We at IRR love Helio Castro-Neves, a talented veteran racer and classy guy. This hasn’t always been the case, and our positive views of him today exist in spite of him being a key cog in the juggernaut Team Penske. Besides, we ought to love him – we’ve paid high dollar to watch the Brazilian win his three Indy 500s. And yes, climb the fence right in front of us. Back when we weren’t fans.
Now he’s consistently a joy to watch wheel his super fast, brilliantly liveried machine around circuits at top speed. Helio’s been an excellent IndyCar pilot in all disciplines for nearly two decades. He’s on the lists of most wins and poles and with plenty left in the tank always poses a threat to win more. A-hem, there was that nastiness with the IRS a few years back, but we’ll leave that for another hittier piece.
Helio exudes exuberance, ebullience and excitability. Calm and subdued rarely describe the Brazilian firecracker, by which we refer to his size as well as his pop. His high energy magnetism attracts fans whether they’re viewing the race in person or on video and his interviews are pure carbon fiber.
Photo from USA Today
Mid-Ohio’s post-race coverage perfectly illustrated the class and verve we’ve come to admire in Helio. Frustrated by rotten luck and mechanical issues ruining his race, he answered honestly when asked by Kevin Lee “What was it like out there?” on NBCSN. “Man, that sucked!” he said emphatically before flashing his famous smile.
The series won’t be the same without him when he calls it quits. How will they ever replace such an entertaining personality? Much less such a great accent?
Helio is a lot of things, but perfectly fluent isn’t one of them. For long time fans of the series Helio-isms are something to look forward to, a real upbeat treat. Helio-isms are something you can count on – and who’s got enough of that these days?
We freely admit Helio’s no Yogi Berra but then again IndyCar ain’t exactly big league baseball, either. What he is? – pure Helio. We here at IRR like to kid. A lot. We kid Helio because we like him. Enough.
1. “In the end of the day”
2. “Just a lee-l bit loose out dair but it’s good”
3. “Ha ha ha”
4. “Would like to win for Roger SO BAD”
5. “I mean come on g-uys”
6. “Climb de fence”
7. “De Hitachi Car was really good”
8. “Man, that sucked!”
9. “It’s pronounced EH-leo”