This month we talk to the Melroses, a two generation ESMS family. Dad, Stewart (1985), racing driver Sebastian (2015), and fashion student Julianna (2019). They discuss their varied careers, hopes for the future, and the experience of spending lots of time together in a motorhome!

Racing driver Sebastian was an ESMS pupil from P6 – S6. Seb loved his time at the school, and tells us how he fondly looks back at his time with us, “Learning wasn’t the top of my list, but I really enjoyed the culture and environment,” he said. “I probably didn’t appreciate school at the time, but looking back it was some of the best times in my life.  If I was to go back to school I’d try to be more academic, I’d try harder, and have more interest in what the teachers were saying!”

Throughout his schooldays, he had his mind set on a career in sport. For a time he considered life as a football player, with stints at Hearts and Dundee United. However, he became drawn to the world of motor sports, with a some influence from godfather and IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti (SMC 1991). Sebastian began driving Scottish Formula Fords at age 16, going on to win the Scottish Motor Racing Club Rising Star Award.

With competitive racing taking up a lot of his time, Sebastian decided not to go straight to university after S6. Instead he opted to do an HNC and HND, before going on to complete an honours degree in Business, Management and Marketing. Looking back, Sebastian feels like he needed time to mature and ground himself before going to university.

Since graduating, Sebastian signed to race in Germany at the Nurburgring in the VLN Series. After a year of driving, he was offered a contract with Porsche in the UK, but lockdown applied the brakes, and gave Seb the chance to consider other options, and he recently joined UK-based Ginetta. Looking ahead, Sebastian said, “This year my focus is to retain my contract, but at the end of the season I hope to get a contract overseas, driving MP2, Le Mans cars or similar.”

Sebastian told us that his ultimate aim is to become an IndyCar driver in the USA, but with youth still on his side, he mentioned his interest in endurance racing, particularly the Daytona 24 hour race. Competing in the Daytona could be pivotal step in entering the world of IndyCar racing.

Seb also talked about the connections between motor racing and the wider ESMS community, as there are a number of former pupils in this field. Sebastian mentioned his godfather, Dario Franchitti, as well as Stuart Gray at Knockhill and 2012 leaver Colin Noble, who is also a racing driver.  Seb feels the school has a real interest in motorsport now, so pupils and alumni are supported if they wish to explore a career in this area. He also reflected that his time at school has prepared him for a career filled with many and varied interactions. He said, “Everything that happened at school has helped to make me into the person I am today – it has given me the confidence to communicate with people from all walks of life”.

Sponsorship is important for progress in motorsports as it is required to cover the costs of touring, racing and the cars.  The next step for Sebastian will require sponsorship of up to £3 million each year.  Sebastian’s affable, approachable and intelligent nature, along with his professionalism, both on and off the track, will be a vital part of securing the sponsorship necessary to proceed.

The other side of sponsorship are the amazing personal experiences it provides. One thing Seb has particularly enjoyed was driving guests around the Nurburgring before races. However, perhaps more unusually, it has also led to he and his family travelling to races across the country in a sponsored motorhome! This could be a little too close for comfort for many, but the family assured us that the experience has been a lot of fun, and they have become much closer as a result.

The world of racing is beginning to reopen to fans, which Sebastian hopes will once again heighten the atmosphere on race days. He is scheduled to race in several meets over the next few weeks, before the last race of the season at Brans Hatch in October. We wish Sebastian all the best in his racing career.

You can find out more about Sebastian in this video he created about his racing journey – https://vimeo.com/499243269.

Julianna should be in Brighton, studying for her BA in Fashion Communication and Business Studies, but like many other students, she has moved home to study remotely. Julianna has just finished her second year, and has decided to find a placement for a sandwich year. She hopes to gain some work experience, as part of her degree, and increase her employability.

With her sights set on a career in New York or LA, she said she was very excited that her brother, Seb, was also planning a move to the United States. Julianna appreciates having a very close family, and feels that as she has matured her family bonds have grown significantly. She has enjoyed both being back at home with family, and on the road in that motorhome too!

Dad, Stewart, left SMC in 1985. He went on to Napier, where he graduated in 1989, before moving to Madrid to work and learn Spanish. In the early 90s, he joined the family business of exporting trucks. His particular area of interest was the Latin American market, which led to him to meeting his wife in El Salvador. The couple decided to get married and settle back in Scotland.

In 1999, Stewart started waste management company Scotwaste. The business grew successfully, however, a bout of illness in 2017 made Stewart reevaluate his life. When a buyer approached him in 2018, he decided to sell the business, believing the new owners would look after his staff and company. 

Stewart is now in business with another SMC FP, Calum Stewart (1985). Together they are building houses in Crieff. It has become a bit of a family affair, with his son, Sebastian, working with them between races, driving diggers (which must be a lot slower that he’s used to), and learning about housebuilding.  Good luck to Stewart and Calum in their new venture.

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