One of the most frequent questions asked of myself and Journo by readers, is how one can go about getting a job in racing. In email responses and our many posts on the subject, we try to be as helpful as possible, while hopefully keeping people’s expectations realistic. Racing, at the highest levels, is a very difficult industry to break into. It takes a ton of sacrifice to do it, and some get started, only to realize they don’t have the stomach for it.
Over my own career, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking to a friend in the sport and said “hey, what happened to so-and-so, I haven’t see him around in while,” only to be told they packed up their stuff and moved back home to go back to work doing what they were doing before the racing bug bit them. It’s a very common tale.
If you read last Saturday’s “The NASCAR Week That Was” post here at TNI, you may have seen the link to Patrick Reynolds’ blog post from Bump-Drafts.com entitled “Walking Away From NASCAR.” Reynolds is a former race team employee who was one of the many victims of the massive layoffs the sport underwent before last season. In his post, Reynolds talks about his recent decision to take a job with a company that wasn’t a NASCAR team. The need to support his family, along with a more stable work environment were his main reasons for taking the job.
Knowing a little about his story, I respect Reynolds a great deal for doing what he did. The guy loves racing, and was able to make his passion a career for a while. But when push comes to shove, some things in life are just more important.
Reynolds post got me thinking about discussions I’ve had with Journo and some other friends before about working in racing.
Racing is a tough business. There is no way around it. It might appear to be all fun and games, but working 60-70 hours during the week in the shop, then heading to the track to continue working all weekend can be very grueling. Working that much is also not very conducive to a healthy home life.
And trust me, nobody is getting rich doing this. Some guys definitely make a very nice living, but it could all go away in an instant. Job security in racing is nearly non-existent. If a team’s funding dries up, the organization could be here today and gone tomorrow.
What makes the lack of job security even worse, is the competition for positions. A guy used to be able to lose his job on Monday, pack his toolbox in his pickup, roll down the street, and be back working again by Tuesday or Wednesday. This just isn’t realistic anymore. Teams that have open positions are now inundated with qualified applicants. All of whom will work more hours for less money then their peers. It can be tough dealing with the pressure of knowing that if you screw up just a little bit, there are 100 guys waiting in the wings to take your spot from you.
For those of you who are reading this that have thought about trying to break into NASCAR, I’m not trying to scare you away. If you want something, go get it, and don’t let anyone tell you something can’t be done. What I am doing though, is trying to educate you on some of the difficulties that lie ahead.
Like we’ve said here many times before, if you want in, be prepared. Learn as much as you can about the sport and which position you want, do what you need to do to make your resume as strong as possible, and network like nobody has ever networked before. Those connections with people in the sport will be your life line.