Former F1 star Eddie Irvine has close encounter with a shark

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Retired Formula One star Eddie Irvine faced a lot of battles in his racing career, but likely nothing like the recent run-in he had with a shark.

According to a BBC report, the former Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar F1 pilot was swimming and spear fishing for dinner in the Atlantic Ocean near his home in the Bahamas when he came face-to-face with a shark.

“I hit a big snapper, but the spear went right through it,” Irvine said. “A big ray came past me and behind it was a seven-foot lemon shark. It was swimming more aggressively than I had seen before.”

The question of whether the shark wanted to get the 48-year-old former F1 star’s autograph or potentially wanted to see what the Northern Ireland native tasted like was never answered, as Irvine wisely put himself in reverse and started working his way back to land in almost slow-motion so as not to spook the shark.

“I watched him and started making for shore and he started to follow me,” Irvine said. “I swam backwards keeping my eye on him and he circled again – then he just came straight for me.”

After keeping its distance, the shark began to zero in on Irvine, who was forced to use his spear as a weapon to keep the shark at bay.

“My island is surrounded by (sharks), but normally they are just three or four footers,” Irvine said. “There was nothing I could do until he got within about three feet, when I could jab him with my spear.”

Irvine said he hit the shark “somewhere on the nose,” causing it to temporarily retreat before coming back for more.

Fortunately for Irvine, he was able to get to some nearby rocks and climbed out of harms way.

“There are lots of sharks here,” he said, “I saw a 12-foot tiger the other day from the boat.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”