Riverton • Selling door-to-door is a tough way for a 14-year-old to support his passion for go-karting.
Bruno Carneiro knows all about it.
One of the most accomplished young kart drivers in the country, Carneiro raises most of the money needed to compete in his sport by selling gift certificates to the Brazilian steak house chain, Rodizio Grill.
Nearly every night, Carneiro canvases the sprawling neighborhoods that surround his family’s home on the south end of the Salt Lake Valley in an effort to fund his karting.
“You get both good and not-so-good,” said Carneiro. “There are wonderful people out there who are super nice and proud of what you do and want to help you out. And there are some not-so-nice people out there who say something or do something that’s not needed. But that’s part of it, I guess.”
One of Carneiro’s stops remains particularly memorable.
“I rang the doorbell,” he said, “and a man answered the door. He was carrying this little chihuahua. He opened the door a little more and I saw a woman. She had a gun. I said, ‘Wow, this is going to be a tough one.’”
Carneiro is competing in the Rotax MAX Challenge U.S. Grand Nationals this weekend at Miller Motorsports Park. He was born in Brazil in 1999 — one year after Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls beat the Jazz in the NBA Finals for the second time.
When Luigi Carneiro moved his family to the United States in 2000, his son embraced racing before he started kindergarten.
“I was always playing with Matchbox cars,” he said, “and I’d watch races with my dad. I always loved it — the speed and how all the little details worked together.”
Luigi Carneiro, who works for the Rodizio Grill chain, bought his son’s first go-kart.
“He saw my passion,” Bruno said, “and it’s gone on from there.”
In those early years, the Carneiros often loaded the little go-kart into a trailer and took it along on visits to Bruno’s grandfather, who lived next to a store with a huge, rolling parking lot. Perfect.
“I’d floor it and swerve and make donuts,” Bruno said. “That was the first bit of action I had. It’s a really fond memory from the beginning of all this.”
Despite his age, Carneiro has already raced in Italy, Brazil and throughout the United States. He now competes in an advanced kart class against 15- and 16-year-olds from parts of the country conducive to year-around racing.
“Moving to Florida would be better for his racing,” Luigi Carneiro said. “But for us, it would be tough because we have developed so many friends here. ... That is an aspect of racing that’s so wonderful.”
Like all levels of motorsports, financing remains a huge part of the equation. That’s why Bruno Carneiro sells gift certificates door-to-door. He also started a driving school for aspiring kart drivers, in addition to giving motivational speeches to large business groups.
“I haven’t spent a penny on his racing,” Luigi Carneiro said. “Well, maybe I put a little gas in the car once in awhile. But, honestly, it’s all him.”
Bruno Carneiro attends the Providence Hall Charter School in Herriman.
He enters 10th grade this fall.
“It gets very difficult during the school year because I have to fund-raise for my karting,” he said. “... I stay pretty busy taking care of my responsibilities.”
What do his school friends think?
“Actually, there are a lot of kids who say, ‘Come on, Bruno, let’s go hang out,’” he said. “... I do once in awhile, but I don’t really have much free time.”
Scores of people have helped launch what Carneiro hopes becomes a career, but he specifically mentions professional racer and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long as someone who has been generous with support and advice.
Long remembers meeting Carneiro in the paddock after a race at Miller Motorsports Park. He was selling gift certificates, of course.
“No fear,” Long recalled, “and a great little conversationalist. ... I enjoyed the kid’s audacity and willingness to speak for himself — and always with a smile. I started to look forward to running into him each time I visited Salt Lake.”
Carneiro hopes the ride he started when little more than a toddler lasts a lifetime.
“The dream is, if it has four wheels and goes forward, then it works for me,” he said. “If I can be in motorsports — in the car — that’s what I’d prefer. But if it’s helping design cars or working with the cars, that’s OK, too.”
Said Long: “... I can tell you he’s marketable and already has a great understanding of how important PR and fundraising is in our sport. I have little doubt he will go far.”
2014 Rotax MAX Challenge U.S. Grand Nationals
O At Miller Motorsports Park on Saturday and Sunday.
Why • National karting champions will be crowned in seven classes.
Tickets • $5 for adults. Children 12 and under are free.
More information • www.millermotorsportspark.com