Away from the track, you might not even know that Joao Barbosa races cars for a living. An all-around family man, Barbosa and his wife Mariana, along with their two sons (Rodrigo 14, Gil 11) recently moved from Ormond Beach, Florida to Davidson, North Carolina.
Not only is the family’s new home closer to the Action Express Racing shop, it also allows for the adventurous family to explore their new surroundings with North Carolina providing much to offer in the way of active lifestyles.
“When I am away from the track I just like to disconnect a little from everything racing related,” said Barbosa. “I try to do some fun stuff with the kids as much as I can. They are pretty active and they like to do stuff. I just moved to North Carolina in Davidson. I’m still learning the area a little bit, we need to explore it more. I like to do fun stuff. We’ve been to Cliffhangers a few times which is a rock climbing gym - it’s super cool and the kids love to go there as well.”
It’s not a surprise that the Barbosa children like adventure, considering their dad’s profession.
“We like to do adventurous things,” added Barbosa. “The winter wasn’t the best time to be outside but we are looking forward to doing some ziplining and doing some crazy fun stuff outside this summer.”
While Rodrigo and Gil have done some karting in the past, the two haven’t shown much interest in following in their dad’s footsteps into racing – much at the delight of their mom, Mariana. But the zest for competition runs deep in the Barbosa blood with both boys involved in sports. Rodrigo plays soccer, and Gil plays baseball.
“I think it is important for the kids to do group sports,” said Joao of his children’s endeavors. “Especially being new to the area, they can meet a lot of new people. During the off season there is more time for everybody. There’s always a baseball game or soccer game or practice. Sometimes I’m not there and that makes it difficult for my wife to be in two places at the same time. I enjoying taking them to the games and seeing them having fun and playing other sports.
“I don’t think anybody is going to be a race car driver for now. Rodrigo would love to be an MLS (soccer) player – but he’d have to work really hard at it. It doesn’t come easy for sure. If he had that passion, and that’s what he would want to do and he worked for it, then we would support him in that for sure. Same as Gil with baseball. He is a very good baseball player – I don’t know much about baseball – but everyone says he’s pretty good at it so we’ll see. We’ll see where this takes us and I’ll be there to support them in whatever they want to do for sure.”
In the same way that Barbosa supports his family, they also support his celebrated career.
“Joao is dedicated to his profession in the same way that he is dedicated to his family,” said Joao’s wife Mariana. “We are so proud of him for all the efforts he’s been doing in his life and for all the success he’s been achieving! He is an incredible dad and husband that doesn’t bring home any of the problems, frustrations and disappointments that sometimes happen at his races, not even one! He moves forward thinking immediately about what he can do to improve and prepares himself physically and mentally for the next race! That’s it!”
In fact, at home, Joao is a normal dad – a handyman, chauffeur, and cheerleader.
“He is a great handyman, a great helper in house chores, cutting grass, playing games with the kids, he doesn’t miss one practice or game of their sports – unless he is away at a race,” added Mariana. “He’s an extremely focused and determined person. It is like he has a button that switches from race-time to family-time. It’s absolutely incredible, he doesn’t like to introduce himself to anybody as a race car driver. He’s honest and an absolutely natural dad and husband. He is an example of character, patience, honesty and passion for his life! Our family is very blessed to have him.”
While Mariana is passionate about Joao’s racing career, she doesn’t share the same need for speed as her husband. In fact, our interview took place as she sat in the shade under a tree at an amusement park while Joao was on a rollercoaster with the kids.
Many may recognize Mariana from when Joao took her on a Continental Tire two-seater ride at Daytona International Speedway. The video of that ride has garnered over 1 million views on Youtube. WATCH HERE: https://youtu.be/updyPbEJ8f4
Racing and adventure are big things in the Barbosa family, but what’s most important?
Mariana puts it best: “FAMILY IS FAMILY!”