Meet Amber Balcaen: A Race Car Driver Going ‘Full Throttle’ with Venturi Motorsports
Amber, what is the most challenging part of racing? A car.
Of racing. The car. Of driving the car. Ooh,
ooh. Driving a car. Wait, you drive cars or race cars? To me. Race
Wait, did I say driving a car?
Racing cars? No. You said drive or no, you said race. You said race. But usually I get like what’s the most, what’s the hardest thing about like racing in general, but you mean like being in the car?
Hardest thing about being in the car for me is emotional regulation because I get really excited, especially when I start to do while I’m past cars. So keeping that level head, no matter if things are going really well or really not well, just keeping that level head and your emotions regulated so that you can execute on what needs to be done.
So how do you do that?
That’s a great question. Um, I think just really keeping calm as possible. Um, and focusing on execution, not focusing on results, but focusing on the task at hand. Hitting your marks, the way that you’re feeling the car, feeling tires, feeling the wheel in in your hands. Um, you know, the amount of input you’re putting into the wheel, your feet on the pedals, everything you want.
Your body needs to be one with the car. And you need to feel calm and at peace with the car while still focusing on what you need to do. So I think the most, like calm and peaceful you can feel, the easier that becomes.
It’s so true. And you know what I find is interesting, and this goes for competition, uh, and in life, is there’s this odd relationship between desire and wanting and chasing something versus having it chase you.
And I think in motor sports, and I’ve noticed this for years now, that there’s this grind mentality and there’s this like, how bad do you want it, you know? And. The more you want it, the more you’ll get it. And I’m like, you know what? The last time I really wanted something, it didn’t work out. What worked out was me being at peace and calm, kind of like you were saying.
Um, and almost being like more strategic in, in, in a way, almost feeling as if it’s already calm and as if it’s on its way. You know? How do you modulate. That. And what are your thoughts on just desire and want and that whole grind mentality?
I think honestly that’s my biggest struggle in life, um, and has been because I’ve had to work so hard to get to where I want to be.
I do everything on my own, sponsorships, racing, business deals, everything is on my shoulder. So I feel as though I have to grind all the time and I have to work and I have to push and I have to be aggressive and competitive and, um, that raw rah mentality. And the thing is, with racing, it’s my number one love and passionate in life and I want it more than anything, and I desire it more than anything.
So it’s really hard for me to take a step back at times and not want it so bad, not push for it so bad. Um, it’s, that’s the biggest challenge that I struggle with is being able to, Not want it. So as bad as I do and not make it my everything, but yet still work towards it. So it, it’s a fine line of wanting this to happen, but also being at peace and being grateful with where I am now and what I already have in front of me.
Yeah, I love it. And I saw that social media post you had recently and, uh, it was really inspiring. So, uh, I, you know, I think that what’s interesting about desire is if you think about it, you could spend, you could spend quite a bit of time wanting and desiring something, but while you’re wanting and desiring.
Falsely imagining that that is an action, right? In other words, I could say that I want to make a million dollars once this podcast is over, and I could think about it and I could sit down, fantasize, imagine it, talk about what I do with it in my mind. But it’s like, all right, you just spent an hour focused on wanting, um, what if you had.
Just cold, you know, an old client, um, and reactivated maybe working with them, um, or maybe reached out to, uh, a current client and said, Hey, we’d love to have a referral. It’s like, wouldn’t that be a better use of your time? It could take five minutes to make a call where someone goes, oh yeah, I’ve got someone that might wanna work with you, and then that’s actually gonna move the needle in five to seven, 10 minutes, whatever.
Right. As opposed to just sitting there desiring. And I think that a lot of us don’t realize that we’re spending more time wanting and desiring and being in that, that emotional state of like fight, flight or freeze and activating our sympathetic nervous system. But it’s like, well, what have you done?
Right. What are your, what are your thoughts? For sure.
And you know, the best piece of advice my dad ever gave me was the hardest. Part about doing something is thinking about doing it. You know, it’s Nike’s slogan. Just do it. And it’s true. It doesn’t matter if you’re, you know, go wanting to work out, go to the gym, wanting to start a new business, wanting to start a new relationship, end a relationship.
The hardest part about doing those things is thinking about doing it. Once you actually just get it done and, and are in the action of doing it, it’s not that difficult cuz you, you’re already doing it, but it’s all the thinking and, and you know, all the constructs that go into actually doing it. That makes it seem a lot more difficult than it
I love that saying and, and it’s so true because when you start to think about things, think about how that goes. I mean, as a mental performance coach, You know, overthinking is something that I, you know, deal with every day with athletes I coach. And, and you know, you start to realize that if you just do, um, there’s not an, uh, there’s not an opportunity to fear something if you’re doing it.
Um, there’s not an opportunity to think about what could go wrong or what might not happen, or what could get in your way if you’re doing it because you get so immersed in the doing. And so you can eliminate overthinking, you can eliminate fear. Um, you can eliminate procrastination. That’s a hell of a good tip from your dad, you know?
Um, maybe we should cue him in on the next podcast. That was pretty good. Um, how, so let me ask you this, when’s the lab? So how do you put that into play though? Right, because knowledge to me is potential power. Everyone says knowledge is power. I disagree a hundred percent. It’s potential power. Uh, it means nothing till you do something with it.
No different than a nuclear bomb, you know, until you hit the red button, it’s really nothing. Um, but how do you turn that knowledge into action? What, what would, what would that look like if you were to color that up and move that into an action? I. What would that look like and how, how come people have so much resistance to actually acting on that very valuable knowledge in your opinion?
I think that, like I said, the hardest part about doing something’s, thinking about doing it and people overthink it and everything seems so far away. The goal is so far away when really they just need to take one step at a time. And during those steps is when you’re gonna figure things out because no one has, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, what sport, business, whatever you’re in, nobody has it figured out when they start.
And the only way to figure it out is by actually doing it and cre having those experiences, those learning lessons. Like for example, when I was in school, you know, I went, got my two year business diploma. I went back to get my four year and I decided to drop out and try to become a professional race car driver as my career.
I didn’t know, I knew I wanted to be an NASCAR driver, but that point I was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba at my parents’ house. Didn’t know how I could get to the states, didn’t know how I could get to the NASCAR industry. I was a dirt track racer, a local racer. How, how was I gonna do all this? And the goal seemed so far away and so many, I didn’t know what step to get there, but I decided to just take one step at a time, one step at a time, one step at a time.
