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Interview with Professional Race Car Driver & Influencer Amber Balcaen
In our new podcast called Student Influencers, we deep dive into the lives of current and former university and college students. We speak with young people from across the world about their wisdom and life experiences. On this episode of Student Influencers, we were blown away by Amber Balcaen’s dedication and tenacity as she carves out a space for herself in the male-dominated occupation of professional racing.
Influencer Amber Balcean: Creating Space in a Male-Dominated Profession
Amber is a third-generation race car driver from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Amidst the trials of struggling to attain sponsorship and navigating the gendered implications of participating in the sport, Amber has become one of motorsport’s largest female influencers with an aim to inspire and motivate others to pursue their dreams, break stereotypes, and have a positive impact on society.
As a young woman, Amber spent many of her days at the race track. She grew up in what she calls a “racing family”. Her grandfather raced cars and her parents met at the race track. Racing had a formative impact on Amber and as she saw her male cousins getting the opportunity to race, it was not long before Amber asked her father if she could drive as well. At the age of 10, after some convincing and promising to earn the money to buy her own car, Amber began her racing career.
Overcoming Adversity Through Entrepreneurship
Amber has faced her share of challenges trying to earn a place in the racing world, yet she learned much of what she needed to know as a young woman in stock car racing. Amber says that she developed many of the entrepreneurial skills she uses today in her childhood years. We talked about the innovative ways she found to raise money to support her passion:
“Back then, when I was ten, I was racing go-carts on a dirt oval track so it wasn’t too expensive compared to what I’m doing now. It was still the same in the sense that I had to earn sponsorship. I would ask my Dad’s friends for a hundred dollars here and a hundred dollars there; I would go to the racing swap meets with my Dad and I would sell stickers. I actually didn’t realize it, but I was a little entrepreneur. I just wanted to do it so badly and luckily was able to make it happen.”
Her hard work and tenacity have remained consistent parts of Amber’s personality as she continues her racing career. When I asked how often she has to practice to be a professional race car driver, Amber told me that she does not get to practice as often as she would like. She explained that just like when she was younger, funding dictates when and where she can race. Amber explained that unlike other sports like football or hockey, where you can practice on a regular basis, racing requires a significant amount of funding just to get behind the wheel and practice. “It actually costs thousands and thousands of dollars for me to get into a car and practice,” Amber told me.
Again, Amber discussed another hurdle she must face in order to do what she is truly passionate about:
“That’s where a big part of my adversity comes from: I don’t come from a big financial background. Since I was ten, I’ve had to do it on my own. I’ve always been behind the eight ball when it comes to seat time (what we call it in the industry). That means actually being in the race car and practicing.”
Unlike other drivers who may come from wealthy backgrounds, Amber has had to make it on her own. When I asked Amber, what keeps her motivated despite the adversity she faces, she replied,
“My confidence comes from knowing that I do have that natural talent and ability and I really just need to do what I can with the car when I am in it. Sometimes I’ll just go to the local go-cart track here in North Carolina just to get some seat time even though it definitely can’t compare to NASCAR. But as long as you’re driving something it keeps you alert and keeps you quick.”
Amber also feels that her natural entrepreneurial abilities have been beneficial in her racing career,
“The racing industry as a whole is more of a business than it is a sport because NASCAR is funded by corporate companies and corporate sponsors. It is all about how to work business to consumer relationships and finding funding. So, I always say that I spend about 95% of the time looking for sponsorship to race, 1% of the time racing and the other 4%, eating and sleeping.”
Different Ways of Learning
Before pursuing a career in racing Amber attended college. She completed a 2-year business degree at Red River College in Winnipeg, Canada. It was her intent to go on to complete a 4-year university program but chose to follow her dream instead. Amber says that her college experience lends itself to the work she is currently doing. Studying business allowed her to develop some valuable skills which she has carried into her racing career. She said it was little things like learning terms such as “return on investment” which have allowed her to feel confident when she’s in business meetings and speaking with CEOs of large corporations for sponsorship. Knowing how to communicate with people in positions of power has allowed Amber to see success with her personal brand.
Amber also discussed another form of adversity she faced as a student, “School was not easy for me. I actually really struggled in school. I do have ADD so that was part of it.”
