Not gonna lie. In the confusing, frustrating and angst-inducing days of "the split," I sided with the IRL. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the highest level of American open wheel racing has more political drama than any other sport, I think, including F1.)
Fortunately, things are at least amicable now, even if I don't personally agree with everything being done. (More ovals, please, cough, cough.)
So, when the Captain Roger Penske started competing again at Indy in 2001, I was prepared to not like his drivers. But anyone who pays attention to Helio for more than about 10 seconds can't help but become a fan. The personable Brazilian just "gets it." He's all smiles at the right times, and all business at the right times. And he can flat out drive a race car fast. And, perhaps most significantly, he is completely respectful of the sport, its traditions and the Speedway. What really clinched it for me was when he went out early one morning to help a grounds crew paint over marks he had left on the wall during a crash the day before.
Anyway, I also know Helio is in Detroit right now for the North American Auto Show, so it seemed a good time to post some shots of a model I did of the car in which he won his first American open wheel race (Champ car at the time, not Indycar), which happened in Detroit on Belle Isle.
Hard to think of May while sitting here in the middle of a snowstorm!