TEAM PENSKE'S CASTRONEVES: GLOBE TROTTIN' Two-Time Indianapolis 500 Champion and "Dancing with the Stars" winner Helio Castroneves is still waiting for his "off-season" to start. While most of his fall was occupied on the dance floor, he's been...
TEAM PENSKE'S CASTRONEVES: GLOBE TROTTIN'
Two-Time Indianapolis 500 Champion and "Dancing with the Stars" winner Helio Castroneves is still waiting for his "off-season" to start. While most of his fall was occupied on the dance floor, he's been just as busy in the new year.
In the last two weeks the 32 year-old Team Penske IndyCar Series driver will have been behind the wheel of two different race cars on three different tracks, traveled to seven different states, performed on five different dance floors and attended two of the biggest events in the world.
The whirlwind tour kicked-off on January 17th when Castroneves appeared at the Detroit Auto Show where he "danced" with the Governor of Michigan. Later that evening he joined prominent civic and business leaders from the Detroit area at a dinner hosted by Sir Jackie Stewart.
The next day he was in his adopted hometown of Indianapolis for his debut performance on the "Dancing with the Stars" Tour. Castroneves and his dance partner, Julianne Hough, debuted to a standing ovation in the Circle City, the first such reaction on the Tour.
From Indy, Castroneves traveled with the tour to Nashville (January 19th), St. Petersburg (January 21st), Jacksonville (January 22nd) and Ft. Lauderdale (January 23rd). The reigning Champions will round out their Tour with appearances in Providence (February 9th) and Philadelphia (February 10th) for a total of seven appearances.
From the dance floor, Castroneves quickly returned to the driver's seat, sharing responsibility behind the wheel at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with Penske Racing teammates Ryan Briscoe and Kurt Busch. The trio earned a third-place finish at the day-long event in Penske Racing's first appearance at the Rolex 24 since 1973.
Over the course of the last six days, the Brazilian will not only have raced in a 24-hour event, but he will also have tested the Team Penske Dallara/Honda on both an oval and a road circuit. After driving the Daytona Prototype car this past weekend, Castroneves switched gears and tested the Team Penske Dallara/Honda at Homestead-Miami Speedway yesterday. On Friday of this week, he'll be in Sebring sharing the driving duties with his new Team Penske teammate, Ryan Briscoe as they prepare for the 2008 IndyCar Series season.
As if touring the country as part of the "Dancing with the Stars" Tour and spending four days in a race car weren't enough activity for Castroneves over the past fortnight; he will also take time to hit the party scene at two of the countries largest events of the year -- Super Bowl XLII and Mardi Gras.
While the tires are still warm from his test in Sebring, Castroneves will be on a plane headed to Arizona, with a quick stop in Grand Rapids for an auto show appearance. Even though Castroneves may not be going to the big game on Sunday, he will be in town long enough to take in a few parties. The two-time Indy 500 champ is planning on attending annual Super Bowl parties hosted by Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Maxim and ESPN The Magazine.
From there, Castroneves heads to New Orleans where he will serve as a Monarch in the Krewe of Orpheus' annual Lundi Gras parade on Monday, February 4th -- the day before Mardi Gras officially begins. The procession, highlighted by 36 floats, will parade along its traditional Uptown route culminating with Orpheuscapade -- a black-tie affair featuring live music and dancing.
Joining Castroneves as members of the 2008 Monarchs and Nobility are "American Idol" finalist Josh Gracin, New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, two of the members of Salt N' Pepa, Lance Bass and Kevin Meaney.
The Krewe of Orpheus was founded in 1993 by Harry Connick Jr. and includes 1,200 members. Past monarchs in their annual Lundi Gras parade include Whoopi Goldberg, Glenn Close, Sandra Bullock, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Steven Seagal, Forest Whitaker, Laurence Fishburn, Vanessa Williams, Dan Ackroyd, James Brown, Little Richard, David Copperfield, and Josh Hartnett.
"I have to say, it's been a really busy two weeks," said Castroneves. "I've had the time of my life during the past few months. It's a tremendous honor to be selected as one of the Monarchs for the Krewe of Orpheus parade -- I'm really looking forward to being involved and I think it's the perfect way to celebrate my first Mardi Gras. I'm also looking forward to being in Phoenix this weekend; it's always such an electric crowd during the week leading up to the Super Bowl."