ADRIANO MEDEIROS – RACING DRIVER
Adriano’s story starts in a familiar fashion to many of his countrymen, with the young Brazilian avidly following Formula One on television and skipping school to watch test days at his local racetrack Interlagos. Adriano borrowed money so he could undertake a racing school course, and then stayed on at the school to work as a mechanic to clear his debts. He rustled up enough money to compete in a handful of races, but it looked like motorsport was destined to be an unfulfilled ambition.
In Brazil Medeiros arranged a meeting with former Formula One racer Alex Dias Ribeiro, now perhaps best known as the driver of the medical car at Grands Prix. In his racing days, Ribeiro was famous for his religious approach to motorsport, exemplified by the legend ‘Jesus Saves’ on his car and helmet. He plays an integral role in the ‘Atletas de Cristo’ – an organisation that works with Christian sports stars. Medeiros went to meet Ribeiro at Interlagos, and was surprised to find him in company with an even more legendary Brazilian racing driver, Emerson Fittipaldi. The surprise increased when Adriano realised what the two 1970s F1 stars were discussing.
“In a few minutes I realised that it was a meeting about bible studies,” Medeiros explains. “We sat, prayed and studied the Bible. I was impressed to see two symbols of Brazilian motorsport talking about Jesus. I had heard about Jesus before, but the cultural differences between the speaker and I caused some resistance.”
Ribeiro encouraged Adriano to embrace religion and try a new approach to his racing ambitions – “he said that he could help me spiritually but not materially” – and so Medeiros attempted to move to the USA to compete, but with his visa refused twice Adriano decided that clearly an American motorsport career was not meant to be. Instead, he headed for England, where he initially worked in McDonald’s and a cheap garage while searching for a real opportunity to break into motor racing. Progress was slow, and eventually Medeiros found himself jobless, cash-strapped and with just one month remaining before he would have to return to Brazil. But Adriano didn’t give up.
“I would say in my prayers: ‘Lord, I know I haven’t got the money to be a racing driver, I know I find myself in a totally unfavourable situation, but I know that the Lord and God of the impossible is the one who can make this dream of mine come true,’” Medeiros recalls. “My girlfriend at the time – now my wife Ana – told me to trust in God and do not give up.”
Soon after this Medeiros made contact with Meritus Racing’s Roberto Costa, who suggested he apply for a job at Palmersport. Adriano expected to be employed as a mechanic, but instead found himself working as an instructor – an ideal opportunity to develop his ability behind the wheel and edge closer to becoming a professional racing driver. “Nowadays, I’m much more skilled as a driver than I used to be when I started,” he said, “for I have been driving everyday, from Monday to Friday, teaching people what they must do in order to drive fast.”
Medeiros was now in the right place, had a job that would improve his racing skills, and through his faith had the determination to stick to his dream, but still lacked the funding to race. Eventually he encountered two Brazilian companies with English connections: working with UK based Brazilians. With sponsors behind him at last, Adriano was able to sign a deal with Ed Moore and Motorsport-Events.com, racing in the 2006 BRSCC Club Formula Ford Midlands South Championship (2006) in a Van Diemen. Running only six races of the championship due to budgetary issues, Adriano amassed enough points to be second in the standings at the point of vacating the seat.
In 2007, he moved to the Britcar GT Championship where he helped the team to 4th position in class driving a Porsche 996, and this propelled him to the Radical UK Cup in 2008. During the course of the season assisting newcomer Charles Loughran as a driver coach and team-mate, Adriano showed his skills with flamboyance and charisma with highlights from the season including leading at Donington Park, charging through from last position to 2nd place at Brands Hatch and setting the 2nd fastest lap at Silverstone. With more focus on his work at Palmersport in 2009, he then raced in the SpeedSeries UK campaign in 2010 alongside Mohsin Rashid in a Ligier JS49 and in 2011, a great chance came in the Britcar GT Trophy as Adriano took a pair of victories in a Porsche 996 as team-mate to Chris Bentley.
In 2012, Adriano was given an incredible opportunity at Brands Hatch to race in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and after a sensational drive he brilliantly took victory on his debut in the series, setting fastest lap in the process. He then later found himself racing in the Silverstone 24 Hours in the #62 BMW, where he aided the team to 13th position overall and 7th place in class.
But after years of hard work, consummate faith and true blessing, the Jesus Saves Racing banner returned to Formula Ford after over twenty years absence and there was nobody better to call on to race for the squad in the Classic Formula Ford 1600 series than Adriano Medeiros, making his season debut at Snetterton. Having to start his first race from the back after a technical infringement he charged through to third position, before backing that up with third and fourth place at the next round at Mallory Park. Then came Pembrey in South Wales, and the charging Medeiros set off into the distance with a pair of dominant victories from pole position which started an epic run of good form through the 2013 season. With another dominant victory in the Ian Taylor Memorial Trophy at Thruxton, he was now battling for the lead of the championship and with a win in the heat and a second in the final at Oulton Park he was ready to go for the title. He dug deep and grabbed pole position, which then sent him on his way for two stunning victories to make him the 2013 Classic FF1600 champion. He returned in 2016 to lift the championship again in flamboyant style, despite having had limited seat time in race weekends since his previous glory.
In addition to his performances as a racing driver, he has been invaluable to many drivers working their own paths through the ranks of motorsport. His work with Charles Loughran pushed him to challenge for the Radical Clubman Championship just a year after working with Adriano, whilst Chris Bentley has moved on to greater successes in sportscar racing thanks to Adriano’s tutoring. In recent times he has coached Seth Walpole to a top ten finish in the highly competitive Lotus Elise Trophy UK series in 2014 and has recently assisted Junior Saloon Car Championship champion Katie Milner who became the most successful female driver in junior racing history, with 8 fantastic victories en route to the 2016 JSCC title guided by Adriano every step of the way.
Perhaps the most significant line on Medeiros’ personal website is this extract from the introduction: “Those who know Adriano Medeiros know that it is impossible to talk about him without mentioning his faith in God”. Adriano’s religion permeates every aspect of his life, and his racing is no exception. Even for those without strong religious convictions, it is refreshing to encounter a driver who brings such a passionate and spiritual approach to motorsport. His ambitions stretch to eventually establishing his own ministry within racing.
“God has made a lot of changes in my life,” Medeiros told FF1600.co.uk. “The best decision I made in my life was to accept Jesus as my saviour. For three years I was working at Palmersport and waiting for a blessing, and now here I am. God gave me this opportunity and I hope this is just the beginning.”