"No sleep and a laptop full of sand – it’s all part of why I love my job!""
ExtremeE Press Release Oct 6, 2021
Rachel Cavers has been a well-known fixture in the motorsport PR and Communications arena for well over a decade. Having cut her racing teeth as Press Officer for M-Sport in the FIA World Rally Championship, she has since worked with for Petronas, Pirelli, F1, MotoGP and more recently FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Rachel had an interest in motorsport from an early age, as growing up the family home in Scotland was situated next to Dom Buckley Motorsport and she would regularly see (and hear) rally cars hurtling up and down the farm road nearby. After studying History and English at University of Edinburgh, and doing a couple of work experience stints at a radio station and at a newspaper, she began learning about PR and felt it was suited to her skills. Securing a job working for a small sports event agency carrying out their PR was the perfect foot in the door and allowed her to get the all-important experience needed on her CV.
“This also really cemented my appetite for motorsport,” says Rachel. “I applied for lots of different roles including a vacancy at M-Sport, which required me to relocate to Cumbria. I worked there as the team’s press officer in WRC for two years. It was the best decision I made as it kickstarted my motorsport career.”
Earlier this year, Rachel landed the coveted position of PR and Communications Manager for the Andretti United Extreme E team. The team is a combination of two racing powerhouses - Andretti Autosport and United Autosports - both of which are famed for numerous successes in IndyCar, Formula E, GT4 American, WEC, European Le Mans and Australia Supercars. Andretti United has already demonstrated its winning ways in Extreme E by claiming a sensational victory at the Arctic X Prix in August.
We caught up with Rachel about life in the PR and communications fast lane, as well as the world of electric SUV off-road racing.
“One thing my job isn’t, is boring!” she laughs. “My role is so varied and no two days are the same. I can be working with journalists or TV crews on-event, liaising with our racing drivers on media requests, writing text for management, working with sponsors on targeted social media competitions or trying to understand the latest TikTok trend!”
So, we ask, what’s it like working with Andretti United Extreme E?
“That’s easy… it’s fantastic!” Rachel enthuses. “Andretti Autosport and United Autosports, plus the owners Michael Andretti, Zak Brown and Richard Dean are some of the biggest names in motorsport. To have worked for them this season is an honour. The Andretti side of the company is based over in the USA and they are very busy with their exploits there including IndyCar, but I’m in touch with them regularly via conference calls and email.
"Similarly, the United Autosports arm in the UK has commitments in endurance racing plus various other championships, but we speak often, and I see the United team when I travel to WEC races (my other client alongside Andretti United). I’m also very fortunate to have Catie and Timmy as my drivers as they’re both very understanding of the importance of media obligations, as well as being very competent with all sorts of interviews – their excellent media skills have certainly helped make my job easier this year!”
The build-up to an Extreme E race weekend can be intense as Rachel outlines: “It’s very busy. As Extreme E limits the number of personnel travelling to events, in keeping with its low carbon footprint goal, there’s only eight of us in the team including our two drivers. As a result, it means we all get stuck in and often do things which aren’t part of our job description – but that’s what I love about Extreme E. As I said no two days are the same.
“I work very closely with our two drivers throughout the race week, ensuring we fulfil the media schedule which can include various photoshoots, media interviews, legacy project content, sponsor or management related requests. I also manage our social media channels, so I take care of producing and creating all content relating to that on a race week, as well as liaising with media onsite and ensuring our drivers and media have all the tools they need from a communications perspective.”
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of Extreme E so far?
“It’s hard to know where to start!” she exclaims. “Firstly, it’s really refreshing to work on a brand-new championship where there’s new faces, lots of ideas and bags of enthusiasm. The Extreme E team themselves have done a brilliant job of putting on events in some of the most extreme and remote environments. I’ve also really enjoyed working with my drivers, Catie (Munnings) and Timmy (Hansen). They are not only hugely talented, but really nice people, too.
"The same goes for the entire Extreme E paddock actually – everyone is very welcoming - which makes for a great working atmosphere. I think the fact that each team is so small means we’ve got to know each other quickly and it’s definitely the friendliest paddock I’ve worked in.”
Extreme E is about to venture to its fourth X Prix in Sardinia having already raced in Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Greenland this year, so we asked which location has been her favourite and why.
“That’s a tough one. I should really say Greenland because that’s where our team won! However, for me it has to be the first round in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. Everything about that event was an adventure! It was the first-ever Extreme E race and it was new for everyone, so there was this real excitement in the paddock that it had finally all come together, and we were actually there. Then there was the setting, which was like nothing I had experienced before – the landscape was like being on another planet as it was so unique.
“To add to all the firsts that weekend, I was also given the job of recording the timing screen in the tent for our drivers with an iPad because our software had temporarily failed – that was quite an experience! However, the icing on the cake was our team finishing second and being on the podium. It was even more special considering we’d had a really tough qualifying session when Catie had a puncture. I had barely any sleep that week and I’ve still got sand in my laptop to this day! It was a week of amazing memories and new challenges – an event I’ll never forget.”
Alongside the overwhelming experience of Saudi, and then the team winning in Greenland, we asked what would be the stand-out memory this year?
“It’s always rewarding to get great media coverage for your team and drivers and that’s definitely provided a lot of satisfaction for me this year, as has been helping grow the team’s social media channels and identity,” she said.
“However, for me the stand-out memories have been some of the legacy projects I have joined at the various locations. Extreme E is a racing series, but ultimately the environmental and climate angle that is associated with the championship is just as important. To help promote and champion these causes feels very rewarding. Visiting the melting ice sheet in Greenland with our drivers and Extreme E scientists helped bring the reality of climate change to a whole new level for me so that’s certainly something that stood out for me this year.”
Having already worked in such a variety of roles and different championships before coming into Extreme E, we asked how previous roles in motorsport compare to this one.
“I honestly don’t think I can compare Extreme E to any of the other championships I’ve been in mainly as the Extreme E venues are so much more remote.
“Also, Extreme E has such a strong environmental message which goes way beyond racing and that has added a very new facet to the job for me. I’ve learnt so much already about sustainability and climate change.
“I think many other series could learn a thing or two about Extreme E’s livestream allowing many more fans the ability to watch the action from home – something that isn’t always possible in other motorsport championships due to long-standing broadcast contracts, a very important step, in my opinion, in getting maximum visibility. This is only Season 1 and I’m certain Extreme E has a very exciting future ahead.”
What advice does Rachel have for anyone wanting to get into the industry on the communications side?
“Don’t expect to land your dream job in the beginning. It can take years of experience to get to where you want, so if your dream is to work in Formula One then maybe look at other motorsport championships first to gather experience and then work your way up. Other than that, my advice is to work hard, treat everyone with respect – whether it’s a driver, journalist or a peer – be friendly and most important of all, be nice. Reputation is incredibly important within motorsport so try not to make enemies; you never know when you’ll come across someone again!
“I’m very lucky to do the job that I do and I think it’s important to appreciate everything. I would say to anyone that as long as you do the job to the best of your ability and within the perimeters of what is possible, that’s all anyone can ask of you. Equally life is short and you should enjoy what you do and it’s important to have some fun along the way!”