Amber truly believes that everyone has a different way of learning. She feels that it is necessary for students to shift their mindset in order to get the most out of an educational opportunity such as college or university. In other words, even if a student is not enjoying school, Amber encourages them to find a way to learn from it. Although the school system does not work for everyone, Amber believes that we often take educational opportunities for granted:
“If you can figure out a way for you to learn that’s fun and makes it easier for you. If you can enjoy it, then it makes everything easier. I think unfortunately sometimes the school curriculum really focuses on just memorizing what you learned in class and doing well on the test. I’ve always said to my friends, if I could go back into college now, I wish I would have really focused on understanding what I was learning instead of just memorizing it.”
Every person learns differently. Not every school curriculum, system, or structure is going to work for every person. If you recognize that you have needs beyond what are being provided within the classroom, seek out support. Look for ways to make the most of your education and try your best to understand the knowledge being provided. Amber believes that education is a privilege, “At the end of the day it’s a privilege and knowledge is power. Just figure out what works for you.”
Influencing the Younger Generation
“Started from the bottom, now we’re here”, Amber quotes fellow Canadian Drake when she sums up her reason for doing what she does, “ I just want to show people that anything is possible and if you work hard and are determined and persistent and focused and driven that it is possible to live the life of your dreams and the life that you want.”
As a young woman in the racing industry, Amber has faced a significant amount of adversity related to her gender. Her lack of easy access to funding also creates a barrier for her in a world driven by corporate sponsorship. Stepping outside the box and choosing her passion over a university degree has also presented its fair share of challenges for Amber; these difficulties have not stopped her. She remains determined to succeed in her sport, and she has done so to date. In 2016 Amber was the 1st Canadian female to win a NASCAR Sanctioned race in the USA. Currently, she is filming a television show on CMT called “Racing Wives” which depicts Amber’s journey (not as a wife of a driver) but THE race car driver, making her way through the NASCAR Ranks along with her struggles to find sponsorship.
What drives Amber to pursue these goals? Her dedication to influencing the younger generation, particularly young women,
“I feel like I have a responsibility to the younger generation to show them that anything is possible. I am considered the underdog in my sport because I don’t come from money and it’s very difficult to make it in NASCAR if you don’t come from money. The odds are stacked against me. I want to show people that you don’t need to have all the tools in the toolbox to be able to create the life that you want.
You have to learn how to be resourceful; you have to learn how to be creative.”
Be Persistent in the Face of Adversity
Amber is an incredible young woman with a passion for life and a drive for success. She imparted some valuable advice for anyone hoping to pursue their dreams:
– Think outside the box and be creative.
– Do not settle. Just because you do not have all the tools in the toolbox does not mean you cannot achieve the life you want.
– Find ways to learn and understand.
– Seek support if you are having difficulty in school.
– Be persistent in the face of adversity.
This article captures just some of the amazing insights Amber shared during our conversation. For more on Amber’s view of life, entrepreneurship, adversity, and pursuing your dreams, check out our Student Influencers podcast.
We hope you continue to join us on this journey of talking to successful student influencers who tell their stories of struggle and triumph and then share these insights with you! To follow along, please visit our Anchor site and stay tuned for
FULL TRANSCRIPT FROM OUR PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH AMBER BALCAEN
Cath Anne: [00:00:06] Hi everyone and welcome back to our Student Influencers podcast hosted by Homework Help Global. In this podcast series we aim to inspire you whether you are a current student or not to work towards your goals. We talk to college students who are movers and shakers on campus and elsewhere in their lives as they navigate the challenges of college life. The students we interview have no shortage of wisdom and we look forward to sharing this knowledge with you.
Cath Anne: [00:00:37] On Episode 4 of the podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber Balcaen. She is a third generation racecar driver from Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2016, Amber made Canadian history when she became the first Canadian female to win a NASCAR sanctioned race in the USA at 25. Amber has successfully utilized her racing platform to be one of motorsports largest female influencers inspiring and motivating others to pursue their dreams break stereotypes and have a positive impact on society.
Cath Anne: [00:01:11] Welcome to the show Amber. We’re so excited to have you.
Amber Balcaen: [00:01:18] Thank you for having me. I’m excited as well. It’s been fun partnering with you guys for the last couple months.
Cath Anne: [00:01:22] So Amber usually I get started with like some demographic questions or stuff to break the ice but I just want to talk about your experience with racing, to start off if that’s OK?
