When you are born in a city with a motorsport heritage as illustrious as Indianapolis, you are almost predestined for a career in the fast lane. It was certainly the case for our Applications Engineer, Hali Money, who has been part of our incredible US support team for over two years.
When you are born in a city with a motorsport heritage as illustrious as Indianapolis, you are almost predestined for a career in the fast lane. It was certainly the case for our Applications Engineer, Hali Money, who has been part of our incredible US support team for over two years. Having been bitten by the IndyCar bug at an early age, Hali has found her spiritual home at Cosworth – and trackside within the IndyCar paddock.
What got you into engineering and motorsport electronics?
Honestly, I have always been into motorsport. I remember growing up as a kid watching NASCAR and the Indianapolis 500 qualifying with my dad. As I grew older, I could go to the races and once that happened, I was hooked for life.
I knew I wanted to be in racing, I just didn’t know how to get there or where to start. So, I did some research on the different roles, and it was engineering that sparked my interest. Luckily, I discovered that my high school had engineering classes, so I took those up and enjoyed them so much that I kept pursuing a career in the field. I then found a local university in Indianapolis, IUPUI, that offered a degree in Motorsports Engineering. I visited the university for one of its open days and the rest is history. It’s funny, because I’ve known my boss, Ethan, since high school and we even attended the same university. Now we’re both working together at Cosworth.
What was your first role in motorsport after graduating?
I graduated at the end of 2014 and my first job in racing was with a team in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series that runs alongside the IMSA. We ran anywhere from two to five cars depending on the year and the race. But it was completely different being part of a team compared to racing with Cosworth, as a supplier.
I started out as a data engineer and mechanic, then went fully into the electronics side as a data and systems engineer. For most of that time, I was downloading data from the cars, running analysis, and looking after the electronics hardware. I got moved up to another part of the team that ran a Cadillac DPI in the IMSA WeatherTech series, which was another stepping stone towards what I’m doing now. I left the race team at the end of February 2020 and started at Cosworth in March.
Hali, what is it like to be involved with the support team and IndyCar?
We field many support questions, whether hardware – or software-related, which mostly come from our motorsport customers. We have a contract with the IndyCar Series to supply the championship with electronics, wiring looms, sensors and on-site support. As part of my role, I get to travel to many of the races on the calendar for Cosworth; we rotate the responsibilities so that we always have representatives at every event. Most of the questions we get asked are from the IndyCar teams, as we support the entire grid, however we’re also involved in other series in the US, including IMSA (prototypes and GT cars) and NASCAR.
Essentially, we’re problem solvers for the teams. If it’s on the hardware side, the team will have encountered an issue or found something in the data and want to understand what’s causing it and how to fix it. We will then walk them through how to solve it. For example, in one of my recent races a team were having a hardware issue, where they weren’t seeing some of the sensors on start-up. I gave them advice on what could be causing it and we resolved the problem before the race.
Do you get hands-on and assist the teams?
Yes, we can get hands-on and work on our systems, especially when conducting bench testing, but we usually aren’t the ones replacing the hardware on a car or replacing the wiring loom during a race weekend. That’s all done by the team. I do on occasion try to guide teams in the right direction if they are struggling to locate a problem area, but once they are on the right track, I let them carry on from there.
What is it like to work at Indianapolis 500?
It’s hard to explain a race like the 500, because, for us, it is the biggest single sporting event in the world. On race day, we arrive before sunrise to begin preparations and ensure we’re available to any of the teams if they need us. The stands are empty and it’s all so quiet, but there’s this anticipation for what’s about to unfold. In the past couple of years, fireworks are set off when the public gates open, so there’s a big spectacle of everyone funnelling in. By the time you go out for the race, the whole place is full.
It feels strange, even though we’re working during the day, because it feels like we are waiting and waiting for the race to happen. Then you get this huge burst of excitement when the green flag drops and you realise what you’ve been waiting for all year. It’s really intense and the teams take it extremely seriously. Growing up in Indianapolis, I very quickly learned the importance that this race holds. Not just to the series itself, but also to the city and the state. It’s a pretty big deal.
I’d say the Indianapolis 500 is our busiest race, mainly because there are so many cars taking part; 33 as opposed to the normal 25 or 26 car grid. There’s also a lot of extra practice leading up to the 500. We’re at the track for over 12 hours every single day, so with a constant stream of work coming from the teams, it can also become exhausting. The Indianapolis 500 isn’t just one day or a weekend of racing, there are two weeks of work building up to it. After powering through practice, and as we get closer to race day, we get a last burst of energy as the buzz starts to amplify, but it is definitely the toughest race of the year.
How would you describe your experience as a female in motorsport?
As a woman, I feel that people look at you and pay you a lot more attention. I call it the fishbowl effect. When I was first starting out in racing, I felt like I had to prove myself more, because it is such a male dominated industry. Everyone has to prove themselves at some point in their career, especially when you are starting out, but it is almost as if there is extra pressure for us.
I feel really fortunate to be where I am today. On the IndyCar side, there are quite a few female engineers, mechanics, and women in other technical roles too. There is a nice group of us, and we lean on each other when we need to. We have the confidence with each other to ask for advice and it’s nice to have that camaraderie between other females in the industry, because not all series are like this. It is awesome to have so many women working in a variety of different roles within the IndyCar paddock.
What other tracks are your favourite, outside of your city, Indianapolis?
Watkins Glen was the first racetrack I visited outside of Indianapolis, so that has a sentimental place in my heart. It’s also in a really nice part of the country, the weather is always good, and there are nice places to stay with good restaurants too. When you work in racing, judging a track also comes down to the facilities available in the local area. It can really make or break your weekend.
Laguna Seca is always a great one. Not just for the facilities and scenery, but also for its history and incredible track layout. I’ve always liked going there; it has a wonderful atmosphere.
What would be your advice for someone wanting to get into a similar role?
I think this goes for anyone: if you want it, you need to fully embrace it. For one, it is not an easy job, or an easy industry to be in. The engineering field itself is tough, but to specialise in motorsport is a double whammy. It’s extremely difficult.
You have to want it – and I mean really want it – because it takes a lot of commitment, perseverance, and hard studying to get into a role like mine. But once you know your goal and commit, just stick with it and have faith in yourself more than anything. Believing in yourself really helps you keep motivated to achieve what you want in life. And hopefully, somebody gives you a chance to join this crazy circus because once you are in, the world really does open up for you.