During the jump, Jokke Sommer – a true legend of the skies – captured this extraordinary footage. “Jokke is a good friend and a real pro, capable of the kind of insane jumps that I would never attempt, and I have the utmost respect for what he does. He’s one of the very best, so it was a real privilege to be able to jump with him,” says Menezes, a professional racing driver – competing in Team Peugeot TotalEnergies’ #94 9X8 – and also the holder of a skydiving licence. Here, the American talks us through his spectacular adrenaline-fuelled hobby.
Gustavo, when did you begin doing skydives?
“A few years ago, I remember being struck by some videos I saw about skydiving, which really gave me the urge to try it out for myself – not that I needed very much encouragement, to be fair! Since my first jump in 2019, I’ve been lucky enough to learn from some of the very best instructors around. I’ve travelled all over the world and parachuted above some incredible places. I love the buzz that skydiving gives you; it’s similar to the feeling I get when I head out for a qualifying lap in the 9X8.”
As a racing driver, your goal is clearly to win. What is your objective when you skydive?
“In my professional life, yes, my motivation is obviously always to win. That’s both an objective and the greatest reward. When I skydive, my favourite moment is exiting the plane or helicopter. That split-second when I jump, I leave everything else behind. It’s exactly the same feeling and adrenaline buzz when I drive out of the pit-lane in the 9X8 in qualifying, which is the ultimate test of raw speed in a race car. You are completely focussed on that single goal – exploiting the full potential of the car in order to unlock every last thousandth-of-a-second. They are very similar in that respect. The major difference in my case is that when I’m in the car, I’m in a competitive environment whereas when I skydive, it’s all about the enjoyment. When you jump with friends, you have a vision of what you want it to turn out like and when that materialises, it feels very satisfying.”