Remembering Ayrton Senna: Racing’s GOAT

May 1st marks the 27th anniversary of a day that will be forever etched into the memory of Brazilians and Formula One fans worldwide.

Brazilian racer Ayrton Seena

Ayrton Senna was Brazil’s greatest hero. An irresistible force of nature.

Remembering Ayrton Senna begins with a look back, nearly three decades on.

The San Marino Grand Prix took place on May 1, 1994. The race weekend at Italy’s Imola circuit was uneven, unsettling.

On that first Friday, Brazil’s Reubens Barrichello walked away from a devastating accident. The following day, Austria’s Roland Ratzenberger wasn’t so fortunate. His was the first death in Formula One since 1982.

Less than 24 hours later, Ayrton Senna met his fate when his car lost control on the fast sweeping curve called Tamburello. It impacted the outside retaining wall, and simply… stopped.

A Hero Returns Home

In Brazil, Senna’s grave in the city of Sao Paulo was adorned with wreaths and bright bouquets. He was laid to rest in the Morumbi Cemetery.

Senna’s sister, Viviane unveiled an Azul Brazilian airline aircraft with the colors of Senna’s iconic yellow helmet on its nose.

Vivianne is the head of the Ayrton Senna Institute, which partners with major corporations to give educational opportunities to millions of children across Brazil. The Ayrton Senna Institute was a passionate part of the driver’s life and remains so today.

Ayrton Senna Foundation

The Institute works to develop the potential of new generations and benefits students to be successful at school in order to be able to respond to the professional, economic, cultural, and political demands of the 21st century.

The Institute prepares more than 75,000 teachers and managers every year, and almost 2 million children and young people benefit directly from the work of these teachers, who are trained by the organization, in more than 1300 municipalities in various regions in Brazil.

Senna’s Enduring Legacy

In 2012, the BBC acclaimed the late Ayrton Senna as the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time.

But what about remembering Ayrton Senna? A panel of experts, including veteran commentator Murray Walker, counted down the sport’s top performers recently. Scottish greats Jim Clark and Sir Jackie Stewart had come in at No 3 and No 7 respectively, while current drivers Michael Schumacher (No 4), Sebastian Vettel (No 8), Fernando Alonso (No 10), and Lewis Hamilton (No 15) also made the top 20.

When the poll was completed, it was announced that Ayrton Senna de Silva was No 1, The greatest of all time.

In April 2000, Senna was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. That year, the UK public also voted Senna’s opening lap of the 1993 European Grand Prix as the 43rd in the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments, according to Wikipedia.

The Brazilian won three F1 world championships (in 1988, 1990 and 1991) but was tragically killed in an accident while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

“His record is complete and he is untouchable,” said 1996 world champion Damon Hill. “He expressed himself completely through his driving. He had 65 pole positions. There was no one like Ayrton over a single lap.”

Today, Senna has been eclipsed by the amazing Formula One career of England’s Lewis Hamilton, now a 7-time World Champion to Senna’s three. But if asked, Hamilton would likely give the nod to his boyhood hero; the Brazilian who inspired Lewis to model his helmet colors after Senna’s own.

Perhaps that’s a testement to both champions.

If you are still wondering what all the fuss is about, watch Top Gear’s tribute to Senna, below. You may come away with a new appreciation of the man and his life.


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