NFT-funded races aim to disrupt sports sponsorship

German GT racer Laura-Marie Geissler, creative agency Amsterdam Berlin and NFT startup Unblocked have teamed up to create the first non-fungible token or NFT funded motorsport team. Named after the driver herself, the LMG Rennteam has decided to forego external sponsorship to fund Geissler’s racing season through NFT sales. Whether or not she earns enough money to race next season will depend solely on her fans.

Geissler and her partners originally announced their campaign to in-person attendees at the first weekend of South by Southwest, or SXSW, in Austin, Texas Porsche unseen installation space. A week later, LMG’s first NFT collection will be released. Cointelegraph spoke to Geissler about the motivations behind this experiment and the risks she is taking by putting her career on the line.

Traditionally in motorsport almost all drivers have relied on outside companies to sponsor their races and success is based on performance and good marketing. According to Geissler, her performance was not her main selling point.

“It’s difficult for women to ask people for money because it becomes a very transactional relationship. It’s been difficult for me to find a balance and get others to like me because I drive, not just because I’m a woman or I look a certain way.”

Laura Marie Geissler. Source: Amsterdam-Berlin.

Moritz Grub, Founder and Creative Director of Amsterdam Berlin, added that motorsport is a very male-dominated and “macho” world, which may in part simply be due to the fact that there are mostly male sponsors. “If we had more women-run brands and companies funding racing, maybe there would be more female fans and viewers,” he said.

When asked why they chose NFTs as a possible solution, Grub said that “it’s an interesting technology that isn’t well used right now.” He believes that most NFT-PFP-based projects could be “schemas,” and sees the NFT-based crowdfunding model as an alternative to “having to behave the way my sponsors want me to, so my sponsorship deal can year is extended”.

To develop the NFT collection on the Flow blockchain, Geissler and Amsterdam Berlin have partnered with Los Angeles-based NFT firm Unblocked, also known as The Non Fungible Token Company. The set contains a 1:1 360° rendering of the LMG GT No.1 racing car auctioned on OpenSea. The winner will receive their name on the car and a signed Arai GP-6 helmet.

LMG GT No. 1 from above. Source: Amsterdam-Berlin.

According to the company, the design of the LMG GT No.1, reminiscent of a Porsche “Pink Pig” model, features the “x” marks used by plastic surgeons during surgeries. It is meant to symbolize the pressure placed on female drivers because of their looks and to advocate for gender equality in the racing world.

In addition, there is a set of 1,001 digital helmets and 100 digital racing suits available in various variations and rarities at fixed prices on the Unblocked Exchange. NFT collectors get access to meet-and-greets, signed merchandise, and exclusive content for their investment.

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Geissler made it clear that Porsche would provide her with a car, but otherwise the German car manufacturer was not involved in the project. All proceeds from the sale will go to the LMG racing team, while both Amsterdam Berlin and Unblocked have agreed not to receive any compensation. The aim is to collect at least 150,000 euros for the 2022 season. “I hope for the best, but if that doesn’t work, I won’t be able to race this year,” she said.