And I had no idea what I was doing. But by just taking steps and, and small actions, I eventually figured it out. Did I make mistakes along the way? Of course I did. Did I learn from those mistakes? Of course. So I think no one has it figured out. And even if they do, they’re lying. Uh, you just have to keep making small steps forward.
There’s no big leaps when it comes to your dreams, when it comes to athletics, business, whatever it is you’re doing, you just have to get started and you kind of just figure it out along the way. I
love that. And, and my favorite example that really magnifies that point. Is, you know, hey, like, can you help me lose 20 pounds?
Like yeah. Uh, take in less fuel or take in less food and burn more calories. Like that should work. Um, but yet most of us are like, oh, wow. You know, do I do the Atkins diet? Do I do uh, v what? I don’t even know ’em all. Like over complicating it.
over complicating it. And it’s like, no, just, just, you know, and then this, the, the, uh, analysis, the paralysis of analysis.
And before you know, what happens is three, four or five days go by and you haven’t really done anything other than what you know is, is known certain, familiar and comfortable, which is what you’ve always done, therefore yielding the same result. And so it’s really, really interesting and you start to realize that, um, it’s these small little things that we’re talking about right now that really add up as a driver.
You know, it’s like, what have you done today to move the needle 1%? And that, that’s a pretty wild question to ask because. I don’t think you have to do a lot to move the needle 1% every day. It’s not like you have to do a volume a, a specific volume, but it’s getting into the cadence or the rhythm of like every day saying like, what’s one thing I could do different or better?
So with that said, what’s one thing that you kind of, maybe either a motto that you live by or a way that you approach each day in your life?
For me, it’s all about stacking the small wins. So finding one win in every day and stacking those, because if you win the day, then you can, you know, win the week, win the week, you can win the months, months, years, and there’s no really such thing as an overnight success.
It’s just compounded interest on those small wins. So for me, it’s finding one thing that I think can push myself forward as a athlete, as a driver, as a person. And if I can kind of. Tick those boxes as far as, okay, I, I did this well on, you know, the mental side. I did this well on the physical side, I did this well on the skills side.
If I can pick little things throughout the day that move me forward, then the day’s a win and then the next day is a, goes the same. And just try to create that consistency and longevity of it for as long as
possible. I like it. And on this podcast, we never ask easy questions. So what was your biggest win from yesterday?
Yesterday my biggest win was connection. I got to connect with a lot of people in my racing industry. That made me really happy. Uh, just talked to a lot of the media people and then some drivers as well. Got to go to go or track house now Track house Motorplex and connect with some drivers and have some fun there.
So yesterday was all about connection for me.
I love it. And. That’s definitely something that, uh, I think is underrated, especially nowadays and even when it comes to sponsorships, right? I mean, I had, um, a family that I work with, the mother, uh, and I chatted yesterday and, you know, she was asking, you know, what can I do to help my son go pro and make this, you know, turn this racing into a career?
And I, and I honestly said that I, I, number one thing that always comes to my mind is relationships and connection and how important it is to, you know, people offer you sponsorship deals and support based on who you are and who in, in your character not. So much into your results. Um mm-hmm. Do you disagree with that or do you agree?
No, I agree a hundred percent. I would not be as far as I am in my career if it wasn’t for my ability to build, maintain, and strengthen relationships. That is a hundred percent why I’m here. Uh, I didn’t come from money. I don’t have any financial support, so I have to go and build these relationships, create these relationships, and.
For me to be able to race. So, um, it’s, it’s been everything. And of course there’s the business side of it, of being able to prove return on investment to my sponsors, but it’s more than that. It, it is really about creating a relationship with that person, bringing them along your journey with you and, and building something together.
It’s a lot more than this is, you’re investing X amount and your return is X amount. It’s, it’s a lot more than that. So that’s the reason why I’ve had some sponsors for almost 10 plus years. It’s because I’ve maintained and, and built that relationship. And, um, whether it’s relationships with sponsors, crew chiefs, um, other drivers, it’s, it’s all important.
You know, something that I really learned a lot this season so far is the importance of my relationship with my crew, with my spotter, with the people that I’m working closely with. Because even though racing is seen as, you know, A driver. The driver gets all the accolades. It’s the driver winning the races.
It really actually is a team sport. It’s not seen as a team sport, but it is a team sport. And if I can’t have that chemistry with my crew chief, I I, if I don’t have that chemistry with my spotter, then things crumble and they fall apart. So I’ve really been focusing on creating relationships with the people on my team off the track so that when we get to the track, it’s natural, it’s there and it’s comfortable, and we believe in each other, we work good together, and it just makes the whole race day flow easier.
I love that. And I think it’s underrated the value of those relationships. I mean, so I know in F1 a lot of it’s your engineer is in your ear. Uh, I would assume, or at least tell me if I’m wrong, that your spotter is probably more in your ear. Is that, is that true?
Yeah, I would say it’s probably about 80 to 90% spotter.
And then the crew chief will come on every once in a while to put, put in their 2 cents or ask how the car’s doing and getting some feedback from the car.
Yeah. And so you can, you can, obviously that highlights the comment that you just made as far as like the value of that relationship. I mean, you’ve got a bird’s eye view of, you know, a macro view of what’s going on at the track.
And it’s such to, to me, it’s so fascinating cuz you don’t see this in all sports, but to me, a spotter is just such a huge advantage that I, I wonder how many people really actually work on that relationship because here we are, you know, focused on lines, drafting, uh, position, tire management, all important things, no doubt.
But I just think about even just, I always make the parallels to life and I’m like, how many times have I been in a situation that. Seems overwhelming or maybe I don’t know what to do. And then I always imagine myself like in a plane, you know, where you’re cruising, you know, underneath the clouds and you’re looking down and the houses are, you know, the size of half a penny.
And it’s like that perspective really gives you a different way of viewing things. So, It seems to me like that relationship is important. Do you feel that people tap into the value of their spotters enough? And also how do you get the most out of your relationship with your, your spotter?
I think it depends on kind of your background in racing, just how you see spotters in general.
Cuz my background in racing is dirt track racing. We didn’t have spotters, we didn’t have anyone talking to us. We were flying by the seat of our pants. So when I first got into NASCAR racing, I almost was like, I didn’t even wanna listen to my spotter. Cause I’m like, no, I know how to drive a race car.
