Andre Gomes Champion’s Perspective: Inaugural Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy, Part II

Day 2 came and I was confident that I would improve my time. After reflecting on my first day at the shootout I had planned out how I was going to drive differently, such as making adjustments to my braking points and changing lines into turns. Although there was a fair amount of traffic, I did not get stuck behind anyone. My changes worked and my average for the 2nd session was faster than anyone’s best time all weekend. My 3rd session didn’t go as successfully because the car I drove was too different from the other cars for me to adapt in time. I had two 2-offs, one of which was only a hair away from being a 4-off. I did what I could with the car, (which ended up getting parked for various issues) and although my time wasn’t the fastest of all groups, I still led the times in my own group, which was what we were being scored against.

Being faster all weekend (apart from my 3rd session, all other runs were faster than all other groups) gave me a confidence boost. While this mentality did not change my driving, I felt better while out of the car. When my fourth and last session was about to begin, I knew keeping the car on the track and being first in my group was all I had to focus on. However, this was not what I wanted to do. I drove as fast as I could while respecting the almighty deadly grass. For the first time I enjoyed driving that weekend. It would soon be over, I had complete control of the car and so far I had done everything possible to be on top. It was very nice to not have been upset about any mistakes and just drive! Apart from a traffic scare, the session went as well as it could have gone.

That’s why when the checkered flag dropped for the very last session of the Skip Barber shootout, I completely ignored my braking point and dived into the corner more quickly than all the other times. The tires yelled as if they were being tortured, the car squirmed through entry to track out in a beautiful sideways dance, kissing the apex cone and curbing at the exit. I risked everything. A near flawless weekend, in exchange for the mere satisfaction of going faster at a turn. Was it really worth it? I don’t know. All I know is that the guys watching turn 1 thought it was very amusing. I had been patiently waiting to do this all weekend, and that was when I felt complete. I raced around the track celebrating in my cockpit and although I had not officially won yet, I was completely content with my performance, the event and everything else leading up to that point.

After lunch, we had a drivers meeting, and I was crowned the winner. Foolishly I did not take the chance to make a speech. I regret not thanking everyone on the spot, so I just wanted to take the opportunity to do that now. As usual Skip Barber had only the best of the best to put the event together, help us drive faster and treat us like friends. I had the time of my life and met really great people. This shootout is something I will never forget and I am extremely grateful for everyone involved. Getting a chance to compete in the formula series is something I’ve wanted all my life and there is no better way to get that chance.

Missed the beginning? Read Andre Gomes Champion’s Perspective: Inaugural Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy, Part I