Racing Helio Castroneves
How did you know you wanted to be a racecar driver?
I started when I was 10 years old. When I was 11, my dad put me in a state championship in Brazil. I got my first trophy, for fourth place. I still have that trophy. Then it was like, I have to win more trophies. Up until this day, I drive for trophies. I want to win always. When I was 13 or 14, I said to my mom, “I want to be a racecar driver.” I decided to stop eating red meat and drinking sodas, I started training, and I always focused on racing. My dad, my mom and my sister fully supported me.
You attribute a lot to your family. What makes that bond so close?
My mom—we called her the General—was strict, but in a good way. You need to put limits on your kids. I am going to learn now how to do it. But she always treated us equally. I was not favored because I was racing or my sister because of her dancing or her better scores in school. A family together can beat everything. Today that’s why I say a big part of me is my family.
Charity is very important to you. Have you always wanted to give back?
I always want to start a foundation that helps the whole world, but unfortunately politics make it so difficult. When it’s the right time, we will do it. Some people just give money, but money is not everything. I used to go to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and spend time with the kids. They taught me more than I taught them. They could not understand me very well because of my accent, and it’s funny because the kids asked, “Why do you talk like that?” It was really nice. People should experience that once in a while, because sometimes you get lost in materialism, and you have to thank God for what you have.
What is your biggest thrill?
It’s gonna be my daughter, Mikaella. I am speaking ahead of time. But I am already nervous when I talk about it. It brings tears to my eyes. I can’t wait!
Steph Sez: What is your New Year’s resolution for 2010?
Helio Sez: My resolution? Oh, man, I will try to be a great dad!