How would you go about starting a career in driving?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by freshmeat1989, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. I have a huge fascination with cars and the like, love driving, looking at different models of cars and modifications, and learning all I can about them. Having a career in driving performance cars, testing cars and writing articles about them, would be my dream. i want to know how you start a career in all this stuff.

    -What are the possible careers involved with driving?
    -Is there such a thing as a "Professional Driver"? What would they do?
    -How would you go about getting respectable at being a guy who car companies call to get you to drive their cars on TV commercials and stuff? What would that be called?
    -How do most people who are Rally Car drivers start out and get to the point where they are?

    Anyone have any good information or reference websites?
  2. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    ok someone's trying to decide what to do with their life... lol

    I'm pretty sure the guys who do the driving on commercials are referred to as stunt drivers, could be wrong. They're probably by the advertising company that is recruited to do the commercial by the company. No, they don't do those themselves but I would imagine that they have alot of input. Racing dudes have probably been doing it from a very young age.

    I'm assuming when you mean "professional driver" you don't mean limo driver, because in NYC there are thousands and thousands of dudes with black caddies and lincolns and SUVs that are professional drivers, and if you get a gig driving a CEO or something you can make some cash. Assuming you're a bookie on the side.

    Writing about cars is easier to define. You could do one of two things (that i can tell you about) in college to prepare yourself for this:
    a) English degree. That's what i'm pursuing right now. For those wanting to enter any sort of written work this is the place to be, even if you don't know what you want to do because many jobs want you to be able to express yourself coherently.
    b) journalism: I have a couple friends who are journalism majors, and depending on the college (or it could be a just a NYU thing) they need to be double majors. This would work in your favor if you did that and maybe an engineering major so you get to know all the physics and stuff.
    It may not be completely necessary, as I know that many people at magazines do not necessarily hire journalism majors.

    After that, it's about building a competitive portfolio and scoring the magazine you would want... probably Car and Driver. Reviewers get first shot at all new products and i would imagine cars are no exception. :D
  3. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    50% of the people who are "test drivers" in the magazines started out as journalists who had a passion for cars and did some racing. The other half are professional racers who have retired or are currently racing.

    I worked in the Motorcycle industry for a while in the early 90's. While a few of us got the rare opportunity to ride some really cool stuff and do some "testing" our opinions were rarely taken into account when the Motocross Action or Dirt Rider guys wrote a story. They had their staff testers (retired pro's ,current pros and washed up Expert / pros) Even if we were faster than the staff guys they did not care what we thought. It was fun anyway.

    I also know a guy who works in the industry that I have spent the last 12 years in. He is a retired Indy Car driver but still does some test driving for Infinity when they were developing their Indy Car V8 for the IRL series. He is a successful business man these days and is not racing anymore but he still gets called to test because of his experience and skills behind the wheel.

    So that being said I would recommend getting a background in racing. If you like cars starting in Karts is the cheapest way to go and a whole hell of a lot of fun. Cheap is relative term. Racing Karts is still expensive but cheaper than cars. It will give you experience and teach you the fundamentals. You can grow and network for rides in better equipment from there if you can develop some talent.

    A few people that started their carreers in karts: Danika Patrick, Alex Baron, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, and Paul Tracy just to name few.

    Go to college and get a degree. It helps a bunch.

    Being a professional driver is almost like saying you want to be a professional bass player or a rock star. there are very few spots and the competition is huge.

    Good Luck
  4. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    +1 on karting as a way to get started up the ladder. I race a shifter kart. Its truly a high performance machine requiring a significant amount of testicular fortitude to drive and race fast. Not cheap, but cheaper than a car to maintain, especially if you hit something or some hits you. I missed a shift once and the kart behind did $700 damge to various parts. All part of racing. Keep in mind to make a small fortune in racing you have to start with a large one. :)

    My other expensive GAS hobby. Couldn't afford it this year. (its for sale, trailer, kart and all the parts you need)


  5. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    all much better advice than mine lol.
  6. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    Very nice kart.

    I have had the opportunity to drive karts over the last few years for fun.

    One of my riding buddies has a Tony Kart with a CR125 motor in it.

    About a year ago I got a chance to drive his shifter kart at Aams Kart Track in Riverside, CA and it was quite an experience. My friend is abou 3" shorter than me and I out weigh him by about 90 lbs so I could barely get into the seat.

    Even with me in the Kart the acceleration was incredible. Adams is a really tight track so I had my hands full keeping it off of the grass.

    Most of my experience has been in KT100's. So it was an eye-opener for me to say the least. I can't imagine what a 250 must run like.

