Amazing Bathurst Experience for Apprentice of the Year
October 2015 - Martin Van der Walt
The NT TIO Automotive Apprentice of the Year, knows what it takes to keep a high performance vehicle in top notch shape.
“Everybody was working late and hard to be able to have the car at its very best for the race. I loved every moment of it. As part of his prestigious award, he was given a valuable opportunity to be embedded with the Prodrive Supercar team at Bathurst 1000, courtesy of MTAA Super.
“It was an amazing experience,’’ Martin said.The PRA team had a couple of bad runs – losing three cars in the main event, but even through those times the team stuck together and already had plans of what to do to have the vehicles ready for the next race.’’
Martin had the opportunity to do just about everything with the team, except drive the car.
“I did everything from cleaning and polishing, to tyre changing and refuelling and engine tuning and sanity checks,’’ he said.
“Because the vehicles travel at tremendous speeds and are only held together by a handful of nuts and bolts everything needs to be checked every time the vehicle is prepared to enter the track. Sanity check is what the mechanics call it when they are going around and checking everything over so they are mentally sure the vehicle is all OK.’’
Martin, who works at Kerry’s Automotive Group in Darwin, said he learnt a lot from the experience.
“I was also shown the engineering side of it all of which I found really interesting. Each car has three mechanics and two engineers constantly monitoring the car on and off the track.’’
Martin followed his father, a career auto-technician, into the motor trades and has since carved out a niche in the industry for himself.
His advice to anybody wanting to enter the industry would be to do their homework, as a passion for cars was not enough.
“It takes a fair bit of dedication and putting up with to make it through and I don’t think that just liking cars could get you through it,’’ he said.
“But overall you need to be mechanically minded to understand it and enjoy ‘’
Martin was one of three apprentices to be given top honours by the Apprentice of the Year program in 2014-15, with each recipient representing their own state or territory.
The award, which has been sponsored by MTAA Super for many years, spotlights the hard work and dedication of young men and women who have excelled at their apprentice mechanic training.