Thursday, April 13, 2017

Helio Castroneves Fans: The Heart of IndyCar

By Chanda Healton

Helio Castroneves climbed fences before Tony Stewart did, he has won 29 IndyCar races with 3 of them being The Indy 500. He has danced his way to number one on Dancing With the Stars and is in many ways, the heart of IndyCar racing. As you can imagine, many of his fans have been cheering for him for many,  many years and they are the most loyal of all fans! Today we will meet a few and one will be crowned his number one fan! Ladies and Gentlemen, start your computers, we will have a trivia challenge! 

Castroneves fans are everywhere in the USA, but there are many Brazilian fans as well who are proud of what he has done for IndyCar. Our first fan is Danilo Nardini Mancini.

Q.Tell me a little about yourself. Age. Where you live. IndyCar races you attend. How long you have been an IndyCar fan and also how long you have cheered for Castroneves . 
A: Hi! I'm Danilo Nardini Mancini from São Paulo, Brazil. I'm 27 and currently graduating on P.E. and Health at University of São Paulo (USP). I've never attended for a race, even here in São Paulo. At that time, I wasn't living near the race course, so it was hard to get there. I've been rooting for Helio since 2001, when I watched the Indy 500 on live broadcast. I've been following him since then. For the IndyCar series, I've been into it since the early 90's.

Q: Have you ever met Castroneves? What did you talk to him about and what was your impression of him? 
A: No, I've never meet him. 

Q: Do you have any memorabilia or Castroneves related tattoos that help you stand out from other fans? Please share pictures. 
A: I don't have anything. This kinda of thing is way too expensive here in Brazil, and it's very hard to find. 

Q: What is special about Castroneves that made you into a fan? 
A: His sense of humor and competitivity. 

Q: Why should newcomers to IndyCar become a fan of Castroneves? 
A: He's the guy who's going to make you sit on the edge of the couch 

Q: And finally if you could tell Helio one thing, what would you want him to know? 
A: Hope to see your 4th Indy 500 win, I'm with ya, rooting for it. You're the man! 

Q:Could you talk about how Brazilians feel about Castroneves a bit? A: Brazilian IndyCar fan's root for him a lot, specially because he's always a championship contender and a three time Indy 500 winner. But some people argue that he's not that great because he never became a champion, which in my opinion is a bullshit. Winning the 500 it's like becoming a champion itself. Unfortunately, the majority of racing fans only follows the F1 because of the Ayrton Senna's legacy, and for long, the IndyCar series wasn't on open broadcast, so many fans just stopped following the series and the drivers. The youngsters may not even know about him, because there's small media coverage too.

Q:Who do you think has more fans in Brazil? Tony Kanaan or Helio Castroneves?
A:I think helio has more fans because he got the Indy 500 wins earlier

Mary Frances, Nilda Stuff's daughter,who is
 studying Education with Helio Castroneves

I used the same questions throughout the interviews with the American fans Here is what they had to say:

Anna Arndt says "I live in Iowa, but lived in Wisconsin for 15 years with my first husband. I am 60 years old. While I lived in Wisconsin I went to the Milwaukee Mile 4 9 or 5 times. Of course back then Rick Mears and Emerson Fittipaldi were the Penske drivers I cheered for. I've watched Helio race at Iowa Newton Speedway, but unfortunately I have never met him. I would tell him to never change. He is an awesome driver, and an awesome person. And lastly, here is a picture of my Basenji puppy, Helio. His registered name is Flutesong Fast as You."

Jeni Rebecca Harris says "I'm 45 years old and I've been watching IndyCar since I was 5, I even remember watching Janet Guthrie qualify for her first Indy 500 in 1977. I'm from Stroudsburg PA and live 45 minutes away from Pocono Raceway and attended my first IndyCar race there in 2013 when the series returned to the track. I've never met Helio but that's definitely on my bucket list of drivers to meet as I've been a fan of his since 1999 when he was with Hogan Racing and that team did a lot with a little, plus he's a terrific ambassador for IndyCar.

I have a copy of his book Victory Road, which I highly recommend taking, and diecast of his Hitachi Dallara.

New fans should cheer for him because as I've said, he's a great ambassador for IndyCar and his personality. The one thing I'd like to tell him is that all of his fans believe in him and we want him to get that 4th 500 in May and also to finally get that long overdue championship. Good luck Helio and WE BELIEVE!"

