How to get into motorsport
If you want to get into a career in the motorsport industry and don’t know where to start why not take a look at my article I have written. I hope this article gives a small insight and some tips and advice, on how to get in to the industry.
SO WHERE TO START?
Firstly, you really need to find out or at least have a rough idea of what role or field you want to look at when working within motorsport. You’d like to be a racing driver, tyre technician, engineer or even maybe a pit team chef (Number 1 on the car)? Perhaps you would like to be a mechanic working on the car and working in the pit lane? Once you have a good idea or you’re surer on what role you want to do within a team or the industry I suggest you research what qualification you need to get that role.
It takes more than just being a ‘fan’ these days to get into motorsport, you really do have to dig deep, employers are looking ‘for more’ than just brains in this industry. It’s really about a combination of skills, enthusiasm, education and demanding work. But if like me you got interested in motorsport in school or even younger you need to start thinking about what qualifications you need to get you where you want to be…but do I really need to start thinking about this so early in my life?
SIMPLE ANSWER IS YES!
You don’t need to know for certain but it’s good to have direction in life, especially in this industry. A good place to start is when it comes to selecting your GCSE’s that you’ll graduate from school with. You really need to think hard about what the right sort of subjects might be to choose to help you on your path to motorsport.
The GCSE subjects or areas I would suggest taking or certainly focussing on are mechanics based and if possible, and any of the technology subjects such as woodwork or graphics as they will help you to develop technical understanding, teach discipline and will set you in good stead when you come to study motorsport at college or higher education level.
Once you’ve graduated from school it’s time to look to see if a local college or UTC does a motorsport or a mechanical engineering course, but don’t be afraid to look further afield. When, and it will happen if you focus and work hard to reach your goals you come to working in motorsport, it will ultimately lead to a lot of travelling so it’s time to start getting used to it now. That’s why I encourage you to look further afield to study, perhaps relocate, get your teeth stuck into what the course offers and get the most out of it.
I suggest you start on Google as there aren’t yet many places barring UCAS that they list ‘some’ of the places in the UK where you can study motorsport, they mainly focus on university courses. However here at Student Motorsport they list and are developing an interactive system where all the places where you can study motorsport or motorsport related course in the UK and worldwide will be on show!
Once you find some institutions check of they do Motorsport or Mechanical Engineering by looking their respective websites to see what’s offer, remembering that it’s a good idea to choose one which participate in actual motorsport outside of the college. Examples of places that are offering motorsport course are, The College of West Anglia in Wisbech and also, The National College for Motorsport based at Silverstone Circuit.
STARTING TO CONTACT THE INDUSTRY
When you’re at school, a college or even a UTC it’s never too early to start to contact race teams and organisations in motorsport. Start by email and contact teams and organisations to see what advice they would give you looking to secure experience or even work in the motorsport industry. Advise the teams and organisations you would like to volunteer to join them for a race weekend or week at the factory to gain experience at the role you want to do.
My first work experience was with Stratton Motorsport shadowing their Data Engineer as I wanted to study Data Engineering and all that comes with it.
Most individuals and professionals in motorsport say focus on studying ‘STEM’ subjects (Science, Technology, English and Maths) as early as at school. The reason they ask you to do STEM subjects so you get a basic understanding of how science, technology, maths and mathematics work so that when the time comes to studying a course where you will learn how a race car works it won’t be such a shock to the system, it’s all about PREPARATION you see! For example, study science related subjects and you’ll learn about forces acting on a race car, which make up how a race car performs and handles on the track. Also, English and Maths are very important, you must ensure you pass these at grade C or higher at GCSE, you’ll need to know how to best communicate with people and work out complex problems using equations in the world of motorsport.
Volunteering your services or time when you are looking to break into the motorsport industry is vital. The reason you volunteer first is because you need to get as much experience with a team or organisation performing basic tasks like housekeeping work (sweeping up, cleaning tyres or even making the brews!). This is the best way to show commitment, enthusiasm and will help you to get to know how a team or organisation work and operates. On a side note I would suggest trying to email all your local teams first as they would be close to you which may open up more opportunities for you, and I'm sure they would like the extra pair of hands, if no replies
then always follow up with a phone call or go down to the teams in person.
ENTHUSIASM GOES FAR!
Enthusiasm, follow up’s and seeing people in person shows you are willing and interesting in joining them and to learn. But if none of your local teams (if that's what you're looking for) can help it’s time as mentioned earlier to look far and wide, start to email teams in the lower series. E.g. Karting series, Formula Ford, F4, GT4 or maybe a one make series, such as Mini Challenge as they be grateful for the extra help you can give them. Also, make sure to ask the team members how they got in to motorsport, learn from the very people working in the industry in addition to what your tutors or lecturers may be telling you. This way you get to know the different routes you can take in to motorsport which at first may have note seemed apparent.
People often forget that going to college or university to study a motorsport course can lead you nicely into getting hands on experience, and create contacts to the industry before you even finish and ask a team or organisation for a full-time job. You may also find that if you want to specialise in a role in motorsport, such as Data Engineering or Design role you can focus your
efforts in your studies to keep you focused on achieving such a position.
One vitally important thing is to get as much as experience you can with a race team or organisation whilst you are young, and studying, that way you will stand out from people. It also shows your future employers that you are interested and willing to work in to get where you want to be. Don’t forget if you complete voluntary work this is good for your CV, as it shows future employers you are willing to go the extra mile. Showing a willingness to learn and that you have commitment will take you far in this industry.
I hope this article has helped some of the younger website users and current students to see what is involved and how you might get to where you want to be in motorsport.