I’m a rally enthusiast, and aspiring amateur rally driver. I volunteer at rallies and I volunteer at rally/driving schools. I volunteer as safety crew at track days. I’m a volunteer businessman with a blue collar day job, although the work uniform is white. I was a volunteer moderator on CarThrottle, and a volunteer translator and interpreter for Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support. I know a lot about volunteering.
But, you see, I don’t know if enough people realize the wondrous joy of volunteering with stuff that you’re passionate about.
You see, primarily, my passion is cars. If you give me anything to do with cars or racing, be it a magazine, a television show, televised races, or anything in the driver’s seat or passenger’s seat, I’ll be happier than a baby with a soother and a fresh nap. If I know that there’s an event in my area (anywhere within the massive province of Ontario, or occasionally even Quebec), I will go to it. If they’re looking for volunteers, I jump at the opportunity.
You see, many people don’t realize one vital truth about volunteering at motorsports events: this most important truth, is that it gets your closer. It gets you closer to the action. It gets you closer to the people. It gets you closer to the cars. It gets you special access and special permissions. You’re an official. You’re there to do a job, so you do it. If that job happens to be filming the cars, you can get closer. You can have your photos shared and begin to take clients for your photography business. Or, maybe you can get the opportunity to chat with your favourite rally driver and maybe he’ll invite you to a dinner with him and some friends.
Maybe your phone will ring three or four times a day with people wanting to invite you to an event or wanting you to go with them for something.
Let me tell you a story about how one volunteering position catapulted me deeper into the world of automotive passion than I ever expected. This is my trip down the wondrous rabbit hole. It’s a model of how every young person can get into cars and start to build up an awesome resume.
I’ll start this story from the very beginning, In Sept. 2014, I heard about a website that had recently begun accepting new members. Some of my college friends had joined it, so I had a look. This website was CarThrottle.com. I got hooked on it; the rapid pace of stories of automotive passion from around the world fed that “OH MY GOD I NEED CARS” [addiction] side of my brain. I became one of the most active members, telling stories and having laughs.
After a few months, I heard of an impending update to the website. CarThrottle v2.0 was due to be released. I politely emailed the site creator, Adnan, offering my assistance as a moderator to help with the transition to the new site layout, answering questions and solving disputes and helping people to understand the new system. That email was in January.
By February 9, I had become an official moderator. I had done some volunteer things, but this was the first time I was trusted - chosen - to do a task that others wanted to do. I was used to doing the volunteer jobs “because no one else will do that” or “no one else can do that” like with the translating position.
The moderator position gave my resume a fantastic boost. I met some wonderful people on the site and we cofounded a group for petrolheads in Canada. This became a fantastic way of making more contacts and meeting more people.
But, my position within all of these different organizations gave me more and more pull within the automotive community. I met Crazy Leo Urlichich at a CSCS event later in 2015, while attending with one of my organizations. Meeting him was a fantastic honour. But, what became of the few months after this, where I would be invited to attend Race Lab events with him and where I would be allowed to volunteer for him (a high privilege!) was really something extraordinarily special.
You see, I rode in many a rally car, I got to get up close and personal with the cars at the school, granted full permission to ride along with any car attending and generally was given permissions that the general public were not granted for safety reasons; I’m not a member of the public, I’m a volunteer worker. I have a mission to accomplish. I had a lovely chat with Candace Calder, a fellow Race Lab worker and racing driver, and Kelly Mathew, the co-driver from Two Brits Racing.
I was invited to a Kitchener-Waterloo Rally Club meeting, where I met Ontario provincial rally champion Jeremy Norris, and fellow rally driver Zoltan Kovacs. While I was there, I discussed volunteering for them, certain that I’d get the opportunity to meet even more wonderful petrolheads.
Everywhere I go, now, I meet more and more amazing petrolheads, all because I took this leap of faith in deciding to be a volunteer. And, contrary to some stories, some volunteers are paid. I got paid in food at Race Lab, and when I go to rallies, I get subsidized accommodations and food. And, what’s better than getting subsidized accommodations and free food? The only answer, is getting rides in rally cars, meeting wonderful people, discussing future events and business things, making memories all while eating free food in your subsidized accommodations.
Seriously, volunteering is awesome. Get out there!
Andrew Geier is an accomplished automotive enthusiast, with 15 years of automotive experience. At age 22, he created Melons' Better Driving in an effort to make people rethink the automotive world with insightful vision and articles about the future of the automotive culture and all of its subcultures, including motorsports. Seen in the site's background image, examining a road which was torn up by rally cars with his friends, his passion is clearly demonstrated by his excited pose.