A star is born
All racing drivers work hard – some harder than others. Gabby Chaves was only 15 when he started to win Formula BMW races and from there the only way was up. Thing was, he didn’t have the funding for really competitive drives in really competitive categories. He raced in Italian F3 (where he was Rookie of the Year); but he struggled in GP3. Yet another karting prodigy looked as though he was about to fade away.
Instead, Gabby at 17 years of age dug deep and re-booted in America, first in Star Mazda, then in Indy Lights. He worked at his driving – he worked hard at school. And he and his Mum door-knocked the sponsors. You can sell more in the States; people listen if you have something to sell (or so they kept telling themselves).
They found a budget. He won races last year with Sam Schmidt Motorsports; he was quick on both ovals and road courses. For 2014, though, despite that success, he had less sponsorship to wield. He stayed in Indy Lights. He signed with a smaller team – Belardi. Drivers he’d beaten in Lights (Carlos Munoz, Jack Hawksworth) progressed with early distinction to IndyCar. New talent arrived from all quarters – Matt Brabham (Australia/USA), Jack Harvey (UK) and the GP2 race winner, Luiz Razia (Br). It was a gamble. Could Gabby, now 20, continue his momentum with a less-recognised team in what was now becoming an ultra-competitive category?
It’s early days, but I think the answer is going to be yes. I think Gabby is going to become a major star. He took the pole at St Pete and finished second there to Andretti’s talented young star, Zach Veach. At Long Beach, last weekend, he qualified second and won the race from the front. I spoke to him on the Tuesday about that win and what it’s been like switching teams and facing the powerful new opposition. His enthusiasm, as you’ll see in this video, is infectious – as is his passion for racing.