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Shifting Lanes Remembers Ayrton Senna

Today is May 1st, not all that significant in most circles, but to motoring enthusiasts it is a day many of us will never forget. It was 19 years ago today that the great Ayrton Senna died when his Williams F1 car crashed in turn one at Imola. From 1984 to that faithful last race Senna displayed more driving brilliance than few before him and even fewer since. 41 wins, 65 poles and 3 F1 World Driver’s Championshps. Doing so against some of the sport’s all time greats, including is epic rivalry with Alain Prost. Senna drove in that last great era where success had more to do with a driver’s skill and will to win than the car they were driving. The cars had a mind blowing 1200 horsepower hooked up to a manual transmission. They had not much in the way of aero grip. Safety was afterthought. You literally had to have nerves of steel and zero fear to drive in the late 80s/early 90s.  It was last era before aerodynamics and high tech electronics became the secret to success. Today Adrian Newey probably more to do with Red Bull Racing’s success than 3 time Champion Sebastian Vettel. I mean no disrespect to the drivers of today, but drivers of Senna’s era could still compete with a ill performing car. Today If you don’t have one of the top cars, you have zero shot at winning. As you will see below, if you ask the drivers almost to a man they will say Senna was the best ever. Even the great Michael Schumacher puts Senna #1, and he has a record 7 World Championships to his name. There is a great documentary entitled “Senna” that I urge all of you to watch.  I can go on and on, but our friends over at Top Gear already did a wonderful Senna tribute a few years ago.  Enjoy.

Written by Chad Kennedy

Chad burst from the womb wearing a racing suit and a helmet. Chad's passion for cars is in his very DNA. His father was a gear head and passed on the tradition through owning such classics as a '66 Mustang and a '59 Corvette all while taking him to various race tracks in the area. Chad likes to wrench on his rides whenever possible, forgoing the stealership. Chad is an avid motorsports fan with particular interest in endurance/sports car racing. When not online writing for Shifting Lanes, you can find him working at the local golf course teaching people how to swing or hooning a golf cart at impossible speeds.

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  1. Best racing driver, in any motor sport, of all time. End of story. Truly a paradox, as they said, Senna was a brutally aggressive racer, yet a compassionate human being. My favorite driver of all time, as well. There will never be another like him. RIP Ayerton.

  2. Senna, Andretti and Schumacher are the only names that come to mind when I think of racing perfection. RIP Ayerton.

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