Like, get outta here, let me, you know, take control. And then I realized that this racing is, is not like that and spotters are actually very, very important. Um, last year at Talladega, my, my, my, uh, Headphones came undone. My earpiece came undone, and I couldn’t hear my spotter. And you know, I, I wanna say that was maybe like 10 or so laps.
We were three wide, and I was just like, all right, hopefully I got this. But it, it showed definitely the importance of spotters. And then the more you learn about racing and everything that goes into it to be successful, you realize how important the spotters are. Like spotters are extremely important.
They can make or break, raise for you. They can make or break missing wrecks. Avoiding wrecks, um, you know, It. They’re just so important. And then on top of that, you have to trust them. If they say you’re clear, you gotta know they’re clear. If there’s no trust with the spotter, then you might as well know.
You have trust in your car. Like you have to have trust in your car. You have to have trust in your spotter, trust in your crew. There’s a lot of trust that comes within racing, and so that’s why I’ve really put more effort into building that relationship with my spotter. Last year I had mainly the same spotter.
This year was a new spotter, so it was like a whole new person to learn, uh, and create that trust with. So spotters are very important. They see things that we can’t see and that’s why it’s so important to be able to lean on them. Oh, love
it. Yeah. And so we’ll shift gears a little bit and would love to hear kind of, uh, when it comes to.
Your upbringing, um, what was, what was like the biggest lesson you learned maybe when you first started out in racing? Cuz a lot of people, they’ll probably be listening to this, are maybe early stage racing want be to the point where they have sponsors and they’ve, the racing, you know, the aca Menard series like you do.
Um, what were some of like the, the more valuable lessons, maybe take it into like that teenage years. What, what do you think you could that you took from tho that timeframe and brought into today that really helped propel you to where you are today? The most,
honestly the most important thing, and this is gonna sound silly, but it’s to have fun.
Um, that’s the one thing my dad tells me before every single race is he goes, go, go. Have fun. Have fun. That’s the one thing he says. And as a kid growing up, it’s easy to do and you’re just racing go-karts. You’re just having fun. When you all of a sudden turn this hobby and this passion into a career. The fun starts to fade away because you realize this is your job.
You have to do well, you have to perform, you have to execute. You have millions of dollars of sponsorship. You have so many people counting on. You have so many people relying on you and and you for start to forget to have fun because of all the pressures that are put upon you and the pressures you put on yourself because you wanna do well for all the people that are supporting you.
And it’s something I constantly have to remind myself is to have fun. Um, You know, I’m really competitive, really wanna do well and sometimes I might be a little bit too serious, but the reality is the more that I just have fun with it and enjoy it, the better I do every single time. It didn’t matter when I, when I was racing sprint cars or now in arca, if you can just have fun and relax and let your ability and preparation take over, then you’re gonna be successful.
And if there’s a reason my dad tells me to have fun before I go on the track, because I always need that reminder cuz it’s very, very easy to get caught up in everything else and and forget to have fun. So whether you are in go-karts just starting out or or professional, there needs to be a level of fun to it because that’s why we do it anyways.
That’s why we do it in the first place. That’s why I wanted to turn my hobby into a career because I had so much fun doing it. I loved it so much. So I think always keeping in mind that we do this because we love it and we have fun doing it.
I love it. And it’s so funny cuz I literally to, to confirm and validate what you just said, the importance of it.
I have an athlete who’s got a press day today and I said all, we always have a a focal point. Like we always have something we’re focusing on. Usually just one single thing. But today that’s exactly what it was. It was like, have fun. And the message I sent him prior to heading to the the track was I said, all I want you to think about is on your drive to the track is I want you to think about that first moment when you were four or five, six years old, seven, whatever it was, where you hopped on that motorcycle, that PW 50, that Z 50, whatever it was.
And all of a sudden, like your dad started up for you and you let that clutch go. Or actually probably automatic clutch, but you gave it a little bit of throttle and that thing moved and you’re like, oh my God, this thing is moving and I’m not pedaling. This is amazing. And just think about how exciting it was.
That first, very first moment because that’s where, that’s what got us all hooked, right? Mm-hmm. It was that first moment, that first race you had, the first time you drove a car and it in the rear end broke loose. And then maybe you kind of let it stay loose cuz you’re in dirt, you know? And you’re like, it’s gotta be loose.
Um, you know, and you’re like, oh my God, I kept it loose. And then it’s always that same, you know, oh my God, did you see how sketchy I got? It’s like, well that actually wasn’t sketchy. You were actually starting to finally go a hair faster. Yeah. So, you know, it just, it’s so amazing that, um, when you go back to those moments and you realize what got us all hooked.
It was the fun, to your point. Yes. So, um, when it comes to having fun outside of racing, where, where do you find fun?
So that is another thing I’ve been working on is finding balance, because I would say the last five years of my life have been 100% racing. Whether I’m at the track or not off the track, it’s finding sponsors.
It’s working on becoming a better driver. It’s everything’s racing, racing, racing. I’ve made racing my everything and only thing. And, um, I’ve realized that that. Isn’t helping me, it’s actually hurting me. And to find a little bit of harmony in life and have a little bit of fun and do other things than just racing.
So that, you know, it’s kind of like taking a vacation too. Like when you take a vacation, when you get back, you’re excited to go back to work, you’re excited to get in your daily routine. It, it’s the same kind of idea. So for me, I’ve been trying to lean more into my creative side. I love, um, like working with my hands, like plants and painting and pottery and different kind of stuff like that.
So I really like, um, my creative side and I want to lean a little bit more into that. I like to read, I like to go out on the lake. Uh, I’m really fortunate to live in North Carolina. It’s so beautiful here with beautiful lake and trees and, uh, lots of nature to be around. So I am. Working on my balance and harmony of, of having fun and doing other things than just raising.
I love it. And it’s interesting. So we have, so we met through, um, a mutual friend Trey, uh, at Pit Fit in North Carolina. Um, really curious to, to hear your thoughts on, you know, it’s funny, I see some of the training sessions at Pet Fit and it’s just all these hungry knockdown, drag out race car drivers, all training in the same gym.
