Apr 23, 2012
The one-legged “Little Chicken” that could. That’s one way you could describe Jorge Goncalvez’s run to fifth place in the Firestone Indy Lights championship last season.
Before the 2011 season started, Goncalvez was in a passenger car accident in which he suffered a broken right leg. He had a metal rod inserted for stability, but a crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway only aggravated the injury and led to another surgery. Despite all the obstacles, Goncalvez did not miss one race. He’s back in 2012 with Belardi Auto Racing for his second year in the series, with only a small limp remaining from last year’s woes.
“I feel really good right now,” Goncalvez said. “I have my first year 100 percent on the track because last year I had the broken leg. I have the same team I had last year because they do a lot of work for me, and they helped me a lot in my first year. They do a really good job.”
Goncalvez has improved one spot per finish each race so far, ending in 11th in St. Petersburg, 10th at Barber and ninth in Long Beach. He is tied for 10th in the standings with nine events remaining, including the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 20-year-old Venezuelan spent two seasons in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, finishing fourth in the championship in 2010. Before hopping on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, he ran in the Formula BMW Americas Series, the Renault Formula 1600cc in the Pan-Am GP Series and the French Formula Renault Series.
As for his unique nickname, it stems from a long-time family business in his home country.
“The family job is we have a farm of chickens in Venezuela that we sell to the people in Venezuela,” he said. “When I first started in go-karts, I had a picture of all the chickens, the little chickens and everything. So everybody said, ‘Hey, that’s the go-kart, the chicken car. Who’s driving it?’ ‘The little chicken.’ In Spanish it’s ‘El Pollito,’ but actually it’s my nickname. I have the picture of the pollito. It’s cool, the people know you by the different name, it’s cool that people know that.”
To hear more about Goncalvez, how he rebounded from last season’s injury and how he is adjusting to the 2012 season with new teammate Alon Day, listen to the interview HERE.