Steve (Stretch) Bell - Certificate in Motor Industry
My favourite time at wintec was the hands on learning and having tutors who were always available even outside hours to help out. I still am in contact with some of the tutors.
After I finished my study, I had a full mechanical apprenticeship at Isaac Performance Vehicles in Taupo doing work on race cars. I used all my holidays for doing private work with race teams including V8 utes, NZ V8s, BMW mini challenge, the North Island Endurance series, and Super GT.
I found a job in Australia working for Kelly Racing in the DVS (Dunlop V8 Supercar) series. I had a week's job trial, got the job so we sold everything an moved to Australia with two kids, one was three weeks old so it was hectic! The DVS job lasted about three months, then I was put into the main game which is the super cars series and have worked there ever since moving from race mechanic to composites technician.
My advice would be go after what you want, to be persistent until you reach your goals, and don't be afraid to hit up the big shots for jobs.
On a day to day basis I could work from eight to 24 hours depending on how busy we are five to seven days a week. After a race meeting we assess body work for damage, it gets de-stickered than we repair it, send it to the paint shop (this covers all composite parts on the four cars) and at the same time we carry on making new parts for the cars - making moulds polishing moulds gelcoating then laying up, and vacuum infusing parts. We also do prepreg parts and hand laminating.
In addition we also work on any special projects the engineers come up with, do pit stop practices on a daily basis, and train in our work gym with a personal trainer twice a week.
On race weekends I travel away with the team and work as a race mechanic on James Moffat's car. Our weekends consist of arriving Thursday, setting up the garage, and setting up the car to ensure everything is the same as at the factory. On Friday we practice getting the car dialled-in and making changes as directed by the engineer. On the Saturday is qualifying and two races - this is our longest day normally starting at 6am with a run, and once the last race finishes between 5-6pm, it's another up to eight hours to fix all race damage and re-setup the car for Sunday. I also look after all the bodywork and fix as necessary. Then Sunday's are one long race with fuelling and tyres - I change the right rear.
My qualification has opened the door to working on race cars in New Zealand, gaining good quality work experience organised through Wintec and eventually getting me into the top tier in Australian motorsport at Bathurst this year.