I just can’t imagine the amount of estrogen and testosterone just oozing through the, the, the, the carpet, the, the, not the carpet. There’s, hopefully, there’s no carpet in his gym, but oozing through the, uh, the workout outfits of those at the, uh, at the pit fit center. Wha what’s the energy like when you’re working out there?
I mean, it, this is not some place that, you know, grandma’s at, um, for her wellness program or, you know, uh, uh, soccer moms at to, to lose 20 pounds. Like this is an intense place. What’s the energy and vibe like there?
So I’ve worked out on my own for a long time. Like I’ve, I’ve been into fitness for a long time, and when I started working with Trey, one of the things I love most about going to pit fit is the energy, because I was used to going to the gym, getting my work done, leaving, like there was no community or camaraderie.
When you go into pit fit, you’re, I’m working out with two or three other race car drivers, and then we have our trainers. And so it’s just, it’s a, it’s kind of a shit show in the best way. Like, I love it. It’s just the, the energy that obviously we’re talking about racing. We got the TV on, race is on, so when you know we’re working out, we can look at footage and.
Um, it’s, it is intense. Like we have intense workouts, but it’s such a good, like camaraderie and I like going there just because I spend a lot of time, I on my own working, so just to go there to, you know, ha joke around with a g with a couple other racers and, you know, talk crap to each other and like, I love it.
It’s, it’s great. Um, it’s, it’s a lot of fun. I think Trey’s an amazing job of creating a really great community there. And, uh, obviously he knows what he’s doing when it comes to workouts and sensory training, but it’s, it’s really fun mixing it up with the drivers and we all just talk crap about each other, like to each other and it’s, it’s a lot of fun, honestly.
And I just love it too because Trey is such a, Mild like spoken man, and he’s just so you, he’s just very easy to be comfortable around. Yeah. It’s for him to be in the center of all that, I just, oh, yeah.
Fascinating. He’s right, he’s right there, you know, throwing the punches too. Like he, he’s awesome.
So word has it on the streets that your record in table tennis, let’s be clear that it’s not ping pong, that’s amateur.
When you go to the pro ranks, it’s table tennis. Uh, word on the street is your table tennis game. Is rather good. Uh, truth or a rumor? This
is the truth. I think I’m pretty good except, um, Trey. So it’s Trey and Adam. They’ve definitely been getting their reps in and I think they’re getting better, so we’re gonna have to do a rematch soon.
So when it comes to modern day Dr. Uh, drivers or racers, um, who, who do you kind of look up to modern day and then maybe who did you look up to as you ra run up through the ranks?
I would say modern day racers I look up to are probably the two. Kyles, Kyle Larson, Kyle Bus, um, Kyle Larson I think is just one of the most talented race car drivers there is.
He can get in literally any type of race, car and win. It’s extremely impressive. And then Kyle Bush can take any RA type of race, car, and win. So, um, Their, their work ethic, their dedication to their sport, their talent, I just think is extremely, um, impressive.
Wow. I love it. Um, is that Dad, Colin, to tell you to have fun on the podcast?
It, it’s, uh, it’s, it’s a, like, no, no one important calls.
So what’s the one thing that, like, where, where do you want to, what’s the one thing that you’re like aiming for? Like what, what’s the target right now?
Target right now, today is just to find a little bit more harmony in my life. Um, I’ve. I definitely have the habit of desiring too much of something.
And so just being grateful for the life I’ve already built for myself instead of being so focused on the life I’m trying to build. Um, I think that’s the biggest thing that I’m working on right now. It’s, it’s weird every different seasons of our life that the answer to that question is completely different.
Um, because, you know, a year ago or even a couple months ago, I wouldn’t have said that, but I just want to find a little more harmony in my life so that I think when all the other areas of life are good, then it makes the thing you want to be good, really good as well. So, um, I just wanna race as much as possible and climb the rinks as much as I can win races.
But I know in order to do that, I need to find a little bit of harmony. I
love it. So what, what are you currently racing?
So I’m currently racing in the a Menard series and I’m also doing some races in, uh, asphalt eight model in a local NASCAR series here in North Carolina. So, uh, a little bit of both learning different things from each of them and being able to apply it, which is nice.
So it, it’s good I think when drivers can get in different types of race cars and learn different skills from each type.
Now, you raced this past weekend, correct? Yes. What was the one thing that was like your target? Like what was your focus for the weekend and did you execute?
Yeah, so my focus for this weekend was to not be so uptight and high-strung and pressured and, um, crazy.
So I just tried to, uh, be more chilled, relaxed, have fun, not take it so seriously, and I, I achieved that, which was kind of funny because this team that I worked with this past, Weekend was the first time working with them. And the guy was like, wow, like, you’re really chill. And then my friend was there that he, he’s seen me watch, he’s seen me race a lot, and he goes, yeah, she’s not usually like this.
So that means that I, I definitely executed on being more chilled and relaxed and have fun and, and not putting so much pressure on myself.
I love it. Yeah. And so why, you know, it’s really interesting to me that to kind of go back to an earlier comment you had re, with regards to pressure, you had said, you know, um, you’re talking about the pressure that you put on yourself or the pressure that sponsors put on you.
Um, when it comes to that, it’s interesting because I just wonder how many times has a sponsor Ashley reached out to you and said, Hey, listen, I know you’re racing tomorrow, but you better win. You know, it’s like, first of all, I’ve never heard No, I, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard once. Of a sponsor reaching out to an athlete and putting pressure on them.
And so I find that fast. Fascinating. I’m wondering what, what your experience has been like that, and then also wondering like, why do you think we even put pressure on ourselves? Because like, what, what’s the goal, right? Like if, if, if I, my, if I put pressure on myself to go to the gym, like what, why do I even need pressure?
Like what’s, what’s the pressure doing? Like why don’t I just go to the gym, like why do I need pressure? What are your thoughts on all this?
Yeah. Honestly, I’ve never had a sponsor pressure me to win. Like I’ve never had a sponsor pressure me or put any type of pressure on me to win races. Uh, um, of course they would love that if I did that, but, All of the pressure that is put on me is in internal.
I, I do that to myself. It’s a hundred percent myself. No one’s really telling me, oh, you have to win. It’s, it’s me telling me that I have to win, and I think it’s because I want it for myself more than anyone else does, and I just feel this pressure to. You know, I feel a responsibility as a female, as a Canadian, as an underdog who doesn’t come from money and has climbed and worked har her butt off to get sponsors to get to this level, to compete and to win races.
