How to gain work experience in motorsport as a student and other questions

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luismb
luismb
0
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:44 pm
Location: Spain

How to gain work experience in motorsport as a student and other questions

Post

Hi! I'm in my second year of Mechanical Engineering and I'm located in Madrid, Spain. My goal is to one day become an engineer in F1, WEC or similar motorsports, so I have some questions.

1- I want to do a master's in Motorsports Engineering but I'm unsure where should I go. I've heard that the best place to do this degree is in Oxford Brookes, but I don't know if I'll be able to study abroad, have high enough grades to go there or even afford it. There are options in Spain too, like one run by Campos Racing, which is cheaper and much closer to me. How important is the university where you study your master's degree to get a job in motorsports?

2- Before the master's I want to gain some experience. We don't have a Formula Student in my uni but we have something similar where we build a kart from scratch by ourselves, although with a much smaller budget and no official competition, we just race it in an amateur endurance race when the kart is finished to see if it works. There's a MotoStudent program too, basically a FStudent for motorbikes. I'm thinking of applying for that too next year but I'm not sure I'll be able to do both the kart and MotoStudent without failing all of my subjects. So if I had to choose, which one should I stick to? The amateur kart project or the bigger, more professional MotoStudent?

3- Speaking of gaining experience. I think that knowing how real teams on real racing competitions work would be great and would teach me a lot, but of course, I'm only in the second year of my degree so I know next to nothing. In Madrid there's the Jarama Circuit, which while in the past it hosted Formula 1 and other huge events, now it only races some smaller national touring car or historic championships. I've thought of taking advantage of that and asking the teams in those competitions to let me work with them in one race, for free, even if it's doing things like cleaning the car, mopping the floor or just watching how the engineers work. I'd love to ask them many things about their jobs and to see how they do it. The problem is that I don't know if that would even be possible, maybe it's not even legal. Would that be helpful to my career? Do you think there's something more I could do in this situation?

Sorry if this isn't the right place to post this. Also, if there's anything I've missed that I could be doing to get closer to my goal of becoming an F1 engineer, please say it, it could be really helpful. Thank you in advance! :)

JohnMayerSpecial
JohnMayerSpecial
0
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2020 6:40 am

Re: How to gain work experience in motorsport as a student and other questions

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Hello, I’m an occasional lurker to the site, and signed up just to reply. I’m in my mid 30’s now, and if I could share this information with my 20 year old self maybe I’d be working in motorsports now instead of an unrelated field.

I didn’t see a road to motorsport because of growing up in a family that didn’t care about it, and I was not near any major tracks or events. So when I was in my early teens and early 20’s I just modified my car at home and raced around in the hills. I finally started doing legal autocross events, the lowest form of motorsport in my area, and through participating in events I found that even if I didn’t drive, my local club needed volunteers to run events. Through volunteering at events I became friends with people that were equally passionate about racing. This lead to an awesome time in my life where I was at local events, helping new car friends with their cars, then traveling a few hours away to Super Lap Battle time attack events, and then the 25 hours of Thunderhill, all working in pit crews for free. Simple local connections led to these travel events and rubbing elbows with big name teams, if I was a young man, and had your education, I’m sure I could have talked to one of these teams and gone further.

Fast forward a few years, and I ended up volunteering at a race shop by offering to mop floors, empty the garbage, just like you were saying. Within a month I was tearing down engines, balancing internals, and helping with alignments at a place where the owner of the shop worked on the ‘90s Nissan prototypes, and he developed the Viper V8 (look it up) motors for the Le Mans efforts. I’d just do a few hours on Fridays, but I was again in that world of motorsport where possibilities were around if I didn’t already have a career.

Long story short, go to your local track, go kart track, motorsport event, no matter how small. Racing is still a small industry, when they see some one with passion, they get that person. Your attitude of willing to mop floors just to be around motorsports is just what people want. As a bonus, you’ll realize there’s these little parts of motorsport you don’t know about until you’re a part of it, and that will put you ahead of other applicants.

At a normal job you might have a break at 9, 12, and 2. But if you’re at the track and there are four different groups of 20 minutes of cars running, you work the run group before your car prepping it, then you’re on the pit wall while it’s on track. The run group after you’re making tweaks, repairing damage, changing tires, whatever, and only in that group furthest from your driver’s on track time do you take a break. That’s your chance to pee, eat, check your phone, whatever. Learning that rhythm of where to be at events, at what time will put you miles ahead of people who have just been in an office or classroom.

Again, I don’t have all of the answers or your education, but I’ve been fortunate to experience some rad motorsports moments just by being available and friendly. But I think being around even the most modest of motorsports events will help your career. Good luck, and if you get to F1, maybe shoot a pit pass my way.

Ringleheim
Ringleheim
15
Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:02 am

Re: How to gain work experience in motorsport as a student and other questions

Post

luismb wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:30 pm
Hi! I'm in my second year of Mechanical Engineering and I'm located in Madrid, Spain. My goal is to one day become an engineer in F1, WEC or similar motorsports, so I have some questions.

1- I want to do a master's in Motorsports Engineering but I'm unsure where should I go. I've heard that the best place to do this degree is in Oxford Brookes, but I don't know if I'll be able to study abroad, have high enough grades to go there or even afford it. There are options in Spain too, like one run by Campos Racing, which is cheaper and much closer to me. How important is the university where you study your master's degree to get a job in motorsports?

2- Before the master's I want to gain some experience. We don't have a Formula Student in my uni but we have something similar where we build a kart from scratch by ourselves, although with a much smaller budget and no official competition, we just race it in an amateur endurance race when the kart is finished to see if it works. There's a MotoStudent program too, basically a FStudent for motorbikes. I'm thinking of applying for that too next year but I'm not sure I'll be able to do both the kart and MotoStudent without failing all of my subjects. So if I had to choose, which one should I stick to? The amateur kart project or the bigger, more professional MotoStudent?

3- Speaking of gaining experience. I think that knowing how real teams on real racing competitions work would be great and would teach me a lot, but of course, I'm only in the second year of my degree so I know next to nothing. In Madrid there's the Jarama Circuit, which while in the past it hosted Formula 1 and other huge events, now it only races some smaller national touring car or historic championships. I've thought of taking advantage of that and asking the teams in those competitions to let me work with them in one race, for free, even if it's doing things like cleaning the car, mopping the floor or just watching how the engineers work. I'd love to ask them many things about their jobs and to see how they do it. The problem is that I don't know if that would even be possible, maybe it's not even legal. Would that be helpful to my career? Do you think there's something more I could do in this situation?

Sorry if this isn't the right place to post this. Also, if there's anything I've missed that I could be doing to get closer to my goal of becoming an F1 engineer, please say it, it could be really helpful. Thank you in advance! :)
One thing you can do and have direct control over is make sure your grades are perfect.

Everyone wants to work in F1! Your grades have to be superior.

Although even then, I suppose there are always exceptions to rules.

I have read many articles over the years talking about this; many times people in F1 have mentioned that they want to see some type of dedicated commitment by you to racing. I.E., they don't want to see that you are only a student studying mechanics, they want to see you are a "racer" at heart.

Get involved in any type of racing, any way you can, would be my advice.