Like many stock car drivers, California driver Carlos Vieira has a passion for racing. But for Vieira, racing is not just a passion; it saved his life.
Vieira’s new autobiography, “Knockin’ Doorz Down: A Story of Breaking Through the Darkness and Finding Redemption,” shares his battles with addiction as a young adult and the resulting tribulations, as well as his recovery and the new life he’s been able to forge as a result.
“I wanted to tell my story,” Vieira told Speed51. “I didn’t want to grow old, look back and tell myself ‘I could have done something more with my path or story to help people.’ That’s what I’ve been doing ever since I got clean.
“I’ve been drug-free for about 14 years now. Ever since I made that decision to stop forever, when I came to the point when I had to change, that’s when racing became a part of my life. Once I was going down the right path, I wanted to do more to give back to the community.”
As a teenager, Vieira was your typical high school student, enjoying sports, cars and spending time with friends. However, he started using drugs recreationally in college, leading to a destructive path of addiction upon his return home from school.
“I never did drugs until I got into college. I grew up a jock in school. I was into sports. I was into cars. I didn’t race until later in life, but I’d take my car to car shows a lot. I was into cars, sports, chasing women, doing what kids do, but I was never into drugs until I got to college. Once I was introduced to hard drugs, cocaine mainly, that’s when things got really bad.”
“Knockin’ Doorz Down” details the struggles and damage done by Vieira’s drug addiction.
“I was addicted to drugs for 13 years. I reached bottom many times. The book talks about my arrests, all the rehabs, losing my marriages and relationships with my kids. It talks about that and the ins and outs of binges. It tells stories about what I did when I was on drugs, the crazy stuff I did.
“It really paints the picture of the perfectly normal kid, president of their class, MVP of all the sports I played year-round, to someone who lost it all. Numerous times, I was broke, living on the streets, hungry. I’d go to my family’s home to eat and they’d slam the door on me. They were tired of it. They did everything they could to help me, but between the lies and bad stuff I put my family through, they got to the point where they were done.”
Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Vieira has now been drug-free for nearly 15 years and has dedicated his second chance in life to educating young people to prevent them from following that same path.
Vieira credits motorsports as a key part of his personal recovery, reigniting his passion for cars as a teenager while introducing him to a new community.
“I made some life-saving decisions and did things that I felt were key to me being clean for the last 14 years. One of those things was racing. I grew up knowing nothing about racing. I never went to a race; my friends didn’t race. I brought racing into my life, and it changed my life forever.
“It was a dream of mine. Most young boys, you want to go fast, you love to race. I was always very competitive. It just wasn’t in my circle of friends. I didn’t even know there were racetracks around here, to be honest, because I was never introduced to it.”
Vieira also credits racing for giving him a competitive platform, something he believes was also important in his recovery.
“When I went to college, I stopped playing sports. Sports kept me occupied, sports kept me motivated. I knew that I needed to stay away from drugs, parties, gang life, stuff like that. You can’t get mixed up with that kind of lifestyle and plan to play sports.
“When I brought racing into my life, it got back to focusing on doing something for myself that satisfied my inner need for competition, or desire to live on the edge. You bring back teamwork, having a team and other people around you with the same passion as what you do. It brought back what I needed for myself.”
Sales of “Knockin’ Doorz Down” also benefit the Carlos Vieira Foundation’s Race 2B Drug Free campaign.
“When I first started my foundation, we raised money for autism. Our first campaign was Race for Autism. A few years later, I started Race 2B Drug Free. That was a campaign to keep kids off the streets, away from drugs and away from gangs. Then we started Race to End the Stigma.”
“My book is focused on the Race 2B Drug Free. I’ve donated my whole inventory of books. When someone buys the book, 100 percent of the sale goes to the campaign. It helps kids stay away from drugs and gangs. We bring speakers into schools, talking to kids and telling their stories.”
One program funded by Race 2B Drug Free, Gloves Not Drugs, offers an escape for children through a free after-school program where students learn how to box.
“We have after-school programs. One program, Gloves Not Drugs, is a free program where kids go to gyms after school and learn the sport of boxing. We sponsor them to compete around the country.”
Vieira also hopes people will see his story and know that, regardless of what struggles they are facing, they can overcome them and chase their dreams.
“I want my story to be something that you can hear and think, no matter how much you think your life is over, no matter what your struggle is, you can overcome it and be what you were meant to be. You don’t have to let something control you. You can overcome any adversity.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: KDD Media Company