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  • Writer's pictureEllie Mae

2022 in Review

2022 has been, undoubtedly, a year of many highs and some lows, as well as quite a few firsts.


It doesn’t feel like five minutes since I was looking back at all the pieces I worked on and put together in 2021, but time flies when you’re having fun, right?


 

At the turn of the year - from 2021 to 2022 - I knew that I had some exciting conversations in the works, and of course, I was counting down the days until I left for Silverstone. I’d reached the halfway point at university and I was beginning to think more and more about my dissertation.


Uni has been great. I have one semester left of my undergraduate degree - which is crazy in itself because it feels like two minutes since I was writing my personal statement and waiting to hear back about my offers - and I’ve applied for my postgraduate degree in International Sport Management. As a writer, there is nothing better than delving into different topics, and uni has given me the opportunity to do that. I’ve worked on some motorsport projects academically, sure, but I’ve also explored the Swedish hit Netflix series Young Royals and the history of Russian mass media, among other topics. Not only has uni given me the opportunity to explore these topics, but it introduced me to a best friend for life, and I am so grateful for that.


Despite being quite the introvert, I do love making new friends, especially if we have a common interest. Usually, and whilst I was growing up, that interest was music but now, it’s motorsport. And not only was Jojo studying modules on my degree during her semester abroad, but she was just as much of a Formula 1 fan as me. That was pretty cool. We bonded immediately. In only a few months, we created so many memories together. We went from being in lectures together to being in the pit lane at Silverstone together. Experiencing our first Grand Prix together was amazing; so amazing that we’d booked to camp together for 2023 within less than a week of getting home from Silverstone. So now, going into 2023, not only am I counting down the days to being at Silverstone again, but I’m counting down the days until I’m reunited with my best friend.



Moving away from all things academia and back to my writing… I was still very much doing this as a passion project at the beginning of 2022. At the time, I was working with Females in Motorsport, and being able to share the stories of inspirational women in this industry was amazing - it still is, and I can’t wait to continue that as we move into 2023. Still, my writing was a side project, in the same way it started out in 2020; I wanted to create a space which would allow me to create my own little portfolio of different pieces, knowing it would probably be relevant in my future, after graduation. It baffles me to think about how far I’ve come since even the start of this year, and all of the opportunities that I grabbed with both hands.


It’s hard to balance all the projects and ideas I have flying around inside my brain when I know getting through university and graduating is my number one priority. However, in 2022, I’ve added 18 feature-length interviews to my portfolio, not including the other articles I’ve written, whether that be for myself or for other names in the industry.


Having my work published on the W Series website was pretty magical. Retelling the stories of Mario Andretti and Günther Steiner in written form from spoken form for the MotorMouth Podcast was a fun experience. The hope is that my freelancing journey will continue with these names into 2023.


In terms of interviews, I’ve spoken to individuals in so many different roles. From production to content creation, and racing drivers to television reporters, the list of job roles I’ve covered seems pretty endless this year. It’s so interesting to hear how those who have landed media related roles reached their current positions, but I suppose that’s quite obvious considering my career goals. Learning about the roles I’m not exposed to personally - like in engineering and actually being a racing driver - is pretty damn cool, too. And, the absolute best part of all of this, is being able to share the stories that I’m told, that I listen to so intently, because it is interesting beyond words to do that. Plus, I’m exposed to some of the best conversations during my interviews. These are the conversations that inspire ideas for new projects, and I couldn’t be more grateful.



Whenever I’m asked about my interviews and if I have a favourite, I always give the same answer: I don’t think I can pick a favourite because they are all special to me in their own way. Take the piece I worked on with Max Fewtrell, for example… I wrote this in 2020 and it was my second ever interview. The style and layout of the piece is different to how I go about things now - it’s more like a Q&A style piece with so much information - but that doesn’t take away how special it is at all. On that day - October 9, 2020 - Max only knew me from our previous conversations on Twitter, organising a time to speak and learning more about my ideas and the angle I wanted to go with for this piece. Essentially, I was a stranger. However, Max opened up to me like he’d known me for years, and there are actually no words to express how that makes me feel. We talked about his mental health and his decision to leave Formula 3 that year, as well as his close friendship with the late Anthoine Hubert. The conversation was so heart-warming but so personal; it’s not easy to build that kind of connection with someone, but Max was so willing to talk about everything, and for that, personally and in terms of my career, I will be eternally grateful. That piece hit 10 thousand reads in 2022, and Max and I (unexpectedly) met whilst I was working in the W Series paddock at Silverstone. We talked about that milestone. He congratulated me again, and I thanked him again. This piece - the entire process before, during and after - will forever be so special to me.


When I started out, I always said, mostly as a joke, that I’d love to interview Ted Kravitz and put a piece together on his career, experiences and The Notebook. I’ve always loved watching Ted’s Notebook at the end of a race weekend, and I’ve just always liked him as a figure in the motorsport industry. So, when we met in the pit lane at Silverstone (a special thanks to Jojo who made it clear who I was, even though Ted somehow already seemed to know of me… thanks, Internet, I guess?), we talked about making that chat happen. I got home from Silverstone, sent a couple of emails, and we really did make it happen.


Talking to Ted was incredible. Discovering more about how he broke into the world of Formula 1, and how his Notebook began, was not only interesting, obviously, but quite surreal. At the time of interview, I’d been doing this for less than two years. My website was less than two years old. My name hadn’t been in the industry for two years yet. Working on a project with Ted was on my list of goals but I never, ever expected to have it ticked off less than two years after uploading my first ever interview. It’s still insane to me, but it does show that when you work hard, get your name out there and also send those scary emails that you think you won’t hear back about, you really can start achieving your goals and hitting those milestones. I did, and I still can’t quite believe it.



