Want a career in motorsport? Here’s all you need to know!
Mahindra Racing’s CEO walks us through on the scope of careers in motorsport and how you can land one for yourself
Our Instagram DMs are filled with enthusiasts looking for internships and jobs in the automotive field. So, to help all of you out, we’ve decided to kickstart a new series — Automotive Careers with evo India — where we’ll be talking to industry leaders on the different careers available in the automotive sector, ranging from marketing to road testing and even how to become a race car driver! This week we spoke to Dilbagh Gill, the boss of Mahindra Racing, about the different opportunities in motorsport.
Start Early: Formula Student
Most engineering colleges in India, have a Formula Student team. Formula Student is a national and international competition where students have to build and drive their own race car through a series of challenges and get awarded on various parameters including reliability, cost effectiveness and of course how fast it is. “That’s where you’ll learn every part of car design, and you’re learning by yourself” says Dilbagh Gill, and recommends you to join your college’s SAE Baja team or Formula Student team to get experience with what it’s like to be part of a racing team.
“We try to get at least one Indian coming in as part of our internship program, and we’ve just got the fourth person who’s come in through this and he’s doing rather well! It’s not even a question of being hired because of where they are from, but it is because of their quality of work and their merit.” To get an internship with Mahindra Racing, Dilbagh suggests dropping them an email (). “That email comes to my box also and it is one area I really look at because we being a smaller team in motorsport, we don’t know where the next diamond is going to come from”. In the email, Dilbagh suggests, don’t put generic stuff like ‘I would love to work here’ or ‘I love motorsport’ but instead write about how you can solve problems. For instance, if you have managed to sign sponsors for your Formula Student team or if you came up with an out of the box idea for a social media page that you manage. If it sounds like you can help Mahindra Racing too, it will increase your chances of getting picked.
Sponsorships are a big factor in the longevity of the team. If the team has more sponsors, it has more of a budget to make a better car which could lead to better results and makes sponsors happy. On the other hand, it is hard for race teams to survive without sponsorships. Sponsorship teams have two major roles — acquisition and retention. The former is responsible to gather as many clients as possible and knock on as many doors as possible. The latter is responsible to help grow those relationships with the clients and make them happy to keep them as sponsors in the long term. Both roles are equally important to the company. So, if you have prior experience with getting partners on-board, you could be a huge asset to race teams.
“Why are we (Mahindra Racing) in Formula E? We are here to grow our brand”, says Dilbagh. A lot of Mahindra Racing’s marketing activities are based around our engineering work. Dilbagh and the Mahindra Racing team sat down together six years ago, right when Formula E started and discussed what F1 team they’d like their brand image to be like and decided on Williams, who were known for their engineering capabilities. It is conventional marketing where a persona for the brand is created and all the marketing activities then highlight that persona. And in the last five years, Mahindra Racing has won Formula E’s social media award twice! So, marketing is an important department for Mahindra Racing and for other motorsport teams around the world and is a great way to get a career in motorsport if you feel you can make an impact.
“If you look at a human body, PR are the most important organs of the body”, says Dilbagh. PR is an important support for the marketing team, helping articulate the activities, and PR personnel also help provide information to the management since they have their sources and are constantly in communication with journalists. Dilbagh says, “In our PR team, I look for people who can work out of their comfort zone, because the message to be sent out may not always be positive”. One of the first assignments given is disaster management and seeing how a prospective PR employee deals with it is an important factor in whether or not they make it to the team.
“If we had only one person to take to the track, it would be a mechanic.” says Dilbagh Gill. Mechanics play a really important role because they are the ones who can build the car. Dilbagh suggests getting as much hands-on experience with a car as possible — from fixing it to figuring out its workings. Even learning about components that work alongside your core area could help your become an even more important member of the team. "You have to be very good and take pride in what you do", says Dilbagh Gill.
We suggest that you keep the passion alive, sharpen your strengths, work on your weaknesses and it will be hard for teams to ignore you. If you are multi-talented it is even better for teams in this day and age since there are resource restrictions and budgets keep getting smaller and one person who can do two jobs, if push comes to shove, will be picked over someone who can’t. If you think you’ve got what it takes, drop Mahindra Racing a mail on and tell them how you can make a difference to the team. You can check out the full episode of Automotive Careers with evo India here, and remember to tune in weekly as we talk to experts from all sectors of the automotive industry on the various career options available for enthusiasts!