I feel a responsibility in myself to win and to do well so that I can show everyone else like, Hey, if Amber can do this, I can do this too. If Amber could defy all these odds and go break all these bears and overcome all this adversity and still win, and still come up on top, like, then I can do whatever I think is impossible.
And so again, I know there, there’s no one putting pressure on me, it’s just the, the responsibility that I feel of myself that I wanna accomplish this so that I can leave an impact. And not only. Prove others wrong, but prove myself right. Because the reason I’ve never given up on racing is because I’ve always really believed in my potential.
I’ve believed that I can become a great race car driver and I don’t wanna let myself down. I wanna, I wanna show myself that I can do that, and on top of that, I wanna show others that it can be done.
So when you said responsibility, it was interesting as I was listening to you, is maybe where pressure comes from in your case is, you know, when you think about the responsibility, it’s like, who’s the responsibility to every female in the entire world that has a desire to race?
Is that who your responsibility is to, you know, I, I wonder when you use the word responsibility, who, who? Because that, that has weight to it, right? Like when you say responsibility, I think where the pressure comes is there’s weight to that. I mean, if I have a responsibility to a community, like I used to be an eye doctor and I had a responsibility to, to maintain the eye care of my community.
There was, you know, if I looked at it that way, which I never really did until just now, even though I’m not doing it anymore. But, um, I could see how that would put a lot of pressure. Even just saying it like I didn’t even enjoy saying it, even though it was kind of just a random comment. How, how do you truly have a responsibility to every female that wants to race a car?
I guess not when you put it that way. But at the same time, like I, I feel like I do because there’s not a ton of. Role models are, are people that they can look up to. And, and I wanna be that, that proper role model for them. And it’s not just two girls who wanna race, but girls everywhere. And, and not just girls, but guys who, you know, maybe wanna do something a little different that their family doesn’t think is a good idea or friends think is like outrageous or delusional.
You know, like I, I want people to know that they can choose any path that they want in life. And if they work hard enough and, you know, have the right mindset, they can achieve it. So am I technically responsible for this? No, I’m not. But it is a responsibility that I feel inside me that I want to
How would it feel? So let me ask you this, this is the mental performance coach side of me. If you were to put play along with me on this, let’s say that you called this thing responsibility. Gimme an idea of what that weight feels like and then change the word to opportunity and honor or one of the two.
And how would it feel different? Mm-hmm. If you just reframed it that way. I
like that. I like the opportunity because then it makes it a little bit more positive instead of draining. It’s a little less pressure. It makes it more ex, yeah, it makes it more exciting, Felix. It
is more exciting. Whereas responsibility is a demand, right?
I mean, I don’t have kids because I don’t wanna be responsible for ’em. All set on that. Thanks. Um, so yeah, really interesting. Um, the other thing that I think is interesting too is have you not fulfilled your responsibility yet? Like, could, could you, could you make an argument that you’ve already fulfilled that responsibility in inspiring others, inspiring young women, getting sponsorships, being on tv, uh, being on a show, being here, being there, being you.
Have you not arguably already fulfilled that responsibility?
I guess some of it, yeah. But I always want more and I always wanna climb to that next level, and I always wanna impact more people and, and win more races. And it’s just, it’s hard for me to just settle and be like, okay, with where I’m at. Like I’m, I’m always wanting more.
So how do you, so I love that. And, and so what I think is fascinating is finding balance between what you just said, which is not being complacent, not settling, but also knowing that you’re good enough and that what you’ve done is enough and you’ve done great things. How the heck do you balance that out?
How do you, how do you manage that? Because I could see how, you know, and I see this with athletes, I work with that, a lot of ’em, you know, until they win a championship, It’s like, you know, they’ve achieved nothing. And then if they win a championship, it’s like, well, I’ve only won one. There’s other people that have won seven.
Okay, well then I guess you gotta win eight. You know, so let, let’s go win eight. And then when you win eight, what happens then is you realize that you did all that, and it really kind of doesn’t matter because the next day nobody cares. So it’s like this wild ride of chasing something that seems to have all this value, but kind of doesn’t, but kind of does.
How do you, how do you manage all, I mean, it’s, it’s a wild ride that you’re on. How do you manage that aspect of it?
Honestly, don’t think I’ve bit, I’ve managed it yet. I think I’m still, that’s something I’m still figuring out, um, because I. Every time I reach a goal, I set a new one, and then I wanna get there, you know, for, for a long time.
I was like, if I can just race a full season in the Ark Menard series, then I’ll have made it and I’ll be good and everything will be fine. I’ll never be upset with anything. And then I get there and I’m like, well now I’m not gonna be happy until I win an Ark Menard series race and become the highest winning female in nascar.
Like there’s always that next step, that next goal. So, you know, it’s really just trying to balance out being grateful for what you’ve already done and accomplished and the impact you’ve had and the things you’ve done and experienced and learned verse still wanting to grow and become better and be more competitive and make a bigger impact and inspire more people and.
Build your skills. It’s just, it, it’s a constant balance act. And some days I’m better at balancing it than others. Um, others I’m just like, I wanna get there now and I’m outta patience. And then there’s days where I’m like, you know, I’ve done a lot of cool shit. Like, this is awesome. So it’s, it’s all, it’s all
Yeah, for sure. And it’s interesting too because, you know, the con i I, you know, I call it conditional happiness. Well sort of, so do many people, but where we all tend to have these conditions, right? Where, you know, if I, if I make when, or when I make a million dollars, I’ll be happy. When I find true love, I’ll, I’ll be content.
When I do X then I’ll feel y. And what’s interesting is the only catch with that is by default you’re kind of defining. This feeling that you want to have as having a certain set of conditions and I wonder, you know, is the reframe for that. Um, I’ll be happy while I’m pursuing, you know, my goal of winning an ACA race.
I’ll be happy. Not when, but while.
Yeah. And I think the biggest thing I’ve learned within the last, like three to five years is that your mental and your how you feel about yourself reflects so hard on everything else in your life. Like if, if you can figure out how to be happy with what you already have, how to really go in and do the inner work and, and work on yourself and fix the things that you don’t love about yourself and, and just continue to be better and strive to be a better human, make better decisions and.
Like, really just give everything to yourself in, not in a selfish way, but in a way that it, the better I can be for myself, the better I can be for everyone around me. I think that helps attract in more of what you want when you’re in that desperate energy of, well, everything sucks right now, and I’ll just, once I get everything, then it’ll go, then it’ll be good.
