Stalled at the start

Every now and then you read on different social networks: “You only hear of other people’s success stories, never of their failures”. Well, today I will make an exception to that rule. Today, I will talk about how I failed in creating something I cared about.

You might remember my idea of creating a racing team, which we called Alma Corse, back in 2020. I loved everything about that idea: to connect simracing with real racing, to push for more diversity in motorsport, to create opportunities for young professionals.

A lot of people complimented the idea, many listened and agreed with what we planned to do. But when push came to shove, few actually followed us. And even fewer actually contributed anything to the project at all. I guess that’s the case with many things in life, but it still hurts.

We tried to reboot Alma Corse in 2021 with fresh energy, after a first failed attempt over the summer of 2020. It was a good run at the beginning. We managed to launch a proof of concept with our “pre-season championship”, but were not able to materialize anything after that.

What were the reasons? Mainly lack of commitment. From me, first and foremost. Even though I put my money where my mouth was, I could not gather the mental capacity needed to push through every hurdle we encountered.

Lack of funds and partners was certainly an issue, but one which we could work on over time. Bureaucracy, however, was just brutal. This has been my first attempt at starting an entrepreneurial activity of some kind, and the amount of BS I had to go through was hurting my motivation more than any economic loss.

Creating Alma Corse as an actual enterprise was too risky and the team by nature was not something created to “make money”. Motorsport is a money sink, not a revenue generator. Italian regulations also did not help at all: for instance, I had to pay a good amount of money in social security (besides other taxes, consultancies, etc.) before I had any income from the enterprise. Excuse me, what?

Creating Alma Corse as an amateur sports association was the second option. It had an advantage in terms of lower costs, but it threw another condition in the mix which I did not consider: getting recognized by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) through the governing body of motorsport in Italy, called ACI Sport.

If your association is not recognized by CONI, you cannot access the fundamental tax advantages which make sponsoring a sports association a viable option for many businesses. Getting that recognition, however, is easier said than done, with some really tough requirements for someone who’s just starting out. This recognition is also mandatory if you wish to open a bank account in the name of the newly created Alma Corse amateur sports association.

For instance, to register as a racing team, we needed 10 drivers with a valid ACI Sport license. How can we recruit 10 people into our newborn association, without a bank account to raise funds and operate normally?

Well, you might think, ask around and get a few friends to obtain a license, then ask ACI Sport to tell CONI to recognize you as a legit association. Interesting idea. However, getting a license from ACI Sport means following some courses which are planned with no regular schedule, which are impossible to predict when they will happen, and about which almost anyone within ACI Sport knows anything at all. The one guy who knows, is often either on holiday or cannot be reached.

By the way, you must do this within a calendar year to get the tax benefits for that year. If you don’t, you lose them.

I wanted to scream, and I took too much of this on myself.

It’s been a humbling experience. But not that type of “fake humbling” that you hear when people say “I’m humbled of having worked with all of you” (usually after leaving their jobs), and BS like that.

I mean truly humbling.

I thought I could do it. I thought I was capable enough of pulling it off.

Turns out, I wasn’t. I was not able to create a solid team around the idea. I was not able to convince people to fund the team. I was not able to deal with all the bureaucratic BS.

The mean part of my brain keeps telling me that all I did was a couple of streams on Twitch, and not much more than that. Big accomplishment. And now, all I can do is to call it quits. What a great achievement.

On the other hand, the patient part of my brain tells me that there are more important things in life. I have a job I enjoy, and it is as close to motorsport as I have ever been. There will be time for something like Alma Corse to come back in the future, when and if the conditions are right. And if it doesn’t, I’ll be fine.

I know I should listen to this part of my brain, and not the first one. But failure takes a toll on your mind, and now I need to mentally recover from it. To let it heal, and see the good experience I had. The people I met, and everything I learnt.

Deep down, I’m still glad I went through all of this.

As Niki Lauda said in 2016: “I tell you from my own experience, winning is one thing, but out of losing I always learnt more for the future, so I grow stronger in losing”.

Experience is never wasted, even when you wish things had gone differently.

If you stall your engine at the start of a race, there’s always the next one you can participate in.

Head down, and focus on the road ahead.