A Path Forward | Performance Racing Industry
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A Path Forward
By Dan Schechner on May 1, 2018

I’ve always believed that one of the best ways to encourage aspiring professionals, regardless of the field, is to lower barriers to entry.

If I can help show a motivated, skilled young journalist a pathway toward achieving his or her dreams of one day writing for a top motorsports industry magazine (for example), better believe I’ll jump at the opportunity.

For young racers—or those whose talents could lead to a career in race car engineering, or parts machining, or fabrication, or a pit crew—the road ahead may not always seem so clear-cut.

Quick show of hands: Who remembers graduating from high school or college with a well mapped-out, three- to five-year plan for the future?

Don’t put me on that list.

Problem is, nobody ever came to my school to explain what a trade publication was, let alone that there was one for every industry you could imagine, including auto racing. I simply didn’t know what my options were—I just knew that bartending at Maggie’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill wasn’t paying the bills.
 
Fresh out of college but still clueless, I bounced from interview to interview, first with an ad agency, then a marketing firm, then a medical supply company, and on and on until one day—out of sheer happenstance—I came across a Help Wanted ad for staff writers in the free community newspaper. Long story short I applied, got the job, and proceeded to work my way into positions of increasing responsibility and stress (I kid… sort of).    

It’s been an interesting two decades since, and I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of truly gifted individuals on several fine periodicals through the years. But I’ve always wondered whether that path could have been streamlined with some better direction along the way.  

Which brings me to contributor Cliff Gromer’s report on EV Racing, beginning on page 44 in this month’s issue of PRI Magazine. There were a number of different angles we could’ve taken with the article, but after doing a little research and batting around a few ideas, we figured there was a story to tell in how students today have come to embrace the emerging technology behind electric vehicles.

And boy are they. Collegians and high schoolers across the nation, as well as across the pond (shoutout to UK’s Bristol Electric Racing team!) are flocking to elective programs that allow them to design, engineer, and ultimately race their own high-performance electricity-powered machines. The curricula are incredibly wide-ranging, encompassing everything from establishing a budget to pitching and collecting sponsors to building of the car that, of course, must meet strict technical specifications.     

As noted in Gromer’s piece, the growing popularity of both Formula SAE Electric and the EvGrand Prix Series, which serve as de facto sanctioning bodies, is further testament to the attraction of these programs.

When it comes to the challenges facing our industry today, engaging the next generation of racing enthusiasts typically ranks at or near the top of most lists. How do we find good young talent? Where are the new crop of drivers coming from? What’s the best way to attract fresh fans?

And while there probably isn’t one clean, simple solution for every industry stakeholder, we recognize that though EV technology young adults are learning things like collaboration, project management, R&D, and dealing with cost constraints, among other proficiencies that are critical to running a functional race team.

But perhaps most significantly, they’re developing a passion for motorsports. And it’s being done in a way that allows them to truly see, feel and experience what it takes to succeed along the path forward.

About the Author
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Dan Schechner is the Editor of Performance Racing Industry Magazine.
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