Got the need for speed, but don't want to get behind the wheel of a race
car? How about working as an auto racing mechanic?
Auto racing mechanics repair race cars. The repair work is done between
races and during races -- and that's some fast-paced action!
Depending on the size of your team, you could specialize in one task, or
you could be responsible for several different mechanic-related tasks.
The racing season generally runs from February to October. The majority
of races happen on weekends, so be prepared to have a different schedule than
your friends and family.
There are two types of racing: open wheel and closed wheel.
Open wheel racing includes Formula One and Indy races. Closed wheel racing
includes racing stock cars on a closed road. Experienced mechanics don't have
a problem working in either area. Keep in mind, though, if you're working
on the Indy circuit, you could be away from home for up to 50 weeks of the
So what exactly do auto racing mechanics do? Well, they perform tasks similar
to any mechanic: they change tires, work on brakes and deal with transmissions.
These days, there are also mechanics who deal with cars' on-board computer
The difference is that auto racing mechanics need to do everything a mechanic
does, but faster! The pressure is on, and it's a competitive environment.
Also, race cars are built differently than regular cars, so auto racing mechanics
need to understand the specific parts and workings of race cars.
Mechanics often buy their own tools, especially smaller, hand-held tools.
It's expected that you will gather a collection of tools as you gain more
and more experience.
Auto racing mechanics is still a very male-dominated field. However, there
are women in the field, and they love what they do just as much as the guys
Despite the passion that many auto racing mechanics have for the job, the
industry can be a bit unstable, says Brett Goodman. He owns a racing academy.
"It's a volatile industry that's quite susceptible to external economic
influence," he says. The number of people making a living in this field ebbs
and flows with the economy, he adds.
Jay Hedgecock is the president of a racing academy in North Carolina. He
agrees with Goodman about the job being vulnerable to the economy. "As of
today, the demand for race mechanics is lower than it was two years ago, as
a direct result of the economy and the decline in sponsorships available for
teams," he says.
Auto racing mechanics may work up to seven days a week, at times, says
Hedgecock. But on the bright side, the job can involve lots of travel and
the opportunity to meet new people.