Ayrton Senna’s final go-kart returns to the track after being restored

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Earlier this year, we reported that the final go-kart raced by three-time Formula 1 world champion Ayrton Senna had sold for $65,000 in an auction in England, fetching over double its predicted value.

Senna used the DAP model in a 1981 world karting championship race in Parma, Italy, before making the switch to single seaters for the following season.

After making his F1 debut in 1984, Senna would go on to win three world titles with McLaren and establish himself as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport before his untimely death at the age of 34 in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Seven months on from the auction, Senna’s kart is not only in the hands of a racing enthusiast, but it has also been restored to allow it to return to its home: the race track.

The kart was bought by American businessman Zak Brown, who is also the owner of United Autosports. The racing team has restored the kart to racing state and shook it down in Lydd, England, earlier this month.

United Autosports co-owner Richard Dean was on hand to shake down the kart, and was watched by Terry Fullerton, Senna’s biggest rival in karting and the driver whom the Brazilian claimed that he had the biggest satisfaction racing against. Fullerton is also coaching Brown’s son, Max, in karting.

“Zak acquired the ex-Senna DAP kart at a Bonhams Auction earlier this year,” Dean said. “The kart was built exclusively for Senna by the DAP factory in Italy but the chassis was originally designed for DAP by former world kart champion Terry Fullerton.

“We did some restoration work on the kart as it hadn’t been run for quite a time. The engine was stripped and all the brakes serviced etc. We kept the original working parts and only replaced things like seals and bearings.

“This really is a piece of history and it sits proudly in the reception of United Autosports’ workshop in Leeds. Zak insists all of the cars in his historic collection are in working order and can run on track at any time. All of our vehicles are in exact period condition and the Senna kart is no different.”

The enormity of the opportunity was not lost on Dean, who admitted that he felt emotional lapping in the very same kart that Senna had raced.

“To get to drive Senna’s very last kart was something extremely special,” Dean said. “Senna’s biggest rival and most feared competitor was Terry Fullerton and fittingly Terry was at Lydd when we ran the kart for the first time.

“Driving Ayrton’s kart was pretty emotional for me and I can’t wait to take it out again.”

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Richard Dean laps in the restored go-kart (© United Autosports)

IndyCar’s revised schedule gives Tony Kanaan an extra race in 2020

INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
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Tony Kanaan got a bit of good news when the latest revised NTT IndyCar Series schedule was released Monday.

Kanaan’s “Ironman Streak” of 317 consecutive starts would have concluded with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 15. That race was postponed, and the races that followed have been canceled or rescheduled later in the year. The season tentatively is scheduled to start June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the reason for the tentative nature of this year’s 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule.

Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, started the season with a limited schedule for A.J. Foyt Racing in the No. 14 Chevrolet. That schedule included all five oval races, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.

A silver lining for Kanaan is that this year’s trip to Iowa Speedway will be a doubleheader, instead of a single oval contest. His schedule has grown from five to six races for 2020, should the season start on time with the June 6 contest at Texas Motor Speedway and the additional race at Iowa.

“I’m really happy that IndyCar has been very proactive about the schedule and keeping us posted with the plans,” Kanaan told NBCSports.com Tuesday afternoon from his home in Indianapolis. “I’m double happy that now with Iowa being a doubleheader, I’m doing six races instead of five.”

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kanaan’s “Last Lap” is something that many fans and competitors in IndyCar want to celebrate. He has been a fierce foe on the track but also a valued friend outside the car to many of his fellow racers.

He also has been quite popular with fans and likely is the most popular Indianapolis 500 driver of his generation.

Scott Dixon was Kanaan’s teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing from 2013-17. At one time, they were foes but eventually became friends.

“I hope it’s not T.K.’s last 500,” Dixon told NBCSports.com. “I was hoping T.K. would get a full season. That has changed. His first race of what was going to his regular season was going to be the 500. Hopefully, that plays out.

“You have to look at T.K. for who he is, what he has accomplished and what he has done for the sport. He has been massive for the Indianapolis 500, for the city of Indianapolis to the whole culture of the sport. He is a legend of the sport.

“We had our differences early in our career and had problems in 2002 and 2003 and 2004 when we were battling for championships. We fought for race wins and championships in the 2000s. I’ve been on both sides, where he was fighting against me in a championship or where he was fighting with me to go for a championship. He is a hell of a competitor; a fantastic person.

“I hope it’s not his last, but if it is, I hope it’s an extremely successful one for him this season.”

Even before Kanaan joined Chip Ganassi Racing, Dixon admitted he couldn’t help but be drawn to Kanaan’s personality.

“T.K. is a very likable person,” Dixon said. “You just have to go to dinner with the guy once, and you understand why that is. The ups and downs were a competitive scenario where he was helping you for a win or helping someone else for a win. There was never a dislike or distrust. We always got along very well.

“We are very tight right now and really close. He is a funny-ass dude. He has always been a really good friend for me, that’s for sure.”

Back in 2003 when both had come to the old Indy Racing League after beginning their careers in CART, the two drivers were racing hard for the lead at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 13, 2003. They were involved in a hard crash in Turn 2 that left Kanaan broken up with injuries. IRL officials penalized Dixon for “aggressive driving.” Dixon had to sit out the first three days of practice for the next race – the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan recovered in time and did not miss any racing. He started second and finished third in that year’s Indy 500.

“We were racing hard and going for the win,” Dixon recalled of the Motegi race. “It was a crucial part of the season. Everybody has to be aggressive. I respect Tony for that. He was not letting up. That is what I always saw with Tony, how hard the guy will push. He will go to the absolute limit, and that is why he was inspiring and why he was a successful driver.

“Those moments are blips. You might not talk to the guy for a week, but then you are back on track. T.K. is very close with our family and we are with his.”

This season, because of highly unusual circumstances, T.K.’s IndyCar career will last for one more race than previously scheduled.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500