He is considered by many as the greatest driver of all time. Whether he is or he isn’t, I don’t think it really changes much about how great he was as a person in my eyes. He was exciting, he was charismatic, he had passion and as a young man watching him drive, he gave me and so many others around the world hope.
At the time I was starting my apprenticeship as a panel beater in Melbourne in 1994, my father and I were heavily involved in go karting. Racing our go kart around the track we found ourselves impersonating our favourite driver of the time, Ayrton Senna. 10 years into his career and already had won 3 championships, 91 podium finishes and 41 Formula 1 race victories in all, it was clear Senna was one of the greats. The Brazilian was also a good bloke, founding charity networks throughout his home country with his goal for better education and opportunities for children. In a country like Brazil they needed him and he was proud to help. When he died, it was terrible. Not only for me but for so many others.
Watching him and Prost go at it for so many years was my favourite pastime, but the one moment I will never forget was in Belgium in 1992. Renault had a driver at the time named Erik Comas and on this track on that particular year he had a nasty crash. First at the scene was Ayrton Senna. Considering Senna’s ambition to win was so apparent the last thing you would expect would be for him to get out of his vehicle and help mid-race. Well, thats exactly what he did. With little concern for his own ambition and safety, he parked his McLaren and jumped out to help.
If you haven’t seen it, give this a watch.
Its moments like that I remember more than any of his greatest wins. When I think about my passions, they’re probably no different to Ayrton’s, but it’s his passion for his colleagues and his ambition to be a good bloke over anything else that has always shaped me into becoming a better person.
If you have the time, watch the documentary Senna. I dare you not to cry. Once you wipe away your tears, pull yourself together come into Paint and Custom – the best panel beaters in Melbourne. We can sit you down, give you a hot cup of coffee, have a chat about the great man Senna and fix up those dents on your car – after all, that’s what we do best.