Every conversation that I’ve had, though, means something to me in a different way to the previous one.


I’ve worked with multiple Formula E teams, and not just on written pieces either. I did my first ever Instagram live interview with Venturi - now Maserati MSG Racing - and spoke with Lucas di Grassi. That was daunting, but so cool at the same time. More exciting projects are in the works with the team for 2023, and hopefully I’ll be able to join them in person in the paddock at the London ePrix.


One of my biggest talking points, and best moments, of 2022 was being at the British Grand Prix. Like, actually being there and not having to live vicariously through my friends (like in 2021 when we had to cancel because of COVID uncertainty) or through social media and television broadcasts (like all the years before).


And, not only was I there as a fan, but I was also there working my first ever motorsport event with W Series. Joining them in the paddock was surreal. I had the freedom to grab whatever content I wanted, so I spent a fair bit of my time on TikTok, recording videos and snapping pictures. The paddock came alive tenfold when the cars were fired up pre-Qualifying and pre-race. I planned some interviews and watched the race on the comfiest beanbag I have ever come across, and I also had front-row seats to Naomi Schiff’s impromptu photoshoot. Then, after the race, I did my first ever in-person interviews, which was the coolest experience.


Joining the W Series gang in the paddock was something I’ll never forget. It made my first ever motorsport event that little bit more special.



From a fan perspective, I was totally in awe across the weekend. I think every Formula 1 fan, or any motorsport series fan, probably feels that same sense of awe at the very first event they attend. I still don’t have the words to express what that feeling actually was during that weekend, but it’s one that I’ve not even felt at one of the many gigs I’ve been to in my lifetime.


Just being at a race track and being surrounded by so many like-minded people was amazing. Meeting my friends – many of whom I’ve known for a long time but haven’t been able to meet because of COVID – was so lovely, and so worth the wait, even if the weekend was so busy meaning that we couldn’t spend as much time together as we might’ve wanted. All in all, ten out of ten weekend, would do it again… I’ve been counting down the days since we got home.



Another huge part of Silverstone for me was facing my travel anxiety head on. I wrote a piece about it, answering all the important questions and how I wanted to take the steps I needed to take to become the girl I used to be. Silverstone was massive for me – getting there and spending those nights away from home were so important. I won’t sugar coat it; before we left, at three in the morning, I was so anxious that it made me sick, even though I knew everything was going to be fine, that I’d been looking forward to this for months. Getting over that minor (major) bump in the road felt impossible, but throwing myself into it headfirst was the best thing I could’ve done. Getting over that left me feeling absolutely no anxiety for the rest of the weekend.


The second big part of the travel anxiety I experience is linked to trains. Getting on a train, staying on a train… past experiences left me with bad memories and too much anxiety surrounding it. But, after accomplishing everything I did at Silverstone, why would I stop working towards getting back on track to the person I used to be when it came to travelling? It was hard, but I spent more time travelling and more time away in new places.


Although I’m not back to where I was 100 per cent, I’m getting there, and I’ve ended the year by completing a full circle. In my travel anxiety piece, I wrote about how travelling to different cities to see The Vamps was once my escape and the one thing I looked forward to the most. Of course, COVID hasn’t helped in terms of travelling, but I know that I’ve missed out on some experiences because avoiding the scary things seemed like the right thing to do. After all, it is human nature to protect yourself from things that feel dangerous and foreign. But, pushing yourself – pushing myself – is the best thing I could’ve done this year.


I found myself on a train to Glasgow, where I spent the night with my favourite band, and came home the next day. Huge tick. Bossed it.



The next step is getting on a plane, and I’ll be doing that for my 21st, to celebrate my birthday with that same favourite band in Frankfurt.


One of the coolest things this year happened towards the end of 2022, when I joined Grid Finder as a Content Writer. Grid Finder work in the world of sim racing – which is a world I’ve never really properly explored – and they’re based in Newcastle. I’ve had plenty of conversations about motorsport being very midlands-based, with very few actual face-to-face opportunities in the north east. So, getting in touch was a no-brainer. I can’t wait to see what 2023 has to bring as part of the amazing Grid Finder team, and I can’t wait to learn more about sim racing.


2023 will be a milestone year in my life. I’ll turn 21 and I’ll graduate. Those are two big points in anyone’s life, and they’re quickly approaching in mine. I’ll be working on my dissertation – exploring and discussing the changes in mental health discourse in Formula 1 through the media – then starting my postgraduate degree. I’ll be working in sport, and studying sport, full time. I’ll be at Silverstone again. I’ll be at the London ePrix for the first time. I’ll be seeing my favourite band, seeing my friends, and travelling again. I’ll be gaining my independence again. I’ll be making the decisions that make me happy, and I won’t be letting the anxiety nibble away at my brain. It’s all a work in progress, for sure, but my 2023 review will – undoubtedly – cover some of these things in more than a sentence. For now, they’re a goal. Then, they’ll be an achievement.


If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking around.


If you’ve been here since the start or you only stumbled across my work recently, you have no idea how much I appreciate it. Everyone has been so lovely and so supportive throughout this year, if it’s been an article I’ve uploaded that resonates or if it’s an interview that you’ve enjoyed – reading everyone’s messages and comments makes me so, so happy.


2022 has been pretty fun; 2023 will be pretty fun. I have some exciting projects in the works.


Here’s to being in another motorsport paddock in 2023, right? :)


 

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