IRL: Indy500: Helio Castroneves Monday morning press conference

HELIO CASTRONEVES PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT Monday, May 28, 2001, WorldComplex Media Center Trackside Conference Room GUEST: Helio Castroneves, 85th Indianapolis 500 champion HOST: Ron Green RON GREEN: Thank you all for your patience. It's...

Monday, May 28, 2001, WorldComplex Media Center Trackside Conference Room

GUEST: Helio Castroneves, 85th Indianapolis 500 champion
HOST: Ron Green

RON GREEN: Thank you all for your patience. It's quite an effort taking pictures out there this morning.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: That was amazing.

GREEN: We are up on a time constraint, so we are going to go ahead and throw it right open to Q and A for Helio. We'll start right up front.

Helio, the traditional first question of this morning is: Now that you have had a night to sleep on it, how does it feel to have your name changed yet again to Indy 500 Winner Helio Castroneves.

CASTRONEVES: I tell you what, I didn't have much sleep actually. I went to sleep like 2:00 in the morning. I was watching the race and seeing the last details and everything. But it's amazing, you know. I'm still - of course, I wake up in the morning and, you know, with relief and same as I always wake up the next day after a good job done in the race. No doubt about I have a special feeling about this place. Coming over here when I saw a bunch of journalists, you know, there with the car, that was like - my first impression was wow, look at that. Unbelievable. It's amazing. I mean I used to see this in magazines. I used to see this on TV. Today I'm the one that actually is sitting in this place. So I am very happy, of course. I'm very glad and I worked very hard to achieve this. Today I really feel that I deserve it.

A couple things about Roger. Did he ever scale the fence?


Roger said he was going to climb the fence with you last night, did he ever do it?

CASTRONEVES: Well, he was about to. I think he had some drinks, so it was better that he didn't. He was actually very happy with the result. It was great.

Your thoughts about him not being here today?

CASTRONEVES: Well, I guess he's a businessman. He has to take care of, of course, also his other things. He's not here but he is here, you know. He's already called like twice to make sure that everything is under control; and all the business, of course, has priority and everybody understand that.

GREEN: More questions?

Helio, can you talk about where you get your enthusiasm and energy from? Also, do you feel that that, you know, maybe adds something to racing, all the animation that you bring?

CASTRONEVES: Well, I remember I used to when I was a little boy, my mother used to say when I was grumpy face, say, "What's the matter?" Said, "Oh, boys don't cry." She said, "No, you can say that. Everybody cries. Just you don't need to hide your feelings. If you want to cry, of course, you must have a reason. Maybe a bad thing or a good thing. So don't worry about that. Don't hide your feelings." And I start crying, of course, every achievement that I was getting. Then thank God I was getting comfortable with that. And I've always been a very exciting person, you know. I like to talk. I like to say hello to everyone, even the people that I don't know. But that's my way. Racing is so frustrating. You have so many frustrating times that when you achieve a good result like I did yesterday, frustrating does not even come close. I love what I do. I really enjoy what I do. I like to show to people that, that I love, and especially when I achieve accomplishment, a goal. When I did my first race, I mean I never - you never know when you're going to do it, but you know one day you will. So definitely I like to do that because show the happiness - and I think you guys saw yesterday how happy I was - so you've got to show the happiness. It's very difficult to win a race. You know, people, sometimes drivers just wave the hand or something like that and it is tough. Looks like easy for them, but it is tough, you know. Even these guys that just wave a hand, they also have feelings and sometimes they express it in a different way. When the car breaks, they're yelling to the engineer or something like that or if something happen, they kick the helmet or steering wheel. I prefer to show my feelings on the happy side, on the nice side, which not only helps me but also everybody has a moment and I like to express myself, you know.

Helio, congratulations, by the way.


You were saying you watched the TV show last night, you watched the race. What did you learn from watching the race?

CASTRONEVES: That guy, No. 68, did a fantastic job. (Laughter) They keep going, I tell you. Really, planned very well passing the back markers, always keeping the distance between me and Gil, about 1.5 seconds, you know. And I tell you, when I achieved that, I stopped trying to go faster and faster, because I don't want to take a chance. So I just gave me a comfortable gap and decided, you know, just stay with this gap. Any problem, any whatever, back markers or something, you know what to do and you still have caution to keeping the lead. It worked pretty well. I mean, I was impressed my performance every day. I'm learning every day. I guess yesterday showed that I'm being a good listener.

Helio, at what point during the race did it first enter your mind that you were possibly going to win?

CASTRONEVES: Was about 50 laps - actually at 150 laps to go - no, 50 laps to go when I took the lead. That was the moment that I realized I have a big shot. First with the rain, I was expecting the rain came over and stay forever, you know. The tornado or something like that, like for a whole week, we cancel. That's it, the race is over, let's go home everybody. And then I realize that the clouds are moving and I understood we're going to go back and race. So my mind was to go back in the car and say, listen, if you were here, it's because you save your car, you save the equipment and even yourself. So you know you can go for it. That's why I just went for it. I was watching the news yesterday, they said I was blocking. I was protecting my position and, of course, the announcer want to make sure that it creates excitement. But I'm pretty sure any other driver in the lead racing for Indy 500, million-dollar race, I believe they would do worse thing than what I did, you know, just moving one lane. But I guess in the end I proved my car was fast, especially in the traffic. That's what I notice. I said I have one more pit stop, so if I just get out of the way and keep going, because I knew after 20 gallons, my car, it's faster than anybody. Everybody was talking loose or understeer. My car actually was the opposite of everybody. My car was getting faster and faster and faster by myself or behind somebody, you know. And that's what I was just keep thinking, do the same line, do the same thing to make sure. Don't change what you're doing right now because so far is working. And, of course, 10 laps to go was the longest 10 laps that I ever pass in the oval. Normally oval, one lap is really fast or 10 laps is really fast. But no doubt about it, the 10 laps was like, oh, my goodness, I thought they were miscounting. It's supposed to be five already, you know. (Laughter) But I guess it was a fantastic moment.

