#27) Emily Glanvill


‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’

An oft-used quote from children’s author Thomas Seuss Geisel – or Dr. Seuss as he is more famously known – this is a statement relevant to as many people as it isn’t.

One individual who certainly embodies this motto within her life is Emily Glanvill, an exciting talent making her name for herself in the ridiculously competitive world of motorsport.

Participating in a sport with so few females is not just a way of providing a talking point for the teenager though; it’s a way of life.

Having been introduced to motorsport almost by chance – her friend’s Dad invited the two girls along to a Speedway event which saw them immediately hooked – the Scottish racer hasn’t looked back since, ascending through the ranks at an impressive speed.

Glanvill admits it’s not been the easiest of journeys so far but has loved every minute of it, especially the way it has allowed her to stand out from the crowd and do something no-one else would ever have foreseen.

“It wasn’t something where I just got in the kart and was immediately quick – I’d be lying if I said that was true, it just wasn’t the case,” she recalled in an exclusive interview with SportSpiel.

“In many ways I was pretty bad but that really annoyed me and I really wanted to work at it until I was good at it.

“At the time it was so different and so unique and I really liked that. I’ve always liked to do things that are slightly different or stand out from the crowd slightly.

“I was really into my fashion, but wearing alternative items as well as making my own clothes and things like that. But then here was this other thing that I could do that was a little bit different, unique and unorthodox for a 12-year-old girl. And that was what really appealed to me.”

Despite the rocky start Glanvill was soon paving a way in the sport, firstly in the rough and tumble of autograss – a form of amateur racing on mud or grass – before being awarded the 2016 Teenager Cancer Trust Scholarship Car, giving her the opportunity to achieve her dream of circuit racing in the UK Junior Saloon Car Championship.

It’s not just the success that has made racing so enjoyable for Glanvill though; it’s also the incredibly positive impact she had on her life.

A couple of years before attending her maiden Speedway event, tough times hit the Strathclyde University student and her family as her primary school – which her Mum also worked at – unexpectedly closed.

This had a profound impact on Glanvill, happening at a time many adolescents find difficult enough as it is, and it wasn’t until motorsport came along two years later that she really found happiness again.

The 19-year-old recalled: “In the space of two weeks I went from being incredibly happy and loving school to it shutting down and having nowhere to go for the next year.

“It was a very stressful time with my Mum losing her job as well and that really changed my whole opinion of school and I was never really very settled after. So having motorsport to build my confidence and build me back up after that was the lifeline I needed.

“Racing came along in my life at the right time because I was a very shy, introverted kid who wouldn’t speak out in class, would never be able to do presentations at school.

“But getting into motorsport, getting that scholarship and doing all these media interviews and talking about something I was passionate about built my confidence so much and now I can do it quite happily.

“That’s then impacted on my university degree, getting a job and all the other aspects of my life –  it’s had such a massive affect.”

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Furthermore it’s also taught Glanvill how to deal with and stand up to the sexism still prevalent both in the sport and society in general.

During her interview with SportSpiel she recalled one incident in particular which should be seen as a lesson to everyone – it’s what you do that counts, not what you say.

She said: “The story I always tell is when myself and my friend went to a karting track we’d never been too before.

“A car full of boys pulled up next to us. They got out and they were laughing, giggling, pointing and whispering saying we were going to be awful just because we were girls.

“It turned out we were going to be racing against them. We could have got angry and said something but we decided to keep quiet, go out on the track, drive our race, see how we got on and thought maybe that will prove our point rather than making a big scene.

“We went out onto the track for a 30min endurance race and I won by about three laps and just drove circles round them!

“They came off, dead white in the face, didn’t say a word, totally embarrassed and that was it.

“If you just change it around in your head and use those experiences to prove a point, get on with the job, race hard and do well you can’t argue with that.”

Being a fierce competitor, racing against men and women is something Glanvill loves to do.

As such the idea of the new all-female W Series – designed to help more women reach the upper echelons of motorsport – is not one that appeals to her.

“I would much rather race against everyone because I want to be the best, not the best girl.

“You don’t want to be the best of a small bunch; you want to be the best of everyone.”

Already in her short career Glanvill has proved on multiple times that she is certainly right up there with the best.

With aspirations of becoming the first woman to race in the British Touring Car Championship since Fiona Leggate in 2007, we are certainly looking forward to where her career takes her.

You can listen to Emily’s full interview with SportSpiel here.

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