Roman Rose in the fast lane

A dream job despite bad grades? At the 24h Race at the Nürburgring, we meet Roman Rose, a motorsports mechanic who’s careening past everyone – even without a full high school diploma or college degree.


My mother always says how much easier it used to be to get an apprenticeship. There was a time when a vocational secondary school degree up to the 10th grade was an accepted form of currency on the job market. Today, things are different. The drive towards university education is gathering momentum. Everyone who qualifies to go to college now does so.
It doesn’t stop there: an ‘excellent’ rating on the consumer reports’ scale, five stars at Amazon, benchmarking, restricted enrollment, grades for behavior – we live in a society that loves to give ratings. Companies determine whether or not to hire someone by looking at their GPA. In other words, HR departments often work according to the simple formula: bad grades = poor candidate.

“I had no trouble keeping up with my vocational secondary school degree”

This is why I’m especially pleased to meet someone on our ‘Around the World’ trip whose grades have not held him back, and who proves that everyone doesn’t have to take the same path even today. Roman Rose, 23, went from having 120 unexcused absences at school to the pit lane of the most famous motorsports race in the world. Not by hiding his grades from his employers, but because his internship with thyssenkrupp Bilstein made a greater impression than his report card.
Roman joined the shock absorber specialists at the Group over seven years ago as part of a pilot project at his school. “I was in the trainee class. It was just like tenth grade would be for anyone, but one day a week we worked as trainees for a company.” Roman knew immediately that he wanted to continue working there. “With my final grades, I’d have been rejected anywhere else,” he tells us when we paid him a visit at the 24h Race at the Nürburgring. “But my supervisors saw how hard I worked during my apprenticeship and offered me a traineeship with the opportunity to work towards becoming an industrial mechanic.”

Roman’s current job is installing shock absorbers designed specifically for use in motorsports in cars from Aston Martin, Porsche, and more. Stationed in the Bilstein truck behind pit lane, he travels to all the big races to do his work in record time. He and his fellow mechanics handle more than 50 vehicles during the race. Action is part of the deal.

Fans and drivers deliver an eventful race

Working behind the scenes at the track and races in general are totally different from how I’d imagined them to be. In fact, there is no ‘behind the scenes.’ In the team pit area, fans and men in fireproof suits rush around between service vehicles, giant tents and fast food stands. Navigating pit lane – at least off the track – is a breeze. Motorsport at your fingertips, you could say. This doesn’t make life easy when Roman needs a special screwdriver and has to fight his way through the crowds from the pit area to his mobile workshop in the Bilstein truck. But it could get even more chaotic if he has his way – Roman wants to go to major international races. “I just need to get my commercial truck license, then I can drive the service vehicle all over,” he says with a laugh. It’s not going to be long before we run into Roman at driving school, I imagine.

As we drive on towards Varel, the next stop on our tour, the song ‘Junge’ [Lad] by the German band Die Ärzte is playing on the radio. It translates roughly as: “Why don’t you get a job at Uncle Werner’s garage? He’ll give you one if you ask him.” This makes me think of Roman. Everyone needs a bit of luck in life. Sometimes it comes in the form of an Uncle Werner, other times in the form of thyssenkrupp Bilstein.

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