Starting a motor racing career is a challenging but rewarding path that requires skill, dedication, and financial investment. Here is a more detailed explanation of the steps you can follow to pursue a career in motor racing:
- Develop your driving skills
- Get Licensed
- Find a race team
- Get sponsored
- Participate in races
- Network with other racers and industry professionals
What is a professional driver?
A professional driver is a person who earns a living through driving, typically in a high-performance or race car. This can include drivers who participate in motorsports such as Formula One, NASCAR, IndyCar, and endurance racing, as well as drivers who work in other industries such as trucking, delivery, and ride-hailing. Professional drivers typically have advanced driving skills, a thorough understanding of vehicle dynamics and performance, and the ability to handle high-stress situations.
They also often have a strong understanding of the mechanical workings of their vehicles and the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments to improve performance. Becoming a professional driver often requires years of training and experience, as well as a passion for driving and the ability to continuously improve one’s skills.
Types of professional drivers
“Professional driver” is a term commonly used for race car drivers participating in motorsports competitions where they aim to finish first or complete the course in the fastest time. There are various types of professional drivers, including:
- Drag – head-to-head competition in a straight course (typically one-quarter mile long).
- Open-wheel – racing in vehicles with open tops and exposed wheels on race tracks or street circuits (e.g. Formula One, IndyCar).
- Production – racing in unmodified or slightly modified production vehicles (known as showroom stock racers, with restrictions on modifications).
- Rally – a form of racing where the driver and co-driver complete stages as fast as possible and compare times, not competing head-to-head.
- Sports car – driving sports cars known as GTs or sports prototypes on closed-circuit tracks (two seats, enclosed wheels).
- Stock cars – appear as production cars but actually purpose-built for racing (e.g. NASCAR).
- Touring car – using production vehicles or mass-produced models modified for performance (endurance tested during races lasting up to 24 hours).
There are also other less well-known types of professional racing, including off-road in specially modified vehicles in harsh environments and kart racing in small low-slung vehicles.
How To Become A Pro Racing Driver
Here are the steps to follow to become a professional race car driver:
1. Develop your driving skills
The first step to starting a motor racing career is to develop your driving skills. You can take driving lessons to learn the basics of handling a car and to get a feel for driving at high speeds. Additionally, practicing at go-kart tracks is a great way to improve your driving skills and get used to the experience of racing. You can also participate in local races to gain experience and get a sense of the competition.
2. Get licensed
To compete in most motor racing events, you will need to obtain a racing license from the governing body in your area. This can be done by passing a series of tests and meeting certain requirements, such as minimum age and experience level. Some of the most well-known governing bodies include the FIA (International Automobile Federation) and NASCAR.
3. Find a race team
Joining a local racing team can provide you with valuable experience and exposure to the racing community. You can start your own team with other aspiring racers or seek out existing teams that are looking for new talent. When choosing a team, it’s important to consider the team’s level of experience and success, as well as their resources and goals.
4. Get sponsored
Financial support from sponsors can make a significant difference in pursuing a career in motor racing. Look for companies that are interested in sponsoring you in exchange for advertisement and branding opportunities. You can reach out to potential sponsors through your personal network, or by participating in local races and building a reputation as a talented racer.
5. Participate in races
The next step is to start competing in races and working your way up to higher levels of competition. As you gain experience and build your reputation, you can move on to more challenging races and higher levels of competition. Keep track of your performance and use this information to continually improve your skills.
6. Network with other racers and industry professionals
Building relationships with other racers and industry professionals can help you get noticed and lead to opportunities for advancement. Attend races, networking events, and other industry gatherings to meet people and make connections. Stay in touch with your contacts and continue to build your network over time.
What does a professional driver do?
Racing drivers must undergo rigorous training and testing to become competitive at the highest level. This includes physical training to improve their reflexes and endurance, as well as time on the track to develop their driving skills.
- Before a race, a racing driver will spend time preparing their vehicle and studying the course. This includes adjusting the vehicle’s settings to optimize performance, checking tire pressure and fluid levels, and familiarizing themselves with the track layout and turns.
- During a race, a racing driver must display their skills by navigating the course as quickly and safely as possible. This involves navigating tight turns and navigating around other vehicles while maintaining high speeds.
- A racing driver must also be able to make split-second decisions and react quickly in dangerous situations, such as sudden changes in weather conditions, mechanical failures, or collisions with other vehicles.
- In addition to their driving skills, a racing driver must also possess excellent strategic thinking. This includes calculating fuel consumption, and tire wear, and deciding when to make pit stops for fuel, tires, or repairs.
- Racing drivers must also have a strong understanding of the rules and regulations of their particular motorsport. They must be aware of the rules regarding overtaking, blocking, and penalties for unsafe driving.
- A racing driver’s success is not only determined by their on-track performance, but also by their teamwork with their crew and other members of their racing team. Racing drivers must have strong communication skills to effectively collaborate with their team and receive critical information and instructions during the race.
- Racing drivers also need to have the strong mental fortitude, as racing can be a physically and mentally demanding sport. They must be able to handle the pressure of competition and remain focused, even in the face of setbacks and disappointment.
- Off the track, racing drivers are often considered celebrities and are in high demand for promotional and marketing events. They may also be involved in product endorsements and sponsorships.
- The life of a racing driver is not without risks, as racing can be a dangerous sport. Racing drivers must always prioritize safety and take precautions to protect themselves and others on the track.
Starting a motor racing career is a challenging and rewarding path that requires skill, dedication, and financial investment. However, with hard work, persistence, and a willingness to learn and grow, anyone can achieve their dream of becoming a professional racer.