The Indy 500 « 4-time winner Club » welcomes a new member: Helio Castroneves. At 46, the Brazilian won his 4th Indy 500 in 2021, joining three other IndyCar legends.
AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears, the first drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 4 times, have been photographed together on numerous occasions over the years, most notably in a famous shoot for the official program cover. of the event in 2013.
Castroneves enters the Club des 4
If the photos of the Club des 4 always seemed the same, we had to wait 29 edition since the fourth « Indy 500 » of Mears in 1991, and if some pilots obtained their second victory during this period, only Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti in got a third.
With such parity in the IndyCar Series and the fact that Castroneves turned 46 before this year’s race and changed teams (from Team Penske to Meyer Shank Racing) the chances of him securing a fourth win won’t looked not as good as they had been in years past. But when Castroneves stood up to Alex Palou for victory in the 105th Indy 500 on May 30, 2021, everyone knew a new “Club” reunion had to take place.
This meeting was held in Indianapolis on Tuesday, which brought the photo album up to date. Castroneves went through all kinds of emotions in the two months following the celebration on Victory Lane, but spending the day with Foyt, Unser and Mears made it even more magical.
“What else can I say, these guys since I’ve been here, they’ve been the Indianapolis standard,” he said alongside the other three Indy 500 legends. always looked out for these guys. For me, I still can’t believe it. Every time I’m with them, it blows my mind. They helped me set goals, and I really pushed for that. »
Castroneves struggled to put into words what winning the Indianapolis 500 means to him. Castroneves even collected a winner’s ring from each driver, lining them up on the table for photographic purposes.
« Mine is the one that is still shaking, » he said. « It’s too exciting. »
Mears, who was Castroneves’ spotter in his first three wins here, seemed to smile at every word the Brazilian said, especially those made out of respect for the legends he joined.
“I kind of know how he feels because I’ve heard him talk about it a bit,” Mears said. “When I won my fourth win, being here with two of my heroes, even though the (number of Indy wins) was the same, I still wasn’t in their category. Being with them was amazing, and I I’m pretty sure Helio feels the same. «
It should be noted that Foyt, Unser and Mears all tried to claim a fifth victory, but were unsuccessful. Foyt made 15 attempts after his fourth win, finishing second behind Mears in 1979 and scoring five more top 10. Unser took five more starts after his fourth win, finishing third in 1988 and 1992.
Mears tried his luck again in 1992, but a mid-race crash ruined his record attempt. Yes, a fifth victory at the « 500 » can be achieved, but it will not be easy. However, if someone is successful, it will not be difficult to organize the photo.
« Records are made to be broken, that’s the way it is to look at it, » said Foyt. « Remember, » Mears told Castroneves, « if you get five, you’ll be the only one. »