There are many job opportunities in the world of motorsport, with wages varying from £16,000 per year in the UK to $60,000 per year in the United States.
One of the most interesting aspects of motorsport is the age of the employees. The industry is populated by a wide variety of people who range from the ultra-competitive to the ultra-relaxed. While many employees are committed to their job and enjoy their time at work, others seem to just drift in and out of working life.
Which age group does Speedway Hire?
To find out, we examined the social media accounts of the top 50 teams and individuals in the sport. This group represents around 70% of the overall population of motorsport employees, and so is very well-placed to give us an idea of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in the industry.
The data revealed a few interesting tidbits about the age demographics of the industry. First, 22-year-old Danica Patrick is the oldest person to have ever competed in the Indianapolis 500. She is now a popular champion, with over 2.6 million followers on Instagram. The average age of the employees is 34 years old, with the youngest being 22 and the oldest being 47.
The Young Turks
The youngest cohort is exemplified by Chase Young, a multi-skilled driver who has been competing in karting since he was 11 years old. He currently races in the Formula Renault Series, and will make his debut in the Indy 500 at the end of May. He followed up his success in karting with a sensational pre-season test for the Arrow McLaren Packing Honda team, where he finished 3rd. On his social media accounts, Young promotes himself as the ‘next big thing’ in motorsport and often posts photos of himself with celebrity guests.
In contrast to Young, 24-year-old Markus Frohnauer is a highly-motivated employee who puts in a lot of high-quality work. He has a successful record in the DTM, and also won the ADAC Formula 4 championship in 2017. He is currently in his first year as a team principal, leading a team of engineers and strategists to develop BMW’s M division. On social media, he promotes himself as a ‘grown up in a kids’ sport’, with the emphasis on the word ‘grown’.
The Golden Generation
Arguably the most interesting group within the dataset is the generation of employees that were born in the 1980s. This is a group that grew up with social media, and so all their public facing content is mediated by a screen. While they enjoyed unprecedented success in their sport, those that followed them into adulthood are now the decision-makers behind the scenes. They are surrounded by people that they look up to, and so are driven to succeed by this social media-induced ‘mentoring’ from a very early age.
Take Jack Harvey, for example. He is the older brother of Dan, and a veteran of 125 grands prix, mostly as a passenger. He was the team principal of the Toleman Tigers back in the day, and also ran a Formula One team and a MotoGP team. He now works as a team engineer for the Dale Coyne Racing team. On social media, Harvey promotes himself as ‘The Man of many Hats’. He usually posts about issues that he feels are relevant to younger generations, such as climate change or safety in motorsport. His followers enjoy his ‘wisdom’ as well as his sense of humour, with many sharing photos of themselves with hands on hips looking sternly at the camera.
Another intriguing figure within this group is Jimmy Eriksson. He is basically a one-man band, with many fans referring to him as ‘the boss’ or ‘the CEO’ of the Swedish team, Sauber F1. On social media, Eriksson promotes himself as ‘Mr Fix-it’, repairing and maintaining motorsport cars as a form of ‘art’ and a hobby. It seems that the fascination with fixing things has stayed with him, as he frequently posts updates on his activities, including model railway layouts and bike hacks. His Instagram content is highly-relevant and educational, featuring in-depth technical analysis of machines and circuits.
The oldest cohort in this group works in an almost invisible capacity behind the scenes, spending their time analyzing data and preparing cars for competition. These are the people that you might call ‘traditionalists’, those that continue to value the good old-fashioned approach and the tried and tested techniques that have allowed them to be successful for so long. While they may not always express it, they are proud to have made their name in a less-is-more approach, and are protective of this philosophy.
Take Tony Kana, the engineer in charge of constructing racing cars for the Toleman team back in the day. He is currently in his sixteenth season with the team, and has been involved in the design or construction of eighteen cars, including four world champions, a couple of which have gone on to win a record five championships. On his social media accounts, he regularly posts about the minutiae of car design and construction, explaining the processes that went into the making of his latest project. Each post is detailed and well-illustrated, and his design-focused content is highly-engaging.
Another example is Ryan Dalziel, who at 38 years old is the father of multiple-champion Jason. He began his career in motorsport in 1990, and over the years has worked in almost every capacity, from mechanics to engineers and even managers. Dalziel now works as a technical director for the Arden Group, helping to develop and structure the teams that enter competitions, as well as giving advice on strategy and training. On social media, Dalziel promotes himself as a ‘trusted expert’, explaining the finer points of car set-up and often posting photos of himself in the pits with engineers and team owners. He also gives advice on improving performance, and often posts about his travels, whether they are motorcycling junkies who live in far-flung places or want to escape the cold world of winter, or just want to broaden their horizons and see another side of life.
Then there is Wayne Taylor. Taylor is one of the most successful team owners in the history of motorsport, having built an empire around multiple teams and championships. He is now entering his thirty-ninth year in the business, and continues to be a major figure in the sport. He began working in motorsport in 1991, initially as a designer and builder of karts and cars for hire. He founded his own team in 1993, and went on to establish Wayne Taylor Racing. He is also responsible for the creation of the Car of the Year Award, and was inducted into the International Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2015. On social media, Taylor promotes himself as ‘The Godfather of Mid-Ohio’, the name he has given to his motorsport track in the US, and frequently posts about his travels, charity work and upcoming events at the track. He also regularly gives advice to younger team owners or those that are just entering the business.
These are just a few examples of the interesting people and teams that we could have examined. There are many others in the industry that could have been added to this list; people who have risen through the ranks, been there since the beginning or played an important role in the development of the sport. No matter what your role, age should not be a barrier to progress and success in the workplace.