GREEN: After you scaled the fence and got back in the car and took your one lap around, what were your thoughts on that single lap?

CASTRONEVES: I wanted to salute the fans and the public. A lot of people still in the grandstand and everybody were really excited. I don't think they were expecting that I was going to go around the track. I even asked today my guys, "Hey, can you guys turn on? I want to do another lap here." But I started liking this place a lot. It was a long month and you start getting used to. And especially with the result, no doubt about you really love the place.

A couple things for us guys who do not cover you regularly in CART. I know you used to have a hyphen in your name. Did you change it or are we just getting it wrong all along? Also, does it get a little frustrating, a lot of people mispronouncing your first name? Maybe they'll start getting it right now, I guess.

CASTRONEVES: Well, when I came over here to America, my first name is Helio. I mean the "H" is silent. And it's like Elliott without the "T" in the end. Castroneves, it's my last name. It's not like the middle or something like that. It's my dad's name. In Brazil I have another one, which is (sp?) Alvis, which is in the middle between Helio and Castroneves. So basically - I have to use just Castroneves, but they are not together. They are separate, but they are last name. When I came over to America, I wanted them to call me Castroneves but people were always calling me Castro. I wasn't very happy to the comparison with Fidel, you know, Castro, Fidel. I was like, hey, I have nothing to do with that. And then I want people to say both names. So in Indy Lights, one of the directors of the Indy Lights said, "Okay, put a hyphen in the middle and then everybody understand it's both names." So that's what I did. And people understand and everything but when I came over to CART, a lot of people still just saying Castro or Neves. Last year, together with Marlboro Team Penske, I said, "What can we do to make sure that people say my name? It doesn't matter if they say wrong, Castroneeves, Castronova, whatever." (Laughter) What it takes to say everything?" Then they said, "Well, let's put it together." Then when they read, it was like, "Well, they're going to call you Castronovis." I said, "I don't care. (Laughter) Just give me everything, you know. That's why I decided to do that. It's funny, if it turns out to be one name, looks like losing the dash I'm going fast. So, worked pretty well. (Laughter)

GREEN: Let's take two more questions up front.

Helio, yesterday I asked you about Formula One and you were a bit reluctant to say something. But then Roger said, "Well, yeah, if you want to do it, I'll back you."

CASTRONEVES: It was amazing. I was like wow, all right, here we go.

So what are your aspirations? Are they actually Formula One long-term?

CASTRONEVES: Well, of course I want to achieve my goals here. I want to be a number one and so far step by step, I'm being patient. The good side is my age, I'm young. And, yes, I mean my dream always was to be a Formula One driver. But you have a different route, you know, that you can take to be there. Today I'm very happy with Marlboro Team Penske. I mean they're doing everything. I'm not going to go to Formula One just to go, you know. Jacques Villeneuve did a good job going over there in a very top first-class team. Even won as well, doing a fantastic job. I don't know anybody over there, to be honest. I have no contact with nobody over there. So I guess I'm going to just focus a hundred percent in my CART season, in my racing here like I did in Indy for whole month. Also make sure that I achieve my target. So far I'm doing well.

You talked about how you remembered so clearly the Indy 500 in '89 with Emerson and all of that. But I would have thought at your age then that your real inspiration would have been Ayrton Senna.

CASTRONEVES: Oh, he was, yes. I mean, definitely was. And again I went to Europe to try everything. But it's very difficult. Drivers sometimes have to take a way that sometimes doesn't look the best way, but turns to be the best way. I came over to America and I was very happy. At first initial I was, I remember with the Steve Horne, which was the ex-owner for Tasman Motorsports. I was leaving Jackie Stewart's team, I went to make a test at the end of '95 with Indy Lights. It was about seven drivers. And I just want to drive another car. So far in that point, I just drove Formula 3. I wanted to see how is a bigger engine, bigger car; and turns to be at the test I was the fastest. All of a sudden Steve Horne was really happy with my performance and we start working together. So it's not that I planned that I want to come over here but it's the way the situation happened. And I think you have to be patient. You have to wait for the right moment; and when you have the right moment, just take it.

GREEN: Any final questions for Helio? Helio, any closing comments or thoughts?

CASTRONEVES: I tell you, I just want to thank the Speedway, of course. It was fantastic. It was a long month, long month, a lot of work. About 14,000 miles coming from Japan, Nazareth, testing. I mean, it's such a great dream, of course, winning here and especially my first oval. So I'm very happy. I thank you all to be here. But the job is still not done. We still have to work a lot this season and go back to work, actually, Wednesday.

GREEN: Helio, you are now an Indianapolis 500 champion. You'll be a great champion. Congratulations.

CASTRONEVES: Thank you very much.


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Helio Castroneves , Jackie Stewart , Ayrton Senna , Steve Horne
Teams Team Penske