Helio Castroneves is my favorite celebrity on “Dancing With the Stars.” I am curious how he got into racing.
—Jasper Middleton, Tucson, Ariz.
The São Paulo, Brazil-born Castroneves, 37, actually started his career in go-kart racing, but even before that, his interest in the sport was piqued by his father, who, owned a race team during Castroneves’ formative years.
“I remember watching his team race and I got the passion,” says the three-time Indy 500 champ. “I had the sense my father was a frustrated race car driver, but he gave me the support to achieve my dream. In the end, it became a family dream.”
Castroneves, who is also a dance champ having won the fifth season of “Dancing With the Stars,” has written a book about his experiences on the track. In “Victory Road: The Ride of My Life,” he talks about all the sacrifices his family made in order for him to become the success he is as a driver.
“For me, it is amazing, because now I am grownup and a dad. I went to watch the kids race. I couldn’t believe how nervous I was. I was so nervous, I said, ‘I can’t believe my dad did this.’”
Watching the kids take laps on the track may make him anxious, but when he is driving, Castroneves says he never thinks of the danger. That is part, he believes, of what makes him such a good competitor. Additionally, he says it is his faith in God and the challenge of surpassing his past accomplishments. He is planning to use that same drive for the new season of “Dancing With the Stars,” in the hope of taking home a second mirror-ball trophy.