Q. Do you feel like you are developing a fan base? There's a lot of attention on Danica Patrick right now; do you feel like you're getting some residual attention because of the focus that's on her?
AB: I think so. American fans are very open to women in racing. I've got a lot of fans who are excited about my career, but it's just developing. Of course, if we were in Indy cars, it would be even bigger. It's just developing, but I think people are getting to know me.
Q. Is the comparison to Danica fair? Is it something you'd rather people wouldn't do?
AB: I don't really mind, really. We're both women who race well and get wins and podiums, so people like to make the comparison. I don't mind, but I don't like it when people come up to me and ask, “Are you the new Danica?” I'm Bia. I'm not Danica. But really, I don't mind the comparisons. I think she's done amazing things for the sport and probably helped me to move up.
Q. Is there any confusion about your name? Everybody around here knows you as Bia, but you're presented to the public as Ana Beatriz. Is there any confusion in that?
AB: Some people who don't know me call me Ana, but then they understand that everybody else calls me Bia. I don't really mind. I answer to both. I'd rather that people call me Bia because it's what I'm used to in Brazil, but I think right now it's getting more clear to people.
Q. Do you ever get confused with Brazilian supermodel Ana Beatriz Barros?
AB: Only by the press. When they start researching me, they Google “Ana Beatriz” and get the model. A lot of people tell me, “Hey, I Googled you and got a beautiful, gorgeous woman wearing Victoria's Secret lingerie.” I have to tell them to Google “Ana Beatriz Indy Lights.” That's where you'll find the normal Bia wearing a white uniform.
Q. What's the most difficult part about attempting to advance to the IndyCar level? Are the barriers primarily financial or are they barriers of opportunity? In other words, which is more of an obstacle – the lack of money or the lack of seats?
AB: The top teams that have money aren't going to hire rookie drivers, so you always have to find financial support to move up. Rafa Matos is blessed because he was able to move up without bringing money, but he had such a successful history in American racing. In his case, it's understandable. But for drivers in Indy Lights, it has yet to be proven that you can move up without great financial support.
Q. It seems to be a matter of seats, too. There are a half-dozen drivers in Lights who are good enough and have solid backing, but there's nowhere to go. There simply aren't enough cars out there.
AB: There aren't enough cars and the teams that have the money and might have an open seat aren't going to give it to a rookie. You have to make your own opportunities, and in order to do that, you have to get sponsorship. You have to be able to work well with sponsors. It's a major thing.
Q. Tell me the story again about the first time you were in a go-kart.
AB: (Laughs) The first time I went to a go-kart school at Interlagos in Sao Paulo, I had taken all the theoretical classes and all of that, but the first time we went out onto the track, I turned the wrong way and started going against the flow of traffic. The course workers stopped me right away and turned me around.
Q. All you wanted to do was race. You didn't care which way you went.
AB: Exactly. I was so excited. I was 7 or 8 years old. It didn't matter which way I went; I just wanted to turn the wheel and have some fun.
Q. Did you know right away that you were good at it?
AB: I think I was a little crazy with it at the beginning. I had to learn to control myself and do it the right way. I was overdriving at first, but with more experience I could see that I had a future in it. But right away, I don't think I really knew what I was doing yet. When people come to me and say, “Oh my god, I know this driver who's 8 years old and he's winning everything,” I say, “Wait until he's 15.” It's so different between those two ages. When you're 15 or 16, you might have a good feel for it, but when you're 8 years old, it's hard to judge.
Q. Who is your racing hero?
AB: Emerson Fittipaldi and Ayrton Senna.
Q. Not surprising. Tell me how that came about.
AB: I started to race because of them. There was a time when I was 6 or 7 years old that I loved to watch racing on TV. At that time, Emerson was dominating here in America and Senna was dominating in Formula 1. Those guys were my heroes.
Q. Did you ever learn anything technical from watching them?
AB: A little bit. Emerson was so technical and so mental, and Senna was so aggressive. They had different approaches. I never had the chance to meet Ayrton, but I have met Emerson. It was an amazing experience. It was a five-minute conversation, but I learned so much.
Q. What does a season opener in Brazil present to you in terms of exposure or sponsorship?
AB: Hopefully I will be the first Brazilian woman to run in a top series, and if my first race is in Brazil, that makes it even more special. If Andre, Cesario and Robert can manage to find the right team and put together the right sponsors, it would be amazing.
Q. Do you think it's possible that you can put together a one-off for that race?
AB: Yes. If they think it's a good idea, then I want to pursue it.