x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

He's ready for the fast track

The Life: A day in the life of Saeed Bintowq, a racing instructor and driver at Yas Marina and Dubai Autodrome.

Saeed Bintowq started karting when he was 18 and studying at Bond University on Australia's Gold Coast. Lee Hoagland / The National
Saeed Bintowq started karting when he was 18 and studying at Bond University on Australia's Gold Coast. Lee Hoagland / The National

Saeed Bintowq is a racing instructor and driver dividing his working week between Yas Marina Circuit and Dubai Autodrome. The Emirati, 23, who works part-time, would like a permanent position at the Yas circuit. However, he also has plans to open his own garage.

 

7am

I wake and try not to have too heavy a breakfast; I go for eggs, mushrooms and vegetables. If I have to get to Yas Marina Circuit, I leave around 7:30am to be there by 8.30am. But if I'm working in Dubai, I live with my parents, two brothers and a sister 10 minutes from Dubai Autodrome. I live with them because this is the local way. If I get married, I will have a separate place but I need a full-time job before that.

I have contracts at Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit but I spend most of my week at Yas. I started karting at 18 while I was studying business and English at Bond University in Australia. I came back to Dubai when I was 19 and started racing in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Then the opportunity came along from Yas Marina Circuit. I was sponsored by them at the Formula Gulf 1000 for 2012-13 and finished second.

 

10am

At Yas Marina Circuit, I set up the cones on the track, which help to manage the safety of the drivers. The cones indicate where you brake, turn and accelerate on the track. There are 40 driving instructors, mostly from Europe. Of them, two are full-time and are called lead instructors. At any one time there are seven to eight instructors, depending on the schedule. When it's busy we can have 40 to 50 clients a day learning how to drive a racing car.

We give 20 minutes of drive time for each client along with a 35-minute safety briefing per session. I sit beside the student and let them drive for a while and see where they are going wrong. I then point out what they can do better. We ensure the driver is safe and teach them how to drive a proper race car. As long as you have a licence you can drive with us. Clients range in age from 18 to 60 with up to 30 per cent locals and the rest foreigners. It costs them Dh1,500 a session and we let them drive fast if they are safe.

 

1pm

We go to a local cafeteria for lunch and I have some sandwiches, salad or grilled chicken - something not too heavy. The workday schedule can vary from one to two hours a day to 12 hours a day and that work mostly takes place on the weekends - Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Clients need to book a session with an instructor up to 30 days in advance, because we have to arrange the instructors, marshals, safety crew and ambulance, among other things.

In the afternoon I continue training drivers. It's not boring, it's a fun thing to do. I only wish it paid more and it was a full-time job. I drive Aston Martin GTs and Formula 3000 at Yas. As an instructor I also have to do my track time, racing on my own. I can reach up to 250 kph on main straights on the track.

 

8pm

I arrive home, and, no, I don't drive fast on my way back from Abu Dhabi. I am a very safe driver. I'm usually asleep by 10.30pm as I have work the next day. But I'll have a light dinner first - usually grilled chicken and vegetables - and sometimes watch a movie. I like English movies, mostly comedies.

I want to continue in my job if I can find a full-time position. If not, I want to open up a business, such as a garage, to make a little money and instruct on the side.

 

ssahoo@thenational.ae