A quick lap with race car driver Andre Castro, AB’22.
Goal:“To be in the Indy 500 and maybe win it someday.”
Career highlight: Third place in the 2021 Formula Ford Festival
Vote of confidence: 2021 Team USA Scholarship, which sends promising drivers to compete in England
How does it feel to drive an open-wheel race car1?
The first time, I remember thinking how low I was to the ground—you can barely see the tops of the front tires. Once you get used to it, the car is very light and does whatever you want it to do.
How does racing compare with normal street driving?
It’s more dangerous to be on the road than to be in a race car, to be honest. You’re not out there with trained professionals. I’m from New York City. I’m glad I can take the train.
What are your strengths?
I’ve won some poles,2 so I’m able to put in a quick lap. But my biggest strength is to adapt. I’ve been jumping in and out of a lot of different cars and never had the budget to do a full season. Usually with one or two sessions in a car, I can get pretty close to the pace.
What’s your training regimen?
I had a wake-up call a couple of years ago when I was getting back into open-wheel racing. Those cars don’t have power steering, and it was a struggle to be strong enough to drive. I got a trainer that I worked with for about a year. I used to hate the gym.
In terms of simulator racing, I use a platform called iRacing, where the competition is very intense. The barrier to entry is much lower, so you have a lot of guys who don’t have the budget for real-life racing, but they’re extremely fast on the sim. And guys you compete against in real life come on too.
You don’t feel the car underneath you like in real life, but you get all the mental aspects—keeping focused, being resilient, hitting your marks every lap. I’ve learned so much from online racing.
What do people think about a UChicago alum being a race car driver?
I’m surprised how much UChicago people enjoy hearing about it. In racing, a lot of people don’t know UChicago, but if they do, they think it’s pretty cool.
UChicago people don’t know much about racing and racing people don’t know much about UChicago. It’s just two sides of myself.
1A type of race car with wheels that sit outside the body, used in IndyCar and Formula 1 races.
2Short for “pole position,” the spot at the front of the starting line given to the first-place qualifier.