Last in a series looking at IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up Helio Castroneves through the eyes of those around him at and away from the racetrack.
Helio Castroneves shared photos of an adventurous family vacation last week in Brazil, a well-deserved rest following the mentally- and physically-draining 19-race 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season in which he finished runner-up in the championship.
Soon; in fact, in early December, initial on-track preparations for the 2014 season begin in the No. 3 Team Penske car. Though Castroneves recorded a solid season – one race win and 16 top-10 finishes, including 12 in a row -- a fourth Indianapolis 500 Mile Race victory and a first series title are carryover goals.
Adriana Henao, his significant other, says that future success will be realized because of, in part, his determination.
“It’s one of the things I admire about him is his focus,” she says. “Sometimes I even joke with him that when I’m at the track with him he doesn’t even know I’m there. He’s working. I know he loves (her and their daughter Mikaella) so much and that’s his passion.”
At home during the season in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., family is the focus during the precious off days between race weekends, team and sponsor commitments and other events. Henao notes that there's no artifice; his personality isn’t much different from what race ticket-holders or TV viewers see.
“He’s always laughing; that’s another thing I like about him,” says Henao, who was cheered on by Helio and Mikaella during her participation in a Nov. 10 half-marathon in Fort Lauderdale. “He doesn’t have a bad day. Never. He never wakes up sad. In our house there is never chaos. He’s very stable. I’m not quite that easygoing. If I want to fight, I fight with me.”
Attention to details and his race craft occasionally compete for Castroneves’ attention, Henao notes.
“Because he’s so passionate about things, when he has something on his mind he just wants to talk about that,” she says. “He goes to bed with it and wakes up with the same thing. I don’t know much about racing but what I can offer is to listen.
“He comes home and talks about the car and he asks me what should I do? ‘Should I make the bars softer or harder?’ “What I tell him is write it down so tomorrow you can address it (with engineer Jonathan Diuguid).
“He has a notebook that he writes down everything about the race. When he has a question about a particular track and what to do, I say ‘Take your book and look at what you did last year.’ He knows what he can control and what he can’t.”
For her part, Henao chooses to filter much of the technical aspects and close competition at 215-plus mph of IndyCar racing.
“I don’t know and I don’t want to know,” she says. “When you know too much you worry more. I joke with the mechanics, just tell me if I should look happy or concerned (on pit lane).”