There have been stories celebrating your life. There have been those that have remembered today, May 1, and mourned. There are those who wish that they could turn back the time. And there are those who even today feel your loss, a fresh wound still. It has been 19 years to the day.
But I don’t want this day, today, to be a day of mourning. I want it to be a day of remembrance. You have given me so much, through your life, your passion and your racing. You have taught me to stand up and face the curveballs. You have given me courage to follow my dream – no matter how impractical it may be to the rest of the world.
There is so much to tell you. There is so much to thank you for. But there aren’t enough words.
But I am not the only one. There are so many like me, who miss you even today, who love you and who believe in you. For us, you are immortal. You are a legend. You are OUR Ayrton.
I loathe 1st May. It’s my least favourite day of the year. Why? Because on 1st May 1994, I lost my ‘Best Friend’. The only Constant in my very Temporary life. The best and most scintillating Racing Driver there has ever been, and the most compassionate, inspirational man I have ever come in contact with. Ayrton Senna. His death broke my heart like no other loss before or since, and I fear I shall always bear the scar of his passing so soon.
But as with so many endings, there came with it a beginning. Because on 1st May 2012 I read a Memorial Tribute to Ayrton that literally changed my life. Chitra Subramanyam’s article was the most beautiful, poignant tribute I had ever read, and started a conversation that has led, 1 year later, to my being privileged enough to have 3 of the best friends I could ever wish for in Chitra, Alison Raffaele and Sandra Corrius. All from different cultures, all brought together by a shared love for Ayrton, and now, forever joined in a sorority whose arms stretch across the globe.
1st May 1994 broke my heart. And then 18 years later, 1st May started to mend it again.
– Nikki Grubb-Clarke, Scotland
To write about Ayrton, about my favourite memory I have of him, I have to search deep within my memory. Not because I struggle to remember. On the contrary, I have so many memories, that to pick just one is very hard and it’s almost unfair to the other memories. They might get mad!
I could write about his most epic win, the first time he won in Interlagos, in his beloved Brazil, in 1991. Victory looked easy, he lead from the start, without problems. But then his 6th gear got stuck and it made what could have been a placid race into a nightmare that looked like it would never end. But it did end, with a victory for a man from another planet. Even today, no one can explain how he could drive the car in such impossible conditions, and win. It was something superhuman, which made me believe, once again, that with determination and hard work, you can get all. Senna did it, and in so doing he showed me that the impossible was possible.
I could write about his love for God. When I heard him talk about God, what he prayed about or when he explained the strength God gave him to carry out what looked like impossible feats, I was left spellbound listening to him, his powerful words hypnotized me. His faith in God was blind and true. Pure love.
I could write about the love he felt for his country. Every time he won a race he waved the flag of his beloved Brazil, excited and proud.
He really worried about the precarious situations his fellow Brazilians lived in. For them, he was a hero that gave them hope, happiness and something to look forward to on Sundays, he was living proof that dreams really can come true.
It has been 19 years since Imola. My life has changed radically in all aspects, something normal in any human’s life. But Ayrton has his place, a privileged place in my life and in my heart. My deep appreciation for all I’ve experienced, all I’ve learned with him, and my Eternal Love.
– Sandra Corrius, Spain
I really don’t know where to start and how to put into words, what Ayrton Senna means to me. I simply love him and he means the world to me. I never knew him or even met him, just saw him race on TV but became a true Senna fan a few years after his passing.
I can’t say I chose to become a Senna fan, I feel like Ayrton chose me to be a fan! I was drawn to him for reasons I don’t fully understand and I can’t really explain, besides the obvious, that he was a magnificent racer, a truly great natural talent and an amazing human being.
He was pure magic to watch on track and what he could do with a race car was inspirational. I could listen to him speak for hours; his voice is beautiful. He was so articulate and really thought about what he was going to say. He had a big heart, a lovely smile and beautiful eyes that just spoke to your soul!
He inspires me everyday, I miss him everyday and I’m so thankful and honoured to be a fan of the legendary man called Ayrton Senna. To me he is the best that ever lived. He is the best that will ever live. He is an F1 god to me.
