This weekend, a race car emblazened with the CALM logo will compete at Silverstone. We caught up with the man behind the wheel, Julian Wantling, to find out what keeps his motor ticking over…
How did you get into motor racing?
It was going to dinner with old friends and hearing how they were indulging in things they really enjoy. I’ve always loved motor racing but never really thought to actually give it a go (sounds stupid, I know). I found a meaning and a focus and it changed me mentally and physically.
Mentally, I felt better about myself, more confident, driven, able to find balance. Physically, as it drove me to be healthier, drink less alcohol, watch my diet, and occasionally go to the gym. I lost 10 kilos in 6 months, not on a fad diet, on a lifestyle change. Don’t get me wrong, motorsport isn’t easily accessible, it’s expensive and I’m lucky enough to be able to fund it for a short period of time. But what I learnt is that if there is something you think you’ll enjoy, give it a go!
What I learnt is that if there’s something you think you’ll enjoy, give it a go!
Why this as a hobby? What’s wrong with golf?
When you’re in the car, it’s just you in control. You compete with others but you also compete with yourself. It’s a mental game of learning about you. What mood am I in? How much do I want to do this ? Am I brave enough to go a bit faster/brake later/overtake? Do I belong here or am I outclassed? Add the adrenaline and the heart beating 160 bpm and you start to see that you find rewards for yourself everywhere – in faster lap times, beating other drivers, podiums. It’s hugely satisfying and thrilling.
How have you approached the risks involved – physically and mentally?
Statistically. I know this is dangerous but I’m racing on some of the world’s most safety-conscious circuits and the risk is low. Having said that, some drivers might not feel the danger I do. It’s a constant challenge to get faster and control what you see as a bigger and bigger risk. I try to manage it by making slow improvements every time but there are also times when I’m disappointed that I can’t get over a risk hump. Sometimes you just need to accept it.
What’s the journey been like from novice to getting the first few races under your belt?
So much fun. I have a great team in Assetto Motorsport and a fantastic driver coach, Jim Edwards (Renault Champion), who is patient, encouraging and simply a really nice person.
This is the first ever racing car that has CALM all over it. It’s amazing. What first interested you about CALM and made you want to dedicate your car to the brand?
When I signed up to the Ginetta GRDC Championship I had a plain white car. Drivers normally search for sponsors but I wanted to do something different, make a positive statement to one of the most alpha male sports in the world.
Why CALM? I can’t think of anything as devastating as a life being taken away prematurely. The approach and ongoing work CALM does to support people needing help, building awareness and endless campaigning for change is incredibly humbling and so needed. I’m extremely proud to have the first CALM car in motorsport.
What’s your usual motor? Does it feel very different after time on the track?
VW Golf. Very practical and yes, I am a sensible driver. Probably even more so since racing.
What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve learned through the process?
If you can find something you love doing, it can literally change your whole approach to life. I’ve also learnt that waking up prematurely at 4am on race mornings in a nervous but excited state is an unavoidable side-effect of this love.
You’ve already placed 3rd… are you aiming for any wins? Or does that jinx it?!
Are you crazy ? Of course I’m aiming for a win, but then again so is every other car on the grid.
What will come next for you in the motorsport world?
Persuading the fantastic people of CALM into the car for some very quick laps!
Julian’s upcoming races:
Saturday 9 June – Silverstone – Ginetta race day
Saturday 4 Aug – Brands hatch – Ginetta race day
Check out Julian’s story and donate to his campaign here
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