Posts Tagged ‘ Ayrton Senna ’

It’s evident when driving through the streets of Sao Paulo that Brazilians are extremely passionate about motorsport.   Ayrton Senna murals are painted on building sides and under bridges all over this massive city.  As a result this South American country has not only produced the world’s most legendary driver (Senna) but also some great racing circuits and outstanding INDYCAR drivers.

One of my favorite racetracks is here in Brazil.  Without a doubt, it was one of the most unique ovals ever built (the exception being Trenton, NJ). The Circuito de Jacarepaguá in Rio was quite a site to be seen in the mid-90’s when INDYCAR came to town.

Rio, in every definition of the word, was a Roval.  Turn 1 was a sharp corner, requiring the drivers to get on the brakes, downshift once (maybe twice) and jump back on the throttle. Turn 2 was wide open all the way to turn 3 which was full throttle for some drivers and then back on to the brakes for turn 4.  The layout produced great passing and promoted aggressive driving.

Rio was also the site of one of the most spectacular shunts in INDYCAR history.  Mark Blundell essentially tore down the outside wall in Turn 1 when his brakes failed going down the front stretch.  He made an attempt to collect his teammate to help soften the impact but he just  barely missed.  The resulting impact is terrifying and miraculously Blundell emerged from the car unscathed.  Fast forward in the above video to the 10:40 mark for video of the incident.

The list of Brazilian drivers who have driven in INDYCAR is long and prestigious.  With names like Fittipaldi, Kanaan, and Castroneves, Brazilian drivers have proved that they are and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

Emerson Fittipaldi, one of the greatest drivers in any car, was one of my favorite drivers growing up. “Emmo” was fast, brave, and exciting to watch.  Below is video from one of Emerson’s hard fought battles with Nigel Mansell.

For many people when they think of the IZOD IndyCar Series they think of Helio Castroneves.  The personable, excitable, and energetic Brazilian 3-time Indianapolis 500 winner has been a staple of the IZOD IndyCar Series for many years now.  His personality, passion for racing, and on camera antics have been great for the sport.  What some seem to miss, especially lately, is how impressive Helio is behind the wheel.

Tony Kanaan is without a doubt one of the fiercest competitors in the IZOD IndyCar Series.  The tough driver from Salvador, Brazil has proved this year that just because he’s changed teams it doesn’t mean he can be ignored.  Taking KV Racing Technologies to some of their best finishes in recent memory TK has proudly positioned himself in 3rd position in the overall points standings.  If you watched the Indianapolis 500 last year and didn’t pay attention to Kanaan’s drive you missed one of the most exciting and entirely legendary performances a the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Starting 33rd and passing 22 cars to finish in 11th position was nothing short of miraculous.  TK showed once again that he’s not lost a step and certainly hasn’t lost any of his nerve, the man is still a master of the outside pass.

Drivers pay tribute to Senna

Posted on: April 28, 2011 | Comments(14) | Drivers | By: Arni

Ayrton Senna's gravesite

SÃO PAULO –Racing drivers tend to avoid hospitals and graveyards because those places can remind them of the dangers of the sport.

Those reminders, however, didn’t stop two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon from paying his respects to Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian racing champion, who is buried in São Paulo’s Morumbi Cemetery.

“Popped out to see Senna’s grave,” Dixon wrote on Twitter. “Very quiet in a busy city. What a legend!”

Senna remains a hero to many drivers from around the world but no place more than in his home country. The fact that the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle occurs on the 17th anniversary of his passing (May 1) provides extra motivation to the five Brazilian drivers in the field.

“It would be an extremely important win to me because he was a hero not only to me, but for all of Brazil,” said three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. “(Winning on Sunday) would be a memorable day for me not only to win here in Brazil, but on a very special day to many Brazilians. I am going to do everything I can to make sure that can happen.”

Like Castroneves, Ana Beatriz considers Senna her hero, even though she had only begun to race go-karts a few months before his death.

“Senna means a lot to me,” said Beatriz, who like Senna is a native of São Paulo. “He is still a big reference when I think about the sport. We can still watch his races on video and we can see his determination and focus when he raced. He’s still a big hero in Brazil and everyone remembers the anniversary of his death and his birthday.  Racing on May 1 and maybe winning the race in Brazil will be the perfect way to say thank you to him for all he did for us. “

Vitor Meira will carry a very personal tribute to Senna during the race weekend. Meira had his helmet painter Art Rotondo paint a mural of Senna’s racing accomplishments on the back of the helmet he will use in the race.

“I remember May 1, 1994, when he unfortunately passed away,” Meira said. “It’s just a way to say he’s still in our minds. I put him on my helmet and wanted to do something individually out of respect to what he meant to me.”

As we get started on 2011, a lot of things have happened over the last 12 months at JLF Designs. The helmet painting industry has been moving at an amazing pace and lots of new styles have emerged and even though I’ve been painting for 20 years, I have enjoyed my work more than ever thanks to some great projects with drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Dan Wheldon and E.J. Viso who always brings us designs that are a challenge – and I love a challenge!

Back of E.J. Viso's Helmet

One of Viso's many designs

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