Bianca Bustamante Empowers Women in the Motorsport Scene

Bianca Bustamante Empowers Women in the Motorsport Scene


Off the track, I get to be this completely different person and I get to show that as tough as you can be, as fearless as you can be, you’re only human,” says Bianca Bustamante

There is a sneaky optimism in writing about female protagonists. Who could forget the early favorites such as Wendy Wu, Viola Hastings, and Maggie Peyton? Each movie that these characters were part of proved that women can excel in any field. In fact, the genre empowered a generation. And as the new archetype of leads takes over the media, a wave of unapologetically ambitious, confident, and brave personalities takes over in real life. 

“I always get comments and often belittled because of how I am or who I am as a person. You know, because I wear lip gloss, mascara, and all this makeup,” Bianca Bustamante recalls her challenges as a woman in a male-dominated sport. “But it’s about how you fight back and stand up for what you believe in. It shows so much of your character.” Her story is no Herbie: Fully Loaded plot. In fact, it’s better. Bianca Bustamante began to make a name for herself as a motorsport star at the age of five and continued to pave the way for women in racing ever since. To say the least, she is a force of her own. 

On growing up in a motorsports scene

Mega Bianca Bustamante

Meeting Bianca Bustamante for the first time feels like reconnecting with a soul sister. As we exchanged greetings and compliments, we reminisced about her childhood. “Little B’s passion for motorsport really began at a very young age,” she shared. “My dad was a former karter, so everything we did, everything we talked about was all about racing, and instantly, I was captivated with the sport.” Call it fate, but the breakthrough star shared that it’s also her first memory as a kid. “I saw my dad drive for the first time when I was about six months old. And it hasn’t left me until now. I’m deeply in love with the sport.” 

Shortly after, Bianca Bustamante walked us through her beginnings in the motorsport scene. “I was driving at the age of three, and by the time I turned six, I was competing locally and internationally. And having that upbringing as a woman as well, it’s actually not that mundane, it’s not that common.” Bianca also looked back at how the track felt like her second home. “It’s where I first learned how to walk. It’s my first crash. It’s my first win. It’s my first loss.”

Anyone can tell how she’s passionate about her craft by the way she talks about it. “Growing up in motorsports has been truly amazing. It has taught me so many valuable life lessons.” As we continued our heartfelt conversation, Bianca applauded her parents for shaping her to become the person that she is today. “Every time I crash or I hit a wall, they would always tell me to walk away, brush it off, and get back in the car,” she said. “And that’s what I did every time. Every time I crash or fail, I come back stronger each time.” 

Mega Bianca Bustamante

On her biggest wins

Bianca Bustamante’s remarkable portfolio can’t be left unmentioned as it speaks volumes about why she is someone to watch out for. “By [the] age of six, I won my very first national race and later that year, I went to Macau and competed,” she looked back at her biggest wins, including various international races when she was nine. However, she proved that she is more than her trophies and medals. She has an admirable mindset and attitude that represents a modern woman. “It was a constant build-up. It is not that I was simply naturally gifted from day one or I was [already] good,” she bravely pointed out.

“For me, I don’t believe that I did have talent because I generally don’t believe in talent. Skills can be learned and talent fades when you fail to put the hard work in.” 

Another inspiring trait she has is she learned to value hard work at a young age. “I come from a very middle-class family. That’s also one of the main things that actually pushed me to make it because I knew that out of everyone that could’ve made it, it wouldn’t have been me. We didn’t have the money.” Despite the challenges, the situation never held her back. “In the end, I have to make it. I always put that pressure on myself not just in racing, but with everything as well because it wasn’t given in a silver spoon.” 

On overcoming her struggles 

Mega Bianca Bustamante

“There are struggles everyday, that is for sure,” she laughed. It’s obvious that she has a sense of wit, but it’s undeniable that she is as wise. “And that is also the best part about it because if you don’t struggle, it means it’s not worth it enough, it’s not something worth living or pursuing.” Even so, the breakthrough karter was candid about her own experiences. “Growing up in motorsport, being mostly the only female, I’ve always felt like I’ve had to prove myself that I belong there because naturally, I don’t,” she said. “The truth is I wasn’t confident growing up. I guess the lack of women empowerment surrounding me actually hurt my confidence because most of the time, I felt like I have to change the way I look and the way I act just so I can fit in. I can’t be myself.” 

Apart from that, the athlete shared how the pandemic affected her and her career, describing it like a rollercoaster ride. “During the pandemic, I actually retired for two years and I thought my career was done. I thought it was over. And going through that, I would say that [my mental health was affected]. I had this amazing life of racing all over the world and suddenly, I can’t do it anymore. I can’t even drive. I can’t even leave the house. And that strained me so much.” 

Mega Bianca Bustamante

Despite the challenge, Bianca made the right turn to find a bigger meaning behind it, and she shared how it gave her a different perspective in life. “In motorsport, I learned to be grateful that I was healthy. My family is healthy. We have food on the table. I was fortunate enough to be in that position, and so I made a promise to myself that if I ever have the chance again, I would absolutely give it my best. I’m going to drive my heart off with no regrets, whether I made it or not.” 

“After the pandemic, I had the amazing opportunity to race in the W series and that was my silver lining,” she looked back. “I came from absolutely nothing to be racing in the top level of motorsport—that was my make-it-or-break-it. Fortunately enough, here I am now, still driving and racing.” 

