#24 Senna

This weekend one of my favorite sports, Formula 1, is celebrating it’s 1000th championship Grand Prix. So time to start posting some F1 pictures from the personal archive.

My Dad has been a fan since the 60s growing up in South Africa watching the races there in Kyalami, and later in Zandvoort when he moved to Holland. I remember watching my first races on TV in the late 80s, seeing Mansell and Piquet battle it out in their Williams’, watching Ferrari win at Monza in ’88, and of course seeing Prost and Senna battling sometimes crashing each other of the track to win the championship.

My first in person experience came in Belgium ’92 at Spa-Franchorchamps, arguably the most beautiful track in the world. The way the track is laid out is just special, it’s in the middle of the forest, the smell of beer, bratwurst and gasoline is unique (the steam rises from the trees), and the weather… well, it can be cold and rainy on one side of the track and bright and sunny on the other side. And in 1992, it was cold, cold, cold… We had to keep walking to stay warm I remember.

My absolute favorite driver at that time was England’s Nigel Mansell, he had an epic 80s mustache and fought like a lion every race. And that year he went on to win his first and only championship, and then retired from F1. The photo above however is one of arguably the best race driver of all-time, Ayrton Senna. He’d won the championship three times already, but wasn’t competitive in 1992 because of the electronics that were introduced by Williams. Senna went on to drive for Williams in 1994, finally driving a championship caliber car again, but was then tragically killed at the 3rd race of the season in Imola hitting the brick wall. I remember those events well because of the impact it had, people still talk about it today. It’s not very often that you see the biggest name in the sport die on live television. Senna was never my favorite driver though, I mostly remember the aggressive moves against other drivers, which nowadays I’d probably appreciate and respect more – he was simply giving it all he had.

Here he is, Ayrton Senna… notice there’s just a guardrail, and no large protective fencing whatsoever… and thank you Pap for raising me with F1 (August 1992)

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