WRITTEN BY: NATHAN VAN VUGT
One of our alumni from Edith Cowan University Racing has just moved on from his position at KRE Race Engines, supplier of engines to Triple Eight and Tekno V8 Supercar teams, for a job in the United States of America for Toyota Racing Developments NASCAR team, based in North Carolina.
The team is very proud to have one of its ex-members make their way to such a high level of Motorsport, it reinforces the level in which the team allows students to enter into Motorsports and engineering roles prepared to succeed and innovate on a world scale.
Jon took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his time at ECU-R and how his time in Formula Student tied in with his employment.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do today?
My name is Jon Grove and in the world of Motorsports I am the Engine Man. Ever since I got into cars I have always been interested in developing engines and I have carried that through into my career today. I am a bit of an adrenaline junky so I am up for anything that involves going fast, though relaxing over a nice cold beer always goes down well too.
What got you interested in Motorsport and got you into the Motorsport course at ECU?
I was watching the Bathurst 1000 back in 2002 with my dad when Mark Skaife won with a couple of plastic bags in the front splitter blocking the radiator with the engine almost cooked to a crisp. I just remember the intensity of watching those last 20 laps thinking this is awesome. From then on I was officially a car guy.
What is your fondest memory from the ECU F-SAE program?
I have so many to choose from; I have had so many good times with so many different people. I always loved the first time we ran the car; it would normally be some ungodly time in the morning not having slept for a day or two and all the hard work you put in for the year all culminated to that point. Plus it meant you finally got to drive again!
How many times did you travel to Melbourne for the competition?
I was involved in 5 ECU-R car builds and I judged one year as well. My dad and I also drove the car over to Melbourne and back for the first 3 years which was an experience just in itself and was normally a good chance to catch up on sleep.
Is your family involved in Motorsport?
None of my family works in Motorsports but my dad was always into doing road cars up and still has his very first car, a 1966 split screen kombi which he did up himself. He even made his own wheels! Dad also used to take us to the Drags every now and then from when we were young, until I got into cars and then we used to go a lot.
What advice do you have for up and coming Motorsports/engineering students wanting to do FSAE?
Best thing is to find a part of the industry that you enjoy working in the most and follow that, if you enjoy what you do you will never work a day in your life. There is so much to learn doing FSAE so try and take in as much as possible and make your time as fun as possible.
What are your plans for the future? Do you see yourself working in Motorsport forever?
The current plan is to work my way up the global ladder and just see how far I can go, Formula 1 is definitely a big goal but I’ll just have to see how I go. I am not sure about working in Motorsports forever but I think I will always be involved in some way.
Where do you think is the biggest gain to be made for teams competing in FSAE?
Not getting caught up with trying to do all these complicated and sophisticated design or concepts. I still think people focus on that too much and don’t have a solid enough understanding of the fundamentals first. Put the time in first to get the basics right and then work up from there.
Were you a supporter or not when the team moved towards winged cars in 2011?
I was fine with the move when it was proposed as I thought it was a good step forward, but when I drove the 2010 car with the test wings fitted I got out of the car thinking ‘Yep we definitely have to get these on this year’s car!’
How much of what you learnt during your time with ECU-R is applicable to your job now?
Almost everything, when I started my first Job in V8 Supercars we were using the same MoTeC Engine Control Unit and the same engine dynamometer to test the engines with. The only difference was I was now working on 640hp pushrod V8s instead of a 90hp motorbike engine.