08/05/2024

Meet the Team Owner – Justina Williams – EXCELR8 Motorsport

Image of Justina

Justina Williams is the owner of EXCELR8 Motorsport, a race team that competes in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and Vertu MINI CHALLENGE.

‘Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8’ is the only team in the BTCC led by a female team principal, and in the male dominated motorsport industry, Justina aims to lead the way in increasing the number of women involved at the highest level. She shared her journey with us, from the start of her career to her inspiration.

Tell us about yourself.

I am from a humble background with 3 older sisters. I competed in British Judo and won my first gold medal at the age of 8. I won nearly 40 medals, including UK Regional Champion and UK National Champion multiple times, winning Judoka of the Year for my dedication to the sport and etiquette, and competing at International Level – gaining International Bronze Award at the age of 13. Sadly, I lost my Dad at the age of 14 to cancer and was homeless at the age of 16 luckily only for a short while.

I love travelling, I want to visit everywhere in the world, if I had the time. I like meeting new people, understanding different cultures, trying new food, wine, cocktails, and I absolutely love dogs! I had two but they sadly passed, one day I will have some more. Adventure, challenges and all things new I really enjoy. Whether the experience is good, bad, or daunting it is still an experience.

What is one thing you couldn’t live without?

That is a tricky one. I think a challenge, something new to test me further.

How did you start your career?

I have had many different careers, with the first being a qualified industrial electrician for Balfour Kilpatrick as their ‘First Lady’ Apprentice, and trained to become an Industrial Electrician at Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station. During that time, I was involved in helping to promote females in a man’s world both in the press, TV and training videos.

I then went on to work for Norwich Union in sales, I have been an estate agent, a qualified financial planner, ran my own recruitment firm, and financial planning business with my husband, now I own a race team which was never on the radar. It was an opportunity that was presented to me, and more recently I also have guest speaking engagements.

Tell us about the beginning of the EXCELR8 race team.

I wanted to get into motorsport not long after passing my test to drive on the road as I was told I should be on track. However, I didn’t have any support from my family and being on an apprentice wage was not going to make it possible.

So later in life, upon meeting my now husband Antony, we started karting in Rotax Max for 4 years. I got fed up with the cold, wet and bruises so decided to move into cars. We looked around at our options and chose the MINI CHALLENGE as it was about the drivers ability and the engineering of the team, rather than about the size of your cheque book.

The owners of the MINI CHALLENGE thought we would be good at running a team so we thought, let’s give it a go. We sold the Porsche on the driveway to buy a race truck and arranged for someone to build us a racing JCW MINI and we won the championship in year one!

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?

Winning the BTCC in only our 4th year.

What are you most looking forward to for the 2024 BTCC season?

Winning!

What drives your strong work ethic?

I always remember my Dad went to work earlier than was required, even though he was not paid for the extra time. He would work all day and then come home and work on our house or car, or other peoples in the evening. I worked with him from a very young age tinkering on cars, fitting kitchens, putting up fences and felting shed roofs. Then losing him at the age of 14 made me angry, I had a fire in my belly and I have never lost it.

Who or what inspires you?

My Dad inspired and still inspires me, even though I lost him at the age of 14. He was a carpenter but multi-skilled from working at Buckingham Palace, to building multi pound boats for Shak’s. He was a very proud man and would always go above and beyond.

How do you feel as an inspiration to other women and girls?

I feel very proud. I do not have children but if I can inspire other women, girls, men and boys I am very willing to do so. It makes me happy!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for what exams to take or what career path to choose. Try something out, and if you don’t like it, move on. You will eventually find something you like and hopefully even love. Don’t be afraid of failure, learn from it!

Find other editions of our ‘Meet the Team’ series on our blog.