Catching Up with Eduardo Barrichello
 April 30, 2020| 
  • Series News
Barrichello Feature 2020

Few drivers in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship were more disappointed to go home early from St. Petersburg, Fla., last month than Pabst Racing’s Eduardo Barrichello. The 18-year-old Brazilian had topped three of the five pre-season test sessions at Homestead-Miami Speedway and led the lone official practice before the weekend was called off as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread.

Now, Barrichello waits with the rest of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires community to begin the season, filling his time with online school and sim racing, staying safe in his family's home in São Paulo, Brazil.

Family“I have been doing online school until 2:00 p.m. every day, then I hang out with my brother, my mom and my dad,” said Barrichello. “I have also been working a lot on the sim, and practicing guitar. We’re safe inside the house, trying to exercise the best we can, so we’re doing well. We live in the city and we live on top of a shopping mall so it’s relatively easy to shop and just go back home. That makes it easier.”

He was 6 years old when his father (Formula One legend Rubens Barrichello) gave him his first go kart, but the young Barrichello remembers that those first forays into racing did not exactly go as planned.

“I was terrible. Incredibly horrible. I would practice but it was still bad, and I was in such shock that I just stopped. I started playing soccer and really focused on that, but as I got older, my cousin started racing karts and I decided I wanted to try again – and I loved it. I practiced every day on the sim even back then.”

RTI_LOR_Q1_052019_E_3453Barrichello’s prowess came to the fore in 2014, when he entered the Mini Max class and won eight of 12 races. When Barrichello joined the Florida Winter Tour, his family decided to make the move to Orlando.

“It was so much easier with everything, especially school. The races were all so close – I felt like I was living the dream.”

At age 16, Barrichello moved into cars, racing for a year in the U.S. F4 Championship Powered by Honda, driving with Cape Motorsports and learning from veteran driver (and eventual champion) Dakota Dickerson. He moved up to the Road to Indy and the USF2000 series last year with Miller Vinatieri Motorsports but switched to DEForce Racing toward the end of the season, earning a season-high second position in qualifying at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It was those late races that caught the attention of Pabst Racing team owner Augie Pabst.

IMG_7961“We got a message after the season from Augie saying he would like us to race with them this year, because he thought I was a good driver, so we signed right away. I was so nervous to drive his cars, because I knew it would be a good car!”

Barrichello impressed the team right out of the box, besting the track record on the short track at Sebring. But for the youngster, his experiences with the team off track are just as important as the performance on the racetrack. Englishman Matt Round-Garrido and New Yorker Yuven Sundaramoorthy join Barrichello as sophomore drivers on the team’s USF2000 squad, while Hunter McElrea and Colin Kaminsky (second and fourth in the 2019 final standings) move up to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires squad – and Barrichello looks forward to gaining in knowledge from all of them.

“The team has been amazing. Augie treats me like his son. I did the seat fitting at the shop and stayed at their house for two days and I felt at home from the first moment. It’s the same with all of my teammates – we go to dinner and have a great time. I already consider them all my second family.

RTI_032020_B_8480“I’m glad to have Colin and Hunter in the truck, along with Yuven and Matt. Even though they’re in Indy Pro 2000, they’re still helping me, and they have a lot of experience in this car. It was funny – at my second test, they put plastic barriers out to make it feel like St. Pete, and I crashed. Hunter was watching and since I’m driving his car from last year, he told me he was so hurt! And of course, Matt is so funny – he’ll talk a lot of rubbish this year.”

Until teams are ready to return to the racetrack, online racing must fill the void. Barrichello finished second in the Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries behind champion Phillippe Denes, with Braden Eves third. He earned a victory at the team’s home track, Road America, and podium finishes in each of the five races. The young Brazilian loves that many of his fellow Road to Indy drivers have joined him in the virtual world.

“This is a lot of fun! Everyone can push to the limit because if you crash, there’s no cost. I don’t have a really good simulator here in Brazil, so I can blame some of my problems on that.

“Phillippe and Braden are very good drivers. I knew they would be fast, especially Braden. I have a huge respect for him; we raced karts against each other. But I miss the G-forces and the tightness in my arms that the real car gives you.”

Barrichello keeps busy as best he can while the family stays close to home in Brazil. From working out (“I only go to the gym so I can eat Nutella! I’ve been eating that since I can remember and it’s a huge love”) to designing sim racing liveries for his friends (he designed his racing helmet himself), he also works with his father’s institute, the Instituto Família Barrichello (“the institute helps students pursue their passions, whether it’s soccer, learning English or driving a kart”). But it’s all just marking time until he can get back in a race car.

“I cannot wait to get strapped into the car. I can’t wait for that feeling. When you drive a race car, you really have to connect with it, and I felt that from the first moment I sat in this car so I can’t wait to plug in my radio, get into the car, do the out lap, get the brakes heated again. I just can’t wait for that; I’m going to be so happy.”

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