Amber Balcaen: [00:01:34] Definitely I can always talk about racing.
Cath Anne: [00:01:36] OK. That’s awesome. So I read on your website that you used to go to the racetrack when you were in your mother’s belly and I was wondering what it was like to grow up in a racing family.
Amber Balcaen: [00:01:49] Yeah I mean is definitely different I guess. But for me it’s all that I knew. I mean my grandpa raced and so my mom was at the racetracks and she was a little girl and she met my dad at the racetrack and they got married and had me so all my cousins raised my uncle. It was really just a big family affair of racecar driver. So it’s like I said it’s all I knew and I just knew that I wanted to do it. The second that I knew what it was and you know my boy cousins did it quite a few years before I did and I begged my dad for years and years to let me race and finally at 10 years old he said All right you can do it. But if you race you gotta work on the car yourself you gotta pay for it all yourself. So there’s quite a lot of rules to go with it but made it a little harder but really happy that things went the way they did.
Cath Anne: [00:02:37] And so how did you earn the money to pay for it all yourself. Because I know that’s something that’s kind of transitioned into your career as well.
Amber Balcaen: [00:02:45] Definitely yeah. Back then when I was 10 I was racing go karts on a dirt oval track so it wasn’t too expensive to do compared to what I’m doing now but I was still the same of getting sponsorship so I would ask my dad’s friends for a hundred dollars here a hundred dollars there I would go to the racing swap meets with my dad and I would sell stickers and I actually didn’t realize it but I was a little entrepreneur and I was younger so I just found different ways to raise money to raise because I wanted to do it so bad. And luckily was able to make it happen.
Cath Anne: [00:03:21] You definitely were a little entrepreneur. So I was reading again. I don’t know if it was on your website or one of your videos but I think you said something like the best drivers come from dirt track racing. Can you tell me what that means?
Amber Balcaen: [00:03:37] Yeah, so a lot of NASCAR drivers grow up in NASCAR. Grow up in the pavement, stock car world, where I grew up racing dirt and dirt- the cars drive a lot different and obviously the surface is very different it’s more of a loose gravel feel than a highway drive so you really need to know car control throttle control you really need to know how the car feels underneath you and explain to your crew members what the car’s doing so they can make the proper adjustments so that you can be faster in the car. So I think it was a good kind of fundamental ground of a skill set that allowed me to be where I’m at today. Now in saying that the transition from dirt track racing to racing on pavement was a lot more difficult than I expected. But I do I am still happy that I started on dirt because I think it gave me the skill set needed to do well in the pavement world.
Cath Anne: [00:04:36] That’s so interesting. It’s so outside my realm but I can totally sort of understand why that would give you a good foundation. It feels like it would give you a good way sense of the car or how to maneuver it.
Amber Balcaen: [00:04:48] Yeah definitely. And again it was still a big adjustment even still so these days that I have a little bit of dirt track habits that I need to get rid of but I think.
Cath Anne: [00:04:58] Like what?
Amber Balcaen: [00:05:00] I mean when you’re in a dirt car you throw the car into the corner as hard as you can.
Cath Anne: [00:05:04] Oh really.
Amber Balcaen: [00:05:05] For lack of a better term, balls to the wall type of racing where pavement racing you need to really learn to kind of hone your skill and and know when to use more gas, less gas it’s it’s a lot more precise and you need to be so on point you need to be absolutely perfect every single lap and hit your marks perfectly every single lap or with dirt track racing if you kind of messed up on one corner you could usually make it up in the next corner but everything in pavement racing is just you have to be so precise and so perfect because everyone else’s too. So it’s just knowing I know kind of when to push harder and when to kind of throttle back.
Cath Anne: [00:05:45] Sure. So how do you- how many- how often do you practice, then?
Amber Balcaen: [00:05:52] So unfortunately with racing you need to have a lot of funding behind you in order to practice it’s racing is different than any other sport in the sense that I can’t just go on the field and throw a football or get on the rink and you know hook a puck into a net. It actually costs thousands and thousands of dollars for me to get into a car and practice.
Cath Anne: [00:06:13] Wow.
