Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves returned to the site of his previous successes with a new triumph to celebrate in his charmed life: the mirrorball trophy awarded the winner of the 'Dancing With The Stars' television show competition.
"I'm still in shock," said the slightly built Brazilian of the glittery, bronze-colored mirrored trophy as he held it aloft outside the Pagoda at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday (December 11th).
The Penske Racing driver of the No. 3 bright red and white Dallara/Honda was in town to show off his prize and host a private party later this evening.
"I can never thank enough the fans," he said, "because without them I never would have won this."
Castroneves was eager to reveal to the public a different side of his ebullient persona on the nationally televised show: one that was as up close and personal as his moves on the dance floor with his on-air partner, professional dancer Julianne Hough.
"I think we showed the television viewers that Indy Racing League drivers have personality," he continued. "I hope we got them interested enough that they will come out to see us on the racetrack."
Castroneves' expectations were modest when he began the dance competition at the start of the fall television season.
"All I wanted to do was just get to the next round," he said. "When they announced my name as the overall winner on the last show, I was surprised!"
"I mean it when I said it: I can do it," he continued as he reflected on how his competitive nature helped him push through seven-plus hour days of non-stop practice in the dance studio.
At home, the replica miniature Borg Warner trophies that Castroneves displays on his Miami mantle will flank the 'Dancing With The Stars' mirrorball trophy.
Castroneves' thoughts now turn to a promotional tour for the show coming in April '08, and the IRL season which kicks off at Homestead/Miami Speedway the last weekend in March.
"Make no mistake," he said, "I am not a professional dancer and don't want to be one. I just want to win another Borg Warner trophy, a third Indianapolis 500, and that's what I'm going to focus on starting now."