MP Motorsport’s Jennifer Chau: “My goal has always been to look for a job like this”

Netherlands-based MP Motorsport have been racing in feeder series such as FIA Formula 2 since 2013 when it was GP2, and FIA Formula 3 since 2018, as well as other categories such as Spanish Formula 4 and Formula Renault. With the team often competing in multiple championships on the same race weekend, getting everyone to the right place, at the right time, is quite the challenge. Jennifer Chau is MP Motorsport’s Team Coordinator, meaning she is responsible for all travel and logistics. I spoke to her about her career, finding a role that fitted her and her advice for others.

As a child, Jennifer was always interested in sport and being an only child, was often taken along to events by her father. However, she didn’t have a particular interest in motorsport until she was at university. Whilst studying Marketing and International Business at the University of Auckland, Jennifer started working with their Formula Student team, with her partner already involved. “It all just kind of happened,” she said. “The Formula Student team designed and built a racing car, but there was also a business side too. I decided to join because I was interested in event organisation.” Alongside this, Jennifer further explored the world of motorsport as she became a volunteer in one of New Zealand’s largest championships. “My partner is now a race engineer and his dream was always to work in motorsport. When I realised that was what I wanted to do too, I started looking at what events there were in New Zealand, and that was the Toyota Racing Series. I initially started volunteering to see what the industry was like. I was selling merchandise and got to know the Events Manager for the championship. I asked if I could help her in any way and so I started assisting with the hospitality and organisation,” she told me.

After finishing her degree, Jennifer became a freelance Events and Hospitality Manager. The following year she also moved to the USA looking to continue her work in the industry. After sending out many emails, she secured an internship. “I moved to America on a working holiday VISA and contacted every team I could to get more experience. I did a PR internship with KV Racing in IndyCar, and it was actually the year that Tony Kanaan won the Indy 500 so it was very cool,” she explained. Continuing to freelance whilst in America, she also worked with the Formula GP Experience, as well as Lazier Partners Racing as their Corporate Suite Coordinator covering events such as Indy 500. Although having left New Zealand, she maintained relationships with those working in the Toyota Racing Series, returning as the Assistant Events Manager in 2013, 2015 and 2016, before becoming the winter series’ Events and Logistics Manager in 2017. “The last year that I worked for the championship, the lady I worked for went on maternity leave so I was doing the circuit hire, catering and watching over the build-up, then liaising with the drivers about their flights, rentals and hotels. Generally, it’s a lot of organising things and making it run smoothly,” Jennifer described.

The networking she had done during her time in the Toyota Racing Series came in extremely useful when her VISA in America expired ahead of the 2015 season. “We looked for somewhere else where racing was big, so of course that was Europe. As a lot of Kiwis do, we moved to the UK, again on another working holiday VISA. Some British people I had worked with in the Toyota Racing Series recommended me to some other race teams. I joined the GTs and worked with them for a couple of years,” she said. Working as the Hospitality Manager, Jennifer was responsible for the British GT Championship, Blancpain GT Series as well as the 24Hrs Nürburgring in both 2016 and 2017.  2018 brought another international move for Jennifer as she left the UK for the Netherlands. “It was a similar story again actually! When my VISA in the UK expired, we had to find somewhere else so moved to the Netherlands, which is how I joined MP Motorsport,” she told me.

Jennifer joined MP Motorsport as their Team Coordinator, a role she had wanted to work in for a while. “My partner also works for MP Motorsport so he moved here first. I started in 2018, which was when they took on FIA Formula 3 and the team was rapidly expanding. Usually, Sander (Dorsman), the Team Manager, was doing everything and he realised he needed a hand and it just fell into place,” she said. “Over the years, I’ve been trying to work out where I would fit best in the motorsport industry. My goal has always been to look for a job like this, but it was hard because I didn’t really have that much experience. I think this is actually what I’ve always wanted to do… once I figured it out!” As the Team Coordinator, Jennifer covers all of the categories that the team races in, with much of her role involving organisation. “I look after all the championships that we run so Spanish F4, Formula Renault, Formula 3 and Formula 2, as well as some GT3 events. The main core of the role is the travel and logistics across race weekends. Most of our mechanics aren’t actually based in Holland so I do the travel when they come into the workshop. I also liaise with the drivers on their requirements such as hotels, as well as general administrative duties and bookkeeping,” she explained.

Jennifer’s role can be both based at the factory or at the track. This year has been slightly different with travel restrictions in place, however, usually she would be attending many race weekends. “At the track, I look after guests, and try and get some content for our PR. I usually travel to all the F2 and F3 events and also, if there are two teams racing so somewhere like the Monaco Grand Prix when we have Formula 2 and Formula Renault, then I’ll attend that. A lot of the winter testing I will also go to because we run a lot of cars. I’m there to help a little bit when all the guys are so busy and they need someone for catering and making sure the drivers are where they need to be and are happy,” the Team Coordinator told me. With MP Motorsport racing in several categories, there have been occasions when she has had to juggle multiple championships on the same weekend. When this happens, there is little rest, with Jennifer saying: “my phone just doesn’t stop! I always have to have it with me, it’s full on, but I love it. You’re always on call because you just don’t know when things will change and you have to book something or contact somebody.”

As the Team Coordinator, travel and logistics plays a huge part in Jennifer’s role however these areas are also known for being unpredictable so trying to get everyone in the right place, at the right time, can be a challenge. “We have a diverse group of staff from Finland to Estonia and Denmark and France, so I think logistically trying to get everyone in one place at the same time is the most challenging, but fun part. The hardest time of the year is right in the middle of the season when we may have a weekend when all teams are out, and it can be a little overwhelming when you’re trying to keep track of everything,” Jennifer explained. Although the schedule can be gruelling with a lot to juggle, once she gets to the end of the season and looks back on it, it reminds Jennifer why she loves working in the sport so much. “I must admit, sometimes during the season you do question your choices and feel a bit crazy, but at the end, you always want to go back and do it again, especially in the winter, I realise this is where I want to be, it’s great fun, and I miss the race track,” she described.

Having wanted to work in the industry for many years, Jennifer shows how persistence and gaining experience can lead to your perfect role, even if you don’t know what that is at the time. Speaking of her advice for others looking to get involved in motorsport, she said: “don’t be afraid, I can’t count how many emails I sent to teams asking if they had anything! For logistics, you have to be willing to do other things, get experience and get to know people. It’s quite a small community so when your face is seen more, people get to know you and your work, and that can then lead to what you want to do. The first recommendation I got was actually because they said they liked the way I worked and that’s really how I got my foot in the door, even though some of the roles weren’t initially what I wanted to do, people see your work ethic which definitely helps.”

All photo credits: Dutch Photo Agency