Engineering the Motorsport Future: Will Brown Talks Formula Student, Persistence, and “Whoopsie” Moments

Photo courtesy of Will Brown

Welcome to our latest blog, where we dive into an inspiring and challenging journey with Will Brown, an aspiring motorsport engineer. From his early passion for racing to his hands-on experiences with Formula Student and internships, Will’s story is one of determination and growth. Join us as we explore his path from studying Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington to his technical roles at Sorensen Motorsports. Discover how these experiences have shaped his dreams and fuelled his drive to succeed in the ever-changing world of motorsport engineering.

Early Passion for Motorsport

Thank you so much for speaking with us! My first question is about your passion for motorsport: what sparked your interest in the industry, and led you to join Formula Student?

The thing I typically point to is the Porsche YouTube series, The Road to Le Mans with Michael Fassbender. I graduated high school in 2018 and was unsure of what I wanted to do. I moved around, did various things, and just had fun. 

Then, by chance, I saw that series, and it opened my eyes to what goes on behind the scenes of racing. Growing up watching American racing, you think of engineers as people designing things in a factory. NASCAR, for example, has a crew chief and a pit crew, but you don’t think much about what else goes into the car. Seeing how much effort goes into making a race weekend work beyond just driving and pit stops was a big eye-opener.

Check out our blog article: How To Pursue A Career As A Formula 1 Pit Crew Member

That’s what first got me interested and excited about working on cars. Formula Student came as a byproduct of wanting to get into motorsport. I started to research what it takes and found that hands-on experience is crucial. 

Everyone talks about how competitive motorsport is and how every little bit counts. I instantly started looking for Formula Student programs near me and real-world experience.

Discovering Formula Student

Was joining Formula Student more about gaining a better understanding of how Formula racing works, or was it to gain experiences to boost your CV?

A little bit of both, I think. Obviously, it’s fun and really cool. We get to design and build a race car with a group of students, and it’s a great learning experience. But going into it, I knew it was essential. If you want to work in high-level motorsports, having experience in Formula Student is almost a given. It’s a necessity, but a very enjoyable one.

Do you think your courses (towards a BSc in Mechanical Engineering) are helping you, or could you participate in Formula Student and pursue a role in F1 with any major?

No, I definitely think studying mechanical engineering is helping me. I’ll be at the track, and we’ll be figuring something out, and there are things I’ve learned in my classes that translate directly to what I’m doing.
For example, I’ve used calculus in Formula Student to calculate vectors of force and moment arms, both in Formula Student and at the track. The classes do translate to a certain level, making them very useful.

Photo courtesy of Will Brown

Hands-On Experience and Roles

While you’ve been involved in a variety of different roles within UTA Racing, such as the Data Acquisition Lead and Suspension Deputy, do you think those roles have shaped your aspirations in motorsport?

I think it’s kind of the other way around. A lot of my aspirations in motorsport led me to pursue those specific roles. My long-term aspiration is to be a race engineer. In learning about that role, a lot of what comes up is understanding vehicle dynamics, data, and working with the driver. It’s really about understanding how the car works. Suspension is a huge part of that, so I sought to get a base understanding and work with vehicle dynamics to better understand how the car moves and how loads transfer.

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Data acquisition in our program encompasses a lot. I handle all the low-voltage wiring, program everything on the car, including the tractive system, and collect data from the car. This is useful for race engineering and understanding the data. For me, it was more about identifying what I wanted to do and then focusing on those areas in Formula SAE to further my goals.

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Photo courtesy of Will Brown

Sure, absolutely. It started with Devine Force Racing as a one-event thing. I showed up to understand things, willing to do anything, like sweeping floors or moving tyres. That experience grew, leading me to work with Black Sheep, and then with Turn-In. It all expanded from that one experience, which was really cool.

Most of what I’ve done has been simple tasks like checking tyre pressures, pyrometer readings, and torquing lugs. Occasionally, I did basic data analysis, looking at various channels and diagnosing things on the car with others. But a lot of it was general crew tasks—showing up, working all day, and doing whatever was needed. That’s how you build a reputation, at least from what I’ve seen.

