A great win, a shocking crash, and off theback of the New Zealand event Scott McLaughlin was in the workshop working on the carwith the team.
It brings a new meaning to 'behind the wheel' – part of the Fujitsu GRM driver’sarrangement is to work as a fabricator to finish the final year of hisapprenticeship.
McLaughlin said he always wanted to be inthe motor racing industry – if not driving the cars, building them.
In fact, his foot in the door came bycompleting work experience with Stone Brothers Racing when he lived on the GoldCoast. McLaughlin worked there for a few years and has now transferred his apprenticeship to complete with GRM.
“I’m in my last year, so hopefully I’llfinish by the year’s end,” he said.
“It’s definitely a good thing for me towork on my own car – and when we do well it’s a bit of a reward for me becauseI put work into it.”
McLaughlin said it was important to him tohave a back-up career and something to focus on other than racing.
“A lot of drivers out there put their whole heart andsoul into getting a drive – and good on them – but you can’t forget thatyou need a life behind the racing," McLaughlin said. "In case it doesn’t work out I needed anincome or trade behind me.
“Even when I do finish my driving career, Imight go back to fabrication, because I enjoy it. It’s good not to think aboutracing all of the time.”
McLaughlin said he felt more like a part ofthe team, rather than the stereotypical idea a driver just stepping into the car on race day.
“After the crash the boys stripped the carand put it down on the jig – it brings you down to reality (working on the car)but you learn a lot and build a relationship with the team members; I feel likeI’m more inside the team.”
Plus, he understands the finer details ofthe car.
“I think a lot of the drivers knowfundamental stuff, but I learn how it all pieces together, down to thethickness of a tube – you know it’s fragile.
“It helps you a little bit knowing how hardyou hit the car in this place, because you know what damage can happen, if it’sa lightweight part.”
At Pukekohe McLaughlin had a look aroundthe car before going back to the pits so he could give the team feedback on thedamage.
"I think it helps me look after my equipment more because I know whatgoes (into it)... I work 7.30am to 4pm every day – it depends whatcommitments I have on, I get a leave pass for sponsor commitments, butotherwise I work a normal day like everyone else, have 'smoko' at 9.45am, lunch at 12.30pm and back to work. It’s the same as any other fabrication job.”
McLaughlin encourages any aspiring driversto work towards a qualification to give themselves a greater shot at a jobwithin the motor racing industry.
“I definitely encourage it, I think it’s agreat thing,” he said. “You get to see a lot of Australia and the world, if you’relucky enough to go with a team.
“It’s a good environment to work in with experiencedpeople, you have the chance to learn handy skills… Everything on the race car has to bevery good quality, and good quality presentation as well.”