By Emily Duggan - V8 Supercar driver and VERTO Ambassador
Emily Duggan is a leading Australian V8 Supercar driver and wrote this blog in her role as an Ambassador for VERTO. You can find out more about Emily by visiting https://www.emilyduggan.com.au
It’s been such a chaotic year for all of us and I can only imagine how tough it is to be a student graduating right now. Trying to learn during COVID-19 lockdowns and now trying to find a career path while everything is so uncertain, it must feel like a challenging road ahead.
But while the journey may seem like it’s full of pitfalls and barriers that are out of our hands, there is one thing we can control: how we react to the barriers we face and what we choose to make of the opportunities given to us.
That’s what my road to motorsports has been all about – facing barriers and finding ways to overcome them! I want to share part of my story in the hope that it might inspire some of you to follow your own dreams – even in the face of adversity.
Motorsports was a dream from a young age
I wasn’t a ‘born into motorsports’ type of kid. I didn’t start in go-karting like so many drivers do, but I do remember watching a V8 supercar race as a child and something about the sport just struck me. I fell in love with it instantly and, for me, the idea of being a driver seemed amazing.
At the time, however, there weren’t many women participating in the sport, so it would take me a while to realise that being female didn’t have to be a barrier to participation.
During my teens, I faced some pretty daunting challenges in my personal life and things weren’t always easy. These experiences helped me become a pretty resilient character, and even though I didn’t know it then, this resilience was going to help me follow my dreams into a career in motorsports.
The road wasn’t easy
When I was finishing school, I realised pretty quickly that an office job doing the 9-5 just wasn’t for me. When I looked at my options, I kept coming back to motorsports and my dream of driving racecars. There was a spark in me that was ignited all those years ago and I just couldn’t shake it. But, with no background in racing, I had to find a way in.
For me, that was through volunteering in the motorsports field. It allowed me to get close to the race teams and the sport as a whole. From there, I just kept looking for any opportunity. Starting from the ground up can seem challenging but for me it provided an entry point to the sport and the opportunity to learn so much from those around me.
Now that I compete as a driver, I must say that I’ve never felt different from anyone else in the team. In racing you are paid to drive fast and if you perform, your background or gender rarely comes into it. All the racing teams and organisations I have worked with have been fantastic and it’s a brilliant sport to be a part of.
The key thing for me was that I had to work at it and seize the opportunity when it came.
Don’t give up on your dreams
My advice to those of you who are worried your dream career is out of reach is: Just embrace every challenge and give it a go! You never know where you might end up.
Even in my chosen field, there are so many different roles outside of driving. There’s mechanics, engineers, analysts, pit crew, sales and marketing, management…the list goes on. If you’re willing to work hard and back yourself, there’s always an entry point, like an apprenticeship or traineeship, that can help you get there.
Can you imagine living the perfect life? How would you appreciate the good times if you hadn’t experienced the bad? Even if you start down a path and find it’s not for you, it’s not the end of the world.
You can always change direction (and it’s likely that you will, maybe even a few times!) but you’ll have built skills along the way that will definitely be transferrable. A lot of the jobs I’ve done in the past have contributed to the skillset I use in racing today because you learn something useful about the role, your industry or yourself every step of the way.
So don’t let the challenges of 2020 stop you from following your dreams. Plan a way to get there; talk to people that can help you on the journey and most importantly: Back yourself!