Nilda Stuff says, "I live in Indianapolis, Ind. I have been to every 500 Mike since 1965... I have not missed a race!I was a Jimmy Clark, team Lotus , fan. I have been a Roger Penske fan forever!! I met him at the Speedway one day when I was allowed to meet Jimmy Clark. I had taken him a cake !! ( high school years) Jimmy Clark was such a gentleman all the time, and Helio reminds me of him. I have been an Helio fan since his rookie season. He is a very sincere and kind man... he always finds the good in his team, his car, his fans, and his fellow drivers. He is very humble... and a great ambassador for his sport. You can't help but like him... his eyes light up, his smile is contagious, and he sure can dance! I have met him twice... once at the track and once at a 500 race activity that the drivers were at with inner city kids to participate in field day activities with them. He was very gracious both times. I have his autograph on a sweatshirt! I didn't have a camera with me either time! I have always been a big fan of his and I always will be."

Julie Ludlow Stahly says "I have met Helio four times. Each time was for a photo opp. My impression is that he is quite possibly the nicest driver out there! My age is 58 years young. I live in Indy. I am a 40 year ticket holder at IMS. I also go to one other race each year. This year being St. Louis. I have been an Indy Car fan since I was a little girl. My mom used to take us out there every year and we would have picnics in the infield. I have cheered for Helio since 2002. I have four pictures taken with Helio. What made me fall in love with Helio was in 2002 (the year after 9/11) I was sitting in the stands behind the pits wearing a red, white, and blue sequined heart tank top. We were hollering at him, when he looked up into the stands, looked right at me and made a heart shape on his chest! I was a goner after that! I can't imagine anyone not being a fan of Helio's. Everytime I see him, he makes me smile. If I could tell Helio one thing it would be to thank him for all the joy he has brought me and many other race fans. He is just special. I am constantly teased by my friends for being a Helio Stalker lol! I'm so ready for May so I can get my 5th picture!"

Wendy Anderson says, "I am a 38 year old wife, mother, school teacher who lives in Lake Alfred, Florida. I am originally from Missouri. I have attended Iowa, Texas, St. Pete, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as Homestead-Miami, and Michagan when they still raced there. I was a CART fan back in 1988 when I was 10. I grew up going to local dirt track races when I was a small child. I remember watching Rick Mears when his third Indy 500 that year. I remained a CART fan and later an Indycar fan when Helio switched from CART to IndyCar. I remember Helio racing for Hogan in 1999 and thought he was handsome. Became a big fan of him when he won his first race at Bell Isle in 2000. I was in college at the time and was watching the race with my boyfriend,  who was from Indiana. Just loved Helio's spirit and watching him climb the fence after his win for the first time made me become a big fan. My boyfriend later that year took me to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time. We got married in 2002. We are both big IndyCar fans and go to the races together.

I have been cheering for Helio for 17 years.
I have been an Indycar fan for 29 years at least.
I have met Helio several times in the years of being his fan.
The first year was 2006 at St. Petersburg, Florida.
I was a bit tongue tied and starstruck when I met him the first time.
He was gracious to take a picture with me at his paddock area.
I got to meet his sister Kati that year who was expecting her first child that year.
The second year I saw Helio again and I was expecting my first child again so was able to talk to him and his sister about his new nephew.
Helio is such a strong spirited, family oriented man.
I have seen Helio win the St. Pete race all three times and him climb the fence in person 2006, 2007, and 2012. I have seen him every year in person at that race since 2006.

In 2012 I was expecting my second child. I was due to be inducted the following day. I told Helio I wad to see him before I had my son the next day. Helio was floored when I told him.
He later won that race that day. I have a lot of pictures over the years with him.

When I went to the last Homestead race I was there for his book signing and saw him in the media center for a special Helio package deal. He has taken pictures with my kids too.
Especially my daughter She is now 9 I think I've made her a fan too My son who is 5, likes James Hinchcliffe. Helio's passion for life and love of racing is what makes him someone you want to follow. He still acts like a young kid when he does well even after racing for 20 years in the series.

If you are trying decide whether to by an IndyCar fan, just look at the racing and competition. You won't find better racing or more personable drivers in any other series.

