1. Motorsport – an enviable lifestyle?
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive on almost a daily basis is people asking how I ended up working in motorsport, and how they can do the same. A lifelong dream of my own, I have always aspired to one day work in Formula 1. Still on that pursuit myself, I wanted to share with you all my tips on how you can achieve your ambition. Advanced warning though, be prepared for very long days, lots of travelling and fleeting visits to locations – it’s not always the glamorous lifestyle as portrayed on TV!
2. Find your skill set
There are plenty of routes into motorsport, whether through design, engineering or marketing. Before you start, decide which route best suits you and how your skills complement that route. Should you be at the start of your career, research opportunities available which can help you develop your skills, whether that be at college, university or simply an online course.
Once you have your path forged in your mind, practice your skills to ensure that when you approach a team or series, you have the credibility behind you to ensure that you are offered a chance.
Having finished a degree in Business Economics, I approached a variety of Formula 1 teams to apply for a graduate marketing role. The Head of Communications for Force India, Will Hings, responded with a piece of advice that has shaped my career and I will always remember; at the time I was 1 in 100 applicants all vying for the same role. To succeed I would need to stand out from the crowd, so he told me to spend a few years gaining experience at a national level, so that I can approach again with it on my belt as a credible reason to take me over the rest. So that’s exactly what I did.
3. Build your brand
Personal branding is becoming increasingly important in today’s ultra-competitive world. Being able to market yourself to prospective employers with a credible portfolio is vital to achieving your goals, but like anything it takes time, commitment and persistence.
Think of your career like that of any of your motorsport heroes, they start in the junior categories and slowly work their way through the ranks from national to international, building credible, racing experience and backing from third parties along the way. You have to do the same. Whether you are an aspiring photographer, social media manager or mechanic, don’t expect to waltz into the top levels before putting the time in at club level.
Your first step should be to approach a team in the discipline of racing you are looking to progress into, whether open wheel, GT or touring cars. Offer them your services on an apprenticeship level and volunteer to go to a few events to help out. The club level teams are often looking for support and are far more willing to help train. But don’t expect to be financially rewarded for your efforts, some may cover your travel costs, just think of how it will benefit you. You are receiving on-the-job training, building your portfolio and more importantly building your brand. As you gain more experience work your way through the series and you will start to see the benefits you desire.
4. Set realistic expectations
Patience is key. Don’t try and rush your development and enjoy it as much as you can, if you’re looking to try and fast-track your career, work out the motorsport calendar and work out which series don’t clash with one-another, as you can approach both if you are determined enough.
Set yourself a yearly target, what you want to achieve, who you want to network with, do you want to stay with your current team or trial a new series? If you’re struggling for opportunities in one look for them within another, be open to change, every new discipline is another string to your bow, and makes you more attractive to high-profile teams.
5. Have an end goal
This will probably be the first thing you decide upon, but it’s also the most vital throughout your career. Find people that inspire you, whether it’s becoming the next Toto Wolff or Rob Smedley, the next major photographer for LAT Images, or want to produce the captivating social media campaigns developed by Red Bull Racing, keep your end goal constantly in sight. Regularly check what they or other influencers are doing, how you can learn from it or incorporate it into your own skillset and use it as a drive to push forward.
There will always be a low point in your pursuit of a motorsport career. Whether it’s the uncertainty year-on-year of not knowing if your job will continue next season, the shoddy hotels you have to put up with in order to be 5 minutes from the race circuit, or the lack of weekends and spending family time together due to always being on the road, it will happen. But keep your end goal in sight, use it to drive that passion and you will succeed.