Life isn’t always easy for young drivers. It takes commitment and determination, and if you don’t have the money or the contacts it can make life very tough indeed. For Celtic Speed Mini Cooper Cup racer Emily Glanvill 2017 has proved a trying year but she’s not finished yet…
“It’s a lot of hard work; you have to really want it.” Glanvill explains. “It’s not handed to anyone on a plate, you have to work for it. You have to mould your life around it. If you love it then that’s not a problem. But it is a big chunk of your life you have to dedicate.”
No one can accuse Glanvill of not having worked for it. 2017 has been a whirl of fundraising campaigns and events to enable her to race as much as possible. Sourcing sponsorship is a skill, and one that can be hard to perfect while also sitting your A Levels. But help is out there, and being selected for the Scottish Motorsport Academy in August has given the 18-year-old hope that things might become easier in the future, with the first event focusing on sourcing sponsorship.
“Sponsorship is a tough thing that’s for sure.” Glanvill agrees. “I’ve been to a lot of networking events in the hope of learning the best way to do it. There’re so many different approaches. [The Scottish Motorsport Academy are] doing a lot to support up and coming Scottish drivers which is really great.
“But it still can be really tough to access information on how to approach companies and I think that’s something that took me a long time to learn, just by trial and error. I do it all myself. I do all my sponsorship proposals, everything for my website and social media all by myself. It’s certainly taken a long time to find the best way to do it.”
Unlike many of her contemporaries, Glanvill doesn’t come from the typical background of motorsport obsessed parents, with the huge amounts of money necessary to ease her path onto the motorsport ladder. Instead she found her way into racing a rather different way.
“I’m actually quite unusual in that my family weren’t into motorsport, which is quite different, especially for a female driver. I went along to a Speedway racing event, at my local track. My best friend was being dragged along by her father, we were only about 12 at the time. ‘Oh my dad’s making me go to this thing, you’ll have to come with me I don’t want to go alone, such a chore.’ Anyway we went along together and ended up having a brilliant time so it ended up being a regular thing and I ended up volunteering [at the track] every week for several years.”
A go-karting trip with these volunteers was Glanvill’s first experience in the driving seat, and what immediately fuelled her passion to race.
“I kept going back and got quicker and quicker and I decided that I’d love to race a car. That was when Autograss came along as sort of the cheapest way in. I kind of stumbled upon a passion.”
A couple of seasons of Autograss came next, with Glanvill finishing 2015 as Mens’ Class One Scottish Vice-Champion, despite only having spent half a season in the adult class. With the trophy for Most Improved Adult Rookie across all classes in Scotland it was time to move on to a new challenge. Winning the Teenage Cancer Trust Junior Saloon Car Scholarship in February 2016 proved to be her way into circuit racing.
“Last year obviously was wonderful. It was a fantastic opportunity for me, especially working with Teenage Cancer Trust which was something a little bit different which I really enjoyed. I met such a wide range of wonderful people. I have no doubt that will help me a lot going forwards. I’ve been to nine of the UK’s top tracks so as a learning year absolutely brilliant.”
Without a scholarship, 2017 turned into more of a battle for sponsorship than a battle on track. But Glanvill made it to the July meeting of Celtic Speed Mini Cooper Cup and she was very proud of what she managed to achieve.
“The races were brilliant.” Glanvill says. “It has been a rough year there’s no hiding that. It’s been a real struggle but everything finally came together in July with the support of the sponsors I do have. We were delighted when everything fell into place.
“In terms of performance in the races I was very happy, it is Scotland’s most competitive championship and to be able to drive wheel to wheel with a more experienced driver was great. Absolutely chuffed.”
In September the opportunity arose to test a BRSCC Fiesta, although just like Glanvill’s first introduction to motorsport it wasn’t something she had planned.
“It was one of those spur of the moment occasions, where you don’t really have time to mentally prepare yourself. One day I was like right I can’t afford to do this anymore and then I put something up on Facebook and it sparked somebody’s interest. They were like here’s something, go and test a Fiesta. And a week later I was on a plane down to Brands Hatch. So that was fab.
“And the car was great, the day was great, I really enjoyed the track. The day couldn’t have gone much better to be honest. I was testing with Specialised Motorsport, who are a big well-known team and the guys were brilliant, not only telling me about the car but sitting me down and talking me through the go pro footage. I feel like I can transfer that to any opportunity and any car that I am driving and be able to use that knowledge that they gave me. So that was a big boost.
So can we expect to see Emily Glanvill racing Fiestas next year?
“I really liked the car.” Glanvill says. “I felt really comfortable in it and it suits my driving style I felt. 100% should the opportunity arise.”
Quick fire questions
Who is your driving hero?
I really like Lando Norris. With him it’s just win, win, win, win.
Which of your races means the most to you?
The first time I went out in an Autograss car. I qualified eighth quickest and was absolutely delighted that I’d managed to do it on my first outing. I was hiring this boy’s car because I wasn’t sure yet if I wanted to do it or not. I was sat in fourth and right at the end the car in front went a little wide and I came up into third and ended up getting a trophy in my first ever car race. And I’ll always remember that because it was the confidence boost I needed at that time.
If you could have spectated at any race in motorsport history what would it have been?
Last year, touring cars at Thruxton. I was glued to the TV for the whole six hour coverage. All the support races were brilliant as were the actual touring cars. I remember watching and thinking something amazing is happening.
A quick message for young women wanting to go into motorsport?
The most important thing is not to be put off by the fact you might be one of the only girls. I try not to focus on that. Undoubtedly there is a little bit of sexism in motorsport and certain things will happen that make you feel uncomfortable but it’s about not letting that bother you. And if it does bother you, changing it around to use as motivation rather than holding you back. There’s no reason you can’t go out there and have a good time. If you want to be there you deserve to be there.
All image credits (including header image): Ellen Beskow