I remember the first time I met Bruno Carneiro. I had just started working at a racetrack in Utah called Miller Motorsports Park and although I had participated in Karting weekends before, I had never been much of a spectator. I remember watching these kids going at it in a series called Rotax Jr. Every time the kid with the flashy gold kart went by the spectators went nuts. I asked my co-worker, ‘who are they cheering for?’ his response, ‘Bruno Carneiro, he’s really good.’ I was blown away. I had never seen someone so young with their own fanbase that wasn’t just mom and dad. When I finally got the chance to meet Bruno it was immediately clear as to why. Even at 13 years old he spoke like a professional, carried himself well and was more polite than almost everyone I had met up until that point. From that moment I knew there was something very special about Bruno. I knew he was going to be a force in the racing world.
Amazingly that’s the thing about Bruno, everyone who knows him has a story like that. He has a way of leaving people in awe. It’s one of the many reasons he has accomplished as much as he has. While at a press announcement for his 2017 racing season, I had the privilege to speak with racing legend Allen Wilson. Allen told me a fascinating story, similar to those you hear of Bruno’s magnetic personality, but this time it was not of him as a little kid, it was just last year. Allen told us after Bruno won the 2016 Chinese Formula 4 championship, during his rookie season mind you, Desire and Allen had decided they wanted Bruno to experience the Formula 1 race at the Macau Grand Prix. While Desire and Bruno were there they ran into an old racing rival of Desire’s, David Kennedy. Upon meeting Bruno, Kennedy – a former F1 driver and one of Irelands most successful racing drivers – knew Bruno would be a star, even without ever seeing him drive. Kennedy started making some phone calls and helped Bruno and the Wilsons get in touch with Bruno’s soon to be new team for 2017, AlbirexRT Racing. This was all without ever seeing Bruno drive mind you, that’s how polarizing this young man is.
So what’s next for Bruno Carneiro? Well, for starters Formula 3 in Japan. This isn’t Bruno’s first rodeo as it were, but it will be a jump into the deep end. Talking to him briefly he is calm and relaxed, showing signs of only excitement. One of the biggest hurdles he says is the lack of experience with the car, while the other drivers have more seat time. When talking about the tracks he will be competing at he starts to glow, mentioning Suzuka in particular. In Japan, Formula 3 is one of the most competitive classes of open wheel racing they have. The cars are universal Formula 3 cars, the same ones used primarily in Europe. Although unlike in Europe where Formula 3 is the third rung from the top, Japan places Formula 3 as a direct feeder to Super Formula, Japan’s premier racing class. This makes the class much more competitive than in other regions. A very smart move for a 17-year-old racer from Utah.
The team he will be racing with is called Albirex-RT, a company that is based out of Japan. They are a very large company, made up of over 100 entities total, with arguably the most successful being their soccer team. While their race program is grown, Allen ensures us that Albirex is committed to producing a racing team that parallels their soccer teams success, if not surpassing it. And best of all, they want Bruno to lead the charge. Matter of fact Albirex was so impressed with Bruno at Macau that they offered their racing expenses at half the cost for him to be their number one driver. A very impressive gesture from a brand that demands the best.
Overall I didn’t get much time to chat with him. The world swirling around him, Bruno methodically moves around the room, making sure to take the time to thank everyone that came to support him. It’s moments like these where I don’t know if he realizes it, but not only is everyone there to support him, but they are all possibly more excited for him than he is. That will be his legacy, the marking of a true great. With everything moving so fast Bruno will be off and in Japan before this is posted, getting aquatinted with the car and team, before his first official test at the legendary Suzuka Circuit. Not a bad way to start a new racing year.
2017 will be a defining year for Mr. Carneiro as he will be facing by far the toughest competition he has ever seen. But attitude is often the biggest hurdle in motorsports, and no one on the grid can touch Bruno in that regard. Not only do I think Formula One is now well within his sights, but they would be truly lucky to have him. Cheers Bruno, the world is rooting for you.