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Helio Castroneves – That’s What Happens When You Say My Name

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Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves

That is a jet plane, an F1-11 to be precise – the workhorse of Australian military.

 

That is a deafening roar.

That deafening roar came during the press conference after the Friday practice session, precisely at the time when the name, ‘Helio Castroneves’ was mentioned.

Everyone jumped – including the panel drivers.  We all had a bit of a laugh and some in the conference pretended that they expected it – but no one did.

So, as people regained themselves, Castroneves uttered those words – “That’s what happens when you say my name!”

Despite everything that has happened to the likeable Brazilian over the last month or so, he has not lost his spark or his sense of humour.

2008 is the first time in seven-odd years that he has come to Australia.  He last competed here for Penske in 2001 in the CART Series of that day.

That year did not produce a good result and ended his slim title hopes of that year.

But he wants to reverse that result here this year and he has made a good start – second after the practice sessions.  But like any driver, he wants more track time.

“[It] was only two sessions and we would like to have a little more time.  2001 was my last time running on this track but still things change, like the curbs, the paint.  The layout didn’t change but things are different.  The cars are different,” said Castroveves.

And this difference was compounded by his very successful appearances in the American Le Mans Series where he won his class and helped Porsche sweep the P2 Titles.

This moonlighting, however served to disrupt his Gold Coast practice.

“At the beginning, I was like ‘Guys I am gonna spend a little more time on the track, I need to understand the car’.  But it’s like bicycles, and we are back on track and right up there.”

But that does not mean he only wants to race Indycar.  Helio is a racer and always wants to expand his efforts.

When referring to his moonlighting and whether he will do it again, Castronevers said,  – “[it] doesn’t matter which event, so if I have another opportunity, I will do it.”

And as a racing fan, I certainly hope he will get more and more opportunities to race, both in Indycars and elsewhere.

“You know, I am still looking for sponsors.  I think it would be great marketing, you know, talk about the hair.  The good news is that I still have the hair.  So, I don’t know, the products that I use obviously work.  So it is what it is so enjoy it!”

But there was something that bugged me.

Have you ever noticed that whenever Helio steps out of the car, his hair is perfect, like he just walked out of salon?

So I decided to challenge him on this – after all, it seems so unnatural.

Ever the opportunist, he looked for a gain – and to all those making hair products out there, you may want to pay attention to this:

“You know, I am still looking for sponsors.  I think it would be great marketing, you know, talk about the hair.  The good news is that I still have the hair.  So, I don’t know, the products that I use obviously work.  So it is what it is so enjoy it!”

And that was to be the end of the interview.

But as I said “Thanks Helio for talking to me” the F1-11 flew overhead, deafening us, once again.

We gave each other a wry look.

Almost anyone else would have walked away.  But not Helio.

After all,

“You see, that’s what happens when you say my name…”

Article and interview by Sam Tickell on 24 October 2008