Meet Dan Wells, Hong Kong's very own race car driver who is the 2015 Asian Formula Renault Champion with 11 consecutive wins. Sponsored by luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co, Ferrari and UBS.
What advice would you have for someone looking to get into the same role and industry as you?
Research the industry fully! There are many different race series and career paths, so it is important to begin with the end in mind and plan the steps to get there - although this can change along the way. It is also important to start your career by thinking about business - it is an extremely difficult industry where drivers get race seats based on how much money they have, as opposed to how much talent they have. Therefore, it is important to be quick, but also be able to attract the right sponsor or investor backing in order to progress up the motorsport ladder.
What have you learnt from your years working in the industry?
You have to be resilient! I could equate being a race car driver with bashing your head against a desk a hundred times a day for years on end. You need to manage many different aspects - fitness training, mental performance, the business of sponsor acquisition, building a team around you, setting up events, keeping sponsors happy, and the most important thing - winning races!
What career books would you recommend reading?
There are a series of books called Speed Secrets which I found to be particularly useful at the beginning of my career, but recently I've moved into more generic reading. I try to read 2 or 3 books a month to improve in different areas, and my favourite books of note would be:
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
You may think these are a strange choice for a race driver - but being a race driver is all about mind and time management. You could work for 99.9% of your time outside of a car in order to get the opportunity to be in a race - and you need to deliver everything that you have on that one lap, or one race for example. I found these books helped me in my quest to succeed.
What should always be taken seriously? What should never be taken seriously?
Tricky question! Any opportunity to show your talent, or your speed, should be taken seriously. Never disregard any opportunity to show this. But at the same time, racing is meant to be fun and enjoyable, and if you are too worried or tense you won't perform to your best!
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
My father! For good reasons and also for bad - but that is life. He has always been a great guide for me - and the fact he has unconditional love for me and just wants me to enjoy and thrive in my passion is a real comfort. It is not like I've been forced into an industry on my father's will... I make the choice alone and he supports me in this.
When I decided I wanted to become a race driver at the age of 18 (even though I was studying Economics and Politics at college and about to go to University), it took 2 months to persuade him to take me seriously. But one day, he woke me up at 4am in the morning, asked me to come downstairs and he said "Son, there comes a time in your life when you find a passion, a calling, and if you are sure this is it, and willing to make the necessary sacrifices and work hard to achieve it, then I am willing to support you in this racing endeavour" - I said "yes, I am!", and the rest is history.
What’s the number one thing you want to achieve in the next five years?
I want to be able to reach the pinnacle of motorsport and win.
What is your favorite Networking conversation starter / ice breaker?
I get pretty fed up with the standard "who are you, what do you do, where do you live" quantifying of a person which I find regularly in Hong Kong networking - so I was like to just go in there with "What is your passion?" or "What drives you?". Sometimes I meet people who say something completely different to their job, I ask them what is stopping them from living their passions, and they often struggle to answer this.
What is your favorite Hong Kong restaurant(s)?
At the moment I am really enjoying Grassroots on Hollywood Road - a great vegetarian, healthy but very tasty restaurant with good staff. For special occasions it would have to be Wooloomooloo at the One Building in Tsim Sha Tsui - everything is to a very high standard. And probably last but not least, I'm a big fan of the Taj Mahal in Chungking Mansions! Can't beat a nice curry after a race weekend to celebrate...
Where is your favorite place to brunch in Hong Kong?
I like to go to 18 Grams in Langham Place. It is normally nice and quiet as it's at the top of Langham, and serves a great eggs benedict and good coffee.
What is something you are looking forward to in 2016?
Continuing to live my dream and winning more races!
In order of importance, how would you rank: happiness, money, love, health, fame?
Happiness, love, health, money, fame. I always like'd the idea that we have an obligation to be happy - life is a great gift so when you wake up every morning, be grateful for many people do not, or if they do, are in far worse life situations than you are! Make the most of it.