The world of auto racing has attracted fans from across the globe. Perhaps people feed off of its extremeness: break-neck speeds, life-threatening danger, and top-performance vehicles. Synonymous with the world-class symbols in racing – Ferrari and Lamborghini – is the name Piquet. One of the finest of the clan is champion race car driver Cristiano Piquet.
The Miami resident first put rubber to road at the tender age of 3 in his home town of Minas Gerais, Brazil. At only 16, Cristiano transitioned to amateur cart racing and splattered the pavement with his competition, winning all of his tournaments. By 19, he was fearless, dazzling fans with his famous “flights” – jumps at more than 143 miles per hour. He brought that talent stateside and emigrated from Brazil to Miami, Florida in 2001. During his first year, he placed in an international competition against 129 first-rate drivers.
After a career boasting wins in more than 40 Formula Dodge races and against some of the best drivers in the game, Cristiano traded his racing suit for a business suit. He changed his career track and became a realtor, but he kept the same winning reputation that he garnered on the race track. Today, Cristiano is a three-time champion of the prestigious “Top Producer of the Year” award and one of the most successful real estate brokers in Miami.
However, he threw his fans and the racing world a curve ball when he returned to the sport this past summer for the reality TV show the “Setup” on the Speed Channel. He competed against dozens of other voracious drivers vying for a grand prize of $100,000: You can take the boy from the race course, but you can’t take the race course from the boy!
He had the chat boards ablaze because of his impenetrable aura, but he kept his cool despite pressure to act unruly for television ratings. He remained true to himself. Cristiano is a symbol of success, style and substance not only for Brazilians, but for Latinos across the globe…
So, how did you develop your passion for racing?
Well, it all started when I was 3 years old, racing go karts in Brazil. My brother was 7. . .
You were listed as one of the 10 best Brazilian drivers. What was the transition like for when you came to America in 2001?
It was super! That’s the goal of every Brazilian driver – to race in the United States and Europe. After winning three national championships of Shifter Karts, I finally had my chance. I was invited to race for the Formula Dodge National Series where I placed first on my very first race 🙂
Your uncle Nelson Piquet is a three-time Formula One Champion of the World, and your cousin Nelson Jr. is now racing for the Renault Team. We will be able to see two Piquet drivers on the same F1 team?
Unfortunately no, but I love to go watch the races all over the world. The last race I watched was in Italy, Monza GP in August. I may race again for the Lamborghini of Miami, on the 2009 Grand Am Series; we are still working on this deal.
What’s a typical day like for you? Or is there such a thing?
Well, I have no routine. I work hard on real estate six days a week. I only race on Thursday nights with a bunch of friends.
You’re known for both your style and speed. How do you stay in shape? What’s the true breakfast of champions?
I’ve being going to the gym, swimming, running, etc. since I was a kid. I eat very healthy during the week, but on weekends I’m more relaxed. My breakfast is pretty much the same everyday: normally 4 eggs (3 white), 2 slices of wheat bread, lots of turkey, fat free cream cheese, and cereal with milk sometimes. Also, Brazilian coffee every morning – strong Brazilian coffee.
How did you feel getting back into your racing suit for the Setup reality TV show on the Speed Channel?
It was great! I was getting 80,000 hits on my website every week; more real estate clients for me!
On your blog you said: “I didn’t understand why the producer wanted to make it harder for me from day one, maybe because I am Brazilian (with real chances of winning), on a show full of American sponsors…” What did you mean by this?
I was pissed when I gave that interview after they took my car from me for no reason in the last race. For some reason the producers were making things clearly harder for me.
What do you think of the status of Brazilians in the racing world?
Brazilians are very respected on the motorsports world. With Fittipaldi, Piquet and Senna, Brazil won the World Championship eight times! It’s all because of the high level of the Go Kart in Brazil. Racing there is a very serious business. It doesn’t stop, not even with the Carnaval.
You went from being a champion race car driver to a top-producing real estate mogul. How are they similar or different? What have you learned about life from both?
I love competition, no matter what it is; I love all kinds of competition. The real estate business is like Motorsports for me. After twelve months or twelve races, only one driver or broker will have more points to clinch the title – the Top Producer of the Year title. I dedicate, concentrate and work hard; there is no secret.
You are also a pilot among your many talents. What are your other hidden talents?
I fly small airplanes here in Miami Beach, and I love those planes that take off and land on the water. I may have one or two more talents.
What gives you the biggest thrill: Racing in a top of the line sports car, soaring in streamlined airplane, or a taking in the view from a beach front condo…? Or is it something else? If so, what?
My biggest thrill? It’s for sure something else, not racing nor flying. I’m afraid is not appropriate to mention here; we may have kids reading this. 😉
What’s next for you?
I want to grow my company. I still have many countries to conquer. Lots of people in the world want to have a vacation home in Miami, and now is the best time to do it. It’s double incentive to buy now. The dollar is weak, and when it gets stronger, the investor makes money. Property prices go back up in a few years, and the investor makes money again. It’s brainless. Now is the best moment ever for international buyers.
I’m lucky to be in Miami in the right business at the right time, with a global platform. Piquet Realty is present in 30 countries with a total of 195 offices, and over 6,900 professionals. We are bringing buyers from all over the world to Miami, because they are the only ones buying right now.
For every 10 sales in 2008, only one is a local buyer. I still have a huge inventory in Miami, over 63,000 properties for sale, and lots of beautiful ones for half of the price or more discounted.
On your blog you commented that you had two objectives during the race:
1 – Don’t finish last
2 – Don’t crash the car
I was specifically talking about that freaking TV show; those were our rules to make it to the final race. I had a strategy to save my equipment for the last race, number 14, where the winner of THAT race, would be the winner of the WHOLE show.
That’s actually a good metaphor for life. What creed do you live your life by?
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Web Site: http://www.cristianopiquet.com/
Julia Randle is a journalist in Houston.