Oswaldo Negri talks with Motorsport.com about his karting career and how useful it was to him as he went on to become a top level sports car racer.
Oswaldo 'Ozz' Negri is a professional Brazilian Race car Driver who currently competes in the TUDOR United SportsCar championship. He has also raced in Indy Lights Panamericana, Dayton Indy Lights, Mexicana Formula 3, F3 Sudamericana, and British Formula 3 during his impressive career.
Getting started in karting - And not the way you probably think...
Ozz’s Mom always had trouble waking him up for school but on Sundays, Ozz would wake up on his own, leaping out of bed without without hesitation. On Sunday mornings at 7:30 in Brazil, they would show a kart race on TV. Due to his love of karting, Ozz would never miss an event.
One day after watching a race, Ozz said to his dad “I want to do this” and his dad responded “I cant afford it.” Ozz kept asking his dad for a go-kart and one day his dad responded jokingly, “Only if we win the lottery.” Due to his age, Ozz didn’t realize that his dad was joking and that the actual chances of winning the lottery were slim to none. So Ozz prayed every day and every night that his dad would win. Two weeks later, to the disbelief of the entire family, Ozz’s Dad won the lottery. He kept to his word and bought Ozz a go-kart.
Going racing for the first time
He started racing when he was nine in Sao Paulo, and under some unique circumstances. Ozz’s first race was at the Interlagos kart track in the pouring rain. Having never driven in the rain before, he was extremely nervous. He spun during the race and ended up finishing a respectable ninth. Ozz recalled the day to Motorsport.com, explaining how mentally fatigued, but relieved he was to put his first race behind him.
Proving his worth at an early age
He showed his natural skill in his second race where he placed third. After just half a season, he had been asked to drive for Kart Mini (a large Brazilian chassis manufacturer). Ozz won four Brazilian championships as a kid, which is very difficult considering all the great drivers that hail from Brazil.
The childhood dream of racing at the Worlds
Ozz said, "In Brazil, every time I had won the championship, the prize was a paid trip to Europe to go race in the World Karting Championship. But I would have to pay for the seat and other race fees, which we couldn’t afford, so I never got the chance to race in Worlds.”
Supernats would be my opportunity to make up for not going to the World Championship.
Ozz ‘s childhood dream was to be able to compete in Worlds and last year, Leo Coleman (Owner of JC Karting) asked Ozz if he wanted to compete in Supernationals. Supernationals is held once a year in Las Vegas and is almost as competitive, if not just as competitive as Worlds. Ozz told Motorsport.com “Supernats would be my opportunity to make up for not going to the World Championship. Racing in Worlds was always my childhood dream.” Ozz started ninth in the final and ended up getting taken out during the final race unfortunately, but he was still ecstatic that he got the opportunity and fulfilled his childhood dream. “I enjoyed it more than any race I have ever competed in,” said Negri.
Granja Viana 500 and other karting events
Ozz competed in the Granja Viana 500 and finished second in 2004 with co-driver Raphael Matos and third in 2009 with Tony Kanaan and Rubens Baricello. “I have not been able to race in the Granja Viana 500 lately because it is always the same weekend Grandam drivers would test for the 24 hours of Daytona," explained Negri.
Kart racing definitely prepares you with your race craft when you move to cars because everything in a kart happens so much faster than in a racecar
Ozz Negri on how karting helped him in his car career
"However, I just received an offer from a team back in Brazil and I will definitely compete if it does not clash with the Daytona testing,” he added. Ozz also competed in the Red Bull Kart Fight at Orlando Kart Center where he finished fourth. Talking about that, he told Motorsport.com “it's fun because the track is so short, it’s like a bullfight.” Ozz, along with Tony Kanaan, Gabby Chaves, and Enrique Bernoldi, karts with JC Karting. They are a local team based in Miami, owned by Leo Coleman.
How karting helps Ozz in his other racing endeavors
“Karts and cars are very different," he explained. "Kart racing definitely prepares you with your race craft when you move to cars because everything in a kart happens so much faster than in a racecar; you kind of train your mind and your thoughts to work at a really quick speed so that when you get in the car, everything feels so much slower."
"Also, I believe that 90% of the drivers nowadays have no clue about how the kart is setup and those who do and can set up their own kart are the top drivers. As for when you move up to cars, it is very important to be able to provide feedback to your mechanics and understand the dynamics of the car so that you can have a fast car under you."