It life doesn’t work like that. You really do have to be happy with who you are, what you have, um, now in order to attract the things that you want. Because being in that desperate energy will never, ever get what you want. Whether it’s, you know, sponsorship, racing, a relationship, a bigger house, more money, any of that.
If you are in that desperate negative energy, you’re just, Pushing it away further and further and further. So, um, I really do believe in like doing the inner, I think doing the inner work is just as important as doing the external work. External work, meaning like sending emails, making calls, that kind of stuff.
Inner work, being reading, journaling, meditating, whatever you have to do to, to ra. Raise your vibration, be at a better frequency, be happier, more positive, um, just a better energetically per, better energetic person to be around. I think that really coincides with being successful a lot more than people think and realize.
I agree, and I think maybe one thing to live by is for every 10 ccs of Juvederm, you know, you should write for a month in your gratitude journal. What are your thoughts?
That’s where balance comes. That’s comes from working on the exterior and the interior. Yeah. You know, get rid of the wrinkles on the exterior and smooth out some of the wrinkles on the inside. A hundred
percent. A hundred percent. Yeah. And then I think to like on top of that, there’s this, while you’re working on yourself and you know, doing the things internally, I do think, you know, you have to be grateful for what you have now.
But I also think in you have to view the future as. Something that is exciting and not something that is scarier, you’re fearful of. Um, I think putting out there visualizing what exactly it is you want, what you want your life to look like in every single way, helps you get there. I have this belief that we already have everything that we want in life.
It’s just on a different timeline than what we currently are. And the reason you have those desires burning in your heart for wanting these things is because your future self already has it, and you are just a person who needs to work out the internal external factors to get there. The only difference between you now and you, you, the person that has everything you want is time.
So how are you using your time? What are the thoughts you have? What are, you know, what are your perspectives and. The thing that I like to use is, and I’ve talked to you a little bit about Jay, is optimal delusion. So I am delusional in the most optimal way of thinking and believing that I can have everything that I want.
It might sound crazy to some people, but to me it’s like, well, that’s what I want, so I’m gonna get it. And I think having some sort of optimal delusion is a great thing rather than restricting yourself and putting limiting beliefs on yourself. Because the bigger you can dream, I think the bigger you can achieve.
Oh, I love it. And I do, I did enjoy and have enjoyed our conversations on optimal delusion, cuz I think it’s a really. Wild concept that I, I think you kind of coined. I don’t even think it exists other than, you know, I haven’t
heard it. I, you know, people talk about being del Lilu, that’s the new thing is like, oh, you’re del Lilu, you’re delusional.
Um, but I think if you can do it in the right way, then it’s optimal delusion. So that’s why I call it optimal delusion. Yeah, it’s true because delusion can be bad, but if you do it in a, if you do it the right way, it can be good.
Yeah, true. It’s, it’s true. Because the, because if you think about delusion, I would assume that that’s the opposite of illusion.
Am I right? What do you think? Illusion, delusion, or it’s, they’re similar? No, not, not yet. It wouldn’t be. But I guess where I was going with it is an illusion. Go ahead. Realistic
would be the opposite of delusion.
Aha. Yes, that’s right. So what’s interesting is if you are being realistic, Where, where, so let me ask you this.
Where does a Dr, where does dreaming big have a place or a space to exist if you’re being realistic?
I don’t think the two coincide. Yeah. There’s no space. And there’s no space. And the reason I started my racing career later in life is because I went the realistic route. Well, I’m gonna go to school.
That’s what everyone else does. Being an NASCAR driver from Winnipeg, Manto Canada, a girl, no, that’s not realistic. I’m just gonna go to school. And then it got to me so much where I was so uncomfortable where I was like, I don’t give a shit anymore. I need to go after this. And so I did. And it’s, it’s crazy because when we’re kids, We’re taught you can do anything.
You can be anything. You wanna be astronaut, you wanna be a ballerina, you can do whatever you want. Right? And then you get older and then people are like, no, be more realistic. That’s not realistic. Do this, do that. And then our like, big, exciting childhood dreams get diminished because people tell us to be realistic.
Well, if you can f that realistic part and just go after what you want, life is so much more fulfilling.
Oh my God, I love it. Yeah. And, and it, it is so true. You know, you’re, you are encouraged to dream, you know, you can, in one moment, I can at, at the age of seven, I can at, from 12 to 1216, during the day I can be an Indian.
And from 1216 to 1224, I can turn into a fighter pilot. And then by one, you know, I could be. A gorilla, I could be King Kong. Mm-hmm. You know, and, and it’s all good, right? It’s all, it’s all, you know, Hey, you know, you go Jay, you know, have fun. You’re such a happy little kid. But once you get to that point, and it almost seems like it’s like in your teen years where it’s like, you know, it’s time to grow up, you know?
And it’s like, well, I’d like to be a gorilla from one to one 30. Can I just do that? It’s like, well, it’s time to grow up. And, and you start to realize that maybe, maybe what happens is maybe we’re, maybe there’s a degree of shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment tied to imagination at that time when here it is something that, that helped us evolve and, and enjoy our lives and have fun.
And now all of a sudden our, our closest family members who all we want is pride, love, and safety, and security and respect from are telling us that this thing that we’ve enjoyed for years is now shameful. And when you attach shame to anything, It’s a very aggressive, heavy, like anchoring emotion. I mean, it draws you down to the bottom of the sea.
Mm-hmm. It’s like you’re going down like the Titanic, you know? So it’s really interesting that you pointed that out. I really, I really like that you highlighted that. And I don’t,
I think with shame, like I, I don’t think that’s something you can a hundred percent get away from because, No matter what you choose in life, especially if it is a big dream or big aspiration, you’re gonna fail a lot along the way.
And that might bring shame and you have to kind of be okay with that. But like you can fail at doing what you don’t love. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you want, what you do love. And I remember, you know, there’s quite a few years of my racing career where I didn’t have sponsorship and I wasn’t racing a lot and things weren’t looking that great, but I continue to push forward and I remember during those times I’d get calls from my grandma and being like, Why don’t, why don’t you just try like the pit reporting thing or be like a broadcast?
