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A lifelong passion: An interview with Carlos Guerrero

Written by Alejandra Guajardo Lozano, Edited by Meghana Sree

Carlos Guerrero is a retired Mexican racing driver, born on November 20, 1957, in Mexico City. He is a multiple Formula 2 and Formula 3 champion in Mexico. He also participated in the 1995 and 1996 CART seasons, and even in the Indy 500. 

This chat dives into his long career, where the ex-driver shared some of his experiences such as taking part in the Indy 500 and doing an F1 test for March Engineering.

Firstly, Guerrero was asked by Divebomb how his passion for motorsports started, to which he replied:

“Well, since I was a kid, everything for me was like a car. So if I didn't have a car, I used whatever I had nearby as it, which could be anything, even a fruit.” 

Guerrero then explained how he got his first chance to experience the thrill of full speed at go-karting, an opportunity that was given by his mother when he was nine years old.

When asked how his experience at go-karting was, he said:

“Incredible, when you’re a kid, it is the most amazing thing ever. And I still maintain the idea that go-karts are more of a racing car than many normal cars that are fixed for racing. The go-kart is much more of a competition vehicle and I was fortunate to win six national championships in go-karts.

“Then I moved on to single-seaters and I raced until I was thirty-nine years old. I was a racing driver for thirty years, from the age of nine to thirty-nine,” he continued.

When asked if he looked up to any driver, Guerrero expressed his admiration for the Brazilian driver and three-time F1 World Champion, Ayrton Senna.

“I think the greatest driver there has ever been was Ayrton Senna. And yes, I looked up to him. I think he is the best driver there has ever been in Formula One.”

When asked about the hardships he faced throughout his career, the Mexican driver mentioned he struggled with sponsorships and money, this being one of the main reasons he could not get into Formula One. Guerrero made a test with the former F1 team, March Engineering, in England. 

“I was two seconds off the track record, which was held by Ayrton Senna. So, I did a pretty good job with the car,” Guerrero told Divebomb.

Unfortunately, Guerrero was unable to find sponsors to get into Formula One.

As mentioned before, Guerrero took part in the Indy 500 of 1995. When asked about his experience, he shared:

“It’s [impressive]. The first time you get into a race car you see the track and think it is really wide. But when you start speeding through the track it seems to get narrower. And then you feel like the cars are not going to fit in the track. And because you are just going so fast. I was doing 240 miles which is 386 kilometers per hour on the straight.

“And you never touch the brakes except to pit, even for qualifying in the four laps that are given. So it is sixteen corners. I never let off the throttle in qualifying,” he added.

Guerrero was a driver for 30 years and still actively keeps up with the races until this day. When asked about the biggest change he has noticed in motorsports through the years, he answered:

“Overall, the increased safety for the drivers, mechanics, and the public. Race tracks are safer and fortunately, we have not had a death in Formula One in a long time. I think that the safety aspect is the main thing.”

When asked about the qualities a good driver should have, Guerrero put special emphasis on the driver’s ability to understand the car and give feedback about it.

“The solution has to be given by the engineer but you have to know what the car is doing and be able to translate it. I mean, you can't just say, ‘the car is acting weird’. But is it acting weird in the entry, the middle, or the exit of the curves? ‘Well, I don't know, weird.’ Then what do you expect the engineer to do?” 

Guerrero also shared the best memory he has in his career, where he had a “Sergio Perez in Sakhir 2020” moment at a decisive race of his Formula 3 campaign of 1994.

“I remember a very important race for me was in 1994 in Formula 3 International at the Monterey race track. I had qualified third, but in the warm-up before the race the car had no clutch, it was not working. The clutch broke down and there was no time to change it because the race was going to start soon,” he reminisced.

“The thing is that when the cars started, when I put it in first gear, the car turned off. That made me start from the back, in last place. It was the penultimate race and only two drivers could be champions at this point, Derek Higgins and me,” he continued.

“So, I started last. I started to move forward, and forward, and forward. Long story short, I won the race going from last to first and with that I won my third Formula 3 Championship.”

When asked who he thinks is the best Mexican driver, he immediately named the Formula 1 2023 vice champion, Sergio Perez.

“Checo Perez is definitely the best [Mexican] driver. He is the runner-up in the World Championship. We had never had anything like that. The most we ever had was Pedro Rodriguez.”

“And there’s another great one. Who is Pato O'Ward. He is now in Indy but he already has one foot in McLaren F1. I hope we can have him too,” he added.

When asked about his biggest regret, Guerrero mentioned he wished he had “moved to single-seaters earlier”. He stayed in go-karts from age nine to 28. He revealed the reason behind this was a promise he made to his mom.

“She said to me, ‘okay, if I sponsor you, you have to promise me that as long as I live you won't switch to racing cars’. And so, yes, of course, at that moment I promised her because for me there was nothing more but go-karts.”

He also mentioned Ollie Bearman’s recent performance, praising his amazing performance at such a young age. This led to us asking him what advice he would give to young drivers who are entering the world of motorsports.

The main things he mentioned were preparing, getting the proper training, and not being scared to fail.

“You go to a guy who has an academy. Well, he will teach you a lot to keep you from going into a wall. No, it doesn't mean that you will never crash because this is like riding a horse. If you ride a horse, you're going to fall, how many times? I don't know, but you're going to fall. Same in the car. How many times are you going to crash? I don't know, but you're going to crash. Yes.”

Guerrero is currently living in his native city and still actively watches races, always eager to speak more on his lifelong passion of motorsports. 

1 commentaire

30 mars

😍 excelente

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