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Biography: Ayrton Senna – The Messiah of Motor Racing

Submitted by on October 20, 2012

Ayrton Senna: the Messiah of Motor Racing

A new biography about Ayrton Senna is set to take a different approach to exploring the life and career of the motorsport legend.

Ayrton Senna – The Messiah of Motor Racing, by Richard Craig,  aims to compile a “factual account of the late Brazilian’s life and career, painting a realistic portrait of the brilliant driver while debunking the myth that he was some kind of modern messiah” and examine the mythology that has formed so strongly around him.

It’s available now for the eminently-reasonable price of £6.74 on Amazon (at time of writing), and at other retailers around the world.

Read on for the official word from publishers Darton, Longman and Todd.

A new biography on Ayrton Senna that explodes the myth of his god-like status amongst his many followers is to be published on October 13.

‘Ayrton Senna – The Messiah of Motor Racing’, is the debut book of Formula One journalist Richard Craig and gives a factual account of the late Brazilian’s life and career, painting a realistic portrait of the brilliant driver while debunking the myth that he was some kind of modern messiah.

It also examines more widely the culture around celebrity deaths, drawing on the examples of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, James Dean, Princess Diana, Amy Winehouse, John Lennon and including an in-depth look at motor racing celebrities who died young, such as Gilles Villeneuve, Jim Clark and Alberto Ascari.

Published by Dartman, Longman and Todd and written in conjunction with former colleagues of the three-time world champion, the book includes testimonials from the likes of close friend and fellow driver Thierry Boutsen and veteran Formula One journalist Mike Doodson.

It is illustrated by images from F1 photographer Keith Sutton, who met Senna at the start of his racing career in 1981 and subsequently captured most of his career on camera.

Belfast-born Richard Craig, an avid motor racing fan, is a journalist who has written for the likes of ‘Autosport’ and ‘Formula One Black Book’.

Early in the book Craig writes:

“In 2010 veteran motorsport journalist Mike Doodson wrote, in Motor Sport: ‘One day, somebody will write a great, full-length biography of Ayrton Senna. Let’s hope it won’t take a couple of centuries for that someone to compile the balanced, well-informed assessment of the Brazilian’s 34-year life.’

What he was alluding to is the absolute, unyielding respect and sometimes borderline blandishment with which the Senna myth is treated.

‘I think (this phenomenon) is entirely to be expected,’ he told me. ‘When somebody is dead you can write about him in ways that you didn’t before. You can be more critical, or more fulsome about his qualities. There is some hagiography surrounding Senna because some people regarded him as superhuman, which clearly he wasn’t. They put that into words and it’s a bit embarrassing to read what they write.”

Ayrton Senna – The Messiah of Motor Racing’ aims to be just that book that Doodson refers to.

Darton, Longman and Todd is an internationally-respected publisher of brave, ground-breaking, independent books on matters of heart, mind and soul.

Established in 1959, it has published many of the most admired Christian writers of our day, including Rowan Williams, Basil Hume and Gerard Hughes and is sole English-language publisher of the New Jerusalem Bible outside the US.

‘Ayrton Senna – The Messiah of Motor Racing’ is the publisher’s first venture into sports biography.

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