A race car driver is someone who drives race cars. It takes a great deal of experience and skill to become a race car driver, with many famous drivers starting at a very young age; children as young as eight or nine can be seen on go-kart tracks, acquiring skills which will serve them well when they start training to drive race cars. This job can take people all over the world, depending on the type of cars they drive, and it is also a very high pressure job.
Driving a race car is not as simple as getting into a car, turning the engine on, and driving. Race cars have to driven in a particular way to reach peak performance, and race car drivers need to learn how to handle the vehicles they work with. Although they may not always perform extensive mechanical work like members of the pit crew, they are familiar with mechanics and the engineering behind the cars they drive, in addition to the complex technology their cars use during a race.
Handling a race car becomes much more complicated when there are other cars on the track. A race car driver needs to be a competent driver with an eye to safety, and he or she also needs the skills to win. Finessing a car around the track takes years of experience and extensive study. These drivers operate at very high speeds, which can make driving mistakes fatal, and other mistakes can cost a driver a race.
Race car drivers evaluate new cars for their teams, help their teams develop and refine the vehicles they use, and promote their teams when they are not on the track. Although a team actually involves a large group of people including a very dedicated pit crew, the race car driver is often the public face of the team, and he or she participates in promotional events, tours to meet sponsors, and engages in other activities to raise public awareness of the team and to collect funding.
Operating a race car and sustaining a team is a costly endeavor. A race car driver may be paid varying amounts, but especially in the beginning, she or he is driving for the love of the sport, not the money. The work can be physically and emotionally grueling, and requires a significant investment of time and money. Only a handful of would-be drivers make it to the top of the field, and these people usually credit their success to their intense commitment, ability to focus, and love of the sport.