Amber Balcaen: [00:06:13] So that’s where a big part of my my adversity comes from is I don’t come from a big financial background. My parents since I was 10 I’ve had to do it on my own. So I’ve always been behind the eight ball when it comes to seat time is what we call it in the industry. That means actually being in the race car and practicing because I make up against kids that have the wealthy parents or have the you know wealthy uncle that owns a certain company and and so I’ve always kind of been behind the eight ball when it comes to experience. But I like to my confidence comes from knowing that I do have that natural talent and ability and I really just need to kind of do what I can with the car when I am in it. And that’s again a big struggle that I have to go through is knowing that I don’t have the experience because I don’t have the funding. So that’s the one downside of the sport is the fact that we don’t get to just practice and it sucks because I love driving race cars it’s so much fun. Sometimes I’ll just go to the go kart track the local to the local go kart track here in North Carolina just to get some seat time even though it’s definitely can’t compare it to Nascar. But as long as you’re driving something it just kind of keeps you alert and keeps you quick.
Cath Anne: [00:07:32] Right. Definitely. And I didn’t realize that you had to pay so much to actually practice. So that is interesting. Do you find that your entrepreneurial skills have come in handy?
Amber Balcaen: [00:07:44] Absolutely, 100%. The biggest difference moving from dirt to pavement wasn’t necessarily the car or the track but the industry as a whole. And it really is more of a business than it is a sport because NASCAR is funded by corporate companies and corporate sponsors and it’s all about how to how to work business business relationships business to consumer relationships and finding all this funding. Just to be able to get in the car to race. So I always say that I spend about 95% of the time looking for sponsorship to race, 1% of the time racing and the other 4%, eating and sleeping.
Cath Anne: [00:08:25] Wow. So I guess up going from that, how do you find that you manage your time effectively? Because I know this is something that a lot of students as you know this is student influencers podcast. I know that a lot of busy students have difficulty managing their time. So how do you find do you find it difficult to manage your time or do you have any tricks that you would recommend?
Amber Balcaen: [00:08:50] Yeah. It’s definitely not easy because like I said I spend most of my time on the business side of the sport looking for sponsors and it’s a kind of unfortunate because it takes away from me getting to focus as a driver. So of course I’m doing things to better myself as a driver like you know being in the gym watching video reading books all the different things that we can do to prepare. But nothing beats being in the car. But I think when it comes to time management the biggest thing is to be organized. That’s something I actually have really really struggled with when I was younger but now I have my day planner and I just make sure I write all the things I need to get done in that day and make sure that they’re checking off that for me has been a huge help of you know when we’re kids we have an agenda and we use that. And then once we graduate we kind of just go on and live our lives our days. But it’s amazing what just having a gender or notebook or calendar can do for organization. I think the more you can plan out your days and plan out your weeks and you have your goals in mind have you and then prioritize those goals what do I need to get done this week. What’s the first on the priority list. What’s the last. And and let’s tackle it head on I think organization really is key and like I said I definitely struggled with it before but the more I’m top up on top I am of my organization the more productive I am. And the thing is when you’re more productive it makes you feel good and you. It keeps the ball rolling when you can have little victories or little little days of productivity. Then if you can keep rolling at it like a domino effect then it makes you feel better and you end up being a lot more efficient.
Cath Anne: [00:10:34] I absolutely agree with that. Definitely. So kind of in the same realm, we talked a little bit about racing but I kind of wanted to switch gears a little bit just to talk a little bit about your experience as a student because I know that you had a bit of a different experience and I think that your perspective will be certainly valuable to some of our listeners.
Amber Balcaen: [00:10:56] Yeah for sure. Well I went through high school I went I did a two year college degree at Red River College and went to pay Manitoba and then after I graduated that I went to get on my four year at the University of Manitoba. I actually dropped out a couple months into the universe Manitoba to pursue my and fully. But when I was in college I was in for business and the business really taught me a lot going now. Transforming that into my career. Just little things as is term. Certain terms I use like return on investment I would have or oh I might have known that what that meant before and now when I have these business calls and meetings and I’m meeting with these you know executives and CEOs when they’re having this business jargon I know what they’re talking about I understand what they’re saying. So that’s really how my schooling has really helped me in racing. But school was not easy for me. I’m actually really struggled in school. I do have ADD so that was part of it.
Cath Anne: [00:12:04] OK.
