If you admire the sound of a well-tuned engine and enjoy competitive sports, you might want to consider a career as a motorsports mechanic. Racing mechanics design, build and test engines, chassis, race car bodies and other components for racing cars, boats and motorcycles. Thee mechanics also make quick adjustments and repairs between and during races to help drivers move to the front of the pack. To earn that first paycheck, though, you need to follow some key steps.
Take auto shop and math classes in high school and earn your diploma. A good high school education provides a solid foundation of knowledge. It also sets the course for a college degree or certificate in auto mechanics.
Enroll in an auto mechanics program at a community college or technical school or in a university mechanical engineering program. Some technical schools focus on race mechanics, including engine and chassis design, building and testing, but you generally must relocate to attend one of these specialized schools. Plus, most award a certificate rather than a college degree. The majority of community colleges offer a two-year associate’s degree in auto mechanics and many universities have bachelor's degree programs in mechanical engineering. A solid education may give you an advantage over other race mechanic job applicants.
Find work in an auto garage and become a certified technician. Racing teams overwhelmingly prefer experienced mechanics who have certification in one or more service areas. To gain certification, you must have two years of work experience and pass a certification test. Master mechanics, who have certification in all eight areas, have the greatest chance to land a job in racing.
Start your own go-kart or stock car team or volunteer to help another team on the local circuit. This can give you valuable garage experience in the racing industry, while providing a chance to network with racing teams that hire mechanics.
Create a resume noting your education and work experience as an auto mechanic. Include all mechanic work in racing, even if you did not earn a paycheck, and send it to race teams along with a cover letter explaining why they should hire you. According to Formula I mechanic Matthew Conroy, race teams receive hundreds of resumes. Make sure yours stands out to increase your chances of landing an interview. Organize your resume to put the strongest information first and use standard fonts to make it easy to read.
Ace the interview. Show confidence by staying positive and expressing your eagerness to work for the company. Demonstrate your skill with race engines, chassis, suspensions and other components by providing specific examples of your work and knowledge acquired at college or through your work as a mechanic. You also need to show that you are a good decision-maker, work well under pressure and will represent the company with professionalism and honor.
Wait for job offers to arrive and accept the best offer based on your salary requirements and career goals. Salaries start at about $45,000, according to Hot Rod Magazine.
Consider moving to an area with a solid racing industry. Charlotte, N.C. and Daytona Beach, Fla., each feature multiple race venues, including famed super-speedways. Many race teams have garages in or near these cities. Additionally, these cities feature companies that design and build race engines, chassis and other components.
According to Hot Rod Magazine, some race teams accept referrals from tech school reps. If you choose to enroll at a technical school, make a good impression on the administrators and instructors.
Fierce competition for race mechanic jobs makes landing a job difficult. You may need to invest several years working in an auto garage and volunteering for a local stock car team before you can land a full-time job with a race team.