Ever since Gabie Desales was 7 years old, she already dreamt of becoming a race car driver. Now, at 25, she's the 2017 National Champion for the Ladies Class of the Phoenix National Slalom Series and the 2018 Bracket G Champion of the Flatout Race Series under Team Shell. She Talks Asia chats with Gabie about her journey and what it takes to be a champion.
STA: Can you share with us how you got into motorsports?
Gab: I joined the AAP Motorsports Development Program in 2015 where I learned the basics of racing and it was my stepping stone into motorsports. In 2016, I started my racing career joining slalom races and bagged the Phoenix National Slalom Overall Championship in 2017. From there, I ventured into circuit racing and bagged a championship in 2018 for Flat Out Race Series.
STA: What do you love most about the sport and what’s your least favorite?
G: I love the adrenaline and the feeling of control every time I’m behind the wheel. Once I step inside the car, I forget about everything else for a moment and focus on myself and the car.
My least favorite is the cost of racing as it can get quite expensive, depending on how many sponsors I have and the types of partnerships.
STA: What are the biggest challenges you faced in your career?
G: The first and biggest challenge was earning my parent’s approval as it took me years of begging. I eventually overcame it and got their approval through consistency, perseverance, and my uncle Mark’s support.
Right now, my biggest challenge is getting back on the racing scene after a 3-year hiatus due to the pandemic. 2023 is aimed to be my comeback year as COVID restrictions continue to lessen.
I always tell myself that each challenge will pass and will make me a stronger racer and individual. I believe that the more challenges I encounter and overcome, the more equipped I can be for the future. The more challenges I overcome, the more fulfilling the end goal is. And it reminds me of how much I want it because of my willingness and drive to conquer the challenges.
STA: What is your champion mindset?
G: Personally, I'm not a competitive person. I race to enjoy the experience, and winning just becomes a bonus because I have to give back to my sponsors. But to become a champion in a sport such as racing, one thing I've learned is to have tunnel vision. Just focus on my driving, the car, and my goal —all other external factors are just background noise—the opinions of others, criticism from co-racers. Once I get inside my car, nothing else matters and I just enjoy the drive.
STA: What’s your vision for the sport in the Philippines? And for yourself as an athlete?
G: My vision is to eliminate the misconception that racing is an elite sport. There are programs offering cost-efficient means to start people’s racing journeys. With this, we encourage more people to join and together bring back the life of the industry after the pandemic.
For myself, I want to empower fellow women to go for their dreams of becoming racers - regardless of their gender. Motorsport may still be a male-dominated sport but it has grown to be more inviting to women.
STA: What does it take to be a race car champ? What's your champion mindset?
G: Personally, I'm not a competitive person. I race to enjoy the experience and winning just becomes a bonus because I have to give back to my sponsors. But to become a champion in a sport such as racing, one thing I've learned is to have tunnel vision. Just focus on my driving, the car, and my goal - all other external factors are just background noise - the opinions of others, criticism from co-racers, etc. Once I get inside my car, nothing else matters and I just enjoy the drive.
STA: What’s your message for people who would want to get into the sport?
G: Get started. It is an intimidating sport and it’s normal to have hesitations, especially with anything new, but if you don’t start you’ll never know. Throw away all the worries and give it a try.