Watch the video above to get an idea of a day in the life of a race mechanic.

Over the weekend I joined the motorsport students at the College of West Anglia to help out on their Mini Challenge team. This is a very professional outfit, with three race cars run by the students.

While I mostly got in the way, they did put me to work doing some of the pre-race checks. Obviously, nothing went drastically wrong as the three cars came away with a haul of trophies between them. I like to think I had some part to play in this.

I’ve been part of the team environment before but this was on another level with beautifully branded awnings, pristine race cars, a buzz of constant activity and huge amounts of cake, including one shaped like a Mini racer.

The camaraderie between the students, supporters and lecturers is wonderful too and it makes me wonder what my life would’ve been like had I known this was an alternative to A-levels.

The College of West Anglia’s motorsport course is different to many other engineering or motorsport technology courses. This is at the same level as A-levels and gives students valuable motorsport skills straight out of school, before they even get to university. Not only that but they’re getting hands-on experience at races and with real, race-winning cars.

While many motorsport technology/engineering graduates don’t struggle to find a job, starting your career early with this kind of experience can only be a good thing. If you’re interested in finding out more, visit the College of West Anglia website.

Congratulations to the team and its drivers, Chris Middleton, Gary Papworth and Neal Clarke, for their fantastic results on the day. It’s been an amazing season for the whole team and they should all be very proud!

Huge thanks go to the College of West Anglia and its knowledgeable students (thank you for showing me the ropes, ladies and gents), as well as to Student Motorsport for setting this up. It was a fantastic opportunity to see the inner workings of a Mini Challenge team including how they stay organised, prep the cars, inform their drivers, and keep morale high. I also got to talk sponsorship with a few interested people and am eager to work further with the college in the future.

Lead image via Marc Waller.