I want to tell Helio that with perseverance, and his passion we will see him win his 4th Indy 500! I cannot wait when that happens. I would love to see him, Adrianna and his daughter climb that fence together."

Our last fan is an inspiration to us all! Now a retired Math Teacher, she also wishes to teach kids and adults alike about Helio and IndyCar in general. Meet Terri Rogers Zumbrook,

Zunbrook says, "I am a retired middle school math teacher from northern Illinois and 58 years old. I have followed open wheel racing since before the split when Rick Mears wasn't yet a legend. When they split I left for a bit except for the 500 and I started following Helio after his back to back 500 victories, the first as a rookie. I started really cheering for him when Roger Penske brought the team to the IRL and my favorite race was in Chicagoland. Last race of the season. Helio qualified well but they put him at the back of the field because he dipped below the white line during one of his laps. He went on to win that race and I was hoarse. In my math class Helio's portrait had a place of honor. I have 37 autographed items but my most cherished is a white card Helio signed the morning of race day for his third 500 win. I also have the tape that was in his green room chair at the 99 th 500 when I was waiting to get in the Victory lane photo with JPM.he entire month of May math used Indy 500 statistics. I would give students three extra points if they could work Helio into their assignment somehow. have photos of a few of their assignments I can show you. At the Iowa race three years ago I got to be on the track during the driver introductions And there was Helio, of courseThe races I go
to are Phoenix, Iowa, The GP of Indianapolis, the 500, Mid Ohio and Road America. My dogs went to Road America and Benny got in the Victory Lane photo with Will Power and with The Fire hawk. Last Year I spoke to him when I gave him some bracelets I made for Adrianna, Mikaella, and his sister Katrina. They hav his motto "Driven by passion in them. I made a necklace and bracelet for his fans in the Yellow Submarine livery and Hitachi livery. He loved the bracelets and showed Will who next to him and said "isn't this cool?". I have a few pictures. As far as what's newcomers should know I look at it on two levels. When I was teaching, I hoped I was making Indy Car and Helio fans. One student said to me, You should give Helio your autograph, Mrs. zumbrook" Then I talk to adults about Helio and the statistics about him and Indy Car, the impressive strength needed to withstand the g-forces, the speed, and with all that he has time for fans, he looks us in the eye, he is always positive and cheerful even when he loses. He doesn't give up If I could tell him one thing, I would tell him that what I admire most about him is how he always looks to the next race. If he doesn't win, he is rarely bitter about it, he's always saying, I will do better. I feel the pressure he must constantly be under to get that 4th win at Indy, and I hope he enjoys it. I remember Rick Mears saying it was such a relief to finally get it because of the pressure."

1. Where and during what year did Helio get his first win for Penske?
Wendy Anderson: Belle Isle, Detroit in 2000 Helio got his first win for Penske.
Nilda Stuff: 2001 Indy 500
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: his first Indy 500.
Jeni Harris: Belle Isle in Detroit
Danilo Nardini Mancini: 2000 at california

2. Helio has raced for 3 teams since he started racing in IndyCar (the first 2 under CART. Name them.)
Wendy Anderson: Bettenhausen and Hogan were the two other teams he raced for in CART before going to Penske
Nilda Stuff: Bentenhausen racing, Hogan racing, Penske
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: Tasman, Penske and, ?
Jeni Harris: Bettenhausen Hogan and Penske
Danilo Nardini Mancini: hogan and galles I guess

3. Who was Helio's teammate when he drove for Tasmin Racing in Indy Lights?
Wendy Anderson: Helio's teammate in Indylight was Tony Kanaan.
Nilda Stuff: Tony Kanaan
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: Tony Kanaan
Jeni Harris:Tony Kanaan
Danilo Nardini Mancini:  no idea.

4. Who was Helio's partner on Dancing With The Stars when he won?
Wendy Anderson: Helios partner on Dancing with the Stars that he won with was Julianne Hough.
Nilda Stuff: Julianne Hough
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: Julianne Houg
Jeni Harris: Julianne Hough
Danilo Nardini Mancini: can't remember, ugh

5. On his second appearance on Dancing With The Stars, who was his partner and how many weeks did he make it through?
Wendy Anderson: His partner when he went on again was Jenna. He did not last longer then a week. I thought he was actually a judge for an episode actually.
Nilda Stuff: Chelsie Hightower .... Week 3
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: can't remember and three.
Jeni Harris: Chelsie Hightowe 3
Danilo Nardini Mancini :didn't even knew he had a second appearance!

