Their faces may not be splashed across billboards, but it is their skills that literally keep the wheels turning.
Welcome to the breakneck world of the V8 Supercar Mechanics, an industry fuelled by high adrenaline and only accessible to the very best.
So how to get your foot in the door? Admittedly, it’s not easy.
“It takes a very particular type of person to make it as a motorsports mechanics,” says Mark Dutton, Race Team Manager at Triple Eight – one of the most successful V8 racing teams in Australia.
“Of course, you have to be passionate about cars and the industry, but above anything else, you have to have the right attitude. We get guys and girls coming to us from all over the world with no experience at all, but it’s the ones who have the drive that really stand out.”
For Triple Eight, the type of person you are is often more important than your qualifications.
“The ability to get on with your team for long periods is essential. We work in incredibly tight pockets and we travel together frequently, so the team dynamic is of huge importance,” Mark says.
Initiative and an abnormal level of attention to detail are also essential factors.
“There are a trillion procedures to adhere to, so you can’t just sit back and think ‘she’ll be right.”
“You need to be the type of person who constantly double-checks your work and doesn’t take offence to someone else triple checking it again.”
“A millimetre can make the difference between success and failure – we’re responsible for the driver’s lives the minute they hit the track, so the pressures are enormous.”
As with most competitive industries, pay can be low and the days long, particularly at the outset.
Motorsport mechanics is far from a 9-5 occupation and shifts frequently stretch well beyond 12 hours, meaning clock-watchers need not apply.
However, for the right sort of person, the rewards far outweigh the negatives. Although qualifications and are not essential, they do help, as does having contacts already in the field.
Be prepared to undertake some voluntary work, and look into courses and certificates that specialise in Motorsport Technology (check out http://www.myskills.gov.au/courses/details?Code=AUR30912).
One thing that is also frequently overlooked is the importance of physical fitness. V8 Supercar Mechanics have an incredibly physical job, so it’s crucial you take good care of yourself in order to keep up with the demanding workload.
And remember, Racing Engineers won’t come looking for you, so make sure you put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up, you never know where contacts you make along the way might end up, and a lot of positions are filled by word of mouth.
Cold call and email teams that you are interested in working with, and familiarise yourself with industry magazines and websites such as http://www.speedcafe.com/, where opportunities with the big teams are often advertised.
If you’re already working in mechanics, enquire with your employer about any award schemes that you might be able to put yourself forward for. After all, if you’re not excelling in regular mechanics, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to stand out in the highly competitive world of motorsport.
Images | Vue Images 2016