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30 years without Ayrton Senna: how is his legacy carried until today

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

On May 1st, 1994, the world was shocked by the passing of one of the greatest motorsports symbols. The three-time world champion enchanted every lucky one who got to watch him, live or not, throughout his ten-year career.  Three decades have passed, and yet not a day goes by without us been remembered of all the Brazilian’s impact on and off grid. Learn the legacy of the one and only: Ayrton Senna.

First a human, later a driver

Being founded in November of the same year as his death by his sister Vivianne, the Ayrton Senna Institute was a late dream of the driver. As said in the home page of the institute: “The Ayrton Senna Institute is the result of the Brazilian three-time Formula One winner, Ayrton Senna, long held dream of a country where everyone could have the chance to achieve whatever they wanted”.

Ayrton was very dedicated to making things the more even possible, even more when it came to the drivers, always fighting for better conditions on the grid and paving the way, so the others would feel more comfortable speaking up. Many changes were made by FIA (International Automobile Federation) over sporting matters after his passing. 

@dailymotorsportclips

Ayrton Senna in the drivers meeting at the 1991 German Grand Prix. #formula1 #f1 #ayrtonsenna #senna #fia #GermanGP #fyp

♬ original sound – Daily Motorsport 🏎️

Empathy during a race

Despite having some spectacular moments at the GP’s, one of Senna’s most memorable and heartwarming acts was a human one. 2 years prior to his death, he saved the life of former driver Érik Comas, claims the racer himself, every time he speaks about the late Brazilian.

@nerd.f1

Senna saves Eric Comas’ life gelificante GP 1992 #senna #ericcomas #formula1 #belgiangp #f1

♬ som original – Nerd.F1

 Ayrton is praised for never letting sport take over his beliefs, such as choosing to try and save a life rather than making it to the pole; an act that should be more common than it is. 

People’s beloved 

The “what’s Brazilians 2nd favorite sport” discussion comes up now and then, and during his career, Ayrton made it so easy to choose. People would look forward to Sunday just to see THE Senna race, it didn’t matter how little you knew about the sport, whether you were a F1 fan or not; it was all for him.

@puranarracao

Ayrton Senna, e um só canto no clássico Choque-Rei! A pura narração é do fera @jotajr48 Saudades! Imagens: TV Bandeirantes/ Rede Globo São Paulo 2 x 3 Palmeiras – Campeonato Paulista 1994 #saopaulo #palmeiras #choquerei #classico #paulista #campeonatopaulista #anos90 #senna #ayrtonsenna #ayrtonsennadobrasil #sennasempre #f1 #fut #futebol #puranarracao #jotajunior #narrador #narraçãoesportiva #narração #locutor #locução #nostalgia #nostalgico

♬ som original – Pura Narração

He also managed to surpass one of Brazil’s strongest barriers: soccer. Despite being a proud Corinthians supporter, that was never a hindrance for the other teams’ fans; it went and still goes beyond that. Every May 1st our country stops to pay him a well-deserved tribute, including the soccer teams; everyone really.

Art Tribute

Eduardo Kobra, a well-known (Brazilian) street artist in tribute to Ayrton was an enormous art of the driver in the crossroads of two of the most famous venues in the country and another one inside Interlagos. Both are known tourists’ spots, being highly visited to this day.

Biggest of the role models

 Can you imagine being the idol of many drivers who never got to see you race? That’s a Senna’s doing. Many of the current F1 drivers were born after his death, and yet, are mesmerized by him just by hearing what their parents had to say about him. Being the one most of them look up to as a driver and as a person.

Lewis Hamilton, the racer with the most poles, wins and titles in the F1 history, is definitely the loudest one when it comes to his admiration of Ayrton. The British is one of the few on the grid who got to witness the Brazilian live (Lewis was 9 in 1994), and every time he can show his admiration, he does. From recreating the iconic moment of raising the Brazilian flag to being gifted Senna’s helmet directly from his family.  

Pierre Gasly is also very vocal when it comes to the Brazilian. The French often express his love for him, and even raced with a themed helmet back in the 2020 Emilia-Romagna GP.  Same goes with Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, who has met Ayrton’s family and even called him his “only ever idol” on the grid.

Legends shall never die 

Ayrton Senna’s legacy will forever be held by the Brazilians and the rest of the world. For many, one of the best drivers to ever grace the grid. For Brazilians, the forever greatest and biggest symbols of our nation on the motorsports. And as we would say, “Acelera, Ayrton!”

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The article above was edited by Beatriz Gatz.

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Majoring in Journalism. 👩🏻‍💻🇧🇷 Sports lover & art enthusiast.