I have been thinking lately and for me this is one of the true stories of overcoming huge hurdles placed in front of you.
I was lucky enough in around 2004 to work for BMW Motorsport and met many lovely people and feel happy even thinking about it now. Working in line with British touring cars it was full of glitz and glamor. Like any sport, Motorsport is hard and requires a lot of money to progress, you hope it could just progress on your merits/good character and sometimes, as well as your sponsorship it does, but not always.
I remember becoming friends with a driver called Matt Howson, he was over six foot tall, much like Justin Wilson it was hard to work out fitting in the car, but the team figured this out. I remember now and my first impressions of him were that he was an intelligent and articulate young man, who clearly had a lot of focus and determination to progress, he could drive round the problems that arise in car set up and various issues that can occur. What impressed me the most was how he carried himself, he was really calm and able to analyze any issue and come up with a solution for this.
One cold Day in Wales I went to a Formula three test with him and he was around other drivers who had already been in the series for a while. One of which was Ayrton Senna's nephew Bruno, but from the first lap you could see why he was there, he was on the pace from the outset and I was so proud of him. I knew he was able to carry this through to the top of Motorsport. I remember thinking to myself I hope he gets the sponsorship, but unfortunately that didn't come through. I was really disappointed for him, but knew he would be OK. When I spoke to him a couple of years later he was at University studying a psychology Degree of which I wasn't surprised he had undertaken something so hard. He graduated and went on to race single seater cars in Japan, of which he done amazingly.
I wasn't sure where that would lead, but he went on to race in Endurance racing for KCMG. This series really requires a lot of dedication and preparation and it is so hard physically and mentally.
How do I know this? Well I had worked in endurance racing, both at Le mans and Spa in Belgium at the famous 24hr races for TVR, Aston Martin and Lola of which required me to look after 3-6 drivers as well as the team to ensure they finished the race mentally and physically, but the real work is done by the drivers and team.
Why is this so relevant, well Matt and his team KCMG went on to win the Le mans 24hr and I must say I wasn't surprised and really proud of him. He had this target of getting to the top of Motorsport of and he has done it, despite all the hurdles in the way he overcame them and kept focused and had a plan. How did he do this well? For the full answer you would need to ask him. A couple of reasons I think, but I think the most important one would be how he presents himself as a man, he can work around things despite being hard, but also his character as a man, he carries himself well and is an all round lovely person of which are quite a few things my good friend Enzo Mucci aka The Driver Coach advocates, but he also had a back up plan, which i believe helped him become even more mentally stronger, not that he need that.
I suppose really what are my points here:
1. Have a goal, both short and long term
2. Be mindful of how you present yourself, if things are upsetting you, talk to someone either a friend or therapist, why as this will help you become emotionally strong and mature, which will endear yourself to people
3. Have a back up plan
4. Your goal is your goal, other people may try and steer you away from it, but if you truly want it you will find a solution
5. Work hard, life is short and you can achieve these things. I believe in you, but if your undertaking anything always chat to your Doctor to check you are ready, plus you will be able to discuss what you need to do to prepare.
6. You are capable, You are amazing, You are strong
7. Things are hard and they are a struggle, but this journey will teach you more than you know, one of those things being : You will become mentally stronger
To be honest this doesn't take anything away from the other drivers I have met, but is more of a way of putting across how to keep persevering despite adversity.