Note: The INDYCAR Writers’ Roundtable is looking back at a fantastic, entertaining 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule to offer discussion and opinions about a variety of topics. This 10-part series will run regularly in October.
Today’s question: What was the best moment in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season?
Curt Cavin: Easily, it’s Helio Castroneves running up and down pit road after winning his record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500. Seldom does a 46-year-old father bounce around with the energy of a teenager, but that’s what we saw from the Brazilian. And with good reason, right? Not only had it been 20 years since his first Indy victory, it was accomplishing this remarkable feat without the power of Team Penske. Castroneves showed he could win this race different ways.
Zach Horrall: My best moment of 2021 is Helio Castroneves’ post-race celebration after winning his fourth Indianapolis 500. For as long as I live, I will never forget standing in the media center and very clearly hearing the crowd chanting “HEL-I-O” over and over until he started sprinting down the main straightaway. It was pure chaos in the most genuine, organic and loving form I’ve ever seen. Decades from now the thousands in attendance and millions watching at home will tell stories about how they saw Helio’s post-race celebration in 2021.
Paul Kelly: Well, it’s unanimous: I also pick Helio Castroneves’ celebration of his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory May 30. But there are two moments within that explosion of joy and emotion I want to single out, and they were perhaps two of the quieter pieces of time amid the glee. The first came when Castroneves, still wearing his helmet, found team owner Mike Shank along the outside wall on the front straightaway, and the two men embraced in a squeezing, emotional hug. It almost seemed like there was mutual relief and joy between driver and owner. Helio was able to earn mythical status with his fourth win through the chance provided by Shank, and Shank got his first victory as an NTT INDYCAR SERIES team owner through Helio’s skill on the biggest stage of them all. The second moment came when fellow legend Mario Andretti found Helio along the pit wall and congratulated him, finishing the conversation by gently cupping Helio’s face with his hands and kissing him lightly on the forehead. That was the ultimate motorsport blessing and a poignant moment that I’ll always remember.