What could a 19-year-old from Canberra, Australia be doing here, writing a blog post about a career in Formula 1? Ah, great question and thank you for asking! Let me explain further.

We all have dreams as kids; a doctor, skydive instructor, a lawyer, a race car driver and so on, but how many people stay true and committed to what they have wanted all through their childhood and into their adult years? My dream was to be a pilot in the Australian Air Force, but unfortunately my eyesight had different ideas. Lucky for me, it was a just a bump in the road, on the great journey that is now, my life. Without that detour, I would not be where I am today, nor would I be in the position to chase the crazy dreams I have.

My dream is to work for the McLaren F1 team in Events Management or Travel and Logistics. Crazy, I know.

My name is Dana Riddle and I currently live in Canberra; Australia and I am the events assistant at Summernats Car Festival; one of Australia’s biggest motor sport events. I lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work for Summernats after completing a 6-month internship with the company throughout the duration of my Events Management Diploma study.

Motorsport is a second family to me, and my biggest love and passion. My father raced motorbikes in the Australian Superbike Championships for 11 years, so I have been brought up around the sounds of revving engines and motorsport fanatics. Once you are in, you are in for life. (Luckily, I love it!)  

I spend a lot of my spare time at races and motorsport events, and if I’m not at them I’m usually watching them on TV. I enjoy working at these events, as I like to see how teams work together, the strategies they use and obviously, who wins. If I am not at races, or watching races, you will most likely find me with my family, friends, at the gym or riding my motorbike anywhere I can! I have always been someone who liked to keep to routine, but it can be difficult when I am travelling frequently! I always seem to find a way to enjoy both lifestyles. I mean, I’m lucky enough to be able to travel so of course I will enjoy every second of it.

I came across the McLaren F1 team in the early hours of the morning, 4 years ago. I was watching the F1 qualifying that was held in Singapore. I saw Jenson Button, driving for McLaren Honda. His vehicle sustained damage in a start line crash, but he pitted and pushed on even with underlying damage to the vehicle. Unfortunately, the race was over for Button, after he had to retire due to brake issues. He pushed on for 43 laps before he had to retire, and it was then I knew I shared the same passion and determination that I saw that day. It was something that the whole team had, the passion and desire to win, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it one day. I have since dedicated the majority of my time to planning my ideal future and having the McLaren Formula 1 team as my main goal.

I am not sure what initially drew me to McLaren, but when I saw it, I just knew I wanted to be a part of the team one day. (It may have also been because they make immaculate vehicles) I wanted to make a difference in the world of F1. I want to be able to learn copious amounts of skills, in all different avenues of events so that one day I could use these assets to assist with one final goal, to win Grand Prix’s and World Championships for McLaren. Not only did I want to make a difference in the world of F1, but I also wanted to show to other girls and women in the same position, that they can do the same. They can make their dreams a reality, no matter how big they are. It takes passion, persistence and practice.

I finished college and decided that I wanted to get straight back into studying. What I wanted to study was a different story. After attending multiple university open days, researching F1 careers, observing that McLaren had a Travel Coordinator role advertised at the time and speaking with people from all different careers, I decided on an Events Management Diploma course at the Canberra Institute of Technology. It seemed to be a good fit for me, seeing I am an avid planner and organization ‘freak.’ I completed my Certificate III and Diploma in Events Management in 2018. This was just another step towards the end goal. During the course of my study, I completed an internship with the Australian Superbike Championships, Summernats Car Festival and I worked at the Australian MotoGP in technical control. I made an effort to volunteer my time to grasp any experience I could while I am so young! As a result of these experiences, I have met some fantastic role models and friends for life.

After finishing with MotoGP, I was offered a job at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit as the Events Coordinator, and at the time, I was offered the position of Events Assistant at Summernats. It was a challenging decision, and I went through both pros and cons of both opportunities. I was not quite ready to move 1000km away from my family at 18, so I took the job with Summernats in October last year, and over the past 7 months I have learnt copious amounts of skills that I can use in my personal and professional life.

In my everyday work, I deal with internal and external clients and I aim to make their experience with our company the best one possible. I strive to be an approachable and hands on employee, while keeping the company’s best interests in mind. I enjoy problem solving and findings ways to improve on daily activities to make the process more efficient.

Just recently in March, I attended my first ever Formula 1 race, and it was the ‘icing on the cake’ for me. I know I want to be a part of F1. The passion, determination and persistence from not only the drivers, but the entire team is like nothing I have ever seen before. Every aspect of the team is important, and without one, the other does not perform to the best of their abilities. I was lucky enough to be provided with an opportunity to work with Miles Per Hour Event Management and their incredible team who were completing a range of roles at the Australian Formula 1 GP. On the third day, I had the opportunity to work in the paddock club, right above the McLaren garage. I think my heart rate hit 180bpm that day! I was able to see the how the McLaren worked and the service the team provided, and it was beyond expectations. The smiles on the faces of the McLaren guest’s was unexplainable. For some, it may be just be routine for them, but for others it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, that they may have waited years for. One day, I know that I can apart of the team that ensures these people have an experience they will never forget.

This is my journey so far. It has only just started, and I have so much more to learn and experience. Sometimes I want the days to come to an end so I can sleep, wake up and chase more goals. My logical brain then kicks in and tells me that I have to divert this enthusiasm and excitement down the right paths and absorb as much information as I can, and take on board as many experiences as possible too!

I plan to attend the Singapore Grand Prix in late September so I can experience F1 for the second time, but not the last time. To say I am excited is an understatement!

Thank you for being a part of my journey and who I am today, and I hope you are a part of the journey for the next 10 years! I’ll see you at McLaren.

Until next time,

Dana Riddle
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danariddle/