I’m like, grandma, I did not move all the way North Carolina to be a pit reporter. I came here to be a NASCAR driver, and she just, she wouldn’t get it. And then this year was the first time she came to one of my NASCAR races and she was at Daytona. And, you know, we, we did the anthem and she gave me a hug before I got in the car and she started crying and, and I could tell she like, she got it.
Like, she’s like, all right. Like, it, it clicked for her like this, you know? Um, so I think, you know, it, it is, doesn’t always look linear. It usually is never linear. Um, and you can’t focus on other people’s opinions. You can never let other people’s opinions dictate the decisions you make for yourself. If, if you feel that that’s your purpose in life and that’s your path, then you need to go after it.
Yeah. And I, and I want to, I love it. And I want to go back to a statement that you made or a moment that you shared. I would love to get a little bit more, if you could color it up a little bit more, bring me back to that moment where you made that decision where you’re like, well, I can either get married and have 2.2 kids by the age of 27.
Or instead of that I can go racing. Um, was there a moment in time or something that happened that triggered that moment? Or was it something that gradually kind of evolved slowly over time and just happened?
A little bit of both. Um, I had an obsession with, well, I still have an obsession with racing. And when I was in school, it would consume my mind.
Like I w could not pay attention. Cuz all I would think about is I just wanna be a race car right now. I just wanna be in a race car. Um, so there was that, but um, There was a few things. So I was in university, I was in this religion class because I wanted to learn about all the different religions because I thought that I wasn’t very worldly.
I wanted to be more worldly. The first one was that we went through, was more of like a nature healing type of religion. W like, kind of like a Buddhist very, you know, like, like woo woo, which like was kind of up my alley. So, um, our first assignment was to go outside and ask nature for questions. This was our first assignment and at that point, I’d only been in school for I think less than a month now.
And I was, I, my question was, what the hell am I gonna do with my life? What do, what do I want? What do I wanna do? And through the universe or nature, giving me signs. It was like, I need to move to North Carolina and race and be a nascar like, and I got that through birds, through branches, through the way the sky looked through.
Like I got it through like so many, like it would take me half an hour to explain to you everything, but I just, I got it in that same day that I got these signs from nature. My dad had a heart attack and my dad is, is not overweight. He doesn’t smoke. He’s not like a big drinker. Like he’s, he was mid forties at that time and it was a complete shock to us.
So he had a heart attack at doing yard work with my mom. Um, I had went to my friend’s house. To continue to work on this project. And I got a call from my mom saying, you’re come to the hospital right now. And I was like, what the heck? Like what? And he, I’m like, what’s going on? Your dad’s in the hospitals.
Come to the hospital now. So I came there and um, yeah, my dad had a heart attack and my mom didn’t drive him to the hospital. He would’ve died if an ambulance got him. You had died. He was like 99, 90 something percent blockage in both. And it was, it was really bad and really scary. Very unexpected. And, um, that was the first time I had ever seen my dad, like in, in that, in the moment like that, my mom has multiple sclerosis, so I’d seen my mom sick and stuff.
I’d never seen my dad like that. And, It just really like put things into perspective, like how short life is and how you really need to do the things that make you happy and um, sorry. And yeah, it was just like, oh my dad’s been great since then. Um, but that was a, it was the combination of getting signs in nature and then my dad having a heart attack and almost losing him.
Um, that was like, holy shit. Like life sweat
too short. Wow. Yeah. That’s a powerful story. Ki kind of got to me a little bit too. It it’s, it’s just amazing cuz you know, here it is a, a moment in time that had some extreme beauty earlier in the day. Um, and then that turned into, you know, what someone would call like a tragic event.
But then overall as a result, you know, your father probably has a different perspective on life. You went in a completely different route and you know, it, it’s just, it’s interesting how sometimes we need these big things to happen in order for us to make big moves. And I wonder, you know, for, for all the people that have had something big happen, like you did that in this moment, that was transformational for you, it’s like you wonder how many people would achieve what they want and do what they dream of if they didn’t.
If they didn’t require, and I’m not saying that you’re consciously requiring it, but if they didn’t, if they didn’t need some sort of moment like this, some sort of life-changing event. I mean, you see this time and time again where people will either have, you know, a cancer scare or a, a life-changing event, and then all of a sudden at that point they have the, it, it’s almost like now I’m unlocked to, to live the life that I want.
And it’s like, well, who put the lock on? Like, why? Why did he need a big event in order to do that? And it’s very interesting. Why? Why do you think it might be that we need these almost like tragedies in order for us to now make a move? Why can’t we make a move without ’em?
I think we just get comfortable or complacent with where we are in life.
And change seems so scary. It’s unknown. A lot of people are afraid of the unknown. It’s fearful. And so I think a lot of times in life it takes something major happening to shift. Our, our direction. And you know, this can ha, this happens in so many different areas of life where one big tower moment happens and then all of a sudden you’re required, you’re forced to shift your life completely.
And then when you look back on it, y you know, when you’re in it at that time, you’re like, wow, like things are really hard right now. They’re really difficult and I’m really afraid of all this change. But then once you get through that and you look back, you’re like, wow, I’m so grateful that that tower moment happened, because if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be living this amazing life that I get to live now.
Like, I’m way happier now than I was before then. And so I think anyone going through a hard time needs to know, like, first of all, hard times don’t last forever. And it’s in the hard times that you learn, you grow, you become way better of a person. You, you build character, you build strength, you build.
Fortitude, grit. Like all the things that you need in that next level of life is, is just preparing you for, so I think as much as hard as it is going through it at the time, you can always look back and be and realize why that all happened and be grateful for
it. Yeah. And it’s wild. Cause if you think about it, right?
Think about the moment. So the next day or maybe even Yeah, probably that, that day or the next day when that happened with your father. Think about all the emotions, all the thoughts, all the, the, the opportunity that kind of started to come into your life and you started to say, wow, I’m, I, I think I’m gonna make a big move.
And then you, so you think about how impactful and how powerful that moment was for growth from a growth standpoint in, in the light of a not so enjoyable experience. Then you compare and contrast that to, Hey, I just won a race. Okay, next day you wake up. How much growth were there? Was there as a result of winning?
You start to realize, like, I’ve never, I mean, I’ve won some races and, you know, in motorcycle racing or car racing and, you know, I don’t think the next day I ever looked back and was like, wow, I grew so much. You know, it was really the times when, you know, I, I mean, last time I raced a car I wrecked pretty bad.
