Remembering Ayrton Senna, As If He Could Be Forgotten
How do you say anything new about a racing driver who has been worshipped and studied like Senna has? It was 24 years ago today that the world lost not just a great competitor in cars, but a wondrous human being. A deeply charitable and just downright likable man, the Brazilian’s chronicles on the world’s racing circuits contain multiple drives that have since been canonized with the likes of Fangio at the Nürburgring and Elford in the Targa Florio, but however quick Senna could drive in the wet or however fierce his rivalry with Mr. Prost became, it was his character that defined him and earned him the admiration of millions.
His approach toward racing and life is summed up well in his 1991 victory at his home GP in Brazil, at Interlagos. Cramped and exhausted beyond what most could bear, Senna stuck with his car even after the gearbox had decided to drop 3rd, 4th, and 5th gear. It was a victory that had eluded him throughout his career in Formula 1, and he made sure the streak of losses would end with a win this time, even if that meant he had to punish his body with the intense effort required to drive the car in top gear—when he crossed the finish line he had won for and in front of his countrymen, and though he was more than a little excited about that fact, his body all but shut down and he had to be lifted from his car and driven to the podium.
We all know this story, and the one about him beating everyone and their mother in the 190E once upon a time, and of course his drive at Monaco in ’84, his incredible performance to clinch the World Championship in ’88 at Suzuka, the list runs long. Rather than recounting it all here, we might just rent the documentary Senna and sit back in awe at what he could do and who he was; a hero then, still today.