Becoming a NASCAR mechanic does not necessarily mean that you will land a job working for NASCAR. However, it does equip mechanics with the knowledge and skill to work on high performance engines, just like the ones used in NASCAR races. There is something very exciting about learning this trade. The engines that are serviced by a NASCAR mechanic are capable of a very high level of performance. Starting out a career as a NASCAR mechanic can pave the way to a future that goes well beyond the tasks of performing ordinary brake repair and oil changes. A NASCAR mechanic may also be referred to as a race car mechanic or a high-performance technician. Earning any of those distinctions allows mechanics to become part of an elite group. The ability to make high-performance modifications allow technicians to work on engines that ultimately perform to a level that leaves spectators in awe. Getting started on this career path takes some simple steps that will build a truly unique set of skills.
NASCAR Mechanic Training Essentials
Those who decide to join a NASCAR mechanic training program first need to acquire a certain set of automotive service and repair skills. Those skills involve the essentials of service, repair, maintenance and diagnostics of normal engines. Learning the fundamentals of engine repair serves as a foundation for more elaborate modifications. This can be acquired through an auto mechanic training certificate or associate degree program. Building up experience as an automotive technician can also prepare individuals to become a high-performance mechanic.
NASCAR mechanic and high-performance training programs are not for students looking to learn the basics of automotive repair and maintenance. Because of the sophistication involved, there is a need to already know the basics. Therefore, the first step to becoming a NASCAR mechanic is acquiring a general understanding of automobile engine work.
NASCAR Mechanic Education
Once students display a general understanding of automotive engine service and repair, they can proceed to the exciting world of training in a high-performance education program. Some of these programs are labeled as certificate programs and those last anywhere from nine months to two years.
There is also the option of earning an Associate Degree of Applied Science from an accredited college. These programs go by different names, some of which award degrees in High Performance Technology or Automotive Technology with a specialization in High Performance.
An associate degree typically takes two years to complete as students will learn in both a classroom setting and in a workshop facility, where they are able to get hands-on training actually working on engines. Most associate degree programs also require general education courses. This means students may have to pass a handful of classes not related to the automotive field.
The subjects covered in these programs all have one common denominator. They all focus on high performance. The overall goal is to modify engines so that they can produce maximum speeds while maintaining top-level performance. Here is a closer look at some of the areas of study within a NASCAR or high-performance education program:
The classroom portion of these programs focuses more on theory and specific service techniques. There is also a concentration on the construction of engines, along with fuel and ignition systems, emission controls, computerized engine controls and much more. That leads into the hands-on portion in which students use the very latest tools and diagnostic equipment to work on engines. Some programs also provide the option of an additional semester where students focus on testing and modifying high performance engines. Adding more horsepower is also a common theme in this type of program.
NASCAR mechanic training is unique in the sense that it also instructs students on the process of how to build a stock car. This involves the testing process as well, which eventually leads to the finished product of an actual race car. Once this education program is completed, graduates will possess a very unique skillset in which they can obtain employment as a type of specialty mechanic. However, it is extremely difficult to break into this profession without first acquiring a formal education.
Mostly all the teachers in these programs are ASE certified and have accumulated a wealth of experience. When selecting an education program, it is important to examine the faculty and instructor credentials. Students spend a good deal of time with these instructors, so it is important to ensure they are qualified.
NASCAR Mechanic Certifications
Once a mechanic has completed all of the necessary education requirements within the respective high-performance training program, then it is time to acquire an advanced certification. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers a certification in the high-performance sector. Here is a closer look at what that certification entails.
L1 Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Certification Test
This certification requires a previous A8 certification in Engine Performance. Passing this exam shows that a mechanic is capable of diagnosing more sophisticated emissions and driveability issues. The certification is good for five years and then requires a passing score on a recertification exam to remain current.
NASCAR mechanics may also start acquiring various certifications in the Automobile & Light Truck category. There are eight separate certifications in this category, including the previously-mentioned A8 Engine Performance Certification. Acquiring all eight certifications will earn the status of master technician. The more certifications that are attained, the more valuable a mechanic will become. Employers looking to hire NASCAR mechanics often put a lot of value into the number of certifications they hold. That could ultimately mean the difference between getting hired or turned down for a position as a race car mechanic.
NASCAR Mechanics Salary and Job Outlook
A NASCAR mechanic does not fall into the same pay grade as a regular auto mechanic. Since there is additional training involved, it is deemed a specialized skill. That allows the job to come with a higher pay rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles data each year on all auto service technicians and mechanics. There is no data compiled specifically for NASCAR, high-performance or race car mechanics. However, the BLS does break down how much the upper echelon of auto mechanics earn per year. The top 10% of auto mechanics earn an average median salary of $64,070 per year. Mostly all NASCAR mechanics fall into this top 10 percentile, meaning their average salary is $64,070. That equates to $30.80 per hour.
That is not the ceiling, as NASCAR mechanics have the capability of earning more than that average amount. The location of the business is one factor while the type of clients the business attracts is also an important factor. The influx of expensive projects means that owners can afford to pay their mechanics a higher rate. In most instances, high performance modifications are not cheap. Clients typically spend a lot more on high-performance jobs and that is usually significantly more than what most car owners pay for ordinary maintenance procedures at a local auto service shop.
The job outlook for mechanics, in general, is favorable, with a 5% increase expected by the year 2024. However, that percentage is much higher for NASCAR mechanics, simply because there is not enough to meet the current demand. Some areas of the country, particularly North Carolina, have a very high need for NASCAR mechanics. And as the popularity of racing continues to increase, this profession is one that is full of potential for the future.
Job Skills of a NASCAR Mechanic
One of the biggest selling points for choosing a career as a NASCAR mechanic is the uniqueness of it. Not all mechanics are created equal and many do not have the knowledge or skill to carry out high-performance upgrades. This puts NASCAR mechanics in a class of their own. Many mechanics are capable of doing normal automotive service and repair tasks. However, NASCAR mechanics are able to perform the following tasks at high performance levels, meaning it goes beyond what normal mechanics can do:
High performance Skills
NASCAR mechanics who master these skills qualify for entry level positions in high-performance shops, which is a significant step up from working in an ordinary auto service center. This can be the first step towards a fulfilling a career goal that is packed with opportunities, competitive pay and excellent benefits. Attaining the status of NASCAR mechanic is a way of advancing one’s career in the automotive service industry and joining an elite group of technicians.