Get to Know Arrow McLaren SP: Gracie Hackenberg, Apprentice Mechanic
Few people know exactly what they want to do with their life and even fewer can say they succeeded in that dream; Gracie Hackenberg is the exception.
Growing up Hackenberg was surrounded by classic cars. Her and her grandfather would spend days working on his vintage Volkswagen and Porsche. At that time a grandfather -granddaughter hobby was laying the groundwork for her future career. That career path originally looked like becoming a race car driver, as any young child dreams. Growing up having Lyn St. James as a role model and working constantly on engines, it was only natural she wanted to get behind the wheel.
“I always wanted to be a race car driver when I was a kid,” Hackenberg said. “Instead I went to engineering school at Smith College because I thought I was more mechanically inclined, and then realized I hated sitting behind a desk. So now here I am.”
While hearing Gracie Hackenberg driver of an Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet would have been a dream, she found just as exciting of a way into the motorsport world. Realizing all that work with her grandfather made her very skilled on the mechanical side of racing, Hackenberg enrolled in engineering program at Smith College. Eventually coming to the conclusion sitting behind a desk wasn’t how she wanted to enter the motorsport industry. Later in college she finally got to build her own race car and from there, the rest is history.
Knowing she wanted to work in INDYCAR, Hackenberg made a connection with Arrow McLaren SP’s own Performance Engineer Kate Gundlach, who became her way into the world of racing. As she began asking for advice and opportunities, Hackenberg expected to get told by the veteran engineer that she lacked experience, but Gundlach did the opposite. She connected her with Billy Vincent, Arrow McLaren SP’s Competition Director who offered her a position as apprentice mechanic. At much to her own disbelief, Hackenberg had gotten her dream job.
Almost immediately Hackenberg packed up and drove straight from Oregon to Indianapolis. Not only did she drop everything for this new start, so did her three pet snakes. Two five-foot long pythons and a hognose accompanied Hackenberg across Midwest America. From working in the high tense world of racing to owning giant snakes, one can agree she likes living outside the box.
Now, three months since her road trip, Hackenberg has been on a rotational service with the front end, rear end, and gear box mechanics. Once the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins, she will be working exclusively on gear boxes for Arrow McLaren SP’s third car in the Indianapolis 500. She had her first live experience in this role at the Laguna Seca test in April with the entire team and is already looking ahead to the season and her career.
“I really enjoy working in gear boxes, so I want to stay there and just win some races,” Hackenberg said.
Her advice to anyone looking to make a start in the industry is to find a mentor. You can’t make headway into this industry without finding someone willing to teach and show you the ropes.
Luckily for Hackenberg, her mentor is right across the shop.
If you are interested in joining Arrow McLaren SP, please send a resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org!