And it was like, I was just like, okay, I’m done. Um, just didn’t feel like doing it anymore. And, and it was like, that moment actually was more powerful and impactful for me, crashing my car and it being like a sketchy crash. There was more to gain from that than there was me being on the podium, you know?
So it’s interesting that we’ve got this. This desire to win, but yet the biggest opportunities come from when we lose or get burned horses. Yeah. Isn’t it wild? It we’re, we’re odd. We’re we’re odd creatures. Yes. You know, sometimes I look at like birds and I’m like, they just fly around and they eat bugs.
Yeah. Like sometimes I get j like I get jealous of completely the wrong. I should be jealous of like, you know, ch what’s his name? Channing Tatum or whatever. Yeah. Or, you know, these are the people I should be jealous of, you know, but I’m, I look, look around and I’m like, or I look at a tree, I’m like, that tree is just going, the wind goes to the left.
The tree goes to the left. Yeah. You know, the tree is just sitting there chilling. That tree has got it all over me. Literally and figuratively. This thing has got me beat. I’m like, why am I jealous of nature? I should be jealous of other human beings, but for some reason I’m not. So I’ll have to work on that.
So how do you, so when people look up to you, um, What, what do you want, like when young women look up to you, like what do you want them to, to see or to learn? What is it that you want to inspire them to do and, and how are they gonna look at you differently than maybe other female drivers? Like how, how, what’s your unique, your unique way that you can kind of connect with women that maybe some other drivers, like a Danica Patrick or, I mean maybe Haley Deegan comes to my mind cause I’ve got my Supercross background, but how do you wanna connect with women or men or anyone differently than maybe some of the women before you have?
Um, I think I grew up very normal and like average and there’s nothing special about me. Like I was just a normal person. I just made decisions. That led me to where I am and there, but it’s not like there’s a little success fair that was like, boom, we’re gonna grant Amber with, with this success. Like, and so I want them to know, like, that’s why I always say I, I didn’t come from a money.
My parents don’t pay for my racing. I do all my sponsor. I, the reason I say all of this all the time is because I want people to know I am just like them. There was nothing special about me. Did I have some talent? Of course, you, you need a little bit of talent, but I wasn’t ever the most talented race car driver ever.
I just worked really, really hard to become the best I could be. And I, like I said, I built those relationships, I made those contacts. I, I just never stopped working for this and I, I built myself into someone who is capable of. Of these responsibilities and end up doing these things. Um, I learned the skills needed both in business, in racing, in relationships, in internal work.
Like I’ve had to work at all this, none of this has come easy for me. And so d I don’t want people to look at me like any different and just know that I was you 20 years ago, you know, I was you and if I can do this, you can do that. And I think my relatability is the thing that I have. Um, because I am the underdog.
I am just like everyone else. I just, you know, made choices and decisions and worked to get to where I am. So I think that’s, that’s the biggest thing that separates me is I, I am just like everybody else. I really am. Yeah. I
love it. And it’s nice to, and I think a lot of people do. Probably still believe in both the Success Fairy and the Tooth Fairy.
They just think that these things exist, and it’s like, well, wait a minute. You know, success is an outcome based on inputs. Mm-hmm. And those inputs are the decisions you make on a daily basis, on an hourly basis. Minute to minute. You know, when you and I get off of this podcast, each one of us has the opportunity to make a multitude of decisions.
Do I go to happy hour? Do I go to the gym? Do I run the sim? Do I reach out to a sponsor and just say thanks? Like, what do I do after this? And I think that’s the thing that people don’t realize. And that’s where, for me, as a mental performance coach, I always think of our habit mind, our subconscious mind.
And I think of the fact that 95% of the day we’re on autopilot. And if you’re on autopilot, you’re going to. Look for the same things to confirm that your environment is safe, you’re gonna say the same things because they were safe. Cuz people don’t realize that most, a, a very large portion of what you do is to keep yourself safe, right?
People don’t realize that no matter how strong, big and tough you are, or how many security guards at your front door, like it doesn’t matter. Like you still have this internal safety, this desire to be safe and to to stay alive that is deep inside of you. And so I think a lot of people don’t realize that you’re, you’re almost designed to remain who you are and to not change.
And so most of what you’re fighting against day to day is that desire to be safe and comfortable. And in order to break free from that safety, you have to go to places that are uncertain, unfamiliar, and quote unquote unsafe. And I say quote unquote unsafe because they, they aren’t, there’s no danger there, but it’s perceived as danger.
And that’s where the fear comes in. Then the doubt comes in and then before you know it, it just, you go right back to where you were. You know, you go right back to wondering, you know, what year is the success fair gonna stop by your plate? But unfortunately, there’s only one success fair if she is real.
And she’s probably nowhere near your house right now. So you might want to try to figure it out on your own. Yeah. Although there is, although I have to admit the tooth fair is real because I think I made probably about. 75, maybe a hundred bucks. So clearly she’s real. Wow. Yeah. The, yeah, no, I, I made some, I made some money back in the day.
Nowadays I don’t know what they’re getting for a tooth, but probably closer to five. But, um, so Inflation. Inflation, yeah. So Amber, I really, really enjoy speaking with you. I enjoy our time together today. Um, if someone wants to reach out to you and offer you a major contract of sponsorship or just wants to reach out to you and say thanks, where do people find you?
You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at Amber Balk 10. My website’s amber bacan racing.com. I also have some merchandise on my shop there if you wanna check it out. And Facebook is Amber Balkan racing.
Can I lodge a complaint? Yes. You should have given me like a one 800 number and not answered this.
You, you, you forgot to send me a shirt.
Oh my goodness. I have, oh, that’s cause I had to reorder, I had to reorder more sizes,
so I got you down. Well, wasn’t I one of the first people that placed an order? I mean, wasn’t I at the top of the list?
I don’t know. I don’t remember that back.
Alright, fair enough.
Amber, thank you. Thank you for reminding me. I loved having you on. Thank you so much. And by the way, would you be interested in being a co-host in the future? I think we should do it. All right. Let’s do it. So Mark, so now I’ve got you on camera. I’ve got the legal binding contract that I was looking for.
So you know, don’t be surprised if you see Amber co-hosting on the next podcast,
I’ll be ready for it.
All right, take care Amber.
Thanks for having me, Jay.