Sunday, January 08, 2012

Where have you gone, Ayrton Senna?

It will be 18 years this May......I remember that Sunday evening, like it was yesterday.....I was on the phone in the dining room, when I heard the news....Ayrton Senna was gone....forever! I had heard that another driver (Roland Ratzenberger) had been killed the previous day in qualifying, but this was a shocker.
Star Sports had just started showing Formula 1 races a year or two earlier, and for an aficionado like me, Sunday evenings were reserved for F1. It had come a long way from the days of reading about races 2 weeks after they happened in the latest issue of Sportstar (funny thinking about in this day and age). Admittedly in my early days of following F1, I had a tough time distinguishing Alain Prost from Senna! They looked the same (somewhat to my teen brain), and drove for the same McLaren team. Little did I know about the rivalry between them. Prost, the Frenchman, always the scheming Professor....Senna, the dapper Brazilian, reminiscent of his footballer brethren, stylish and suave.
He was gone before I really had a chance to see his true greatness at the wheel, living and driving on the edge. I had only read about them, until recently, when I got the chance to watch a fabulous documentary on him. Asif Kapadia's award-winning "Senna" is surely a must-watch, and shows the man in his prime, in life and in death. Star Sports always ended their races that year with U2's "One", in its near entirety, the lyrics of which ring hauntingly true to this day. And it always ended with his unforgettable yellow helmet atop his casket!

Coming to think of it, 1994 was a strange year in sports! Was exposed to the madness/mayhem when sports and reality TV intersect with the OJ Simpson brouhaha. Watched the Brazilians win a World Cup for the first time in my life, but also read about a young man lose his life for an own-goal. Had the good fortune of watching Brian Lara for the first time, in the flesh, after he broke Gary Sobers' unbreakable record and also belted poor Durham into oblivion.
But personally, 1994 will always be the year we lost the Prince of Formula1, Ayrton Senna!

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