Amber Balcaen: [00:12:04] It was I have a really hard time focusing on just one thing and accomplishing that one thing so that kind of goes back to the organization. When you’re more organized it really helps. But I think you really just have to transition your mind into how you view learning like it’s all in perspective. Like I really enjoy learning I didn’t like school but I enjoyed learning so if you can figure out a way for you to learn that’s fun and makes it easier for you and you can enjoy it more then it makes everything easier. I think unfortunately sometimes the school curriculum really focuses on just memorizing what you learned in class and doing well on the test. But I think I’ve always said to my friends you know like if I could go back into college now I wish I would have really focused on actually learning the content and learning the information rather than just memorizing it. Sorry understanding I wish I really took the time to understand what I was learning instead of just memorizing it.
Cath Anne: [00:13:10] Right.
Amber Balcaen: [00:13:10] And I think that would have helped because I think as kids you know a lot of times there’s certain classes mean we might not want to take or aren’t really interested in. And if you go into class and you’re like oh this sucks I don’t want to learn this but if you can understand it more and kind of figure out how you could use this in life afterwards then I think it makes it a little bit more. Valuable and a little bit more exciting for me. I was never good at math because I was like oh well when am I going to use x plus z or y you know. But then right if you if you understand it and apply it to different areas of your life I think it makes it more fun. I don’t know if that made any sense but I know it did.
Cath Anne: [00:13:54] It did 100% and I think it’s really valuable for you to share that because I think so many students have that struggle and you know especially when you have a diagnosis of ADD, that can make it extra challenging to sit in a classroom and absorb information that’s just being thrown at you. So I think it’s definitely a valuable conversation to have around just being able to understand that material. But I also think it kind of speaks to the way the curriculum is set up it might not be a fit for every student you know.
Amber Balcaen: [00:14:28] Absolutely. And I truly believe that every person who learns in a different way. I personally learn best as being hands on and actually doing what I’m being taught. But some people can learn from just reading a book. So it it’s just you have to figure out what works for you and what you enjoy and I it is unfortunate that the curriculum is set in such a box and there isn’t a lot of ways but I think that’s when you take responsibility yourself as a student to figure out how you can learn the best way you can and maybe that’s watching YouTube video. You know I remember when I was in stats you know I wasn’t I didn’t really understand a lot in the actual classroom so I’d go and watch YouTube videos after I knew it helped me understand. So I think you just need to be creative in what works for you. Everyone’s different. And you know at the end of the day it’s our responsibility to learn and when you’re in school you’ve got to take advantage of it. You know it’s it’s where it’s. What’s the word I’m looking for. It’s a privilege for us to be able to go to school and I think absolutely if we if we view ourselves as that or if we view it that way then our perspective on it changes. And so yeah I think us in general in North America really just need to see that it is a privilege for us to go to school so let’s make the most of it. Even though some days I understand it it’s frustrating and you don’t want to be there you don’t need to work in tests. But at the end of the day it’s a privilege and knowledge is power. And just figure out what works for you.
Cath Anne: [00:16:05] No absolutely I love that. And I’m wondering about do you have any I guess suggestions for people who don’t necessarily fit into the box of college or university like you did your college degree but then you decided to pursue something that you were passionate about. Do you have any thoughts around that?
Amber Balcaen: [00:16:25] I think if- I mean that we could go anywhere with that question. Yeah, I mean for me personally I’m going to Red River College it was smaller classrooms is more of a hands on type of learning. I really enjoyed that over the university. The big university is where you’re in huge lectures and you’re you know having to take notes quick and read chapters upon chapters. I personally learn better on more of a hands on type of thing. I think it’s really just figuring out how you learn and what you like and how it can be easier for you. Right. And if school is not for you. Then you know maybe entrepreneurship is. But then again entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone either. Entrepreneurship I think lately in social media has been kind of glorified as this like fabulous easy way of making money when the reality is it isn’t. It’s very strong. It’s very tough. You’re good. You struggle for a lot of years and it’s mentally very difficult. It’s like a moat it’s very emotional because there’s no stability there’s no. It’s all you you got to work. And if you don’t put in the work you don’t get the results. So I think you just really have to figure out what works best for you as an individual figure out what you like what you’re good at make what your strengths are what your weaknesses are. And then the different opportunities that you see yourself in. I think it’s again it’s. Every person is different and you just have to do what works for you. And I don’t don’t fall into the society of thinking you need to go to university or thinking you need to be an intimate partner you are like do what works for you.
