By Carlos Meneses Sánchez
São Paulo, Nov 28 (efe-epa).- At just 17, Wallace Martins is already an emerging figure on the racing circuits of Brazil, a calling he strives to finance in any which way he can given his humble background. He has already been dubbed the ‘Hamilton of the favela.’
One of his living room walls is stacked with trophies, on the other, there is a racing kart.
The young racer from the northern outskirts of Sao Paulo is set on overcoming the chronic inequality in Brazil, a country that has produced Formula One giants like Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, one of Wallace’s idols along with British driver Lewis Hamilton.
He speaks with a maturity beyond his years. Adversity has forced him to grow up quickly as he and his family try to survive in one of the world’s most elitist sports.
Wallace has been a Formula Vee driver since last year and is the only black racer on the circuit. He seems to have cracked the secret to keeping his Formula One dream alive, however, with his innate talent and a lot of sacrifices.
“At the start of the year there were two races I wasn’t able to compete in due to a lack of funds,” he tells Efe in an interview at his family home in Brasilandia, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and one of hardest-hit by Covid-19.
HOW HIS LOVE FOR MOTORSPORT BEGAN
Wallace was born on 12 May 2003. He became interested in racing at a young age, even though no-one in his family had previously been a fan of the sport. By 10, he was racing karts at an indoor circuit.
The manager of the kartdrome noticed his talent and invited him to an amateur tournament, the prize for which was to take part in a race on the mythical Interlagos circuit, home of the Brazilian Grand Prix.