Sketching at Work: Racing Car Designer

As a follow on to my last post on sketching in the workplace I was catching up on one of my  interests this morning which was the Formula 1 Racing Series.  Amazing, I came across this  article on Red Bull Racing’s F1 car designer Adrian Newey. It turns out in this world of  multimullion dollar racing cars, with all the high tech tools in the world for design, one of the  top designers is a passionate devotee of the pencil as part of his design process. Here’s  what he has to say about sketching with pencil at work:


 “I enjoy regulation changes,” Newey says.

 “Stability makes F1 very stale. The changes allow me to sit back with a fresh sheet of  paper and work out solutions from first principles.”


By “a fresh sheet of paper”, Newey means exactly what  he says. Having been designing racing cars for more  than 25 years, he is the only practitioner in a technically  advanced discipline to use a drawing board when sketching out his ideas. The feel and effect of a pencil across paper gives a greater sense of initial proportion and reality than the myriad detailed wonder thrust forward on a computer screen. More than 100 victories for Newey-inspired cars are adequate testimony to the effectiveness of his methods.


In looking for a F1 car sketch to accompany this post I came accross Michael’s drawing shown here and was very pleased he was gracious enough to allow me to post his drawing and to tell his story. Michael informed me that this was drawn when he was thirteen years old and dreaming of becomming a race car driver. By pure coincidence it turns out Michael works for the past 10 years for a major NASCAR race team in their R&D test development group. Here’s his interesting story:


“I just posted those sketches yesterday as I was a little bit nostalgic at how drawing was my only outlet growing up in Canada. I was not the mainstream kid who wanted to be a hockey star. No, I want to be a professional race car driver/designer/builder and I had an incredible passion for it. Well, I took the driving thing as far as I could. When I quit pursuing my driving ambitions I had American friends who I knew from racing in the U.S. that said they were great and many opportunities in NASCAR for a person of my background. As they say the rest is history.”


Michael goes on to say, “Unfortunately I don’t get to sit down and make drawings like I did growing up, but I try to contribute like everyone on the team in areas where we see there is a need for improvement.”


He shared that when he was studying mechanical drafting in high school he even designed a Formula 1 ground effects car. Perhaps he’ll share that with us in the future.


Just look where sketching can take you. It helps you achieve your dreams.


How are you using sketching at work? Share it with our growing pencil community. Post some images of your work sketches and tell your story and contribute to the new Sketching at Work group I’ve just established.

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