The specks of gray in Helio Castroneves’ jet-black hair tell one part of his legacy.
While the Brazilian is on the back end of his career now, there’s one way he feels forever young: scaling the fence and sipping the milk in victory lane at Indianapolis.
That part never gets old.
Helio Castroneves at signs autographs at the IndyCar Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in April. Picture/AP
“This track is a part of history. People have been coming to this place for over 100 years. We’re like gladiators,” Castroneves said.
“I think every driver has wanted to drive the Indianapolis 500, so this place is the place, this is the place of gods for drivers.”
Chasing 2008 winner Scott Dixon, who is starting on pole tomorrow, Castroneves belongs near the top. Here, he has savoured his greatest victories, endured his most bitter losses, embraced some of life’s great milestones.
Two weeks ago, Castroneves was at the famed Brickyard to make his 300th IndyCar start on the same weekend he turned 40, or what he prefers to call the 10th anniversary of his 30th birthday.
The longtime Team Penske star is one of two foreign-born drivers with three Indianapolis 500 wins. He’s also finished second twice in the series’ biggest race, including last season when he lost by 0.06s to Ryan Hunter-Reay in the second-closest finish in race history.
Castroneves’ four pole wins are tied for second all-time with A.J. Foyt and Rex Mays. He’s also one of eight rookies to win the race and one of five drivers with consecutive wins.