Becoming a race engineer can be a long and challenging career path, but one that is extremely rewarding for a true motor sports enthusiast. A race engineer's role on a race team is more important than ever as cars become more reliant on technology. The engineer's job is to evaluate the car's performance and improve upon it by adjusting suspension, engine settings, wing height and angle, and other details that affect a car's overall performance on the racetrack.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering
Obtain a Bachelor's degree or higher in mechanical engineering. This education will provide the basic knowledge required to act as a race engineer. A degree is vitally important in today's racing industry, where cars have become much more complex. Some colleges offer engineering degrees specifically for motor sports.
Participate in internships or Formula SAE. Some colleges work in collaboration with race teams, racing schools or race tracks to provide internship opportunities. This offers a chance to get hands-on experience while forming valuable relationships with racing professionals. Formula SAE is a competition for teams from college engineering programs. Each team designs, builds and races a small formula-style race car. In addition to gaining experience, Formula SAE is also a well-respected program in the racing industry.
Volunteer for race teams. Find a racing series in your area--whether it be an amateur, semi-pro or professional one--and contact teams about volunteer opportunities. Volunteers may not do actual engineering work, but being a part of the team allows a first-hand glimpse at how a team functions. It is also a valuable networking tool.
Education and Experience
Prepare a resume that highlights your education and racing experience. Be sure to include all volunteer work performed for race teams, even if the tasks performed were not related to engineering.
Make a list of racing series and their participating teams. Consider series that many race car drivers and teams use as a building tool on their way to large, popular series such as NASCAR, IndyCar and the American Le Mans Series. These building or "ladder" series include the Skip Barber Pro Series, Formula Mazda and SCCA National.
Contact the teams and visit them in person whenever possible. Take resumes and business cards to the racetrack and speak with team managers. If attending a race is not possible, send a letter or e-mail and inquire about a job. Networking is a key aspect in the racing industry, and building positive relationships is important for a successful race engineer.
Finding a Job
Tips and warnings
- When searching for a college engineering program, consider schools that offer a race engineer speciality or a racing internship.
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