A Day in the life of a Car Race Driver

A Day in the life of a Car Race Driver
1 September 2021    Tammy Sofranic    0 comments
Do you find yourself in awe with cars, machines, speed and the adrenaline of a race? If you're thinking "YES" and mainstream careers aren't your thing, here's a career that could be the one for you!

We spoke with Laura Byrnes to find out what's it's like to be a team driver or a race car driver and compete in a division within speedway motorsport. Read on and find out what Laura does in a day, the benefits and challenges of this path and grab some tips to kickstart your motorsport journey in the best possible way. 


Laura Byrnes: Team Driver 


What is your job title?

Team Driver – but it's cooler to say “Race Car Driver”! I compete in "Late Models", a division within speedway motorsport (oval track dirt racing – these are 5m long race cars that go around 150kms down the straight before sideways in the corner). 

Can you shortly describe a typical day on the job? 

On a general race day, I’m focused on making sure I eat a lot of nutritious food in the morning and lunch to power me later in the day as usually, we race at night. Once at the track, we check out the track conditions, then make sure we have the right set up on the car for the night. This could mean we change tyres for a different compound or groove, or adjustments to allow the suspension to move more or less.
I’ll also have drivers meeting with all the other competitors where we discuss the format for the night. From there it's getting ready for our races, wearing all the right safety equipment and last checks of the car. Then going to the starting grid to line up and wait till it's our turn to tear up the race track!
Between races, I also get to interact with fans, which is one of my favourite parts! I love chatting with young people who are also considering becoming race car drivers.


Why did you choose this career path? What or who inspired you to do so?

I heard an announcement you could be 10 to start racing speedway and decided that was what I wanted to do. I’m the first person in my family to race but my dad has a mechanical background so that certainly helped.
For me the main driver (pardon the pun!) was because I have always been really small, I wanted a sport where it didn’t matter my size. With motorsport – once your helmet is on, you’re the same as everyone else and that’s what makes it so special. I’m only 150cms tall!
I stepped away for a couple of years as I was trying to work out who I was without motorsport. I quickly realised it was a mistake, and it's important to follow what you are passionate about. Motorsport is a massive part of my life and I enjoy it way too much to let it go.
Outside of racing though – I do need an additional job to pay for the car! So, I actually am an HR Advisor. I went to University and studied Law and Psychology, before post-grad HR – all while racing!


What would you say are three key personality aspects or skills for your role?

Resilience – the sport can be really tough at times. Whether that is struggling with set up, track conditions, or yourself. You have to stay in the right frame of mind and keep on growing from the past and not let it get you down. We can have big crashes so you can overthink it for ages thinking “if I only did this”. Just have to let it go.
Optimism – I’m a firm believer in being positive brings positive. Always focus on what you have learnt, use that to build, and focus on those positives.
Flexibility – as a racer we need to be focused on many things at once. What our car is doing, where the track might be changing, what the cars around us are doing, and what the cars around them are doing! Oh and do that while going 150kms and you have one wheel in the air, with some big g forces and mud flying at you! You need to have that confidence to be able to trust your reactions and the car, to try different things on the track to give you an edge and stay out of trouble.

What have you learned about yourself through the work that you do?

So much! I think though that it is ok to change over time. When I was younger I really didn’t get the mechanical side of things and wasn’t very good at it! It wasn’t till I moved into late models that I started to take an interest and get better. I now get to do more of the specialist work like tyres and plasma cutting. But the biggest thing I have probably learnt is it's ok to be different, and do things a little differently. Also to stand up for myself and my beliefs.

What’s been your best moment while doing your work?

It's always getting to meet the young fans. These kids are the next generation, and it makes me so happy to share some of my knowledge and show them around a race car. Even the adults too really! Never too late to start in Motorsport!

And a really hard moment?

Always the crashes. Never like to see a crashed race car.

How do you keep going when things get challenging?

Making sure I still take time for myself to rest, alongside putting things back into perspective. If I get stuck on racing mistakes, I will journal them to get them off my mind so I don’t need to keep thinking or going over them. It works well for me.

Are there any surprising or odd things that people wouldn’t expect if they picked this career?

Probably the fitness level involved. I had to get into strength training to be able to withstand the forces in the Late Model. Also how much having a social media presence helps – doesn’t mean you need a million followers, but sharing what your doing and regular updates greatly helps with potential sponsors (more sponsors means more track time!).

What advice would you give to young people considering pursuing a career in this industry?

Talk to people already in the type of motorsport you want to be in, as they will be able to give you the best advice, offer to help crew if your wanting to see if its something for you and some tracks also have come and try days. Its never too late to join motorsport – and it doesn’t matter your size, height or background, motorsport is for everyone! Stay fearless!

Follow Laura: 

Instagram: @laurabyrnesmotorsport and @redshamrockracing_
Facebook: Laura Byrnes Motorsport and Red Shamrock Racing
Linkedin: Laura Byrnes Motorsport and Red Shamrock Racing
Contact: hello@laurabyrnesmotorsport.com
Thinking about becoming the next Car Race Driver? Or something completely different? Take the Career Quiz now to find out which careers best match your skills!

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