Overview of this career
A career as a race car driver offers thrills and excitement with the possibility of earning substantial income if you can compete successfully. After watching some races on TV many people will find themselves day dreaming how to become a race car driver. After you get through our information you’ll have a better grasp on the reality of how to be one and turn your dreaming into action.
Race car driving is a popular sport with major races broadcast over the national television networks. The top racers become celebrities and many garner highly lucrative product sponsorship deals. Those interested in entering this field can choose from the following types of auto racing:
- Drag racing – A race between two drivers conducted over a straight course known as a drag strip. The strip is usually short and the vehicles designed for very high acceleration. Drag racing is comparable to sprinting among track athletes. The National Hot Rod Association organizes most drag races in the United States.
- Stock car racing – A stock car is a vehicle that you can purchase at dealerships. However, stock cars have modifications to make them more suitable for racing. Some highly modified stock cars have entirely different engines and other systems as compared to the production cars offered to the public. A stock car race typically occurs on an oval track with banked curves. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the major organizing body for stock car races.
- Open-wheel racing – An open wheel races features vehicles with open wheels and an open cockpit. A race will typically occur on an oval course although some happen on blocked off public streets. The Indy Racing League is the major governing body for open-wheel racing.
A race car driver will spend most of his or her time practicing for competitive races. The driver must learn to handle the vehicle at top speeds while maintaining maximum control. A race car driver must be acutely aware of the other competitors on the track and make decisions in accelerating, braking and overtaking other competitors.
The sport requires strategic and tactical thinking along with strong determination to win competitions. In order to maximize earnings, the race car driver must consistently win or place highly in races. Keep reading to find out more about race car driving careers.
While there are no traditional educational or degree requirements to become a race car driver, it does pay to prepare by taking specific coursework. For example, math skills are valuable in making certain types of calculations related to longer races.
Drivers, of course, must also have all the necessary licenses in order to take up this career. They will need to go beyond the basic driver’s license and take courses that teach driving of high-velocity cars. Special schools are available for race car drivers to develop skills that will help them during training and competition.
A typical career route for a race car driver will be to start off at lower levels including go-kart racing while they are still young. As they gain experience and success, they can build up their reputation as a driver and start working their way up to higher-lever races.
Racing schools have their own courses and racing cars for students to use for practice. Another way to learn is through apprenticeships with race car driving teams. Drivers will learn how to operate vehicles at very high speeds during apprenticeships or courses at racing schools.
Eventually a successful driver can qualify for racing on major tracks. Becoming a race car driver may require relocating to specific areas associated with auto racing in order to increase one’s chances of success.
Benefits of this career
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect data specifically on the career of race car driver. Unlike many other job classifications, the BLS cannot provide wage or employment statistics for this field.
Typically, the race car driver competes for purses awarded to the winner and top place finishers In many cases, the purses are just enough to keep the driving teams from going into debt. For part-time race car drivers, it is usually necessary to have some other type of supplemental income. However, once a driver becomes successful, the prize money rises substantially as they are able to compete in big races.
A top driver will typically have a sponsor who pays their expenses and shares a percentage of the purse with the driving team. For NASCAR racers, a winning driving team may receive 40-50 percent of the purse that they split among sponsors, owners and team members.
In order to become successful, the driver must practice and demonstrate determination and skill. Unlike many other careers, the race car driver is in direct competition with other drivers for the same prize money. If they fail to win races, they will not make money.
Location is extremely important for advancing a career in auto racing. For example, NASCAR drivers should settle in Charlotte, North Carolina, the location of most team shops.
Because the BLS does not collect statistics specifically for the profession of race car driving, it is impossible to ascertain the outlook for this career field. At any time, however, it is highly competitive and drivers must show potential and a strong desire to win.
The popularity of auto racing waxes and wanes, and predictions on its future course are difficult. In 2010, for example, NASCAR saw a 15 to 20 percent dip in TV ratings and race attendance. Such factors can have a significant impact on the demand for new race car drivers.
Summary of previous information