Meet Amber

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Introduce yourself – what does BeBelle mean to you?
I am a canadian female racecar driver currently climbing the races of NASCAR with the ultimate goal of competing in NASCARs top series (NASCAR Cup Series). I am a entrepreneur and CEO of Amber Balcaen Racing, where my brand is focused upon being a positive role model for younger females and an inspirational figure to people of every age and gender. BeBelle is important to me because it directly reflects on my own mission. To Empower woman, helping them become the best versions of themselves, inspiring them to be independent, confident and self motivated. And expressing the importance and fulfillment of going after your dreams. 

Best advice you’d give women to feel confident in their own skin? 
To feel confident in your own skin you should focus on all the things you ARE, rather than the things you are not. You have to maintain a positive and healthy mind. You cannot compare yourself to other people with the intention of seeing what they have and you lack. You must look at all the positives within yourself both on the inside and the outside and be proud of it all. True beauty really does shine from the inside out. Being a kind, generous, caring person automatically makes you more beautiful. Its all about how you feel, being comfortable in your own skin is what really makes you beautiful – – to be true to yourself and be your true authentic self. Self-respect, self-confidence, and self love are so very important – – it’s something us woman will constantly be striving for, its all in the mindset. You’re mental health is just as important as your physical health, make both a priority. 

[My experiences] I’ve had my own issues with self confidence in the past, especially as a teen. Self-confidence is something us woman always need to be conscious about, and often it takes time being comfortable in our own skin. In high school I went through a period of time having very low self-esteem and body image issues that eventual evolved into having an eating disorder. It was 100% my mindset. Racing cars was actually a major component when it came to overcoming these issues. Racing helped make me a more confident person because not only was I good at it, but it felt great to be passionate about something. I had something else to focus my attention on, rather than just the way I looked. It goes back to looking at all the positives within yourself and building upon them. Confidence should stem from who you are as a person, not what you look like in a mirror.  

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Please share your story to how you got to where you are today –
I grew up in a racing family (grandpa, dad, uncle, cousins all raced). I started racing gokarts at 10 year old and eventually worked my way to up 410 sprint cars in 2014. I raced on dirt tracks my whole life, and this past year(2016) was my first time competing on asphalt. It was a major transition but in order to fulfill my NASCAR dreams the transition needed to happen, I am the first driver in my family to move off the dirt tracks and pursue NASCAR. Racing cars has really shaped my character and has made me the person I am today. I have had to overcome a lot of adversity, and have had many ups and downs. Now, I didn’t always have plans of becoming a NASCAR driver, after high school I went to college for business because I didn’t think making a career in racing, (never mind racing NASCAR) was a realistic path. After college I went on to enrol at the University of Manitoba to further my education. It was about one month in to classes when I was sitting in a lecture one day and had my “aha” moment. I didn’t want to live a “normal” life and work at a desk from monday to friday. I wanted to race cars. I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I no longer cared how “unrealistic” this dream of mine was, I was going to give it a try. That was about 3 years ago now. And just a few months ago I made history on becoming the first Canadian female to win a NASCAR race in the USA.

That title did not come easy. Shortly after my decision to make racing my full career, I had one of the greatest racing years of my life, filled with success and my future was looking bright. The following year I lost my ride, lost sponsorships, and was done wrongly by some people in the racing industry. I went from having the best year of my life (2014), to the worst year of my life (2015), and living my biggest fear [not racing]. I was ready to give up, I had so much against me that I didn’t know if I could really live out this dream of mine. I was a female in a male dominated sport, a Canadian in an American dominated sport (geographically challenging), I did not have any financial backing in an insanely expensive sport,  and am a small town dirt track racer trying to make it to NASCAR. At this point I didn’t even have a racecar to race. But I wanted to defy the odds, so I powered through. My hard work eventually paid for for the next year (2016) where I was able to get sponsorship and a full ride in my first year in a NASCAR sanctioned series, and made Canadian history. I still face these challenges today, as I continue to look for sponsorship to race in 2017. But when it comes to living your dreams, you never stop working. When you accomplish your goals, it is the most fulfilling feeling in the world. 

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Most important role model in your life?
I don’t really have one specific role model in my life. I have always highly admired my mother for her strength and compassion. But also I really look up to anyone who has every had a dream and pursued it, and is successful. I find other peoples stories very inspiring. 

Biggest personal struggle?
Probably not caring what others think of me. The opinion of others is not as important as the opinion of myself. Not everyone is going to like me and I need to be okay with that.

Top 5 things you’d tell your younger self?

  • 1. Everyones journey is different, trust yours, great things take time.
  • 2. Live in the moment, enjoy the now, learn to be happy where you are in life instead of focusing so much on the “when I get there..”
  • 3. Be proud of the person you are while striving for being the person you want to become
  • 4. Keep your girlfriends close, there are lots of time for boys, focus on YOU.
  • 5. Things get better, you never know what the next day will bring you

Advice for other ladies interested in getting into your industry? (racing)
No matter what your dream is, if your passionate about it, and have the courage, determination and dedication towards it, than it can be done. You should do something because you love it, and are passionate about it, not just because it “sounds cool” to say your a girl and you race cars. Racing takes a ton of money, time and dedication, and your safety is at risk. Don’t think that because your a girl things will be handed to you. Yes, being a female in a male-dominated industry helps with notoriety, but don’t be known for the wrong reasons. People appreciate talent and hard work, let them see that. You will have to deal with negativity, use that as motivation to keep pushing forward. There are a lot of little girls in the stands who are cheer you on. That should be enough motivation to never quit!

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Best experience of your life?
For me, setting goals and accomplishing them are the best experiences in life. Wether that be winning races, or inspiring others, achieving those goals makes it all worth it.  

Tips for a finding and staying inspired in a male dominated industry?
Don’t be caught up with the gender factor. When I put my helmet on I am just another race car driver trying to win the race. Work harder than the rest, prove your talent, and remember why you deserve to be there. 

Weekly work out schedule?
I try to work out 4-5 times a week with a nice combination and strength and cardio. A lot of endurance training for the length of the races!

Tips for balancing your world-
When you are a race car driver, racing is your entire life, and racing usually comes first. There are times I have had to miss friends birthdays, weddings, etc, because of my racing schedule. However I still always make time for my friends when I am not racing. Know that there is a time for work, and a time for play. Friends and family should always be a priority. Also take time to be disconnected from your busy schedule / the online world, to go out and enjoy nature. Nature is very healing for your mental state of mind. I think its very important to take time to reflect on things in your life, and surrounding yourself in nature is the perfect place to do that. When you are confused, feel lost, or have questions, nature is a great place to go to ask questions. I consider it to by my form of meditation. 

Amber Balcaen
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