Top Car Racing Prospect Isn't Old Enough to Get License
WESTON, Fla. – Gaby Chavez is not old enough to borrow his dad's car and drive down the street to the supermarket.
But he is old enough to drive race cars at 140 mph around some of the most famous speedways in the United States.
Chavez, 15, a native of Colombia who lives in Weston, is considered one of the most promising prospects in car racing.
Already known in racing circles, he gained fame when Peter Windsor, owner of the new U.S. Formula 1 team, mentioned him as one of the possible drivers to be recruited.
That boost is now seen as just another step in the date with destiny that Chavez and his family consider inexorable.
"Formula 1 is where I want to get to, where I can get to. That is my dream," said Chavez, who has known what he wanted to do from the first time he drove a go-kart in his native country at age 11.
Chavez, the world's youngest driver with a Class C license from the International Automotive Federation, currently leads the BMW Americas Formula championships, a category that has formed some of the current crop of Formula 1 drivers, such as Sebastian Vettel, Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg.
Some of the world's best drivers, such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Dan Wheldon and Sebastian Bourdaix have already seen the talent Chavez exudes when he gets behind the wheel.
"When I'm on the track I forget about the planet. I connect completely with my car and with myself. It is something that happens naturally," explained Chavez.
That harmony — and his training — provide him with the confidence and maturity that car racing watchers say world-class athletes possess.
"I don't think about accidents. It never crosses my mind. If you think about that, you can't dedicate yourself to this," said Chavez.
According to Chavez, his success also comes from excellent physical training.
"I don't see this as a job, but rather something fun," notes the teen, who considered becoming a tennis star at one point.
"I didn't feel that worm with tennis, the passion I felt was with car racing." explained Chavez.
Chavez tries to lead a normal life, like any other high school student. But unlike most kids his age, he takes care of his nutrition — never eating fast food — and getting lots of exercise.
Last year marked a milestone for Chavez. For a few weeks, he was able to come face to face with his future as he raced three Formula 1 tracks in Singapore, China and Malaysia.
"It was exciting. It felt great to race those circuits, being in the pits and meeting the drivers. Ah! I thought that if they had been able to do it, then so can I."
For now he continues training, gaining experience on tracks here in the U.S., while also spending nine hours each week testing all the F1 tracks with a modern simulator he has at home.
"Step by step," is his philosophy. But his next step is to obtain his driver's license in July.
"I'm not going to say anything about being a race car driver when I go for the test. I'll just surprise them!" he said.