“Nothing is ever guaranteed as an athlete. I feel like that is for sure. You’ll never know if it’s your last year competing. You can get injured. Everyday is a fight. It’s all those little things that people don’t get to see behind the scenes. It’s the struggles that we face, the training that we do, and everything else that is not just driving.”

On her inspirations

Bianca Bustamante’s mind and heart are in the right place as she named her family as her biggest inspiration. “It wasn’t easy for both my parents. Being the only girl in the family, they were always so strict with me,” she laughed. “I really had to convince them that I really love this and it’s not something that I would pursue if I don’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life because I know we aren’t capable of doing this as a hobby. We didn’t have that luxury. Every dime that we spent on my racing is hard-earned, my dad worked three jobs for that.” 

Mega Bianca Bustamante

Of course, the motorsport star did not miss expressing how she looks up to her dad. “I’ve always tried to be like him, I guess,” she smiled. “He’s an engineer and an architect. I got that from him as well. I love drawing. The minute I saw his floorplans, I wanted to do it, too! And that is one of the main things as well that keeps me inspired regardless of all the negatives. I am not only living my dream, but my dad’s dream, too and my whole family’s. He has always been in love with motorsport, but he wasn’t financially lucky to pursue it. So that is why even if we can’t afford it, he did his best so he can sustain it because he knew that he is living his dream as well through me.” 

“My parents taught me that if you get into a sport, regardless of how much you love it, if you don’t value the little things, if you don’t value every race, you’ll never make it far. And that’s why I learn how to value small wins.” 

On her life-changing lessons

“If there is a life lesson that was very valuable to me, [it’s] actually coming from my mentor and manager, Darryl O’Young,” she explained. “I met Darryl when I was 11 back in 2016. He was one of the sponsors of the series I was racing at. I actually won that race, and he approached me and said that [I should keep pushing] and a few years later, [we would be] in contact. ‘Hopefully, you can make a career for yourself.’ And as a young kid, that kept me going. If he sees something in me, then I deserve to believe in myself as well.” 

She also recalled the time when her early memories with her mentor. “When Daryll started mentoring me, the first thing he advised me was to stop worrying and keep learning,” she revealed. “Being someone that was pressured to perform well because of all of these financial difficulties, I would always be afraid of failing. I didn’t want to lose. And when I was young, that actually kept me going. But as I grew up, I realized that it’s not healthy. Doing something for the sake of winning is not the true reward. There is no reward in it. And that is something that Darryl has taught me.” 

“[Daryll] told me the minute you fail that is when you actually start learning. And I’d rather you learn than win.”  

On defining who she is now

“As you go along, you’re also trying to find yourself. And in everything I do, I find little bits of myself that make me who I am and make me unique,” she said. “With racing, I get to be this fearless. I get to have a strong character. I get to race against the boys. But the minute I go off track, I love makeup because it connects with my interest in drawing as well in a way I can make myself feel pretty and confident. I’m also very feminine.” 

Mega Bianca Bustamante

It’s a given that female athletes face a lot of criticism and stereotyping. In our chat, Bianca bravely shared how she learned to overcome this challenge. “Whenever I tell people that I’m a race driver, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind especially when they see me. I wear pearl necklaces, I wear makeup. Off the track, I get to be this completely different person and I get to show that as tough as you can be, as fearless as you can be, you’re only human. I think we athletes, before that, are only human beings and I prioritize that the most. I prioritize that with whatever I do, I don’t lose myself.” 

Outside of the sports scene, the promising race driver spends her time with the things that matter the most. “I enjoy being with my family and I enjoy going to church.” While she’s at it, she also offered a preview of what her off-day would look like. “I enjoy working out so whenever I’m back in the Philippines, I would always go to my local gym. I’m barely home, so when I am here, I do things that I normally can’t do like eating street foods with my friends.” 

Aside from her passion for motorsport, Bianca revealed one category that also captured her heart. “I love art in general,” she shared. “I think I’m a creative person. I love the idea of building things. I love drawing, but at the same time, I love Math, and that is why I wanted to take up engineering even if it can be difficult managing it with school, racing, and life.” Surprisingly, the athlete found a common point between her love for the art and the sport. “Whenever you drive, you are in complete control. You create your own path, you create your own art—and that is similar to drawing. You are in control of the pencil or the pen, and create whatever you want.” She proceeded, “I think racing for me is another form of art. And having this creative side of me actually helps me progress in motorsport.” 

On what is next for her 

“It’s so funny [because] in reality, I am only at the very beginning of my journey, I still have so much more to look forward to,” she humbly answered when asked about what is next for her career. “Of course, I want to succeed, I want to make it to Formula 1, but on the flip side, there is this very irrational side of me that is saying maybe in five years, I won’t be racing anymore. Who knows?” Bianca continued, “What’s next for me is whatever I end up [doing], wherever I may be. Obviously, the goal is to move up the ladder. Hopefully, next year, we’ll be doing F3 and eventually make it to F1.”

Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Creative Direction NICOLE ALMERO
Art Direction BRIE VENTURA, assisted by MOIRA MANILAO 
Fashion Direction RYUJI SHIOMITSU
Beauty Direction MARA GO
Sittings Editor PEACHES GARCIA
Video Production AUDREY SISON
Production Design JOSIAH HIPONIA, assisted by JOB CONSTANTINO
Shoot Coordination KZ FRANCISCO

All pieces by CHRIS NICK

Order your print copy of this month's MEGA Magazine:
Download this month's MEGA digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]