Cath Anne: [00:18:04] Absolutely. I think that’s a really good point. I agree with you in the sense that entrepreneurship has certainly been it seems to be like a hashtag now that everyone uses. But you’re right it’s absolutely it’s such a big risk to be an entrepreneur and you’re working by yourself a lot of the time. So it’s definitely shouldn’t be glorified as much as it is although it does have so many benefits as well.
Amber Balcaen: [00:18:30] It absolutely does. I like that I can wake up every day and choose what I do with the day I think that it’s such a blessing and you know it and everything’s on me I can’t put the blame game on anything because it doesn’t get done it’s my fault. So definitely and definitely teaches you how to be account accountable. But again it’s not for everyone you need to do what’s best for you.
Cath Anne: [00:18:53] Exactly. I totally agree with you. So now if we could switch back to the racing I’d like to hear about one of your favorite memories during your racing career.
Amber Balcaen: [00:19:05] Most of my favorite memories honestly were back in dirt track racing because when I race dirt track. Because when I race dirt track I just race for fun you know I did. I really didn’t ever believe I could make a career out of racing. It wasn’t till I kind of had my aha moment of saying you know I really can’t see myself doing anything else so I’m going to try to make this a career that I did turn it into my career. And nothing happened overnight. I’m still not where I want to be but I keep pushing towards it every single day. And that’s that’s kind of the entrepreneurship way. As you know it’s you go through ups and downs and some years are good and some years are bad but keep pushing through it. But to answer your question some of the best memories honestly I think you would be in the go cart is me and my dad would drive to Grand Forks North Dakota and a pickup truck and the go cart in the back and just the same. The simple memories you know of one time I raced my sprint car and that was on dirt in I accidently didn’t I. I wrecked. I’ve flipped really bad a couple of weeks before so I had to put a new wing together and I used the wrong rivets in the wing. And so when I was racing the wing collapsed and earlier I kind of had a discussion with my dad saying no let me do it. And he’s like No because you’re not going to do it right. Well he ended up being right but I still won the race. So I thought that was, that’s one of my favorite memories is just it was really funny. But. I’ve always had to go through a lot of different kinds of adversity. Yeah yeah. I just being you know being a female and a very male dominated sport that I there’s a lot of challenges with that at a very young age. Being treated a little differently and stuff. But now my biggest adversity is the financial aspect of it. So but like I said before it was more of a for fun thing and now it’s my career so I definitely have to take it a lot more seriously.
Cath Anne: [00:21:10] And so do you find that with all you know we were kind of critiquing the social media component but do you find social media is a beneficial tool for you in terms of garnering funding?
Amber Balcaen: [00:21:22] One hundred percent absolutely. And being a Canadian as well and a very American dominated sport. When I was even racing on dirt track I had to figure out how to get the eyes of the people in the states on me being in Canada winning in Canada. How do I. How do I get them. The people in California and North Carolina to know that I’m winning all the way in Canada. So I started on you start making YouTube videos. I actually did a little bit of reporting just to get my name out there and really utilize I think Facebook was a lot bigger when I first started. And then Instagram kind of came later but really just utilize every aspect of social media to help get my name out there and have just tried to put more effort into it and work harder at it. As I’ve gotten older and as this social media lines have gotten bigger as well so it also open has opened up so many different opportunities with me. For me I’ve gotten to be a part of some really cool TV shows and it’s it’s all about creating a brand. And luckily social media has allowed me to create that brand and share it with different people.
Cath Anne: [00:22:35] So how would you describe your brand?
Amber Balcaen: [00:22:37] My brand is well my mission is to help empower and inspire other people to reach their full potential. Obviously as a female in a male dominated sport I’m more so directed to other females to be their best selves and be confident in themselves and never give up and just the power of persistence and positive thinking but you know the other side of me was still wants to empower men as well because it doesn’t matter if you’re a football player or a racecar driver or a doctor. I really just believe in giving everything you’re all and never giving up and everyone’s gonna go through trials and tribulations and adversity and have a lot of obstacles. But if you keep powering through then the opportunities are endless and you can achieve anything you want.
Cath Anne: [00:23:22] So how- I do think you must have such a major influence on young people and especially on young women and so how does that make you feel to know that you’re having an impact that in that way?
Amber Balcaen: [00:23:35] Honestly most days that is the reason why I don’t give up.
