Race Car Mechanics: Salary, Education Requirements And More

Being a race car mechanic is not quite what it used to be, but it is still one of the best jobs out there for people that love race cars. A lot of people have questions about what being a race car mechanic involves, how to become one, and what you should expect to earn.

Becoming a race car mechanic usually requires some sort of advanced training, although degrees in engineering and racing-specific qualifications are also becoming popular entry requirements. You can expect to earn between $35,000 and $40,000 as a race car mechanic in the USA.

This is a very brief generalization, as there are a lot of other factors involved. Plus, the salary will differ by state and by country, so we will go into more detail below about what you should expect to earn. First, let’s take a look at what being a race car mechanic involves.

Job Overview Of A Race Car Mechanic

A Lot Of Different Jobs In One

Being a race car mechanic is a highly varied job, and it involves putting a lot of different skills to many uses. Your main roles as a race car mechanic are to prepare the car for racing, and to make sure that it is always in working order, carrying out repairs and improvements as and when required. However, within these roles there are many sub roles as well.

The mechanics are some of the most important members of the racing team, as they are the ones that not only ensure the car is fit to race, but also actively work to improve it behind the scenes. This is essential for winning races in the evolving world of racing, as the driver can only do so much out on the track with a car that is not performing at its best.

Knowing The Car Inside Out

Race car mechanics typically work on every part of the car, from the internals to the chassis, and from the engine to the brakes. Not only do they constantly work to make sure that every part is in working order between races, but they also need to actively look for ways to improve the car as well. They usually do this as part of a team, but they do need to be able to work on their own too.

It will often depend on the size of the team, but race car mechanics may find themselves as a team technician, working primarily on the car between races, or as part of the pit crew, working on the car during the race when it comes into the pits. For smaller teams, you might find yourself doing both of these jobs, so you could end up in some high-pressure situations.

A Key Part Of The Team

Working together with the rest of the team of mechanics, as well as the wider racing team and of course the driver, the race car mechanic plays a key role in the success of a racing team. Without a good mechanic behind the scenes, the driver will definitely struggle to win races.

Salary Of A Race Car Mechanic

The salary you can expect to earn as a race car mechanic will vary depending on several factors. Your level of experience will be the biggest factor, but where you live is also important. Which motorsport you decide to specialize in can also have a big effect on your salary, and as you progress you will also have to choose teams to work for, which will also influence your salary.

In The USA

The average salary for a race car mechanic in the USA stands between $30,000 – 40,000 per year. However, this drops to as low as $23,000 in Hawaii and up to $45,000 in New York. However, at the top of the scale, such as in the top teams in NASCAR, a mechanic can earn $80,000+, with some of the very top teams paying several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Across The World

Race car mechanic salaries can also vary across the world, with the average entry level salary in the UK somewhere around £15,000. This rises to around £25,000 with a bit more experience, and again at the higher levels of motorsport it can exceed £100,000. The average seems to be fairly uniform across the world, but obviously in countries with little racing presence it will be much lower.

Motorsport Specialization

If you do specialize in a motorsport you can earn much more than the average, as we have shown with NASCAR. Top F1 mechanics may earn around £60,000 if they are very experienced, however the team may also pay out win bonuses. This could be per race, or per championship. It is quite common for championship winning teams to pay bonuses of up to £10,000 to their mechanics.

Educational Requirements

If you want to become a race car mechanic, you will also need to consider the job’s entry requirements. These can come in the form of specific educational requirements, as well as certain amounts of past experience. In the past, a lot of being a race car mechanic involved learning on the job. Nowadays, more focus is put on the experience and educational background instead.

A Competitive Industry

The position of a race car mechanic is a highly competitive one, and you will be going head to head with a lot of other candidates for the same job. This means you really want to have as many things working in your favor as possible, both educationally and in terms of experience. There are specific courses you can take, and you can also try to get some experience in a garage if possible.

Specific Qualifications

One of the most popular qualifications that you can gain is from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. The ASE certificate itself requires you to go through several courses and tests that cost around $15 per test. These will make you a more attractive candidate, but having a college or university degree in an engineering subject can also be very useful.

There is also a NASCAR specific course that you can take from the NASCAR Technical Institute, which lasts several months. This is the ideal choice for those looking to get into NASCAR teams in the future, but it would obviously serve as a useful qualification for those seeking to become any kind of race car mechanic.

In The UK

In the UK, a BTEC in automotive engineering is usually desired, if not required, to become a race car mechanic. University degrees in engineering subjects are also useful, while apprenticeships are also a popular route as well. However, usually more important than qualifications is the amount of experience that you have, and so getting even just a small amount can help you to get a job.

You will of course receive training on the job, but you will be expected to have spent some time around cars so that you can pick up the more advanced theory and techniques much faster. Having an interest in race cars is also vital and having a racing background helps too. This could be simply helping out with your local racing team on the weekends or even racing karts as a child.

