Ayrton Senna de Silva
is known as one of the
greatest drivers ever in
motorsport! But what
was the racecar driver
Mike Doodson of Motor
Sport Magazine got to
know Senna quite well
for a number of years
when the racecar driver
was just beginning his
career. Doodson wanted
to interview Senna when
the Brazilian was focused
on pre race preparations. Regarding an interview request, Senna scoffed at
Doodson that he would need to wait until after a Rio test and that Doodson
should come down to Sao Paulo. Senna was quite surprised that Doodson
agreed as the race driver had not encountered a patient journalist.
As Doodson was wondering around the back of the garage at the Toleman
track, he could hear Senna speaking in animated Italian conversation to Pirelli
engineers. Furthermore, the engineer boss, Mario Mezzanotte, had a look of shock
on his face because the new race car driver (Senna) had taken charge. It was likely
hard that the men from Pirelli could accept the ‘newcomers’’ observations about
what was wrong with their tires. However, they would soon learn that Senna
indeed knew what he was talking about.
Doodson reports that when Senna drove, he was not showing off, but he was
seeking knowledge of F1 racing. During six days in Jacarepagua, Senna drove
1600 kms (about 1,000 miles), without spinning the racecar or blowing an engine.
Regarding his driving, Senna remarked, “We were not very quick, they have to get
the car better. But considering the tyres, for me – a new driver – I think it was good.”
Fortunately for Doodson, Senna had not forgotten about his promise of the interview.
Thus, the racecar driver and Doodson flew to Sao Paulo, picked up Senna’s Ford Escort
XR3 at the airport and then headed for Senna’s family home. Doodson was expecting
that he would need to find a nearby motel, however, the journalist was introduced to
the racecar driver’s mother Neide (Dona Zaza) and younger brother. Senna would
sleep in his brothers room and the journalist would get Senna’s room for the night.
Senna showed Doodson around the garage in which held several race karts and
a collection of radio controlled cars and planes. Senna and the journalist spent
the afternoon in the living room discussing racing and other topics. Senna was
fascinated that Doodson had such a good grasp of Portuguese. In return, Senna
was very concerned about getting his English pronunciation correct.
Senna was fascinated that Doodson had met Jim Clark whom Senna revered.
As Doodson had seen Clark get into a few accidents on the race track, the
journalist offered up his opinion that Clark had difficulty when he encountered
traffic on the race track. Senna would not accept Doodson’s opinion as he
continued to think of Clark as superhuman.
Doodson recalls that Senna was also slightly obsessed with a couple of the disco
hits by pop singer Gloria Gaynor that Senna played at high volume on his car’s
stereo. Doodson says that Senna obviously liked disco, because that night as
the journalist spent time working on deadlines, Senna went off for the evening to
dance at the disco. Doodson happened to wake up when Senna returned home
and it was past 3 a.m.
Be sure to return to part two of: Motorsport: Ayrton Senna – great driver,
but did you know …
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He
welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: