FROST: Who Works In Motorsports?

Tim Frost

WILMETTE, Ill. — In this month’s edition of the Business of Speed, we will examine employment in the motorsports industry.

Racing is typically looked at from the competition perspective. How fast can they go and what does it take to get there? — all with the ultimate goal of taking the checkered flag.

It takes many people to get there. Most of the discussion centers on the team — those preparing the cars at the shop and at the race track.

It starts at the shop with engineers, fabricators, mechanics and painters, all working on specific tasks.  Pre- and post-race duties are extensive during the season.

At the track, the pit crew will take care of refueling, tire changes and mechanical repairs. Strategy is critical to ensure peak per­­­form­ance and certain individuals are dedicated to that aspect of team operations.

There are also numerous service providers such as marketing and public relations personnel who support the entire organization.

Specific data on occupations in racing is not readily available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does gather info on the spectator sports industry. This segment has multiple subsets that includes operation of auto races, race teams and other industries that support motorsports.

The most recent data for the spectator sports industry indicates there are more than 500 million people working, at an hourly wage of $34.60 and a mean wage of $58,000.

Specific data has been assembled by various entities on motorsports and racing.

The North Carolina Motorsports Ass’n indicated motorsports has a $6 billion economic impact on the state. There are more than 25,000 direct and indirect jobs related to the industry. There are more than 1,000 teams, tracks, businesses and educational institutions related to racing in the Tar Heel state.

The state of Indiana, along with Purdue University and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, looked studied motorsports in their region. The motorsports cluster directly employed more than 23,000 with an average wage of $63,000, exceeding most others.

The breadth of the industry moves along and extended supply chain. This includes defense and aerospace, passenger vehicles manufacturing and those who directly supply or buy from the sector.

The intellectual and technical know-how is transferred to other businesses and helps solve problems.  Innovation is critical to success in racing and this is a valuable asset to the sport.

A key question is how do we expand and grow opportunities within the motorsports industry.

Developing talent is an ongoing process. Specific education and training programs exist. They provide a familiarity with engines, bodywork and mechanical technology in a specialized environment.

The goal is a well-rounded individual with a communication, management and technical skillset.  Opportunities for advancement are frequently tied to experience and networking.

There are many initiatives that support a career in motorsports. These programs include vehicle builds, scholarships, mentoring, volunteers and internships. Specific events at races, companies and trade schools offer places for like-minded individuals to connect.

Motorsports stakeholders should work together to develop the assets and resources necessary to secure a bright future for the sport’s next generation of leaders.