Cath Anne: [00:23:39] Wow.
Amber Balcaen: [00:23:39] Because I feel like I have a responsibility to these younger generation to show them that anything is possible. You know I am considered the underdog in my sport because I don’t come from money and it’s very very very difficult to make it in NASCAR if you don’t come from money. So the odds are very much stacked against me and I think I just want to prove to people that not prove but show people that you don’t need to have all the tools in the tool box to be able to create the life that you want. You know you have you have to learn how to be resourceful you have to learn how to be creative you know there’s you you just because you weren’t born into money or it doesn’t mean you can’t to be successful or just you know a lot of people make excuses like oh well he his dad gave him his business so that’s why he’s successful. But I will never do that because I didn’t grow into that well. It’s like no that’s not how it is. If you work hard enough you can have that too and I just want to show people that you can come from the bottom and get to the top you know as as our as our-.
Cath Anne: [00:24:44] fellow Candian Drake?
Amber Balcaen: [00:24:46] Yeah, our fellow Canadian Drake says “started from the bottom now we’re here” and like I just want to show people that anything is possible and if you work hard and are determined and persistent and focused and driven that it is possible to live the life of your dreams and the life that you want.
Cath Anne: [00:25:02] That’s amazing. That is so valuable these days. I just find so many young people they don’t have it’s difficult it can be difficult. Like you say especially when you’re in a situation of adversity or you don’t come from privilege it can be difficult. But that that attitude is very inspiring.
Amber Balcaen: [00:25:21] Thank you. I just I really want people to know that they can create the lives that they want and just to have faith in themselves and work just work hard.
Cath Anne: [00:25:32] And so I have to mention- I mentioned this in the introduction a little bit. So you were the first Canadian female to win a NASCAR sanctioned race in the USA. That’s pretty incredible.
Amber Balcaen: [00:25:42] Yeah. So I transition from dirt to pavement. I think it was- ooh. 2016, I think. Yeah. 2016.So how that transitioned was the NASCAR diversity program actually reach out to me and asked if I would ever be interested in NASCAR. And at that time I didn’t think NASCAR would ever be a possibility for me just coming from Canada having a racing background just all. All the odds seemed to be like wait really like this could be something I could do. Wow. But once they planned to that seat in my head it is not never never gotten out. So in twenty sixteen was my first full year in a pavement car stop body stock car like full body start car sorry and I raced in Virginia on an almost weekly basis and I raced twelve races I had ten top fives, seven top threes, and then I won towards the end of the year so it was my rookie year and to make that accomplishment was one that I tried to do all year and I was really happy that I was able to do that. But you know that was a couple of years ago now. So for me it’s it’s great to accomplish things but I’m always thinking what’s next what right next right.
Cath Anne: [00:27:05] That’s definitely an entrepreneurial way of thinking I think, and a goal oriented person of course.
Amber Balcaen: [00:27:11] Definitely. Yeah I always set goals for myself and do everything I can to achieve them and that was a great achievement. But there is a lot more that I want to achieve. I’ve only scraped the surface.
Cath Anne: [00:27:23] Absolutely. And I think switching careers is more common than not, I would say these days. So I was also reading about something really exciting which is your new show Racing Wives on CMT. And has that aired yet?
Amber Balcaen: [00:28:07] It has not aired yet, it should air probably by the end of summer. We don’t have an official air date yet. We were just doing a little bit more filming to just add a little bit more to the show. The title is Racing Wives but I’m not married and I’m dating a Candian football player. I’m not dating a racecar driver, so I actually am the only non-wife on the show. All the other cas members are wives of NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Very well respected and well known NASCAR drivers and one of the wives husbands is actually who I race for now. So that was part of my connection to the show. So Samantha Busch is Kyle Busch’s wife and she introduced me to Kyle and has helped me get a ride with kyle Busch Motorshports. So I raced for Kyle Busch Motorsports now and the show follows kind of the journey of me finding sponsorship and the struggles of my long distance relationship because my boyfriend does play in Canada and just kind of how I am moving up the ranks of NASCAR, the struggles of sponsorship, racing for KBM, and finding my place in this whole NASCAR world, all because it’s pretty crazy for a Winnipeg girl to be out here in Charlotte, North Carolina, trying to find my way.
