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  • motorsports fab/mechanic pay

    I've been contimpalting going to a fabrication school with the intetion of working in the motorsports industry. My main interests would be for a road race , rally , circle track team or a high performance type shop. I'm curious about what the pay is like (lowest to highest). The school covers suspension geometry and fab , cage fab , welding , cutting , bending , notching , etc. I also currently work as a mechanic/technician and am taking general automotive classes at night.

    My question is what can I expect to make as an entry level fabricator/mechanic at a small shop (lowest-highest) and at a large shop/team (lowest-highest) ? I'd really like to hear from any of you that currently work in such shops. Also do any of the shops you work at give you medical/dental ?(yeah I know may be an odd question but ya gotta have 'em)

    Thanks ,

    Rich

  • #2
    Get ready to be poor...

    You're only one of millions of guys that want to do that. There's simply not enough jobs in that field for everybody, so companies will pick and choose who they want...and will get them as cheap as they can.

    Comment


    • #3
      Where do you live?

      Comment


      • #4
        OK Spencer, I guess that is what the innovative types feel.
        Sorry the glass is more than half filled in my area.

        Havik, you have to learn and then apply your talent to what you like. Some are more talented and lucky to where they land. Others have talent and land in the mud. It's up to you and how thing apply to your ability, Fabricators can be as cheap as 8.00/ hr to as high as the sky. I have a welder that worked on the Balloon that cicled the earth and he was payed BIG (he get's all the breaks)
        It's up to you..

        Comment


        • #5
          Engloid,
          Great looking welds!!!!!!!!!!
          Thanks for sharing.

          Bob Kraemer
          Bob Kraemer/Licensed Electrical Contractor

          Miller 330 ABP
          Tree Mill W/DRO
          South Bend Lathe
          Tennsmith Brake
          Tennsmith Shear
          Beverly Throatless Shear
          JD/2 Bead roller
          O/A Torch
          Drill Press
          Grinders, Belt Sander Etc!
          And more hand tools than I know what to do with

          Comment


          • #6
            It all depends. Decent money is in Nascar right now but I don't know about the rest of it. I can't imagine a dirt track fab man would make much. You won't get rich being a fab man in a shop I can promise you that. The Nascar team that wanted me couldn't even afford the 45k I asked for if that tells ya anything. You have to be able to get in the right doors to really be successful so start making some contacts if you can.

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            • #7
              I was working at a racing school and they started me off at $15.00 @ hour....as a weldor.

              I would think that a fabracator or a mechanic would make $25.00 min....but like stated before. everyone wants to work at one of those shops so they BONE ya just cause they can...

              D

              Comment


              • #8
                I think the good money can be had once you build up a decent reputation and have the ability to build/rebuild a race car. Getting that reputation is the hard part.

                I have a cousin that can build/fab any part of a oval track race car chassis. He probably spent 10+ years building/maintaining complete late model dirt track cars as an independent shop. That got his foot in the door with a small time Busch team and he was able to grow from there.

                He seems to make good money, but he switches teams/jobs periodically and when a team falls on hard times they will lay you off in a heartbeat. Most of them spend a lot of hours (+ Saturday's and Sunday's) during race season too. You have so many days to get a job done. There is no missing a race so whatever it takes is what has to be done.

                It might be easier to get in the door by contacting the smaller teams and working for them just for the experience.

                It always helps to 'know somebody' too. Somehow you have to get access to the 'inner circle' and get your name/reputation spread around.

                What if someone said to you to build me two more chassis just like that one sitting over in the corner except for A, B, and C? What kind of experience would you need to pull that off?

                You need a plan to gain that experience.

                I used to spend my vacations helping my cousin for free (gofer work) just so I could be around race cars. Its a real intense business.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am the crew chief on a friends Top Alcohol Dragster. We fix and maintain the chassis and engine ourselves. Mainly because we can't afford to pay anyone to do it. I don't work for a race car fab shop although I can tell you this.
                  Be prepared to sacrifice and give up a lot of time and everything else.
                  Also be prepared to re-locate.
                  No matter how good you think you are, be prepared to start at the very bottom of the ladder in terms of skill and pay.
                  Although I am not trying to discourage you and your dreams remember this (The cream always rises to the top)
                  Make yourself valuable in terms of skill, ethics, innovative ideas etc!!!
                  Also if you are not good at math I suggest you take some classes in geometry, algebra, trig, cad-cam programming and drawing etc!!! you'll need it to design and build chassis's.
                  I flunked math in school or almost in the above mentioned courses. Little did I know how valuable it would be needed.
                  I have learned more about geometry building and upgrading chassis's than I learned in school because now I saw the need for it.
                  PS: I am 46 so cad-cam was not availble to me in the mid 70's

                  Hope this helps
                  Bob Kraemer
                  Bob Kraemer/Licensed Electrical Contractor

