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March 22, 2019

Auto Racing: Amanda Balson on how female drivers can find and keep their competitive edge

Amanda Balson has been around race cars her whole life. She started out watching her dad race, she cheered her mom on in a race or two, and she is married to Kelly Balson – a fellow Late Model driver. Amanda always knew she would end up behind the wheel one day. And that she did. She has been driving for 18 years – and very successfully. She is Canada’s first female Late Model stock car racing champion.

(Photo from: Amanda Balson)

Woman to woman

What’s next for Amanda? She feels she has a unique perspective to offer to the next generation of female drivers that she has developed over almost two decades of driving. She isn’t ready to hang up the racing suit yet but she is ready to start passing down her expertise on what is needed to go from good to great on the speedway.

In Amanda’s experience, women learn and think differently than men. She has a unique perspective to share – a woman’s point of view on how to succeed and be respected in the world of auto racing. She has a lot to offer from a lifetime of experiences at the track – from her days of spectating to her days of competing – and is ready to share with young women looking to get started.

Find out how she got her start in Amanda Balson races cars and proudly drives like a girl, and how to progress in racing in Amanda Balson Race Car Driver – tips from a Champion to help get you behind the wheel. Then if you’re looking for a quick tour of the track, check out Amanda Balson on Auto Racing: Finding your way around the track.

Insights to help you find and keep a competitive edge:

These are Amanda’s insights and experiences that have shaped her into a successful stock car racer and can help you find and keep a competitive edge:

Think outside of the box - Cross sport learning

Being able to understand the psychological aspect of competition and use that knowledge is how athletes go from good to great. It’s finding that edge and using it to your advantage that will make you successful. As a driver or any competitor for that matter, you’re always looking for the advantage by thinking outside of the box – that’s how you win. A good example of athletes thinking outside of the box is football players that are incorporating yoga in their training routines – yoga in the football stadium? Sounds a bit odd but it works. It’s that kind of thinking outside of the box can give an athlete that extra edge to succeed.

Amanda brings her experiences from other sport to help her behind the wheel. As a pitcher, she needs to read the batter and as a driver, she needs to read other drivers to understand what they are going to do next. She also uses her longtime practice of yoga to give her an edge. Yoga helps her focus and control the adrenaline in each and every race. Her experiences and knowledge from other sports have definitely helped give her a competitive edge on the track.

Sports psychology

Amanda realized early on that she needed to strengthen her mind as well as her body. Training that is focused on building mental strength is just as important as physical strength training.

For Amanda, reading sports psychology books has been an effective training tool. A book on the psychology of winning in ballroom dancing was particularly helpful. She is always on the lookout for books and resources on the psychology of winning from many different perspectives so she can try new strategies and then stick with the ones that work for her.

Strengthening of the mind applies to all sports too – not just racing.  Athletes have to find what works for them to improve the mental aspect of their performance. Competing is competing. But being successful comes from being able to strengthen the mind as well as the body.


There is a lot of adrenalin on any track and for a driver to be successful, they need to control that adrenaline. When Amanda was a younger and less experienced driver, she would find she couldn’t always hold onto a lead late in the race. With three laps to go, she would get excited and her lap times would drop – the excitement of a win in sight would get the better of her.

Over time, Amanda found strategies to control that adrenaline. This is where her years of yoga started paying off – she uses it to manage her excitement and maintain her focus. She uses breathing techniques and reassuring, self-talk to get through the final laps – 2 more laps, 8 more turns, one step at a time. She has become so good at controlling the adrenaline that is second nature to her now.

Similarly, when an athlete makes a mistake, they have to learn how to control their reaction to it – so that the response to the unexpected is built into the brain. Mistakes are part of competing – but dealing with mistakes and reacting appropriately is succeeding. Athletes that can train their mind to react to a mistake – make it part of their memory – speaks volumes about an athlete’s ability to maintain control.

Use your senses

Some of the best advice Amanda got was from someone who told her to close her eyes and use her ears to listen to the sounds of the track – the tires on the track, the sound of the gears changing, the foot on the gas, the brakes on the pavement. She also learned to feel what the car was doing – through her hands on the steering wheel, her foot on the gas, her foot on the brake, the feel of the gears changing.

She took that knowledge and used it to her advantage – putting all her senses to work to improve her performance. Thinking outside of the box and using all five senses helps find that competitive edge.


Amanda has matured as a driver and she is ready to share her insights with the next generation of female drivers – to pass along her knowledge about finding and keeping that competitive edge.

(Photo from: Amanda Balson)

Given that Amanda is still racing and intends to keep racing for a while, she is actively seeking to mentor someone who already has the tools and with whom she feels a connection. Her mentoring will focus on coaching the mental aspects of the game – the adrenaline control that came to Amanda with maturity and experience.

In the meantime, Amanda is happy to chat about racing with anyone that’s interested – if not to mentor then just a chat about how to get started. She has a long list of contacts that could help any new driver get headed in the right direction – guidance and advice on who to talk to about buying a car, evaluating which car is right for you, or who you should have on your team.

Interested in connecting with Amanda. Fill out our contact us form and we’ll get you in touch.


Check out Athlete Advisor – your online business directory for all things active. Rate and review your favourite speedways. See what others have to say about ones you’d like to head to for your next race.

Find racing events. Start a group. Visit our SWSCD Hub.

Find fresh thinking, inspiring articles and advice on how to keep active. Check out our Auto Racing activity page to see what other women like Amanda are up to.

If you race cars, share your experiences with others directly on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando through social media. You just may be the inspiration someone else needs to give it a try.


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