A part of

Issue # 8 Friday, Dec. 26, 1997

About the Author:

Charles Loyd McIntosh

In 1997 Charles Loyd McIntosh was a news writer for the Talledega Daily Home (www.dailyhome.com). He was a former reporter for The Western Star in Bessemer (a small city west of Birmingham), Alabama, and a former Sports Editor for the Clanton Advertiser. At the time he was writing for the Sideroad, Loyd was pursuing a Masters in English degree at the University of Montevallo, Alabama. An avid sports fan, soccer is Loyd's sport of choice, one he has been known to coach in the recent past.

"According to some of the websites I have seen on him, he was a god to the Brazilians. . ."

"All this, and somehow I had never heard of him."


Who Was Ayrton Senna?

I've spent the last few days doing some research on the internet trying to find something to educate my readers about on the subject of sports. However, I believe this time I'm the one who will be getting an education.

I found about an auto racer from Brazil named Ayrton Senna. Apparently, Senna was a Formula 1 racer who competed in 161 Grand Prix races, and won 41 of them.

He was the Formula 1 champion in 1988, 1990 and 1991, though he missed out in 1989 as he was excluded from the Japanese Grand Prix, which lost him the title.

According to some of the websites I have seen on him, he was a god to the Brazilians, maybe even more so than the great Pele, although this might be a sin to the rabid soccer fans of Brazil.

Senna was born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1960. He was born to race. His father first sponsored him in kart racing as a child, where he won his first go-kart championship at the age of 14, and went on to claim 2 South American titles.

He then moved to England to begin an apprenticeship in top-flight racing. His Brazillian fans cheered him through while he took the titles from 1981 to 1983 in progressively more powerful cars.

He first grabbed the headlines in a Formula One with a dramatic drive in the wet at Monaco placing second behind Alain Prost in a race that was shortened because of the terrible conditions. The following year he was snapped up to drive for Lotus-Renault. Again driving in the wet, he won his first Grand Prix in Portugal.

From 1985 to 1987 he won six races for Lotus. In 1987 Lotus ran Honda engines, and when Honda switched in 1988 to the McLaren team Senna went with them. This led to an era of McLaren/Honda/Senna dominance of Formula One.

In 1988 he won 8 races, an all time record, and in 1989 he won a further 6 races but was edged out of the championship by fellow McLaren driver Alain Prost. In 1989 he came second again to Alain Prost, but only due to his exclusion from the Japanese Grand Prix. The next two consecutive years he won the crown. In 1990 he won 6 races for McLaren-Honda, and in 1991 he won 7 races for his team.

He was apparently on his way to setting many world wide records when he died on Sunday May 1st, 1994 in the San Marino Grand Prix. His car had a mechanical failure. The steering shaft snapped veering his Williams TW16 off to the right and head on into a concrete wall.

Senna was airlifted to hospital where he died from severe head and neck injuries four hours later.

Upon the news of his death, many legends in the racing world, such as Emerson Fittipaldi and Jackie Stewart, said about Senna he was one of the best they had ever seen.

All this, and somehow I had never heard of him.

Is this American egocentrism at work? Did he lack North American media coverage? Was it because he didn't have a deal with Nike? Was it because he wasn't European?

I don't know. But I do know this: There's something wrong when someone like Senna obtains the kind of respect and admiration he did in Brazil but wasn't even be heard of elsewhere.

Maybe with technology shrinking the distance between language and cultures, we can soon share all our heroes with everyone.

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Text copyright Charles Loyd MacIntosh, 1997 - '98. Part of the original Sideroad ezine.
The new Sideroad - Your Road to Expert Advice - is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.