To me Ayrton Senna is everything and my heart breaks a little bit more everyday with the fact that he’s gone.
Ayrton Senna, to me, you are everything!
– Clara Bennett, Ireland
Back in the late 80s, I was doing a crossword puzzle from my monthly motorsport magazine and the 5-letter answer was a certain driver who “only answered to God”. It was Senna, of course, but it’s always made me appreciate him all the more. Most drivers brag about their skills as if they created them in a science lab, but Ayrton believed he had talent on loan from his Creator. I think it’s what made him that much better than the rest. Much better than any driver in any series. The cool thing was Senna never shied from the subject, even though it was a personal thing. It showed his entire confidence in the midst of naysayers and critics. Because of this it’s helped me use my “gifts” and rely on God more. I realize that being a megastar provides lots of excesses (fame, money, sex, etc) and that Ayrton is no more human than myself but it takes pure humility to thank someone else (something much bigger) for your talents. Thank you Ayrton for the memories on and off the track.
– Marc Rivas, California, USA
When you died, I was almost 15. I will always remember how I cried that day. I kept repeating in my head “too young to die, too young to die…” For me F1 was over, my hero was gone forever! Today I am 34, and you come back in my life. You help me everyday, whatever I do, I always wonder how you would have done it. Thanks to you I have met great people who became my Senna Family! My Senna Sisters, Brothers and I, keep alive your legend, sharing all we can about you. You will never be forgotten. Everyday I transmit to my kids your way of life because for me Ayrton, you are Simply the Best ! Love you forever my hero!
– Audrey Ceniccola, France
Ayrton to me is being told about him when I was 11. Watching his last lap on Youtube with my mum, but turning it off before the crash.
Ayrton to me, is the name of my Neopet. Ayrton to me is discovering F1: Sunday mornings, bacon sandwiches and racing home to catch the start. Lights out, and away we go.
Ayrton to me, is me: age 15, My mum and brother go to the screening of Senna at the Barbican, in London. Ayrton to me is wishing I was there too.
Ayrton to me is sobbing in the cinema, three weeks later, when the documentary is released in cinemas across the country. He is people remembering what he did for safety within the sport, He is his undying faith, motivation and passion.
Ayrton to me is my GCSE art project. Ayrton to me is the painting that now stands pride of place (and to my embarrassment) in my hallway.
Ayrton to me is a series of memories, because unfortunately, that is now what he is to the world. A fantastic, inspiring memory, a legacy that will live on, he is a favourite driver, a favourite race, a favourite moment, or car. He’s a favourite to the masses, and quite rightly so. But just because he is a memory, doesn’t mean it’s over.
– Aimee Smith
Aryton to me was a great driver and a true gentleman. He always thought of others if they had been injured in a crash. He was a Christian and a true man of God. He is sadly missed. He could have taught the young drivers of today the true meaning of being a great driver.
– Sharon Simpson
Maybe Ayrton would make F1 more interesting than now, Maybe Ayrton would become 4th time world champion, Maybe… Maybe… All I know is that we will never know the truth …. And it’s so sad. Everytime when I talk about him, or watch his photos or films, I can’t hold my tears. He should not have died that day. Forever in my heart. I’ll never forget him! And I’ll be with Bruno till the end.
Sarah Hasanli, Azerbaijan/Baku
Ayrton was my friend. This is me in Snetterton circuit 1982, the same car, Ayrton Formula Ford 1600, with Mister Ralph Firman. He was great human being and so funny :)
– Roberto Garcia, Desde Mexico
Ayrton was the best F1 driver of all times. He inspired so many people all around the world. He showed me to believe in myself and fight to get what I want from life. He also showed me that life is not just about caring about yourself but to care about other people. He was truly a beautiful man and he is missed in so many hearts. I love you Ayrton.
– Cindy Collins, Melbourne, Australia
Saudade Ayrton. Never Forgotten. Always Remembered. R.I.P.
All Ayrton Senna pictures from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/institutoayrtonsenna/