When you think of motorsport, Puerto Rico doesn’t usually come to mind as the place to race.
But for Victor Gómez IV, the beautiful Caribbean island that lies southeast of Miami, Florida is a port of dreams when it comes to the automotive industry. Especially in his family, who have been buying and selling cars since 1949.
“Ever since I was born, I’ve loved cars.”
A quick glance at his Instagram will verify that statement, actually. Gómez IV’s life revolves around sports cars. Every post showcases stunning vehicles and huge achievements from his time behind the wheel. In fact, compared to most drivers, the Puerto Rican began his voyage in racing much later than others.
“Nobody in my family was really into motorsports. I was the first one,” he admitted.
After a long trek from the United States to Barcelona, Gómez IV and I chatted over Zoom ahead of an upcoming test session in a GT3 machine.
“When I was 17, [my father] invited me to the Formula 1 race in Austin. We saw the full weekend and how it unfolded. We saw the support races, like the opening acts of F1. And that year, they had Ferrari Challenge. There were a lot of up-and-coming drivers, many of them were 15, 16 and 17 years old.
“And I said, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’ A month later, I was already testing in Palm Beach and two months after that I was in my first race going 190mph.”
Growing up in Puerto Rico, the infrastructure simply wasn’t as accessible as other places can afford. Gómez IV says there were only one or two circuits for karting. Ironically enough, the lack of racetracks on the Greater Antilles’ smallest island paved the way for a boom in sim racing.
“The only way to have motorsports is through simulators. So, now we see a lot of drivers, and even adults, playing with setups, buying their own rigs and really being competitive in the sim world,” the now 25-year-old reflected.
Gómez IV uses his custom simulator to prep for every race weekend.
“I do it more as a practice—I don’t race that much online,” he laughed. The Puerto Rican says it’s helped him with development and getting into a rhythm while getting to know the feel of a new track he’s never raced before.
His first sim consisted of the Full Motion Simulator by SimCraft. Now, he uses a completely personalized rig, monitor, PC, steering system and pedals all made to measure for Gómez IV’s unique specifications.
When it comes to preferred platforms, the young racer is a “big fan” of rFactor 2, iRacing and Assetto Corsa Competizione to keep him in top shape for the real deal, including driving for AF Corse in the 2022 Asian Le Mans Series alongside compatriot Francesco Piovanetti – following victorious seasons in Porsches and Lamborghinis.
“Racing Asian Le Mans was really interesting because it was my first introduction to endurance motorsport. It’s another world. There are a lot of different factors—pit changes, driver changes, driving at night and different categories.
“It’s my most memorable race in motorsports because that’s always been my goal: to get into endurance racing. It was really fun, but it’s very intense at the same time.”
Much of Gómez IV’s mental preparation starts in the sim. Prior to the Asian Le Mans Series, he did two-hour stints to keep himself focused, while also practising proper nutrition before and after the race. He says the major contrast between real and sim truly comes down to g-force and that rush of adrenaline you feel while zipping around the circuit.
So, what’s next for Victor Jr.? Well, in just four days, he’ll be putting his simulator reps into action at Paul Ricard.
“I’m extremely excited and happy to represent Puerto Rico in prestigious motorsport competitions. For a small island in the Caribbean, to be representing my nation means the world to me. And I feel like any athlete, any racer representing their country in the upcoming Motorsport Games event, they have to be really proud of that.”
Be sure to follow his journey beyond the simulator as he strives to compete in more real-world races, too, over the coming years.
Images: Victor Gomez IV