Three-Time Indy 500 Champ Hélio Castroneves on Winning and Overcoming Fear

Published on August 20, 2019

Hélio Castroneves grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, the son of an entrepreneur in the advertising industry. His father decided that in order to get more attention for his company, he would start a racing team with his company logo on the car.

Young Hélio spent so much time around racing as it was family business. At a very young age, he received his first go-cart and the passion was lit.

Before long Castroneves was racing in the United Kingdom but had bigger goals which would bring him to the United States to race in the CART series and later the IndyCar Series.

In 2001, his rookie year, Castroneves won the first of his three Indianapolis 500’s and in 2002 his second straight win at the prestigious race.


Driving with Fear

False evidence appearing real; fear can actually be about how you define it. However, fear is something that stops many worldwide, every minute of every day. Open-wheel race cars travel at speeds in excess in 250 miles an hour. If there’s anything you need to really conquer fear to do, it’s drive at that speed and win.

Hélio Castroneves has won The Indianapolis 500 three times in the 108 years it has been run; it’s one of the most famous auto races in the world.

The reasons for fear in open-wheel racing are very real, it was just in 2011 that previous Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon lost his life in the race.

When I asked Hélio about that, he said it was about acknowledging the danger, but deciding that the love of competing is greater than the fear.

Whether it’s in racing or your life, you have to have a greater reason than your reason for fear.

“You got to learn how to separate it, it’s just like fear. You’ve got to learn how to deal with that. I know everybody, I know every human being has fears, feelings of fear, you’ve just gotta some people are able to you know, block that in a normal way and some people it makes a little harder. So, you know You just got to be able see that we understand that we understand the dangers of it, we know the risk of it, but at the same time we love it.

If you told me to do something else, probably I wouldn’t be happier. That’s why its a very strange thing to say, that’s what I love to do. It’s a shame that we lost a lot of colleagues my my career; those unfortunately lost. We’re able to improve safety, so that doesn’t happen again, but still it’s a dangerous sport.”
– Hélio Castroneves


Blocking Out the Noise

In 2009, Castroneves was mired in a legal battle, on which he was later vindicated on all seven charges. Needless to say, it was a tumultuous year for the Brazilian born driver.

That year, Hélio won his third Indianapolis 500, the first foreign-born driver to win the race three times; the face of adversity he had shown himself to be a true champion.

When I asked Hélio about this year, he explained that racing is what helped to get him through. When he was in the car, nothing else mattered but the race at hand; it couldn’t, at such a high rate of speed, the room for error is minuscule.


Building a Legacy

Hélio Castroneves is a legend in the open wheel racing world, winning the Indianapolis 500 three times, making him one of only 9 drivers to win the prestigious race 3 times; only 3 individuals have won the race 4 times. He has raced in 327 career starts with 29 wins in the past 19 seasons.

He is still chasing that illusive first championship, but believes he still has time to mark that in the record books; not to mention a fourth title at the Indianapolis 500 would leave him in the company of only A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser.

Hélio Castroneves joins me, Jeremy Ryan Slate, on the latest episode of the Create Your Own Life Show.


Jeremy Ryan Slate a Contributing Editor at Grit Daily. Based in New Jersey, he is the founder of the Create Your Own Life Show, a podcast that studies world-class performers. He studied literature at Oxford University, and is a former champion power lifter turned new-media entrepreneur. Specializes in using podcasting and new media to create celebrity and was ranked #1 in iTunes New and Noteworthy and #26 in the business category. Jeremy was named one of the top 26 podcast for entrepreneurs to listen to in 2017 by CIO Magazine and Millennial Influencer to follow in 2018 by Buzzfeed.  The Create Your Own Life Podcast has been downloaded over one million times.

Read more

More GD News