Sitting across from me on the tram to the parking lot at Chicagoland Speedway was a bespectacled unassuming Colombian man, and his wife wearing William Rast racing gear. It was 2010, and I was at my third race ever with my brother n law, an aspiring rapper, and my best friend of 15 years.
We had just left the paddock where we got to hang out with Sebastian Saavedra and James Hinchcliffe. We got to talking, and it turns out, this was Sebastian’s parents sitting there with us. Possibly two of the nicest people I had ever met. As we got off the tram, they invited us to come hang out with them in the paddock later, and we gladly accepted the offer.
Long story short, Sebastian and I got to talking about anything from female racers (Carmen Jorda, to be exact), headphones (he was a Skullcandy sponsored athlete), and the race to come. As we left, his father came out of the hauler with hats and tshirts, all of which Sebastian had signed for my kids.
I left Chicago a fan of Sebastian’s and at every event when I see his father, he always recognizes me, and greets me warmly.
This made me pretty outspoken about Sebastian when he stepped back down to IndyLights. I thought it was a show of humility, and presence of maturity in a young driver, that you don’t see any more. (Zach Veach is another of these excellent role models)
Sebastian has this player image, mostly derived from the look of the spiked hair, and such, but the Saavedra I know is willing to ship me hats for my kids randomely, and make a point to say hello whenever he can.
I’ll never forget the time I ran into Seb and his parents at the Apple Store in the Keystone mall. He was politely asking his mother if he could buy something, with a respect I can only wish my children had, and then I was pleasantly surprised to see his age come into play, as she scolded him for annoying her so much about buying something. I laugh even now at how this played out, and how he immediately stopped. Such a great moment in a young persons life. He can drive 200+ miles an hour around an oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, yet can easily get put in his place by the woman who brought him into this world.
Today, when Dragon Racing and Sebastian announced his full time ride for the 2013 season in the #6 Chevy powered TRUEcar machine, I couldn’t have been prouder.
Sebastian, you earned this ride through respect and humility. Respect for your peers, respect for the speed, and the humility to know when you weren’t ready for the big cars, and a willingness to take a step back. Congratulations sir, I truly wish you much success this season, and in the very very near future.
Tell mom & dad I say hello.
[This article is severely editorial, but hey, I own the site. ]