CHAMPCAR/CART: Castroneves named "Sexiest Race Car Driver"

DETROIT (November 26, 2001) - Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves has been enjoying a meteoric rise in the CART FedEx Championship Series based on his on-track success, but most recently he is causing a quite a stir off the track with...

DETROIT (November 26, 2001) - Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves has been enjoying a meteoric rise in the CART FedEx Championship Series based on his on-track success, but most recently he is causing a quite a stir off the track with his sex appeal.

Castroneves, the charismatic, 26-year-old Brazilian bachelor, is making a big splash outside of the sports pages as the most recent issue of People hits the newsstands today. Featuring a host of male celebrities, the issue is devoted to the "Sexiest Man Alive," and although Castroneves did not reap the ultimate spot, he secured the lofty title as the "Sexiest Race Car Driver."

"I guess all year [People] had a contest or something like that," said Castroneves, who resides in Miami Beach. "I guess the way I celebrate, the way I express my feelings, caught the attention of everybody. The passion I have for what I do is what counts. And I guess Indianapolis [500 win] got their attention even more. I think the reason all of this is happening is because I've been successful on the race track, so I'm happy for that. I was very surprised, and very glad. It's fun. I'm enjoying every minute, and it's good. It's good because it's making it better for everyone in racing, because this is for people that are not race fans."

Cosmopolitan, a premier fashion magazine, also was impressed with Castroneves' looks and aptly named him "Hunk of the Month" for November. Earlier this year, he also appeared on "Live with Regis and Kelly" in a version of the "Dating Game," where he asked questions to three single women behind a partition and chose one based off her answers for a date.

"I don't think any male race fans read Cosmopolitan," Castroneves said. "So it's an opportunity to be in front of non-race fans. I don't think November was my month in racing, but it's been a better month for me in other areas."

But Castroneves is more than just natural good looks. He quickly is maturing into one of the sport's premier stars, having finished fourth in the CART FedEx Championship Series this season on the strength of three wins (Long Beach, Detroit, Mid-Ohio) and capturing the Indianapolis 500 crown in May. He also gained recognition for celebrating his wins with a post-race fence-climbing ritual that has been mimicked but not matched in exuberance by others in motorsports.

Castroneves' appearance in People, combined with other appearances in entertainment and fashion publications as well as television talk shows this year, is reminiscent of 1988 CART FedEx Championship Series champion Danny Sullivan. Throughout the '80s, Sullivan's movie-star looks - coupled with his success on track - enabled him to guest star on television programs such as "All My Children" and "Miami Vice." The combination also landed him inside the pages of People's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" issue and various other fashion and lifestyle publications.

Castroneves admits that he could not have foreseen that he would be considered a "sex symbol," but he is not going to shy away from it.

"I never thought about it," he said. "It's a very dangerous sport, but it is also a lot of fun. I never saw myself as a 'sex symbol,' but the only thing I do after the race is make sure I put my hair in order and do the interview. I guess the other drivers don't do that. I guess the value is for the chicks. It's interesting, I don't mind."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves
Teams Team Penske