Cath Anne: [00:29:07] Yeah and I love that you are like the only one that’s not you know not married and you’re not a racing wife wife per say you are just the woman doing it on your own and figuring it out. It’s awesome.
Amber Balcaen: [00:29:25] Thank you. Yeah it’s definitely different. And like I said so kind of trying to find my place but it’s it’s really great to be here following my dreams and you know something my boyfriend and I said when we first started dating was we never wanted to let the relationship get in the way of pursuing our dreams so he supports me full hardly with my racing and I support him full hardly with his football and it allows us to go both chase our dreams and accomplish our goals while still supporting and loving each other.
Cath Anne: [00:29:55] Oh that’s so nice. That’s really nice so again to switch gears a little bit if you could go back and talk to your 15 year old self. What would you say.
Amber Balcaen: [00:30:08] Whooo, that’s a hard one.
Cath Anne: [00:30:09] That’s always a big question.
Amber Balcaen: [00:30:13] I would say I have more confidence in yourself believe in yourself. The tough times always pass and you’re much more stronger and capable than you would ever believe.
Cath Anne: [00:30:29] Oh that’s nice. I feel like everyone give some themselves a hard time especially I think young women when they’re 15.
Amber Balcaen: [00:30:37] So being a female teenager is not an easy thing at all and the one thing I’m so grateful for racing is how much it’s changed me and how much it’s taught me more. So as character It’s really built my character and built the woman that I am today and even though at times it’s been extremely difficult it’s I wouldn’t change any of it because it’s made me the person that I am today.
Cath Anne: [00:31:07] That’s amazing. And so we’re it towards the end of the interview, Amber, so to finish so my inoff the interview I was wondering if you could give some advice to. We kind of already discussed this but some final advice to students entering college or university or choosing to pursue a new dream like entrepreneurship or something like you. You went for your dream.
Amber Balcaen: [00:31:33] For sure, I think it’s really important to follow your passion and as cheesy that sounds you know this is something you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life. So you need to somewhat enjoy it and don’t fall into the pressures of anyone else. You know parents will tell you what to do. Friends will tell you what to do and you just need to do what’s best for yourself. And if you don’t listen to yourself in our eyes and are authentic and believe in yourself then it’s gonna be a lot tougher. And you know it might it might be having a fight with your parents saying that no I don’t want to do this this is what I want to do but you need to do what’s best for you because the better you are for yourself the better you can be for other people. And I think that’s just so important. I went into racing because it’s what I truly believed I was meant to do. And even though at first I went into college because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do that’s what people did. But then I realized that that wasn’t for me and I need to switch up and that’s OK if you change careers a couple of times that’s totally fine too. You just need to do what’s what’s best for you.
Cath Anne: [00:32:39] Absolutely. And I think switching careers is more common than not. I would say these days. Absolutely. So that’s that. Those are all the questions I have. Did you have anything else you wanted to end off with?
Amber Balcaen: [00:32:53] I think I would just like to really open myself to all the listeners and say if you have any questions at all for me about school about racing about following your dreams anything please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I always check my DMs, you can DM me at any time. Part of why I love racing so much is because it’s giving me this platform to be able to speak to other people and help other people. So I’m always willing to help so please reach out to me if you ever have any questions even if you’re just having a bad day and you need a pep talk. Reach out to me.
Cath Anne: [00:33:26] Oh that’s so nice of you. So how can people reach you.
[00:33:30] So my Instagram is @amberbalcaen10. That’s my Twitter as well. I’m on Facebook at Amber Balca racing. And yeah I check all of those.
[00:33:43] So it’s awesome.
[00:33:44] That’s perfect and we’ll put your all your information at the bottom of the podcast as well so that’s so nice of you Amber Balcaen:. Thank you so much. I’m sure. So many people will benefit from connecting with you.
[00:33:58] Thank you so much for having me on the show. I’m really happy that you’ve introduced me to this new community and I hope I can help in any way I can.
[00:34:06] Oh we’re so thrilled to have had you and I am just I’m so excited to see where you go in the future because I can just tell there’s so many big things in store for you.
[00:34:16] Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thanks so much for joining us again. Take care too. Thank you.
[00:34:25] OK so that’s it for me this week guys. As always if you have any questions hit us up on our social media platforms using the hashtag #askHHG. H h g. Share your comments with us on YouTube Facebook Twitter or Instagram. Find this by searching Homework Help Global.Share: