Turning back time? A conversation with Indy 500 racing driver Helio Castroneves

Sports

AVONDALE, AZ – APRIL 28: Helio Castroneves of Brazil, driver of the #3 Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates after winning the Verizon P1 Pole Award for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway on April 28, 2017 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(WFRV) – Long before NASCAR was founded and subsequently several other racing circuits, open wheel racing had a long and rich history. The signature race in the United States was the Indianapolis 500 and this weekend things are virtually back to normal at The Brickyard.

“It is absolutely awesome for me especially. Every time I come back here, it’s something that I’m chasing,” said Helio Castroneves. “What it’s going to take is, expect the unexpected. This place is about being prepared the most unexpected situations. I do feel that my Sirius XM racing team has an incredible amount of experienced guys. My group?  I’ve worked with some of them in many other situations before, so I’m excited. I do feel having a new team and new tools will refresh and we can try to get that number 4 again.”

When Castroneves refers to the number four, that is directly in regards to taking the checkered flag in Indianapolis. The Brazilian spent almost his entire career with Penske racing, but this season he will begin a new campaign with Meyer Shank Racing.

“This year will be more special because I’m joining racing with Sirius XM and Meyer Shank. Wow. What a great opportunity I’m having with a great group of guys,” said Castroneves. “I’m grateful to be with this organization and I’m hoping to make this happen. I do feel that they’re giving me every single possible set of tools to make this happen, and I’m so proud of that.”

Castroneves won three Indy 500 races from 2001 to 2009 and another victory would put him in some elite company, especially at the age of 46. 

 “I’m glad those youngsters are here because I can teach them a few lessons and that’ll be awesome,” said Castroneves with a hint of sarcasm. “This place is magical. It’s the greatest spectacle in racing. Generations upon generations have been coming to this place and that’s what the cool thing about it. You can’t mimic when you have something more than 100 years old. So that’s why it is so special and hopefully, with the fans this year, it will be back to the way it used to be.”

Last year the Indianapolis 500 was postponed and they finally held the race in late August, with nobody in attendance. That will obviously change this year and not a moment too soon for racers like Castroneves. 

“We had a little taste of it at the Grand Prix this year and fans were able to come out and it was a lot of fun,” said Castroneves. “I can only imagine how many people are coming back to watch the race and be around us so it’s really cool. I’ve always been a guy that draws from their energy so I’m excited again to have them back and I’m excited to be here.”

The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. in front of a reduced-capacity sellout crowd of 135,000 fans, which will make it the largest sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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