Jessica Bäckman: “It might be hard sometimes but do not give up and keep believing in yourself”
“Keep pushing, keep believing and continue to do what you’re doing,” says Jessica Bäckman. “It might be hard sometimes but do not give up and believe in yourself. Because, you can. Everyone can!”
Jessica Bäckman has been racing since she was just seven-years-old. Throughout her career, she has competed in karting, rallycross, STCC Scandinavia, TCR UK, TCR Europe and FIA Motorsport Games. She is currently driving in FIA WTCR with her brother Andreas Bäckman for team Target Competition. She is the first female to do so.
Motorsport was already in Jessica’s family when she started karting. Her father had been a mechanic in drag racing and her uncle had been a rallycross driver. When Jessica’s mother saw a newspaper article about a karting school nearby, she signed her and her brother up and they were hooked. The interest in and passion for motorsport that runs in her family is something Jessica appreciates.
“We are always doing everything together,” she tells Females in Motorsport. “They like it as much as we do.”
That passion for motorsport is also something she shares with her brother Andreas Bäckman, with whom she has raced in multiple championships with.
“It is always nice to have your brother with you because you can help each other and you can learn a lot from each other,” she says. “I like racing with my brother.”
After karting, she eventually moved on to rallycross in 2017. Jessica grew up in the northern part of Sweden where rallycross was very common. However, she quit rallycross in 2018 because it didn’t suit her driving style and went to compete in touring cars after having the chance to try one out during a gap in the World Rallycross Championship calendar.
“When there was a gap in the Rallycross calendar, I made a comeback in the Swedish Karting Championship and managed to win the title," Jessica says. "One of the prizes was that I could try a racing car for the first time and that was mainly why we swapped from rallycross to racing. It fitted our racing style a lot better. We swapped a year after.”
Jessica and her brother went on to race in Touring Car Racing (TCR) in 2018 and immediately one of her goals was to race in World Touring Car Racing, which she has now achieved.
“It has been a big goal for me and I am very happy that I have reached my goal now and can race against the world’s best drivers," she says. "It feels like I am in a dream or something. Every driver that is driving in WTCR are drivers that I look up to and it feels surreal to compete alongside them.”
Not only has she reached her goal, but Jessica wrote history by becoming the first brother/sister team in WTCR with Andres and she became the first female driver to compete in the series.
“In karting, I was always the only female driver, so I am quite used to it,” she says. “But it feels amazing to be the first one,” she says. “Hopefully when I do it now, more female drivers will want to do it in the future. I hope I will inspire some female drivers to begin racing and to continue and reach the very top. We can do it as much as the guys can.”
What she really likes about this WTCR season is the younger generation of drivers.
“Half the field is younger drivers," she says. "It is not only older drivers that have a lot of experience. And the younger ones still beat them. That is nice for the sport!”
Asking Jessica what she would like to do in the future, she said she wants to do a lot of things. Focusing on WTCR, she wants to get a podium and be a world champion in the future.
“I would like to have a podium to start with because then I got a podium in every championship I have driven in," Jessica says. "That would be special. I want my first win as well, but I will start with a podium.”
Regarding other championships and series, Jessica would love to race in Formula 1 but she admits that every racing driver dreams of racing there.
“I have been to F1 races when I was young and I have been watching it too - I still watch
it,” she tells Females in Motorsport. “My biggest inspiration was Michael Schumacher when I was younger. I even got his autograph! I have looked up to him for many years and still do.”
A championship she would like to explore in the future is IndyCar, but she is happy with WTCR for now.
“It would be nice to try other motorsport categories, but right now I am at the top of where I can be in touring cars and I am very happy to be here.”
What she did notice throughout her career is the shrinking number of female drivers at the top. When she began karting at a young age, there were more female drivers than male drivers. The older she got and the higher up she became, the less female drivers there were.
“It is nice for me that I have my brother because I can see that he is also struggling sometimes," she says. "It is not only me. If I did it alone, maybe I would have given up a long time ago - I do not know.”
She admits that it is tough to be a female driver in motorsport and that she has to do mental training because of it, but she believes that women can achieve what they want to achieve and provides advice for women wanting to work or race in motorsport.
“Continue to do what you’re doing," she says. "It might be hard sometimes but do not give up and keep believing in yourself. You need to stand up for yourself and believe that you can. Because you can. Everyone can! Keep pushing, keep believing because you can become whatever you want to be.”
You can follow Jessica's Twitter here and her Instagram here. All imagery is courtesy of FIA WTCR.