Today marks 20 years since we lost Ayrton Senna, but his legacy endures

6 Comments

Icon. Legend. Hero.

He’s as revered now as he was on that fateful Sunday in Imola, Italy, and yet as today marks 20 years since May 1, 1994 when his fatal accident occurred, Ayrton Senna’s spirit continues to endure.

We don’t need today to be a reliving, or retelling, of what happened to that Williams-Renault as he passed the front straight and veered off course at Tamburello.

What it can be is the latest chance to retell the good from his 10-plus year career in Formula One and what he meant to his home country of Brazil.

Senna was something special; a sublime talent who was as complex an individual as F1 had seen in ages.

He was compassionate, yet ruthless.

Concerned with his fellow drivers’ safety (think the Erik Comas at Spa in 1992 moment), yet determined to pummel them into submission if he got the chance (1988. Monaco. Prost.).

He transformed F1’s profile in his native Brazil – lifting the country’s spirits during a challenging time in its history. His 1991 home Grand Prix victory remains one of his all-time triumphs of his 41 career victories.

He was an incredible talent, still revered to this day and named by such a high percentage of current drivers as either their favorite driver, their hero, or both.

The 2010 film Senna – the brilliant documentary directed by Asif Kapadia – has done the job of exposing Senna’s story, mixing archival family footage and his F1 career, to a new generation who would otherwise not have discovered the legend.

On this, the 20th anniversary of May 1, 1994, we continue to remember him – and Roland Ratzenberger, as well, who perished as well during the San Marino Grand Prix weekend – this day and going forward.

And what better way to remember him than with what many consider the greatest single lap in F1 history: his opener at Donington Park, in the 1993 European Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso likes NASCAR country, but he’s not leaving F1 any time soon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jimmie Johnson strolled into the Charlotte Convention Center and did a double-take when he saw Fernando Alonso hanging out in a hallway.

“What’s he doing here?” NASCAR’s seven-time champion wondered.

Alonso made the trip to North Carolina to make an appearance at NASCAR’s annual preseason media tour. No, a ride in NASCAR is not imminent, but the two-time Formula One champion is about to embark on his first major sports car race .

Alonso will race this weekend in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for United Autosports, the sports car team owned by his McLaren F1 boss, Zak Brown. It was Brown who paved the way for Alonso to compete in last year’s Indianapolis 500, and he is helping the Spaniard knock prestigious races off his wish list.

Alonso spent about 10 minutes chatting with Johnson, and the duo was eventually joined by sports car aces Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, who were brought to the NASCAR event by IMSA to help promote the Rolex, and then Cup champion Kevin Harvick.

The meet-and-greet with Alonso was a thrill for Johnson. Alonso was equally impressed.

“The first time I heard his name it was probably 2003 on the NASCAR video game,” Alonso said Tuesday. “I used to choose him, not knowing him, just because of the car. I remember playing with another friend of mine, he likes a chocolate company I will not name now, and he was choosing that car and I was choosing Jimmie’s car.

“But that was the first time I heard of him, and obviously the success that he has in the years in motor racing, he became a legend of our sport, and massive respect.”

Johnson said he’s always been a fan of Alonso’s and spent some time telling Alonso how well he ran in the Indianapolis 500 last May. Alonso led 27 laps and seemed to be in contention for the win until his engine expired 21 laps from the finish.

“He handled himself so well, really did a great job, and I think brought a lot to the table,” Johnson said. “He brought worldwide attention to motorsports and it was really good for us here stateside.”

While in NASCAR country, Alonso was asked about potentially trying a stock car someday. It’s not something that could happen soon, he said, but it is something he’d like to at least attempt.

“Right now, it looks quite far. The driving technique and the experience all those guys have, it’s difficult for me to achieve that level,” Alonso said. “I will never know until I try, so I would like one day to test a car and after that, driving the car, I will know how enjoyable it will be in racing.

“Outside (watching), the races are great because they are all in a group, it is not predictable at all and until the last lap, you don’t know what is going to happen. We love watching from the outside, but I don’t know from the inside.”

Alonso has so far only had three days of testing at Daytona in the sports car to adjust to a closed cockpit, as well as driving at night and in traffic. Trying different series has been a thrill for him, and he’s still eyeing a way to get Le Mans on his schedule.

“It’s one thing that I would like to do, I would like to compete in the best races in the world, and Le Mans and is one of the top races,” he said. “If that day will be this year or not is still to be discussed, but maybe yes.”

More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org/