                  Miller 330 ABP
                  Tree Mill W/DRO
                  South Bend Lathe
                  Tennsmith Brake
                  Tennsmith Shear
                  Beverly Throatless Shear
                  JD/2 Bead roller
                  O/A Torch
                  Drill Press
                  Grinders, Belt Sander Etc!
                  And more hand tools than I know what to do with

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    NHRA's top chassis shop just built a new shop in Lafayette, IN. Should be open by now.... room for expansion. Think the name was McKinney or something similar. Son interviewed there. L-O-N-G drawn out affair for nothing!
                    Denny
                    MillerMatic 185
                    HyperTherm 600
                    Dynasty 200 DX
                    Will-Weld 200A Buzzbox
                    O/A torch

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I worked for a craftsman truck team as a chassis welder/fabricator.I got the job thru a pipe super who I worked for.His son was the driver. In 97 I got $11.00 an hour. I couldnt do it too long, my bills outweighed the cool factor.
                      In 2002 I took a job in a shop that built crmo sprint cars and chopper frames.The pay was $16.00 an hour(ok for around here) but the job sucked.I might as well been building shopping carts.The new t.v.-show-fueled custom car boom has made alot of the auto schools offer fab classes and even spawned dunebuggy fab schools out west.I had a interview with a big name shop in ca. a few years ago and got offered $12.00 an hour!( the average house in san diego is around $600,000) just be ready for the flood of wantabes.I think the place to be would be so. cal. just for the play-toy factor.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The number of good-paying jobs in the racing scene is probably about 1/100th of the number of people wanting to get into it.

                        Originally posted by Bob Kraemer
                        Engloid,
                        Great looking welds!!!!!!!!!!
                        Thanks for sharing.

                        Bob Kraemer
                        Thanks, Bob. I need to update with more pics...one day.

                        Originally posted by arcdawg
                        everyone wants to work at one of those shops so they BONE ya just cause they can...
                        Well said. This is exactly what is happining to the welding trade, overall. Companies are seeing the results of the big "I'm a welder" boom...created by shows like American Chopper, American Hotrod, Monster Garage, etc. They now have a huge flood of young kids that are wanting into the field. Of course the companies think they can get the same work out of two $10/hr kids than they can from an experienced guy at $20/hr.... The sad part is that most of these companies are managed by people that are so ignorant that they never even know what they've got after it's gone. They are too stupid to be able to track labor hours and productivity.

                        In other words, they see the money it costs for a $50 tool, so they try and save it. However, they aren't smart enough to figure out how much money they're losing by not having it. They do the same thing with their workers.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well said. This is exactly what is happining to the welding trade, overall. Companies are seeing the results of the big "I'm a welder" boom...created by shows like American Chopper, American Hotrod, Monster Garage, etc. They now have a huge flood of young kids that are wanting into the field. Of course the companies think they can get the same work out of two $10/hr kids than they can from an experienced guy at $20/hr.... The sad part is that most of these companies are managed by people that are so ignorant that they never even know what they've got after it's gone. They are too stupid to be able to track labor hours and productivity.

                          In other words, they see the money it costs for a $50 tool, so they try and save it. However, they aren't smart enough to figure out how much money they're losing by not having it. They do the same thing with their workers.[/QUOTE]


                          This is true of most of the mechanical trades! Skilled craftsmen, mechanics, and technicians are being forced into extinction. No one recognizes quality, just numbers. Thats why so much goes off shore.
                          Dynasty 200 DX
                          Millermatic 175
                          Spectrum 375
                          All kinds of Smith OA gear

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You gloomy dudes are living in a much more unpleasant world than I am. Things are pretty sunny in my world. My world being construction related piping. Demand is expected to exceed supply for several years.
                            2nd generation nuke construction, LPG, oil/gas, stranded gas, ect, ect, it's a big boom coming. I'm cocked and locked, I can use a great honkin multi year boom right about now

                            JTMcC.
                            Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'll go with JTMcC on this one. You need to be in the "right" business. It took a few years for word to get around, but now I have plenty of business with a waiting list. I got in with some of the larger excavating contractors doing grade work and laying underground utilities for subdivisions in my area. As long as there is land to develop I'll have plenty of work.

                              As for the race shop scene that's a unique industry. I've been lucky enough to get the back door personal tour of the the two best shops in NASCAR. It was very exciting to say the least. I saw everything from the ground to the finished product.

                              The guys I met were more than experienced and well worth their pay. On the other hand 5 long days a week in the shop and then getting ready for the race is lot of hours. Then there is race weekend packed with loading, travel, garage set up, qualifying, pull downs and inspections, take down time, more travel, and do it all over again. This is if everthing goes right. Just say a car fails one of the many inspection stations badly enough and has to be pulled back in the pit garage. There's more work and intense pressure. You have to get it right or somebody is looking at driving a back up car and maybe starting last. I've been there with them on race day too. I've seen everything I'm telling you and then some. It's a high pressure job.

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