Like many high school graduates, Daniel Ensor was looking forward to enjoying a gap year before heading off to university. But when his visa application was rejected at the last minute, he had to make other plans. Despite not previously having an interest in cars, an ad for a mechanic apprentice caught his attention. Now, ten years after he first picked up a spanner, he's part of the team that helped Craig Lowndes take out top spot in the 2018 Bathurst 1000.
"Working with Craig Lowndes is a pretty cool experience, especially in his last year just before retirement. It's cool to work closely with some of these famous characters, but at the end of the day you're colleagues and you're both trying to achieve the same goal," Daniel said.
After initially completing his apprenticeship with Porsche Centre Brisbane, Daniel moved on to MR Tuning where he discovered a passion for motorsport working as a mechanic for drivers in the Australian GT, Porsche Carrera Cup, and GT3 Challenge championships. From there he moved into V8 Supercars working with the Preston Hire Racing crew before joining Triple Eight Race Engineering as Number 2 Mechanic for Craig Lowndes.
It's a challenging role that keeps Daniel incredibly busy, working behind the scenes to prepare the car for race day, and as part of the pit crew ready to jump into action as needed throughout the race.
"A normal day after a race meeting we strip the car back to nearly a bare chassis. We clean and we fix what needs to be fixed, and we'll reassemble the car, set it up with our engineer, and then we'll put it in the truck ready for the next round."
"At a race meeting first thing in the morning will be pit-stop practice and then we'll prepare the cars for the day depending on what the engineer would like set-up wise. During a session we'll be ready for pit-stops all the time, making changes as per requests from engineering or drivers, and always ready for damage repair. It can be a nice 10 hour day or a long 20 hour day — it could be anything," he said.
While Daniel admits his role can be quite demanding, he says one of the benefits of working in such a high-pressure environment is that it brings his team closer together.
"One of the great things about doing what I do is the sense of family environment around the team. You're room mates, you're living together, you're working together through all hours of the night into the morning, so there's a real sense of family in the motorsport community," he said.
His career has also given him the opportunity to explore Australia and the world as he and his team follow their car and their driver around the touring circuit.
"It's pretty cool to go around to different places all the time, especially when you get to do it with some of your best mates — that makes it really enjoyable," he said.
While it's taken years of hard work to get where he is today, Daniel doesn't discount the role that TAFE Queensland played in helping him get his foot in the door to such a competitive industry.
"I would definitely recommend TAFE Queensland to others. With real-world experience from the teachers and world-class facilities and tools to use, there's really no other place to be," he said.
And although Daniel didn't grow up worshiping the cars and drivers he now gets to work alongside everyday, it's clear he's now as passionate about the sport as they come.
"The best thing about my role, and being in motorsport in general, is that the finish line doesn't move — the timeline's always the same. We've always got plenty to do and we've also got a strict timeframe so getting things done and meeting those goals is the best thing," he said.
"Plus it's really rewarding at the end of the day when you get to spray the champagne."