When it comes to working in Formula One, you can’t get much better than either working for a team or F1 itself. As the sport aims to encourage new and often younger fans, FOM (Formula One Management) are having to create innovative and unique content for their online platforms and app to appeal to such people. Amy Overy didn’t have an interest in motorsport until early in her adult life, but soon fell in love with it. Her first role in the industry was with FOM and years later, she is still working for them. I spoke to her about radio, F1 and juggling family and her career.
For many people who work in the motorsport industry, the sport has always been a passion, however for Amy, it wasn’t until later in her life that she began to take an interest. “My parents weren’t fans, and I probably only really got into F1 around the time that Damon Hill was driving for Williams. I was at university at the time, working in a bar back in Coventry during the holidays. That same year my boss got the contract to run the bar near Copse Corner for the British GP, and a few of us worked there, camping at the track and had the best time. That was my first experience of F1,” she said. Although she had never considered the sport to be a possible career, Overy had been studying Media Production at university in Salford, and then returning to her home city of Coventry in the holidays working in the bar, whilst helping out at a local radio station where she had previously completed work experience. “When I left university, I went home for the summer not sure what to do next and bumped into the programme controller from the radio station who said there was a job going on the breakfast show, and to come in for an interview. I got the job and so began two years of getting up at 4.30am,” Amy told me.
After 2 years, Overy had gained enough confidence to apply for a job at Kiss FM. “I ended up working in the most incredible environment for two years, and moving down to London at the age of 21. Music is probably my first love, but I’ve always liked sport, particularly football, and whilst at Kiss I was also moonlighting for another station as a co-commentator covering Fulham FC games,” she explained. With motorsport remaining an interest, Amy was keen to bring that into her radio role. Knowing that Eddie Jordan was a Coventry City fan like herself, she secured an interview with him. “I managed to blag my way into the Jordan Grand Prix launch at The Palladium and interview Eddie about being a fan, and made a feature for the Coventry radio station I used to work at. Not long afterwards, a friend of mine saw an advert for an F1 TV Production Assistant in Autosport Magazine, and persuaded me to apply for it. I got an interview, got the job and was at Silverstone three weeks later for the British GP. The company was Formula One Management,” Overy described.
Nowadays, broadcast teams from around the world and that of F1 itself are made up of huge numbers of staff, but when Amy started with FOM in 1999, it was very different. “The production team was quite small back then and I was the first full time female member of production staff. My first role was as a replay operator. My first race was memorable as it was when Michael Schumacher crashed and broke his leg – it was a crazy first race, but I loved every minute. As a 23-year-old who didn’t travel much before getting the job in F1, it was the most incredible time to find myself suddenly in places like Japan, Brazil and Australia,” Overy told me. She soon moved on from being a replay operator to coordinating the interviews taking place in team garages. This role allowed her to begin doing interviews herself at F1 events such as car launches, before in 2001 being given a chance to film some live features. “I was offered the chance to do live pit lane interviews alongside Nick Daman. My first race interviewing was Monaco 2001, I was so nervous that I threw up before the race! I passed the test and continued to be a pit lane interviewer until leaving Formula One Management the following year after I got married,” she said.
Deciding she wanted a ‘normal life’ for a while, she left her job with F1. However, it wasn’t long until she was missing working in motorsport. Amy began freelancing, covering a range of series at Rockingham, Silverstone and Donnington circuits. Freelancing allowed her to get back into work following the birth of her son, though it wasn’t a seamless transition, with both her and her husband having to juggle their careers and raising their new-born son. “I remember my poor husband sitting with a crying baby in the car in the Silverstone paddock, while I did pitlane interviews. I then breastfed my son between races,” Amy described.
After her son started school, she was approached by FOM to cover for a member of staff who would be missing 3 Grands Prix. The role was as a pitlane coordinator/ producer and with her committing to only 3 races, she felt this would be manageable. “I was nervous about going back, but in some respects, it was as though I’d never been away. It’s such an intense job, you see these people more than your family, so inevitably you stay in touch probably more so than any other job. I knew lots of people who were still at FOM which made it so much easier. That was seven seasons ago, and three races turned into more each year and this season I’m doing ten,” Overy told me.
7 years later and as Amy said, she is still working for Formula One Management, with her current role being a combination of many, however for Overy, this is what keeps it so interesting. “I’m working mainly with the new F1 Digital team as a producer, creating content for F1.com, the F1 app and social media. I also still help out as a pit lane co-ordinator occasionally for the live International feed, which means spotting stories for the cameramen, finding ‘faces’, floor managing the post-qualifying and post-race interviews, and sometimes interviewing drivers and celebrities who attend races. I love that I get to do so many varied things, it also means that I’ve developed a wide skill set over the years, and that people I work with know that they can call on me and I won’t be fazed by it,” she explained.
One such event came in Monaco and Austria this year when usual Formula 2 pitlane reporter Rosanna Tennant was away, meaning Amy was asked to step in. Knowing her previous experience both working in the pitlane and conducting interviews, FOM knew they could rely on her. “It had been a long time since I had done live interviews on camera and I was quite nervous, but it was fine and good fun. I love interviewing people, mainly because I’m nosy, and am lucky to have interviewed all sorts of people over the years, and I’m happy to stand in when required,” Overy exclaimed.
Although Amy still works freelance and so only travels to races rather than being based at an office, juggling her job with her family is her greatest challenge. “I’ve got an incredibly supportive husband who manages his fulltime job with childcare, and an amazing army of friends who are more than happy to help out with school pick-ups etc. My son understands how much I love my work and when I’m home, I’m completely home – I even run the school gardening club each week at my son’s school,” Overy said. This year she has also covered Formula E, adding to her travel commitments, however she has thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the series for the first time. “This year has been harder than most as I’ve also been working in Formula E which has meant more travelling and no ‘off season’ in the winter, as the first FE race was the weekend after the last F1 in Abu Dhabi,” Amy described.
Amy Overy began working in F1 when she was quite young and even met her husband in the sport. Now juggling her motorsport career with her family, it can be tricky, however she loves her job and with the help of some very supportive friends she is able to give her family a lovely life too. Her advice to others wanting to follow in her footsteps would be: “try and learn as many different skills as you can, as you never know what opportunities will present themselves. Do whatever is asked of you to the best of your ability, and with good grace – even if it’s not what you want to be doing. People will soon realise that they can rely on you, and eventually you will get to do the things you DO want to be doing. Also, have a sense of humour – the days can be ridiculously long and sometimes the best thing you can do is have a laugh. Someone once said to me in the F1 paddock ‘Amy, you’re always smiling!’ and I replied ‘I have lots to smile about’!”
Heading photo: Sutton Images