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Apprentice technician prepares Crosslé race car for Nigel Mansell


A talented engineering apprentice from SERC is off to a flying start in his career with the world’s longest-established racing car manufacturer.  

David McHaffie, aged 18 and from Newtownards, joined Crosslé Car Company as an apprentice technician in January after a successful placement in 2017. Within weeks he won the welding category at SERC’s Intercampus Engineering Competition in Lisburn. But in February, the work of David’s team took center stage at Historic Motorsport International at London’s ExCeL exhibition complex.  

Many famous racing drivers began their career in a Crosslé, and in 1977 a 32F took Nigel Mansell to over 30 race wins and the Formula Ford Championship that launched a stellar career. Mansell was Formula 1 World Champion in 1992 and IndyCar World Series Champion in 1993. His remarkable career was celebrated in London, where Crosslé Car Company was asked to display a 32F in Mansell’s 1977 colours. David was part of the team that prepared this car, with the famous Brummie’s autograph on the polished red body as seal of approval.  

Crosslé racing cars have always been popular with racing schools worldwide, because of their strength and quality of construction. Today, the factory is busily producing a new fleet of cars for Classic Racing School at Circuit de Charade, former home of the French Grand Prix. Eight have been exported so far, with more to follow. David is involved in every stage of their construction, using a range of materials and techniques. As well as new cars and components he helps with repair and restoration, race preparation, trackside support and assists in other activities as necessary.  

On leaving Movilla High School after GCSE’s, David attended an open day at SERC and decided to join an engineering apprenticeship after talking to tutors and touring College facilities. A placement with Crosslé Car Company followed, allowing both parties to get to know each other in a workplace setting, and leading to a job offer David accepted. He continues training with SERC towards a Level 2 qualification in June 2018, with Level 3 to follow.  

“I was so pleased with this fantastic opportunity” David said. “My training officer at SERC helped me secure the initial placement and I’m really looking forward to what my future career now holds. My brother attended SERC and I heard good things about the College from him, so I decided to enrol. The facilities are fantastic, and I enjoy the hands-on approach to learning rather than being in a classroom all day.”  

“Working with Crosslé gives me skills in an unusually wide range of disciplines, which I wouldn’t have the chance to learn elsewhere. My daily tasks include machining, brazing, fabrication, fiberglass body work and assisting with engine fitting.”  

Crosslé Car Company owner and MD Paul McMorran said: “Attracting the right people and providing opportunities for them to develop the increasingly-rare capabilities we need is vital to achieving our goals as a business. Our products and services are delivered to an exceptional standard, and we count on David and others like him to maintain that tradition.”  

Paul added: “John Crosslé established our heritage of mentoring by experienced craftsmen, and learning in the workplace. Training with SERC adds a broader perspective and leads to recognized qualifications. It’s a partnership we value and aim to develop.”  

David’s tutor Kelvin McGreeghan said “It is fantastic for David to secure a position with this unique company. We are always looking for employers to offer work placements and I am delighted we are now working with Crosslé Car Company to help develop their future workforce, nurture talent and hone specialist skills.  

“We know from discussions with industry just how important placements are in terms of helping to kick-start careers. Employers often prefer students who have industrial experience as part of their course.”  

Applications for full-time courses are now open and students can apply online at Course listings are now available and can be collected from all main campus receptions.