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You might think that working for NASCAR is exciting and glamorous, but a good number of the behind-the-scenes jobs are demanding and share little, if any, of the limelight. Transporters, also called haulers, spend more time on the road than at the racetrack, and usually don’t even travel with the team. Moreover, the job entails much more than just driving. To get into the field, you need a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, and connections into a team.
Get in the Door
Race teams don’t look for haulers, and usually have a stack of resumes that get very little attention. That’s because you need to know someone on the inside to break into the field. There are a number of ways to get in the door; the most obvious is to know someone who holds a spot on the team. Even a friend of a friend can give you a recommendation. If you have no direct connections, you may need to build a reputation by starting small. Volunteer at small races run by an organization such as the Automobile Racing Club of America. Earn a reputation and mount a campaign to get into the big leagues of NASCAR. Flood them with regular correspondence, attend the races, and get as close as you can to the drivers and their crews. It takes persistence, but a strong desire to become a NASCAR transporter, coupled with tenacity, can land you the gig.
Carry-All With Care
NASCAR haulers are jacks-of-all trades. While driving is a big part of their job, they are responsible for carrying and maintaining most of the equipment racers and their teams rely on to win races. Transporters carry cars in 80,000-lb. haulers that also hold the teams’ refrigerators, TVs, office equipment, food, tools, computers and spare parts. The teams rely on haulers to get to the track early to bring team helmets, uniforms, satellite dishes and most everything they may need. Transporters also often serve double duty by cooking, cleaning and being an all-around “mother” in many ways to the crew and drivers. Many are mechanics and work on the parts and engines they carry.
On the Road
Drivers usually leave days before the big race, well in advance of the rest of the crew. Legally, big-rig drivers can only drive for 11 hours a day, so many jobs require two drivers if they plan to drive straight through on long hauls. Drivers get to the track and prepare for the team to arrive, and then just when the race starts, they often are back on the road, working to get to the next stop. On the road, drivers may encounter fans who may despise the race car driver, whose face and name are plastered on the side of the truck, and give the transporter a hard time. Others may love the team and expect a honk. Transporters serve as ambassadors for the team when they’re on the road, so they must interact appropriately at all times.
Perks and Benefits
NASCAR transporters don’t make any more than other long-haul truck drivers, according to Chris Hamilton, a NASCAR transporter. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, the median pay for big-rig drivers was about $38,200. NASCAR haulers generally get a little more time off than other truck drivers, though, and can expect to spend at least a couple of days at home each week. They also are part of the NASCAR family and enjoy the camaraderie of the crew and team. They also don’t have to sleep in their trucks -- as NASCAR team members, transporters get a hotel room with the rest of the crew when they’re on the road.
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Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."
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