Meira’s racing career began with a go-kart—his “favorite present ever received”-- from his parents when he was 11 years old. “I liked it straight away,” said Meira, “but as a kid of 12 or 13 years old, you can’t really say, ‘Oh that’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.’ I knew I liked it a lot and I was having a lot of fun and I was going to keep doing it until I was not having fun anymore. And the feeling is still the same.”
Meira won the Brazilian championship and was runner-up in the South American title run. At 17, he moved to England to compete in the British Formula Ford Series, placing fourth in 1996 and 1997. The next year he moved up to the British Formula Renault Series where he finished fifth. In 1999, he competed in the South American F3 Series where he won the rookie of the year title. The next year, he won eight races and the title and landed a ride in the European F3000 Series in 2001.
“My first year in F3000 in Europe, I raced against the likes of Felipe Massa [current F-1 driver for Ferrari] who was in his second year and he won the title,” said Meira, who finished fifth that year. “For me, it was a good year for a first year and I was very encouraged going into the second year. But the championship had only eight races and in three of the first four races, I had retired with mechanical problems. In F-3000, if you don’t win in the first year, you have to win in the second year, otherwise you have no chance of doing what you want. So at that point I knew my championship was done. Half the series was done so I had no real hope to win the championship so I took the rest of the sponsorship money I had and came here to America and tried to sort something out and luckily that came around.”
The Brazilian’s IndyCar career began in August, 2002 when he drove for the Menard team; three races and two months later, he won the pole and finished third in the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway.
He continued with Menard the next year driving a partial season and was awarded the IRL’s first Rising Star Award given in honor of the late Tony Renna. In 2004, he joined the Rahal-Letterman team for two seasons. He finished in the top-10 in the driver standings both years, capping 2005 by finishing second to Dan Wheldon in the Indy 500.
In 2006, he moved to Panther Racing and achieved his highest points ranking to date—fifth place behind the Penske and Ganassi teams. He drove for Panther Racing for two more years before being released at the end of 2008, the same season in which he finished second in the Indy 500 again, this time winning a record $1.273,215 million for that single result. His performance also garnered him the Scott Brayton Driver Trophy at the 500 Victory Celebration.
Meira didn’t spend much time as a free agent because he was quickly signed by Foyt for 2009. Both men hold the utmost respect for each other and together they plan to make the 2011 season the most memorable one to date for the ABC Supply Racing team.
Meira, who married the beautiful Adriana Schettini in March, 2008, lives in Miami along with Adriana’s daughter Luiza from a previous marriage and they just gave birth to their daughter, Adriana in April 2011.