MONTEREY, Calif. -- When recently-crowned USF2000 champion Nico Jamin and 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves got together to volley a bit on the tennis court late last year, their competitiveness came through.
“It was pretty crazy. I won the game at the tiebreak of the third set after more than two hours. We fought until the last point of the game,” said Jamin, 19, a native of France who resides in Florida.
A rematch this fall isn’t likely; Chaves is recovering from ankle surgery unrelated to racing.
Jamin, who thought about turning pro in tennis until a knee injury closed that path, earned the Mazda scholarship of more than $381,000 to be put toward a Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires program in 2016.
“I played tennis for a long time and my dad started racing when he was about 38 years old, a gentleman driver in a club series (Clio Cup) in France. He was just racing for fun and I was always around him in the paddock watching the races,” Jamin said. “I wanted to try go-karts and I loved it. Someone was watching me one time and said that I had potential so we decided to try that adventure and it worked out pretty well."
He was 15. That was four years ago.
"I knew it was going be my new target, to become a professional race car driver,” Jamin added.