National Motorsport Academy

Race Engineer of the Year 2022: Dan Potter

Earlier on this year, the NMA launched its first Race Engineer of the Year competition. With 22 entries from 12 different racing series, the battle for the title came down to the wire. Three engineers – Dan Potter, Adam Wootton and Jamie Goddard all won their championships with their respective teams, but Dan Potter finally edged it with two rounds left to go of the season.

We caught up with Dan at Donington Park to present his trophy and find out more about his motorsport career so far.

When Dan left school, he set out on the apprenticeship route. Like many NMA students, he chose to train within the automotive industry and joined Revington TR to complete his Level 2 Light Vehicle Maintenance. He’d always had a passion for touring car racing and alongside his main dealer technician roles taught himself more about engine management and electronics in motorsport. In 2020 he finally made the move out of the automotive industry into full-time motorsport when he joined Swallows Racing. By 2022 he’d signed up to the NMA’s BSc Motorsport Engineering and seen out his first full season with Swallows, winning the CTCRC Jaguar Series. Read on for Dan’s Q&A…

What was your first job when you left school?

I did a GNVQ Level 2 Light Vehicle Maintenance, with an apprenticeship at Revington TR. However, I left shortly after as they didn’t do engine management, so was unable to continue my apprenticeship there. I then went on to teach myself engine management and electronics

When did your passion for motosport start?

My earliest memories of motorsport are of watching the BTCC super touring era on TV when I was a kid. Even now, I still love watching any form of touring car racing, especially the BTCC but also love to watch the Aussie V8 Supercars because it’s really close racing. And who doesn’t love the sound of a V8 at 8000rpm??

Image: Swallows Racing
How did you get your first full-time job with a motorsport team?

It was during the first lock down. I was furloughed through BMW as the entire dealer network was closed. I saw that Swallows Racing had advertised for a detailer position, and at that point, I actually fancied a change from the spanners. I went for an interview and Tom said they were actually looking for a Motorsport tech, and I fitted that job role far better with my previous experience. – I ran my own Renaultsport specialist where I did a lot of tuning and race prep work prior to going to BMW.

What are you responsible for at Swallows Racing?

Day to day I do the maintenance and building of the race cars. There’s also a fair amount of R&D for the road performance side of the business too, which keeps me busy outside of racing season. I also drive the truck to the meetings and make sure the cars are all sorted throughout the race weekend.

Image: Swallows Racing
What have been your career highlights so far? Outside of becoming the NMA's first Race Engineer of the Year, obviously!

Probably winning the championship with Swallows so far. We won 12 out of 14 races, and only came second in the races where we didn’t win, even when the power steering failed!

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

I’m already trying to push my career forward and completing my BSc with the NMA is part of that. My ultimate aim is to be in high level such as VLN in 3-4 years out in Germany.

And how have you found the course so far?

The course has been very in depth, I’m really only backing the knowledge I have so far. I wanted to know the theory behind what I know to work, but not fully knowing why. I’m into the design element currently, which is not something I’ve ever done and I’m really enjoying it.

How does it feel to have won the NMA's Race Engineer of the Year award, beating one of Red Bull's best and a British GT Class winner?

It feels great to be up there with world leading engineers, and I’m putting it to full use on my CV! It’s nice to know and be able to prove my knowledge within the industry.

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