Finding A Race Car Mechanic Job

Once you are prepared for the job of a race car mechanic, you have to go out and find one. This can sometimes be very difficult, and once again it will depend on a lot of factors. If there is a lot of racing nearby, you will find it much easier to seek out a job as a mechanic than if you live in a city where there is next to no racing presence.

Building Your Network Is Key

However, if you come into the world of race car mechanics through the university or trade school route, you will probably be introduced to people who might help. You will build up a network of contacts as well throughout your learning, which will help you in your pursuit of a job when you finish your course. However, you will have to do some active job searching by yourself too.

Building your network as soon as possible is key, as it will take time to prove yourself to the right people. The important thing is to continue building your portfolio of qualifications and experience, as this is what will turn heads when you go for interviews or reach out to employers.

Building Your Own Business

Finally, let’s consider the prospect of starting your own racing mechanic business. This is not for the beginner, and not simply an easy way out if you are struggling to find a job. However, if you have a decent amount of experience as a race car mechanic and have a solid understanding of how businesses work, it could be a very worthwhile thing to do.

Experience Is Essential Here

As we have said, experience is essential for starting any business, and in the case of a mechanic business you will also probably need a strong team behind you as well. They don’t all have to be excellent mechanics, but you have to be able to train them to become excellent mechanics if you want to be successful.

Creating A Business Plan

But before you get your team together, you will of course need to actually create the business. For this you will need to create a solid business plan, as you will most likely need to apply for both funding and a license or permit, and whoever you are applying to will want proof that you are worth it. Crafting a good business plan will allow you to show the other person why your business will work.

Aside from creating the business plan, you will also need to find people to take it to. Usually you will need to secure some funding, as getting the equipment and location for a new business tends to cost a lot of money. You won’t have much in the way of income when you just start up, and so a loan is almost always essential when starting a new business that relies on expensive equipment.

There are many ways to go about this, however doing your own research and asking around with various banks will ensure that you know how to get the best deal. You ultimately want to aim for as low an interest rate as you can, and you have to factor in your costs that will be inevitable within the early stages of your business.

Licenses And Permits

Planning permission and permits or licenses will also be essential, as you will at least want a shop or a storage facility for your equipment. If you plan to serve racing teams with your business you will most likely follow them around between events, but you will always need somewhere to store your equipment when you are not using it.

Obtaining a license is usually just a case of applying to your local or state departments and speaking to the relevant people. As long as you can prove your worth, getting a license doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Aside from licenses, you may need specific permits in order to sell your services on your premises, or to construct extra buildings if need be.

Registering Your Business

Once you have all of the applications accepted you will then need to register your business. This can take a few weeks, and so this is where planning is once again important. Usually you will want to register as an LLC, which stands for Limited Liability Company. This is in contrast to be a sole proprietor, and there are some big differences to note.

In an LLC, your assets are separated from the business. What this means essentially is that if your business fails, you do not need to bear the burden of debt as your personal bank accounts, house, car and other assets are separate from the business. As a sole proprietor, you are responsible for all of the debts that the business incurs.

Think About Your Taxes

There is another popular option too, known as an S-Corporation. This type of business comes with some tax benefits, so it is an ideal choice for smaller businesses. You will need to consider in your business plan how much revenue you expect to make within the first few years, and this will help you to determine which type of business you should register. It’s always best to consult with a lawyer.

You also need to come up with a name for your business, which will be an important thing to consider as it is what your customers will first hear. You want it to be memorable, while also being fitting for your business. Your location choice is also key, and so it is always best to do a lot of research before you simply buy up the cheapest lot that is available.

Set Up The Right Accounts

You will also want to set up a business bank account, so that you can separate your money from the business’ money. Then you will need to consider things like taxes and insurance, with the latter being very important for a mechanics business. This is because you will be housing a lot of valuable equipment, and should anything happen to any of it, you want to be covered.

Effective Market Research

Finally, you will want to conduct some market research. This involves scoping out your local and surrounding area to make sure that there is a need for your mechanic business. If there are lots of racing teams near you, find out what their current situation is with regards to mechanics. Reach out to people and find out what they want from a mechanic.

Then, you can begin to paint a picture of the kind of business that you want to run. You will also need to employ a tip from earlier, and that is to build your network as fast as possible. Your network in this case is ideally going to be members of racing teams and car manufacturers, as these are eventually going to be your customers and the ones that will pay your salary.

Starting a mechanic business is definitely not for everyone. However, if you have a wealth of experience and a strong desire to build something for yourself, it can be one of the most rewarding things that you can do. The most important thing to do is research and make sure there is a market for your business, and then simply take all of the necessary steps to get your business off the ground.

Final Thoughts

If you want to become a race car mechanic, there are several ways to go about it. Most racing teams these days will be looking for some sort of educational qualifications alongside experience in the industry, and so having a degree paired with some work experience in a garage could set you up perfectly for a job as a race car mechanic.

The salaries vary, but you could earn between $30,000 – 40,000 once you have some experience under your belt. There is definitely a lot of room to grow that further, but one of the best ways to do that is to start your own business. This is by no means an easy way to get there, but it can be one of the most rewarding when done correctly.