6 How many poles and wins did Helio earn during the CART era of IndyCar?
Wendy Anderson: 6 poles and 7 wins I believe while in CART
Nilda Stuff: 6 wins and 7 poles
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: 6 wins. 5 poles
Jeni Harris: Three poles and three wins in 2000
Danilo Nardini Mancini  5 poles and 4 wins

7. In 2000 Helio signed with Penske racing in CART. What driver did he replace and why?
Wendy Anderson: Helio replaced Greg Moore in after his tragic death in the final race of the season the year before.
Nilda Stuff: Greg Moore
Terri Rogers Zumbrook:  Moore who died, I think.
Jeni Harris:Helio signed with Penske after the tragic death of my original driver, Greg Moore at ACS. Side note, Matt hit the wall in the same spot on the track where Greg died
Danilo Nardini Mancini: was the guy from Uruguay Who died at Laguna Seca.

8. At Barber Motorsports Park in 2010, Helio broke a tie with this driver for the most wins by a Brazilian driver.
Wendy Anderson: He broke a tie with Emerson Fittapaldi
Nilda Stuff: Emerson Fittipaldi
Terri Rogers Zumbrook:  Gil de Ferran
Jeni Harris:v Emerson Fittipaldi
Danilo Nardini Mancini: Emmo

9. 1n 2016 he also broke another record by the same driver for what accomplishment?
Wendy Anderson: Number of poles by a Brazilian driver.
Nilda Stuff: Consecutive starts
Terri Rogers Zumbrook:  Number of consecutive starts.
Jeni Harris: I'm guessing pole position earned
Danilo Nardini Mancini: most poles

10. Spelling will count on this.
What is Helio's full name at birth? Bonus of you can explain why he changed it.Wendy Anderson:
Nilda Stuff: Helio Castro NevesHe changed the spelling because the media kept calling him a Helio Neves. There is a accent mark above the e in his first name but I can't get my computer to put it there!!! Lol
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: He actually added the hyphen first and later dropped it. From what I read and talking to a fan in Brazil he was born Helio Castro Neves Castro being the maternal name and Neves being the paternal name as is tradition you got the reasoning right.
Jeni Harris: Helio Alves de Castro-Neves Jr and it was changed with the hyphen taken out so it would be easier for people to pronounce Helio Castro-Neves. He changed it to give credit to both his mom and dad because Reporters and announcers during races often call him Helio Neves. Therefore, he dropped the - and combined the two to have Helio Castroneves.
Danilo Nardini Mancini Helio Castro Neves it was easier to say

Bonus Question: one point per part
Helio Castroneves is currently 4th in the number of poles he has won. Who is first and how many poles do they have?
Wendy Anderson: Scott Dixon 51 poles
Nilda Stuff: AJ Foyt has 67 poles
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: Mario Andretti and 37
Jeni Harris:Mario Andretti and 65
Danilo Nardini Mancini: Aj Foyt, no idea about the number

Final scores:
Wendy Anderson: missed 2 plus 1 bonus
Nilda Stuff: missed 0 plus 1 bonus
Terri Rogers Zumbrook: missed 4 plus 2 bonus
Jeni Harris: missed 2 plus 2 bonus
Danilo Nardini Mancini: missed 8 plus 1 bonus

No matter where Helio finishes on the track or in the championship standings, he will always be number one in his fan's hearts! Congratulations to Nilda Stuff on winning the crown of Helio's biggest fan!  

I also want to give a special thanks to Terri Rogers Zunbrook for all she does to show the world, especially young kids, how great IndyCar can be! Fans like her make up the heart of racing!

1. Detroit GP  in 2000
2. Bettenhausen Racing, Hogan Racing, Penske Racing. 
3. Tony Kanaan 
4. Julianne Hough
5.  Chelsie Hightower they made it 3 weeks
6. 7 poles, 6 wins
7. Greg Moore because he was killed in the final race of 1999
8. Emerson Fittipaldi
9. Most consecutive starts
10. Helio Castro Neves American Media kept cal1ing him Helio Neves when he started racing so he changed it to Castroneves to make it easier. 

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