EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
That’s the phrase that just about sums up the career of Goh Hui Ching, 22, a race technician by profession. It all depends on what day it is as each day holds something different for a pit crew or race technician. Of course not every day is a race day, that’s for sure. However, most of Goh’s days are spent in the shop preparing every tiny detail of a car to prep it up for the next “big day”. They can’t afford to make any mistake; race technicians usually work over-time about six days a week, just to make sure everything is right.
“I’m used to showing up for work before sunrise and coping with the extremely exciting world of racing,” shared Goh, a graduate from The Otomotif College (TOC). Indeed, Goh who is commonly known as Alvin among his friends says his job evolves around a fast-paced environment where everything is done like clockwork and team spirit is important in terms of understanding and a great deal of communication. “Hours might pass by in the garage without a word uttered,” exclaimed Goh adding that everyone in the team had a specific job to do, be it checklists, dismantling parts, replacing, installing, torque measurements and adjusting. Every part of the race car is examined and re-examined over and over again, until the long awaited race day. Nevertheless, all these details are part of the training Goh received during his Diploma in Automotive Technology at TOC in 2008.
Today, TOC is the first college in Malaysia that offers a Diploma in Motorsport Technology since the year 2009. This Diploma in Motorsport Technology is a 60% practical course where students learn about high performance automobiles such as engine performance, chassis set-up, drive train performance and race car anatomy. Students get access to state-of-the-art learning from the Chassis Dynamometer where they will learn engine-tuning and the setup and aerodynamics of race cars. Besides a variety of training vehicles of the latest models in the market, TOC uses technology-based training to prepare automotive technicians for highly complex vehicles in the market today. One of the software used is Electude, a sophisticated online E-learning automotive diagnostic programme not unlike a realistic video game. Utilizing interactive animations and simulations, Electude allows students to learn about the complete vehicle from bumper to bumper and teaches them how to maintain and repair cars via a unique Virtual Car and Learning Management System.
“Life at TOC was fun as the lecturers were all degree and master holders who really know their stuff and are willing to teach,” smiled Goh adding that TOC promises life-time career placement to all their students as they boast of more than 800 venue partners over Malaysia. In fact, TOC takes pride in the high demand for their graduates in the automotive industry. “I count myself especially blessed that Petronas came to select students for interview from TOC right before my graduation,” Goh recollected.
With no background or experience in the world of motorsports, Goh was naturally excited when opportunity came knocking at the door. According to Goh, the chief mechanic of Petronas came to TOC to give a career talk describing the job scope, pay and information about life on the race track. Students who were keen to embark on the journey of a pit crew sent in their resumes and three out of nine most potential candidates were handpicked to join Petronas for their final internship.
“It was like a dream come true! I wanted to join F1 since I was a child and watched a lot of races on television shows. I loved cars and my favorite brand was the Volkswagen!” declared Goh.
Of course being able to pursue his childhood dream did not mean that life was a bed of roses after that. “A day in the life of a pit crew or race mechanic can be summed up as hard work, long hours, but at the end of the day, you get the self satisfaction of knowing that you are passionate enough about your profession to reach the ultimate goal and highest level possible in your field,” stated Goh who had to check all the moving parts of a car including drive shaft, “joints”, engine oil level, gear ratios and etc before the start of every race. He also had to clean and polish the car to ensure that the vehicle was in tip-top condition.
For a car enthusiast of his age, Goh gained a lot of valuable experience through his initial six months of internship at Petronas. He learnt how to rebuild a car at the end of a season, maintain a performance car during a race and change the damaged parts at the nick of the moment during a pit stop. Earnest on his intent to prove himself, Goh shone throughout his job and Petronas gave the verdict that the boy was quite good, which led them to offer him a six-month contract until the end of that season. Eventually, Goh got to go to Macau, Japan, China and Singapore for races and events. He even went to the Formula Pacific last year for the 1000 km Merdeka Millennium Endurance (MME) race.
“One of the most memorable moments I recall was being able to get close and personal with 18-year old driver Calvin Wong, who is now in his third year racing in Formula BMW Pacific with Petronas Mofaz Racing. Calvin had won a few races in Japan,” smiled Goh.
Well, Goh is not going to stop here. The ambitious youngster has left Petronas recently to prepare to further his studies at the University of Coventry, one of the University partners of TOC in the United Kingdom. He has registered to take up a degree in Automotive Engineering.
“My goal is to become a data engineer in the motorsports industry and setup or improve cars which can fulfill the will of the drivers. My role in the research and development sector of Malaysian’s Motorsports Arena is to boost our country’s image in the challenging and exciting world of motorsports. I will come up with a car that is good to go and able to come back in one piece after the drivers take it to any podium,” professed Goh.