    I have considered getting a new kart but I have to come up with a good excuse to get into another expensive hobby. Motorcycles, basses, drums, guitars...karts could spell impending divorce. :eek:
  7. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Learn how to work on cars and fix them before you try to do anything associated with them. If you are going to race, you will need $$$$$.

    Look around your town for rally racing clubs. We have a few here where I live. After you pay an entrance fee, you can race in any of the rally's. Get involved in helping to sponsor club events, and races.

    Are there any race/speedways near you? Make yourself visible at the track. When I was in high school, the motorheads in my auto shop class volunteered their time at the local speedway working on racecars during the weekends. One of them is a NASCAR driver now, Kasey Kahne. A few others are still associated with the sport on a smaller scale.

  8. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    This is good advice. I assumed that your were a gear head from your post but if you are not, it's mandatory that you have a good understanding of what is going on underneath you if you plan on testing. Very few successful racers don't have intimate knowledge of the workings of their vehicle.
  9. if you want to be able to do anything in writing..start to write, not even just cars, but little articles for local papers or whatever, it's a skill you have to practice practice and practice, at first you'll be shiat, but maybe later they'll accept the pieces, then you might start talking cars gradually

    but haven't been down that way so I could be quite wrong
  10. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    Yes, very true. Racing a shifter, the adjustments you can make in the chassis are endless. An 1/8 of an inch adjustment in the rear track can make the difference between lifting or going flat our through a corner. Same with tire pressures. It can be a puzzle that you get lost in very quickly. Some of the tuners with years of experience can watch you, listen to the engine as you drive, look at the tire wear after and make changes based on that alone. "When you come off the corner does the engine sound like . . . . or like . . . ." "When you turn in does it do this . . . .?"

    It's a lot of fun. I didn't race much this year since I didn't have a budget for it but just talking about it now makes me want to go out again.

    There is NOTHING like a standing start, like Formula 1, with 15 or more shifter karts slipping the clutch at 12,000 RPM and going 0 60 MPH in about 4 to 5 seconds all heading for the same corner one. We call it getting a good launch. When you get a start right it is amazing. Being over a 100 MPH in a shifter is amazing. You feel your helmet being pulled off your head with lift.

    A friend of mine, Kenny Wilden, has raced for many years now even getting as far as 2 place in the Formula Atlantic series. He was on pole for the Daytona 24 hours with Justin and Derek Bell a few years ago as well. Kenny still has trouble finding a full time ride despite the credentials. However he did a lot of driver training in Formula Atlantic. Next year he has a full time ride in Daytona Prtotypes I believe. I'm looking forward to it. He has to hussle all the time to get drives.
  11. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    Industrial Design.

    Get invovled it the design, concept and development of new vehicles. Thats a sweet job. You'll need to go to school and get a degree in Industrial Design. In addition to Automotive Design there are tons of other applications for an industrial designer. Cool stuff, technical yet creative. If your interested check out any reputable art school. Pratt Institute, where I went has a fantastic ID dept.

    I have a friend I went to school with who got a job with Honda fresh out of college. He had to move to Japan, but they hooked him up wit a nice appartment, company car, and a nice starting salary.
  12. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Eh, you don't need a degree to be a taxi driver or courier. Both, professional drivers.
  13. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I agree. I wouldn't trust a word in writing or from a racer if they had no idea about the vehicle.

  14. You can always be a UPS driver.
  15. I've known some professional drivers, ranging from Indy cars, to Formula 1, to motorcycle roadracers. All of them started as mechanics working in the pit or started small working on their own vehicles. As people have pointed out there are not a lot of jobs at the top, but there are a lot of jobs for mechanics. So I would start there and add the other skills and education mentioned so far. Most semi-truck drivers and heavy equipment operators that I know are also good diesel mechanics. That is the foundation to build on.
  16. peabody

    peabody Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2002
    La Crosse, WI
    Rent the movie "The Transporter"...
  17. specplyrz

    specplyrz Inactive

    Nov 11, 2005

    Yes, be the first one that treats the packages with respect!!!
  18. I wouldn't be anywhere near that or anything, but if you did all that of course you would have to have your own 4x4 car (Subaru or the like) and all that right? And you would have to have some kind of credentials or something, not just pay to race and theyll let you in? You are talking cars right?

    Thanks a bunch for all the advice guys, I'm curious about kart races, anyone got anymore info or resource websites or anything?
  19. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON has a great forum for finding out about racing karts.
  20. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Okay, I'd love to do karts, too. I still can't believe no one has mentioned it... dude if you have a car... or can borrow Mom's... you can autocross!

    Autocross gives you the fundamentals you need for most any other type of racing. You can likely get started next weekend and come home with a good idea of how your skills stack up (meaning you'll get your ass handed to you the first time out). Which is good, because it'll make you hungry to come back next time and do better... which you will!