Meet Sandro Mauro, Montreal born past F1 Chief Mechanic and construction developer. Born from Italian parents out of St Leonard, he had a passion for one thing only growing up and that was racing.
"I've always wanted to do it, so after high school I told my parents I wanted to go study mechanical engineering in California for race cars, and the answer was pretty much no."
His father at the time had a very successful manufacturing company for ladies lingerie, and he wanted him and his brother to eventually take over the company. Yet that was not his calling, and Sandro is not a man who settles for anything less than what he truly wants. Instead he insisted for months, until he finally got the approval to leave town to follow his dream.
At the age of just 18 years old, he left Canada to become a Formula 1 mechanic.
What training do you need to join the academy?
"[At the time] they tested your basic knowledge of aerodynamics, and then you would go through two days of intense driving, based out of California. After four days of training, they put you out in the parking lot and choose 10 new students that were qualified enough to attend the program.
photo cred - Sandro Mauro
You are exposed to many racing car teams while you're at the school. In those years, there was Adrian Fernandez, Jacques Villeneuve - I was exposed to all of these teams first hand. That was the beginning of my racing career.
How was it working for F1?
For 12 years, Sandro Mauro worked as a mechanic for F1 traveling around the world following the race teams and doing what he did best. He visited over 25 countries a year, and was exposed to some of the best in the game. Towards the last years of his career, he was based out of Munich, Germany.
"BMW had a facility in Marseilles France, so I would go back from these private facilities from Munich to Marseilles off a private plane of the company".
Why did you decide to leave?
"It was a dream of mine, as a child and I had accomplished it, but I was now ready to start a life, I missed home." Which brought him back to Montreal to start a family.
photo cred - Sandro Mauro
What did you learn from these crucial years in your life?
When I came back, I came home to seeing my brother as a struggling musician. When I left he wanted to make it in the music industry, and he still did when I came back. Everything I learned from racing, product placement, marketing, highest level of motor sports, I applied it to my brother's band. I started to manage his band, and give him a hand. After I was able to build that, I knew I could do anything.
What advice can you give others in this industry?
It's a dog eat dog world out there. Everyone looks out for themselves. We all have one life to live, so we might as well do something we enjoy instead of staying at a desk, pushing paper not aspiring to do anything worth living for.
Today, Sandro owns his own construction company, Mauro Homes that builds single dwelling homes all over Montreal. Although he loves what he does, his pride and joy is his 8 year old daughter Senna, (which he named after a formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna).
Describe your typical day with Senna?
I wake up at 6:00 am, kiss her good morning to start her wake up process which as all parents know, can take hours. I go downstairs to make her a fresh lunch for school and prepare breakfast for when she finally decides to come down. Then it's off to school at 7:30am. Once I drop her off, I'll visit my construction sites and makes sure everything is going according to plan. By 1:30 pm my alarm on my phone rings and that's the sound that I know I need to finalize what I'm doing so I can pick her up at school for 2:40. Then it's home for homework and snacks before we begin to start cooking together. After dinner, it's usually a little tv and building stuff with Lego's before bedtime. I'll usually get my paper work done sometime after she goes to sleep and then it's copy, paste, repeat.
What is it like being a single father?
It can be overwhelming at times, but we are very fortunate that me and her mother are on good terms, and we only live a block away from each other. So Senna decides who's house she wants to go to and I have the privilege to see her whenever I want. She can literally ride her bike to her moms house or to mine. We have shared custody. There is never a day when I do not see my daughter.