Former Arrow McLaren team manager Billy Vincent is developing a new team-based educational program in partnership with the Lucas Oil School of Racing that will be based in Indianapolis and cater to those who lack hands-on racing experience.
Vincent, a veteran mechanic who worked for Team Penske in sports cars, served as Will Power’s IndyCar crew chief and took a leadership role with the McLaren team through 2023, has identified a significant gap in knowledge with many of the pro racing job applicants who aspire to become mechanics, engineers and pit crew members, but have limited or no real-world understanding of how a racing team works from the inside.
“I’m working on an academy with the Lucas Oil School to use their cars and recreate what the Jim Russell Racing School did, where you’d go and train at their shop, go to the track and run the cars, and really get that understanding of how to assemble and take care of race cars,” Vincent told RACER. “Because for my generation, that’s used where all the engineers and mechanics came out of.”
At Arrow McLaren, Vincent was centrally involved in hiring and developing new crew members for the team’s expanding three-car IndyCar operation, with some of the employees coming from his MPG Motorsports karting program.
“There are lots of schools where people can go these days if they want to become a driver, and there’s some really good university programs that have motorsports engineering degrees you can get, but you get them in the shop or take them to a test day, and they’re just as green as grass. And that just means you really aren’t ready for the job,” Vincent explained.
“I want to teach people how to go racing by going racing. There’s thousands and thousands of people applying but almost nobody has a base foundation of knowing how to yank the gears out of the transmission or do the [chassis] setup on the car. Or load the truck, or what it’s like to be part of a racing event, to work with a driver, or run a CNC machine, put up and take down the tent, because you’ll never hope to get that in a classroom. A lot of these kids are being pounded to go to university, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t, but the skilled trades that go with a lot of these jobs are lacking, so that’s what I’m trying to try to do with the academy.”
Vincent is aiming towards launching the program late next summer.
“I want to do it where you go through a six- or eight-week curriculum, learn a lot at the shop — learn how to do pit stops, take care of the cars, teach the history of the sport, because that matters, too — and go to the Lucas Oil School of Racing events and run the cars,” he said. “So many of the people working today in IMSA or IndyCar or wherever have been there for like 30 years, and I’m one of them who was taught by my dad and old crew chiefs, and we were once young mechanics who went on to become engineers and team managers and crew chiefs.
“But there’s nothing for this new generation to get that experience, so that’s what I’m working on with the Lucas Oil School so we have better and readier candidates for teams to hire.”