Davey Euwema is a 23-year-old writer and motorsport enthusiast based out of Rotterdam, the Netherlands and the Sportscar Editor at MotorsportWeek.com and Motorsport Monday. In this column series, he shares his thoughts, stories and experiences from the world of sportscar racing.
Like millions of people around the world, I watched in awe on Sunday as Helio Castroneves defeated Alex Palou in a nailbiting finale to win an astonishing fourth Indianapolis 500.
It’s a record-tying four wins, which puts the immensely popular Brazilian on equal measure with IndyCar greats AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
The statistics don’t stop there for Helio, though. In addition to being one of only nine drivers to win the race as a rookie (2001), he’s now by some distance the most successful Brazilian driver (Emerson Fittipaldi has two wins) and already was just one of five drivers to win the race back-to-back in 2001 and 2002.
It’s also ten years since Dan Wheldon’s last Indy 500 win, which fittingly also marked the last time a driver won the race upon their first start of the IndyCar season.
Statistics don’t really do Helio Castroneves justice. At 46 years of age, the Sao Paulo native only seems to be getting better and better, which is only proved further if you look at the rather unbelievable amount of success that the Brazilian has had within the last twelve months.
In January, he partnered Filipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi, another Indy 500 winner, to take victory with Wayne Taylor Racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
That provides another rather remarkable statistic, and one that no other driver in history can lay claim to: taking victories in both the twice-around-the-clock enduro in Florida and the Indianapolis 500 in a single calendar year.
And then, as if that is not enough, there’s his IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship title win, last november, alongside Taylor at Team Penske. This was his first championship title in his decades-spanning career, and his last major achievement with Team Penske.
It’s a remarkable addition to an already unparalled resume: an IMSA title, Rolex 24 victory and a fourth Indy 500 title in less than twelve months.
Watching the celebrations unfold on Sunday, you got the feeling that everyone at the Brickyard was supremely happy for the overjoyed Brazilian. He was greeted by fellow drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Conor Daly, Simon Pagenaud and last year’s winner, Takuma Sato.
There was even a highly symbolic moment as he was greeted by 1969 winner Mario Andretti, and on the podium, even former boss Roger Penske was there to congratulate him.
The great thing is that there is also just a tiny bit of sportscar racing involved, as Meyer Shank Racing’s other involvement in motorsport in the US is with the Acura DPi programme in IMSA.
It was wonderful to see the small team from Pataskala, Ohio take the fight to the dynasties of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti and come out on top.
I’d go as far as saying it was the perfect conclusion to a thrilling race and a remarkable event, as 135.000 fans were in attendance, arguably the first major crowd present at a motorsport event since the pandemic began.
Because let’s be honest – would it have been the same if Spiderman climbed into the fence and there was nobody to cheer him on at the other side? No, of course not.
Now let’s see if Helio can go and grab win number five. If the last twelve months are anything to go by, he’s only going to get better…