Emily Linscott: “I’m definitely ‘fan-powered’ this season”

At the age of just 17, Emily Linscott has already achieved a lot in her career, despite only getting involved in motorsport 4 years ago. After winning awards such as Young Driver of the Year and Best Fan Engagement at the Motorsport Awards, being named in the Motorsport UK Academy Squad for 2020 and becoming an ambassador for the British Indoor Karting Championship, I spoke to her about her racing both in the UK and US.

Emily’s passion for racing began in her early teens, however previous to this, sport hadn’t been of interest. “I liked rounders at school, skiing and I might watch some Moto GP on the TV, but I wasn’t that interested really,” she said. At the age of 13, Linscott and her father went karting together for the first time, and soon it became clear she had a real talent, especially when she started beating her father, a former Superbike Champion. “He took me one Sunday and I enjoyed it. I asked to go again the next week and on the third Sunday I beat him twice. We then went to another track that afternoon that we’d never seen before and I beat him twice again. He is a tough competitor and won’t allow anyone to beat him unless they earn it,” Emily explained.

Emily in action at NCM 2
Competing in the Lucas Oil Formula Championship

In her first season of racing, Linscott surpassed all expectations, winning the BMKC Junior Championship by finishing on the podium in every race she competed in. “I didn’t know what I was expecting really. Mum and dad took me to a few different tracks early on because they wanted me to learn how to drive new circuits and against new drivers, which I think has helped me as I now learn very quickly. I won my first Championship that year. I didn’t do the first round so I was always behind all season but I went into the final round something like 5 points away from the leader. I just drove my best, concentrated on doing what I was doing and tried to forget all the other stuff,” she told me. After only a year of karting, Emily made the transition to cars as she entered the Ginetta Junior Championship, competing in 3 rounds. Speaking of the differences, she said: “cars differ a lot from karts. They have body roll, tyre movement and suspension travel which takes a bit of getting used to, especially as I’d only done a few months of karting at that point.”

The following year, Linscott returned to the championship signing to the Richardson Racing team. This allowed her to race for the whole season, competing in over 20 races. “We got a few sponsors to help me test and race, but my parents were the main backers. They used their pension to help me get a full season in the championship! Richardson were my first choice and they helped me feel confident in the car and around the whole team, which matters to any driver, especially one with such limited experience in motorsport like me!” Emily explained.

With the benefit of a full season, Linscott was able to continue to work on her racing. “It was definitely a massive learning curve for me. I was able to learn loads about how the car handled and how others were on the track in close proximity. But I think the biggest lesson I got from it was how to control my emotions when things went wrong, and they often did,” she said. After being taken out by another driver at Snetterton circuit, Linscott had to learn how to manage her feelings quickly. “I’d really had enough,” Emily described. “A little girl came over and spoke to me asking if I was alright and if I could sign her programme. I wasn’t happy, but I said to her and her family to come and see me at the team later. When I got dropped off at the team, I had to go straight into the truck to get myself back in a good frame of mind. I did, and went back out to the crowd to sign autographs, talk and to have photos with people. The little girl and her family came over to see me and I spent some time with them. I always aim to be professional; the public are paying to see me put on a show and be a good role model for younger children as well as my sponsors.”

Hug 2
Emily and Pippa Mann

It’s not only in the UK that Emily has been racing though, with her most recently competing in the US. After her mum saw online that Pippa Mann was running a scholarship along with the Lucas Oil Racing School, they believed this could be a big opportunity. “It was for girls to come and do a two-day lapping course with them in America. I sent my CV off and waited. The school got in touch saying they’d like to offer me a place, but we would have to pay for our own flights and accommodation. We flew out there and met the team. I ended up fifth fastest overall running at the front, which pleased Pippa and the team a lot. I think what really made the difference was that I made friends there too. I spoke with everyone and we found out much later that two of them were not only drivers but business owners and sponsors, who then helped me get back to America to race,” Emily told me. Racing with the school itself has been a big confidence boost for Linscott with her soon achieving impressive results. “The people they have working with the drivers are all there to help get the best out of each of us and deal with everyone as individuals. My first race meeting at the New Jersey Motorsport Park showed I could race close and hard up front with the championship contenders which made me much confident in my own abilities, something I hadn’t always felt strong about. The second meeting, at NCM in Kentucky, I knew I could take it to the front. Straight away I was quick, posting 3rd, 2nd and 3rd fastest on the three practice sessions. Then I went fastest in race day practice. That weekend I took two podiums, two fastest laps and a posted a new lap record in my last race when I crossed the line in 5th,” Emily described.

Racing in the US has been quite enlightening for Linscott with her finding that there is a different attitude from what she has experienced before. “They’re not only interested in drivers being fast, but they teach them to race respectfully and to be friendly off the track. The Americans have also shown me that they don’t judge me. Most of the people here that matter treat us all the same. It’s nice because it’s not always been that way in some of the racing I’ve done,” she explained. Currently splitting her time between both sides of the Atlantic, Emily’s aim for this season is to win the Lucas Formula Car Championship which would help her towards the next step on the ‘Road to Indy’ ladder. However, in the short term, she is hoping to climb on the top step of the podium in a single seater series. “Testing is also something I really hope I will be able to do this year, it’s completely crazy that I’m doing all this without testing but I’ve been told that one of my sponsors will help get me into a proper testing programme after the midway point of the season so that’s something awesome to look forward to. I’d like my teammate and sponsor, Peter Bassill, to get well soon, he’s very poorly and it would be good that he gets back to good health quickly,” she said.

That's the double
Emily and Peter (credit: Paul Cherry Photography)

Social media has played a big part in Linscott’s journey, with many having followed her from karting to cars and now overseas. Even at her first ever car race at Rockingham, roughly 200 people turned up to support her, something she hugely appreciated. “I was shocked, but it was an amazing feeling. I was very nervous but they helped make me feel more at ease. Those people and loads more, have continued to support me and I couldn’t ask for more loyal people,” she told me. This loyalty and support has continued ever since and was proved only a few weeks ago when Emily and Pippa launched their #GetInvolved campaign. “After my scholarship win in December, we were able to set a target we needed to reach to enable me to race the full season this year in the US. My parents and I weren’t sure if we’d even get close, but Pippa seemed more confident. Within the first 24 hours we’d reached over $25000! It was a mental time; we were all flat-out texting and messaging people to say thanks. We reached the $35k target in 8 days, which is unbelievable, but that really shows how good my supporters are. I’m definitely ‘fan-powered’ this season,” Linscott explained.

Emily’s career has progressed quickly, but it hasn’t been without difficulties. “The greatest challenges for me, other than budget, have been working through my shyness and lack of testing to get to this point,” she said. “Seat time is the most important part of getting better and that takes a lot of money. Learning to ignore those problems is tough because I know I would be even further up the ladder by now and working as hard as I do at everything like training has all been a constant challenge, but it’s worth it. Having so much support from my parents and Pippa has made a massive difference.” With Linscott keen to encourage others and be a positive role model for those wanting to race, her advice for young people would be: “make sure it’s you who wants to race, not anyone else. Once that’s clear then enjoy it as much as you can and never forget the reason you took it up because when things get tough, you’ll know what to look for. Work very hard and don’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of your dream.”

(heading photo credit: @emily_linscott)