Now, I’m transitioning. This year, I’m working in Formula Drift with Sorenson Motorsport, specifically in data analysis. My role focuses on looking at data with engineers, picking apart things on the car, and analysing setup changes. It’s a path that continues to grow.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that you have to be willing to do a little bit of everything if you want to achieve your goals. Another big lesson is that it’s okay to make mistakes—just don’t make the same mistake twice. That advice took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. I’m not scared to do something wrong because I know it’s part of the learning process. Moving past mistakes, learning from them, and not repeating them has been super useful to me. Everybody has their fair share of “whoopsies”. And being able to move past that and learn from that mistake has been super reassuring to me.

Photo courtesy of Will Brown

Career Aspirations

Do you see your professional future focused on data analysis within motorsport, or do you have broader aspirations? How do you see your role in this industry evolving, and what’s your dream role?

There are a lot of variables. It depends on the direction I want to go. Data analysis is something I find extremely interesting, especially the challenge of problem-solving. For example, when the driver gives feedback, figuring out how to make the car better is very satisfying and fulfilling. So, that’s definitely something I’m going to continue pursuing.

Long term, I want to move more into race engineering, controlling everything on the car over the weekend, combining driver interaction with setup changes and data analysis. Beyond that, who knows? Becoming a technical director would be cool. Those roles are obviously very appealing. But my focus right now is definitely on data analysis and on-track engineering.

Overcoming Challenges

What has been the most challenging aspect of your motorsport journey so far, and how have you overcome it?

There definitely have been challenges. I think that’s something everybody faces. The biggest challenge I’ve noticed and have talked to people about is getting into the industry. It’s about finding that starting point and getting a foothold. Even after gaining experience and building a resume, it’s still tough. I’ve sent around 300 or 350 emails looking for internships this year. Persistence is key. It’s about not letting a few “no’s” stop you from pursuing the “yes.” Even not getting responses shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing your goals.

The opportunities are out there; you just have to keep looking.

What are the key skills needed for making quick decisions in motorsport engineering?

Sure. One important thing is being confident in your ability. Once you’ve reached a certain level, you need to make decisions quickly and not worry too much if something goes wrong. At the track, with only 20 minutes between sessions, you don’t have time to sit and theorise. You need to make quick decisions and get the car on the grid. This clarity and confidence are crucial, and it’s something I’m still working on.

Another key aspect is to never stop learning. Continuously seeking new knowledge makes decision-making easier. Solving problems you’ve never encountered before often relies on past experiences or lessons learned from others. Building up that experience bank and asking lots of questions is essential. It’s about making all those experiences work together.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in motorsport engineering?

A lot of what I follow comes as a byproduct of things I’ve worked on. Many of the advances I get are in Formula SAE specifically. We may have some aspects that are a bit behind the motorsport world, but that’s where a lot of my focus is. It’s the main area where I’m designing things right now. Outside of that, I stay updated by following various pages on LinkedIn, Instagram, or other platforms to see what companies are up to. I’m very interested in technical posts and reading about new developments.

Much of what I’ve been interested in implementing has come from the Formula Student side because that’s what I’m currently working on. For example, decoupled suspension and custom hub motors are super interesting to me. Specifically in data acquisition, it’s fascinating to explore various options for decoupled suspension, track the data, and understand how the system works.

The Future of Motorsport Engineering

What do you think the future of motorsport engineering will look like? What trends or ideas do you find interesting?

I think the big one is electric vehicles and how they fit into motorsport. The most exciting part of electric vehicles, honestly, is hybrid vehicles because I love combustion engines and hearing cars around the track. One of my favourite feelings is being at a race with big engines like V8s and V10s and feeling it in your body as the car goes down the track. That’s really awesome.

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One of the most interesting things to me is making those big, loud engines work with new electric technology and merging those two systems in interesting ways. The new hypercars and some of the new F1 regulations have made that very feasible with some interesting options. That’s definitely something I want to look more into and understand better.

Well, thank you so much for your time, Will! We wish you the best of luck for your future.

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