Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fast Facts: Helio Castroneves

credit: LJ Cloud/Skirts & Scuffs
Three-time Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves has been a member of the Penske Racing organization
since 2000 and has a rather unique nickname – “Spiderman.” Find out more about this multi-faceted champion and his nickname in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Helio Castro Neves (he changed the spelling when U.S. media had trouble with the name) was born May 10, 1975 in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, South America, beginning his racing career as many open-wheelers do, in karting; he won the Brazilian National championship in 1989. After competing in the South American Formula Championship, he moved on to the British Formula Three Championship - where he finished third in points in 1995 - before moving to North America to compete in the Firestone Indy Lights development series in 1996.
  • Castroneves signed with Penske Racing in 2000, when the team competed in CART, winning three of the season’s 20 races that year. In 2001, Castroneves’ Penske team competed in two Indy Racing League events, including the Indianapolis 500; it was the first of his three wins at the historic race, and he was also named Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. The following season, Penske moved to the IRL, and Castroneves won his second Indy 500.
  • As a full-time competitor in the IndyCar Series (2002 through present), Castroneves has finished outside the top six in points just once (11th – 2011). He has 27 wins to date (six in CART, 21 in IndyCar), and also won the 2009 Indy 500. His best points finish has been second (2002 and 2008).
  • Castroneves earned the nickname “Spiderman” for his victory celebration of climbing the catchfence – he originated this celebration before Tony Stewart started doing so in NASCAR competition.
  • In addition to being an Indy 500 champ, Castroneves is also a former “Dancing With the Stars” champ – he won the Mirror Ball Trophy in season five (Fall 2007) with partner Julianne Hough. He returned to the dance floor in Fall 2012 for the All-Star edition of the show, this time dancing with Chelsie Hightower; they lasted just three shows this time around.
  • Castroneves lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with his girlfriend, Adriana Henao and their daughter, Mikaella, born December 28, 2009.
  • Learn more about Castroneves at his website, heliocastroneves.com.

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