Ayrton Senna: Penske Indycar driver!
Yes it’s true. In December 1992 Emerson Fittipaldi persuaded Ayrton Senna to go to Phoenix Firebird Raceway in America to test his CART Indycar Penske.
That December in 1992, Ayrton Senna’s Brazilian’s countryman and fellow World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi tempted him (two days before Christmas) to test his CART Penske Indycar in America. The timing was perfect, as being the festive holidays, it hardly made the news in Europe. It was extremely under the radar.
Here is a Brazilian TV news interview from that test. Watch it and their smiles and reactions, then read the transcript of that interview, and about just how close Senna came to joining the Indycar series. Imagine him versus Nigel Mansell in Indycars that year? Those were the days.
My special thanks to Geraldo Rodrigues Jr for the translation, and www.sutton-images.com for the pictures
Q: That was an historical moment to say the least. Ayrton, what did you feel?
Senna: I think racing cars are like drugs in our blood and when I got really close I felt that very special feeling. They started the engines to warm up, and I remembered the time when we looked at Formula 1, and I think the virus has woken up inside me after being a little numb. Watching Emerson drive gives me a very strong feeling, And now, we’ve tested the car, although it’s a slow track because of technical characteristics and the car runs in a very particular way, but it feels really good.
Q: What do you think of his first test?
Fittipaldi: I’m very happy, for us it’s an historical day having Ayrton here having his first Formula Indy experience feeling, as he already said it’s important to feel and enjoy, and I think he liked it very much and I’m sure that soon he’ll be here with us, it’s just a matter of time.
Q: Is that true?
Senna: Yes, well, I think so. Before I tested an Indycar my expectations didn’t match with what the real thing is. One day I’m gonna win with this car, it’s just a matter of time. As he said, we have to wait for the right moment, for the right time to participate in the races here in the US.
Q: You mean nothing is defined for 1993?
Senna: Absolutely not. The fact that I came here does not mean that I have something already fixed for next year. We’re in a situation where I have to evaluate the alternatives in the matter of my own career and due to Formula 1’s difficulties, and Emerson’s “pressure” I came to check it out. I’m very happy I could experience how driving an Indycar feels even on a track like this because I have more data. So when I have to make a decision, being tomorrow or in 60 days, I’ll be able to make a better decision about the subject.
Q: You never hid the fact that Emerson is a great idol for you. The fact that you came here under his “supervision”, what do you think about that?
Senna: (laughs) It’s not just because he’s here with me, but Emerson is responsible for the dream, not only mine but lots of Brazilians who liked races and had the opportunity to evolve, I had a very privileged position because I could really see what Formula 1 was about. It was a dream for me and I got there relatively fast and could taste what F1 felt like and he’s greatly responsible for that because it was his time, when he was winning GPs and the championships and we, younger drivers, went with his flow. After all these years I think Emerson did an amazing job, got through hard times, built a new life here in the US, advertised Formula Indycar not only for Brazil but for many other countries, won the championship and made all of us interested in what Formula Indycar was really about.
I was in F1 and started to pay more attention and he has finally brought me here. I was in Brazil chilling out, thinking about a beach, a jet ski and here he brought me, to Phoenix in the middle of the desert! It’s all his fault!
Q: You are always opening doors, and now, brought Ayrton Senna to Phoenix but you have two F1 and one CART championships on your back, right?
Fittipaldi: I think it’s a very special day for me, I’m a big fan of Ayrton, I watch every single F1 race, thousands of Brazilians who are his fans follow his steps and so it was a very special day.