing along.”
During the race, Holden was riding at the front behind a speedy Jason DiSalvo when a near crash dropped him back 9 spots to 10th place. But Holden wasn't out. With his head down, Jake started to charge. A 10 second gap became a 5 second gap. 10th place quickly became second, and soon Holden had pulled within a few bike lengths from the leader. Holden wouldn't catch DiSalvo, but his indomitable effort won over more than a few fans.
“I've had three people buy me tires,” Holden said. “Everybody is really coming through. It's just amazing how generous people have been.”
But the fan's weren't done giving yet. Before Sunday's race, during the fan walk, Holden and his crew set up a “tip jar,” asking fans to donate to their racing efforts. The Jake Holden Racing team raised more than $500 in the short hour that saw fans congratulating Holden on his inspiring effort on Saturday, and wishing him luck on Sunday.
Unfortunately, Sunday would prove disastrous for the Holden Racing team. Jake and his bike would tumble off the track, putting an end to his hopes of winning at Infineon. But more importantly, and more disheartening, Holden's limited budget now has to be stretched even further to cover the damage to the bike.
“There's just not enough money in our huge budget for a new Ducati Evo,” Holden said. “We've got some spares and parts that hopefully will let us repair the bike.”
The worry in his voice was clear, but I wouldn't doubt him or his team for a second. Jake Holden Racing will be at Miller Motorsports Park in June, with or without a sponsor, and they'll be fighting for the win.