Hot Jobs, Cool Companies - Vermont SportsCar
One thing that Vermont offers in spades is outdoor fun. It is rare that you find a person who does not include some sort of outdoor activity in their everyday life, be it skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or off-roading. Because of this it is not surprising that the state would produce a company like Vermont SportsCar, which specializing in customizing off-road rally vehicles for racing. What might surprise you is that they are considered the best at what they do in the world and boast arguably the best drivers in their field.
To say that the drivers for Vermont SportsCar are household names is an understatement. They currently have two main drivers, and will service others under their sponsor’s wishes. One of their main drivers is Ken Block, who started the very successful and well-known skateboard apparel firm DC Shoes. Ken has been one of the main drivers for Vermont SportsCar for years now and has participated in events all over the world for the team.
The other main driver is Travis Pastrana. Yes, that Travis Pastrana , who took home his ninth career X Games gold medal in August by winning the Rally Super Special event at X Games 14 in Los Angeles.
Pastrana was already a well known motocross champion when he joined the Vermont SportsCar team in 2004. Since then he has been driving for the team all over the world including winning the very first rally car race at the X-games over the legendary Colin McRae in 2006. He even makes it to Vermont every once in awhile to oversee the cars and take in Vermont’s environment.
While you might still be surprised that such a globally renowned company could exist in Vermont, you will be even more surprised to learn that it has been in existence since 1989. The company was started as a place to soup-up custom rally cars by a Champlain Valley Union High School student who loved the sport.
As the shop grew with sponsors and stature, the company grew bigger and bigger, eventually gaining a name nationally. Now Vermont SportsCar has more than 28 employees and is looking to expand even further in the near future.
And it’s not just a shop that builds up cars for their racing team either. If you ever wanted to get into the sport on your own, they will also custom build a street legal Subaru rally car just for you. This car would easily be able to navigate even the most treacherous Vermont roads with navigating devices that make the popular models look like dinosaurs. The only catch might be that $225,000 price tag.
Those that follow the sport know the company well. Dan Farley was an Essex high school student that always had an interest in motor sports. Like many students he graduated with little idea about his next step. He worked at a pizza restaurant for years and enjoyed his time there thoroughly, but always felt like he could do more. He started realizing how much he enjoyed mechanical engineering and decided to go into the field.
This meant night classes at Burlington Tech and Vermont Technical College in electro mechanical engineering. When it was time for Farley to get an internship he knew where his interests lay, and immediately applied for one at Vermont SportsCar.
The internship was tough to get though since the company is so high profile. That did not deter Farley, who would call everyday for weeks to get his foot in the door. The persistence paid off though, as Dan got one of the coveted spots. After interning for school, Vermont SportsCar asked Farley to stay on full time. Now he gets to build and work on engines for some of the highest performing cars out there. The perks aren’t that bad either, as Farley often gets to travel to race locations all over the globe.
Vermont SportsCar didn’t get to where it is though merely on building cars in a garage. Marketing is always an important component to a successful company, and it’s what has helped Vermont SportsCar grow. Dan Anctil always had an interest in both.
After growing up in New Hampshire he came to Vermont to go to Saint Michaels College. Anctil enrolled in business classes, but had always had a love for rally sports. When it was time to get an internship, he too, thought of Vermont SportsCar. After persistently calling the marketing director he was given a chance to intern, and like Farley he was hired on permanently after he finished college.
Anctil pinches himself everyday to be able to work in a field he loves so much, while being able to use his business degree as well. By working in marketing, he is responsible for the race logistics for the cars and drivers, and for marketing the sport and company to fans and the general public.
Anctil gets to work with sponsors such as Red Bull, Subaru, and Mountain Dew, while also getting to travel all over the world. He loves the fact that he is able to work at a high capacity in a field he has always loved while living in the state that he wants to live in. Since Anctil enjoys other outdoor sports as well, he could not be happier living and working her in Vermont.
Both Dans had advice for those looking to get into the field. If you want to get into mechanical engineering and work on engines like the complicated and powerful Subaru off-road cars, then math and science are key. They will give you the tools down the road that could get you a mechanic’s job at Vermont SportsCar.
As for marketing, math and English are of paramount importance and a business degree from college is a good first step. The real key though is passion. Both Farley and Anctil were initially denied when they sought internships at Vermont SportsCar. It was their passion and persistence that led to their opportunities. They are also a classic example of how an internship can lead to the job of your dreams. Then maybe you can be the one working on a car that is driven by the world’s best drivers in front of thousands of screaming fans….