SMITH EARNED HER RACING STRIPES IN THE OUTLAW PRO STREET CLASS , WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2004 .
DENSO ’ S LISA MICHLER HELPS TAKE SPONSOR AND RACE TEAM RELATIONSHIPS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
BY JOSH HACHAT
YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR RACE TEAM , AND THEN I HAD TO FIGURE OUT WHAT MADE ME DIFFERENT . WHAT MAKES ME DIFFERENT IS I WORK ON THE BIKE , I ’ M VERY HEAVILY INVOLVED IN THE RACE TEAM . I UNDERSTAND THE MOTORCYCLE .
when it does , we just look at each other , and it ’ s like , it is what it is . But it ’ s tough . A lot of people said that our marriage wouldn ’ t survive a year , and we ’ ve managed to make it survive 12 years .
You just have to be careful at the battles that you pick . If you pick it and you want to go head to head on a battle , you better make sure that you have all your facts straight . As I get older , either I ’ m more relaxed and I ’ m not as much of a hothead as I used to be , or you just learn what buttons to push and what buttons not to push . You learn your boundaries , I guess . My life , every year it gets better and better . I can ’ t complain . Life is great .
But it wasn ’ t always that way , at least on the track . It wasn ’ t until 2013 where Angie was a consistent rider in the class . Before that , there were years where she would race the full season and others — like 2012 when she only competed in five events and didn ’ t win a round — where things were sparse . It was during this time where Smith learned about building her brand , finding the right sponsor , and figuring out how to establish her uniqueness .
How difficult was it early in your career to find your footing ? It had to be frustrating not having that initial success .
It was a struggle because a race team doesn ’ t operate on smiling faces and sunshine . It only operates on dollars , and that was a really hard pill for me to swallow when I would race full-time and then not race full-time , and then race full-time . It was very hard to swallow . However , it made me such a stronger person , but it also made me work hard , as in , finding money , finding sponsorship , and also working hard on myself , of how to sell myself to people and how to make myself a better rider , and how to distinguish Angie Smith away from the other female riders like Angelle and Karen . I had to find out and figure out what fits me , and why a sponsor would want to sponsor me versus the other females .
You also had to work your way through several sponsors and partners before finding the seemingly ideal one in Denso . What was that process like ?
I ’ ve had a lot of different sponsors and what I mean by a lot of different sponsors , I ’ ve had everything from corporate America to the people that want to go and party and race a little bit , and everything in between . You have to figure out what works for your race team , and I had to
In her work as Tradeshows , Events & Motorsports Manager at Denso Products & Services Americas , Inc ., Lisa Michler has helped establish the company as a dominant force in drag racing .
The company works closely with a number of standout teams , including the Pro Stock Motorcycle duo of Matt and Angie Smith . It ’ s a relationship that started just with Matt a handful of years ago , but while at the track , Michler believed it would be helpful for Denso ’ s brand to add Angie as well — and the benefits have been huge . “ We sponsored her for five races that first season , and we just loved her ,” Michler said . “ Matt and Angie couldn ’ t be better brand ambassadors for us . Everyone at all our locations are the hugest Matt and Angie fans .”
Highly respected in the pits , Michler is a popular figure at the track . It ’ s evident in the relationship she ’ s formed with the Smith family , where it ’ s become much more than a sponsorship . In fact , she wears a “ Momma ” necklace as a nod to how well she takes care of her racing family , the Smiths included . “ The relationship between us , we ’ ve become great friends off the track ,” Michler said . “ This is definitely my family when I ’ m on the road . We couldn ’ t be more proud .”
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