January 26, 2016
Trophies are nice, but rings are forever.
Trophies eventually end up at the bottom of a closet. A championship ring is a legacy that is passed on for generations.
Trophies sit in an office or a garage to be seen only by the few who visit. Championship rings are worn proudly by the owner. Everywhere he goes. For the rest of his life.
Trophies are given by little league teams and children's karate tournaments. Rings are given to Super Bowl champions and Indianapolis 500 winners. And no one gets a ring for participation.
My point is not to disrespect trophies. They are great and I appreciate them. But I have seven shelves in my office and every one of them is crammed full of trophies. I have an entire wall covered in plaques and certificates. Yet I would trade them all for just one ring. Every race car driver with whom I've discussed this topic said the same. A single championship ring is coveted more than a thousand trophies.
For years I've tried to convince track promoters and series owners of this truth, with limited success. Well, okay… with no success at all. Despite my best efforts I have convinced a grand total of no one.
The standard objection is affordability. But awarding a championship ring doesn't have to be expensive.
A beautiful, non-precious ring could be purchased by the series for the team owner alone. Drivers and crew members could be authorized by the series (or track) to purchase their own identical championship rings from the same manufacturer, who may be willing to donate the first ring in order to sell additional rings to the rest of the team.
When purchasing their rings, team members could even opt for a higher grade metal (or precious metal) if they chose, or stick with less expensive base metals. Any jeweler worth the name could provide all of the above.
Personalized brass championship rings featuring the series logo for a team of eight people start at about $200 each. Sterling Silver is available for $325. Modern jewelry production advancements have take the sting out of pricing. This doesn't have to cost a lot of money.
I have won two championship titles in road racing. If either had commissioned a ring for purchase, I would have spent any amount of money to get it. And I'm not alone. Every single driver whom I've approached on the topic agreed. The championship ring has a lure that no other prize in any field of endeavor can match.
People equate the value of the achievement with the quality of the award. If you want your most prestigious event to be treated like scrap paper, then give a certificate as an award. Likewise, a plastic trophy says much about the event for which it is awarded.
Race promoters, would you like to offer something that no one else offers? Would you like to offer a prize so desirable that drivers would actually participate in your series just for the chance of winning it?
Offer them The Ring.
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
Co-host, Mecum Auctions in NBCSN
Driver, Boschett Timepieces/McGunegill Engines #21