Jason Bush

Jason Bush

Melbourne/Victoria, Australia

Engineering & Resources, Race Engineer

"If you want to work in motorsport to challenge yourself, work in a team and be passionate about your job, then it's a rewarding job that keeps throwing out obstacles but that can give you a buzz like very few other jobs can."

How did you get started in your field? What attracted you to the industry? How did you get your first job?
I was always interested in motorsport and cars in high school and in Year 11 decided I wanted to study engineering at Uni. I got my first motorsport job volunteering in Perth with a Formula Ford, which taught me the basics of managing a racecar (dealing with drivers, officials, getting the best out of the car etc). I applied for a job with HRT in 2005 as a data acquisition engineer and was lucky enough to get the role. My role was to manage the data acquisition system, manage the fuel strategy and assist the race engineer (who 'manages' the car).
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Did you undertake any further studies? What advice do you have regarding further study?
I did Mechanical Engineering at Curtin University in Perth. I was involved in Formula SAE but the program was in it's infancy at Curtin at the time, with a lack of people and a lack of budget. Formula SAE is a very good program if your interested in motorsport (most of the younger engineers I work with were involved with their respective universities). To become an engineer here you have to have a degree. 10 years ago you could move up from a hands on/trade background (and some of our best engineers did that) but with the advancement of simulation, modelling, testing and design the fundamentals of engineering are essential. Most engineers in Australia are Mechanical though overseas Aeronautical, Mechatronic and Control System Engineers are common.

Given where motorsport in Australia is currently, there is much more time spent tuning, developing and running the car than there is in designing the car from scratch. This is different to Europe. As such, I think there is a big benefit from someone who is interested in motorsport to get experience from volunteering with a race team in a state series etc. All the engineering skills in the world don't mean much if you don't manage the car well (making sure there is enough fuel (!!), ensuring tyre pressures are right, the car is setup properly, the driver is in the right frame of mind etc). All that experience helps.
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What kind of work do you do day to day/What are you responsible for?
I work on the race team so travel to every test and race meeting, so responsibilities can be broken down between racetrack and workshop.
At the racetrack, I am currently a Strategy/Assistant Engineer between the two HRT race engineers. I analyse the data from the racecars, look to improve the performance, work with the driver and advise the engineers on strategy. There is that much data and information coming through these days, that more than 2 engineers per car is becoming common place.
At the workshop the time is spent debriefing (looking at every aspect of the race meeting; what you did right, wrong and what needs to be improved and acting on it), pre-briefing (looking at the next event, predicting the issues and working out what areas of the overall performance needs to be targeted) and general R&D (making the car quicker, isolating the areas that need to be worked on, designing new parts/processes etc).
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Ideally, what kind of traits would somebody need to be successful in your field?
While it looks pretty glamorous, there is a massive time commitment. At the workshop it's reasonably standard (50 hours a week on average) but at the race meeting the days can be long (16 hours) and with race meetings every fortnight at some stages there can be long periods without a day off. Fatigue is an issue.
Being able to work in a team is an absolute must. Given you are working with someone for 16 hours a day for 4 days straight, being able to get along with everyone and work towards a common goal is very important. There is a lot of pressure at a race meeting; one mistake can mean losing a race or even worse; causing damage and injury.
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What do you find fulfilling in your career? Have you had to face any challenges in your career?
I like the challenge of having to work at the highest level in front of a massive audience. The difference between first and mid field can be 0.4 seconds per lap over a 80 second lap so you have to get every aspect of the car performance right. Winning is just awesome!
With winning being so good, the downside that losing is very hard to deal with. Motorsport is so performance driven that winning is the only goal; anything else is not good enough.
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What advice would you give to somebody planning on entering your field?
If you are thinking of working in motorsport for the glamour or the coolness factor, forget it. You have to start from the bottom (both in terms of being a mechanic or an engineer) and work so hard that the glamour effect wears off in a week. The travel is often painful and becomes another track/hotel/airport.
If you want to work in motorsport to challenge yourself, work in a team and be passionate about your job, then it's a rewarding job that keeps throwing out obstacles but that can give you a buzz like very few other jobs can.
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