The NASCAR Life: The Job
The positions available in the sport are as varied as the people who work in them. Like any professional sports team there is a front office that handles the business side of things. There are accountants, account managers, PR people, travel coordinators and countless other positions. For the most part, these are the positions that have normal 9-5 hours with some weekend travel time (obviously if you work PR you are traveling every weekend). Despite the normality of these positions, they are not easy to come by and for the most part there is nothing overly glamorous about them. Sure you get to go to the track every now and then and interact with the drivers, but you still have deadlines to make and bosses to make happy.
Down on the shop floor there are mechanics, body guys, engineers, paint guys and many others. These positions are the ones that are highly specialized and require a good deal of knowledge about race cars. The people who work these jobs work a lot of hours and are at the beckon call of a crew chief and many others above them. During the season these guys often work 50 or more hours. They have cars to get ready and often not a lot of time to do it.
That leaves us finally with the on-the-road guys. The mechanics, pit crews and hauler drivers are the ones who bring the race (or circus as we like to call it) to the fans week after week. TC earlier put the spotlight on the hauler drivers and daily shows the ups and downs of working on a pit crew. These guys and gals are some of the most dedicated people you would ever hope to find. Many work 40 hours a week at the shop and then spend their weekends at the track. They spend very little time at home and often times are forced to give up a lot to continue their careers.
Recently I went to lunch with some guys who work for a race team and a trait that I often see within my own family emerged. Everyone complained about how much they hated their jobs and how it was great when they were at Roush, or Hendrick, or Yates but the team they work for now stinks. It is something that always makes me laugh a little, because they all do it and I suppose it is something most people do at any job. They say “The job’s okay, but it could be better.”
So lets talk money. I would guess many who dream of careers in the sport picture fat paychecks and awesome bonuses. While this is not entirely untrue, for the most part the money isn’t all that great. Lets say for instance you drive hauler for a team during a championship year, there is a good chance you’ll make very low six figures, but if your driving hauler for any other team in a normal year (which is most everybody) you won’t be making anywhere near that kind of money. Bonuses are pretty common among large teams and if they have a good year, you’ll get a good bonus. On average they’ll be in the mid to high single thousand dollars, obviously more if a championship is won. Despite this, very rarely is overtime paid and almost always overtime work is not the exception, but the rule. A good living can be made in the sport, but generally not more so than in any other industry.
Not long ago, a guy I know who drives hauler told me about being at an event with the truck when a girl walked up to him. She said, “you must have the best job ever. What do you do, just drive to the track?” He laughingly said, “yeah thats about it.” The fact of the matter is, his job is almost neverending, be it cooking cleaning or driving, he never sits still.
So whats the moral of this story? Despite how cool it may seem, it’s just a job. Sure these guys have a lot of fun and enjoy a great comradery, but at the end of the day, they work their butts off and don’t enjoy a whole lot of benefits. Like anything though racing is something that gets in your blood and no matter how much they may say it, they wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. If this all still sounds appealing to you, get in line because you’re not the only one.