The need to restock the NTT IndyCar Series paddock with new and younger team members is a problem that’s been chronicled many times in recent years. And yet as the veterans who’ve been bedrocks on pit lane, on the timing stand, and other important areas continue to move on from IndyCar, the problem has worsened.
First, it was the bigger dollars and brighter spotlight in NASCAR that drew pit crew talent from Indianapolis. As the inevitable burnout of 30 or more unrelenting Cup races set in, and even an increasingly busy IndyCar calendar with 16-plus events on a short schedule brought lingering fatigue, IMSA emerged as the hot new destination for veteran crew members. Tired of always being on the road with stock cars or open-wheelers? Try downshifting to the measured pace of 10-12 sports car races each year, spread over 10 or 11 leisurely months.
Between shifts to different racing series or edging towards retirement, the ongoing drain of skilled and experience IndyCar crew members, all with minimal replenishing of the talent pool, reached a point where action was required. Back in the day, the once-popular Championship Auto Mechanics (CAM) organization was a great resource for teams in need of crew, and crew in search of work, but it no longer exists.
In its absence, IndyCar sprang to action and assembled a job portal of its own, designed to take in applications for the myriad of positions on an IndyCar team. The series takes the submissions and makes them available to its paddock where team owners and team managers finally have a centralized source for job seekers to draw from.
“The last couple of years, especially with car counts going up, it’s even more apparent that there’s a bigger issue hiring enough people to staff the teams,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “We need to grow the talent pool for our teams to help figure out how to get them in contact with good candidates, so over the last few months, we started working with some outside companies on creating a IndyCar job portal.
“We could never get it to where we really wanted it to be, so we looked at doing it in-house and Matt Grecco, who’s with our timing and scoring group, is amazingly talented with things like this. So we came up with this portal so candidates can send in their resume and select something from about nine different job buckets, from engineering to aerodynamicist, mechanic to PR, marketing, and all kinds of different categories, and they can make their resume and info available to teams there. So, this is pretty cool.”
Funnily enough, the concept of creating a job portal was raised in a conversation I had with Frye around this time last year. While we were commiserating over the ever-shrinking pool of mechanics, engineers, and technical staff available for hire by the paddock, a throwaway line about IndyCar needing to become its own ZipRecruiter and serve as a central place for experienced or willing crew members to apply was floated. By chance, Frye and his team turned it into an action item that’s performing as intended.
“All we’ve done to promote this thing so far since it went live was, I did a tweet a little over a week ago to send resumes in if people are interested, because our teams are hiring,” he says. “That one tweet got 400,000 impressions, and almost 400 retweets in no time. I think we’re up to 430 resumes that have come in. It’s pretty wild.
“We tried to figure out on how to do it with people outside of IndyCar, because again, that’s not our expertise, but it wasn’t coming together as quickly as we wanted. And it isn’t maybe a common thing for a league or series to do this to help their own teams, and I don’t know if we’re the first, but we’re proud to step in and help where it’s needed. Matt did a great job, and we didn’t really talk about it the first week, because we were looking for bugs and we want to make sure we had it all tuned up.”
I asked Frye if anything stood out from the submissions IndyCar has received, and he said the quality of the candidates is the main item to resonate.
“So now, the resumes that we’ve got have been very solid candidates and given teams some great leads,” he says. “The success of this portal won’t be known for a while, maybe a month or two or whatever to see if the teams were able to interview people they saw based off the portal. And if they get hired, will they have long tenures in IndyCar? I don’t know. But we’ve been very pleased so far with the responses with basically zero promotion. We’ll see the outcome on this in the next couple months to set some goals, but so far, so good.”