Yearning for a Job in Racing
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PH: I get a couple of emails or letters similar to this
one every month. Racing needs good people so I take them seriously.
Looking for some advice, if you don't mind. I'm trying to
get on an open wheel race team. Doesn't really matter who or
what series right now, just looking to get experience. Could
you point me in the right direction.
Here is a little background on myself.
31yr. old Mechanical Engineer, 5 yrs experience racing SCCA
formula Vee, moved to Indianapolis last year to get into racing.
Recently completed the Pi Research "how to be a DAQ"
2 day course at the CAM training center. Have extensive knowledge
with CAD, 3d solid modeling, very mechanically inclined, have
taken a couple of welding classes (tig), and even worked on the
pit crew of an ASA team at Dover this year (catch can man on
Taylor racing #28).
I have sent my resume to every team (CART, IRL, Lites, and
Atlantics) that I can locate in the Indy area with no luck. What
do I need to do to get my foot in the door?
Here's my reply.
You have the qualifications to get an opportunity. Persistence
and commitment are the characteristics you need for the next
step. You need to be on their minds when they need somebody so
they will consider taking a chance on you. I would concentrate
on the Lights, IRL, and Atlantic teams but don't leave out the
CART teams. Just go there and ask to see the Team Manager, or
head engineer, might be called technical director. Tell the receptionist
you're following up on a resume you sent and would like to talk
to someone to see if you have what they need.
Now is a good time because they don't leave for Surfers for
10 more days. Try to get to talk to someone before you leave.
Beg the receptionist if necessary. Go back often enough that
they know you won't give up till you see someone. At the end
of the month there will be a lot of moving around as the teams
change and shift. If they think of you, you might get a chance.
Good luck, let me know what happens.
Thanks alot. I was kinda feeling like a leper. At least I
see that I am not grasping at straws.
BTW: Love the web site. I'm even planning on incorporating
some of the monoshock designs in the redesign of my FVee zero
roll rear end.
I wrote back again:
All us fans who get involved with racing think the people
working there have a huge store of knowledge that is wonderful
and mysterious. I could quickly write a dozen names of guys I
know who, six months after going to work for a team, said to
me, "I thought these people would know what they're doing."
Racing is very complicated. Just the tires are almost unfathomable
and certainly don't yield to mathematical analysis. The connected
trio of tires, dampers, and driver will never be figured out
as individual components, let alone as a system. That leaves
a lot of room for hard work, dedication, creativity, and common
sense application of basic principles.
As a graduate mechanical engineer and racer, your qualifications
and experience exceeds at least half of the people already working
in technical jobs at the top teams. You may not like it or they
might not like you but if you want to do it, go for it.
Would you mind if I put this conversation on the web site?
I want to start some discussions.
Another email adds to the discussion. Uploaded 10/19/99
I read with interest the discussion between you and the future
hopeful race engineer. I had a similar experience in the early
90's were I had
the ME degree, designed and built my own sports racer (d s/r)
and worked as a volunteer CART tech member for eight years .
Through a VERY persistant approach I finally landed a job with
an Indy Lights team and lived the life of a DAG for the 92/93/1/2
of 94 season.
I found out in that time it WAS a dream come true, real race
engineers are magicians with a scientific/practical approach.
and that I didn't want to make that much of a sacrafice to my
life style and or ME career. I do miss it and will forever cherish
I have had a number of people ask me how they can get involved
as I did. My response is the same as yours ...just keep trying
and the door will open eventually.
During my race job hunting I learned a very important concept
when I went calling on Tom Anderson of the newly formed Ganassi
team. After I made my pitch about how much I wanted to work in
the racing world he asked me in what capacity. Engineering for
sure but I'll do anything to get a start was my reply. Tom spent
2 minutes with me and told me that if I wanted to be a race engineer
go for race engineering. If I was hired as a mechanic I would
be expeced to work as a mechanic and not an engineer. It would
take a long time to progress out of the mechanic's postions and
be accepted and work as an engineer. I took that advice and did
get my start and experience.
Good luck to all those hopeful race engineers, your experiences
will be worth the pain of admission.