Ayrton Senna. Much like David Beckham and Muhammad Ali he transcends sports and is fully established in popular culture worldwide. Ask many people around the world with even the smallest interest in sports to name a racing driver and many would say Ayrton Senna.
This is one area of his lasting legacy. He is still culturally relevant today in 2015, over 21 years after his untimely death. Whilst in recent times his name has been promoted thanks to the very good film SENNA, chronicling the charismatic Brazilian’s life.
His legacy is also largely made up thanks to the continued work of the Instituto Ayrton Senna, which have helped millions of underprivileged children gain a quality education since it’s inception months after Senna’s death.
The logo for the Instituto Ayrton Senna. For more information on this great non-profit organization please visit the link at the bottom of this article. Photo Copyright Instituto Ayrton Senna.
Outside of Brazil Senna is rightly remembered for his heroics at the wheel of a racing car, which saw him win three world titles and 41 wins in simultaneously a brilliant and villainous way.
However in Brazil Senna is remembered for being a sporting hero who gave away tens of millions of dollars to support charities and underprivileged children. He also provided a rare ray of hope for a nation experiencing huge social and economic problems during his career.
His success on track and his personality off track is why he was able to capture a nation’s support in a way very few sports athletes are able to do. He is the only example of this in Formula One history in my opinion.
The final scene from the brilliant 2010 film Senna perfectly encapsulates the grief felt by the Brazilian people after his death. Copyright SENNA/Working Title.
The support he received in his racing career is sadly exemplified perfectly by the outpouring of grief surrounding his death. After three days of national mourning, his funeral procession saw millions of people line the route, grief stricken at the loss of the biggest national hero of his time.
Unfortunately another factor behind Senna’s remaining influence in culture is the very public nature of his passing. He died live on television with hundreds of millions of people watching his Williams FW16-Renault spear straight into the outside wall of the Tamburello corner of the Imola circuit beginning lap seven of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
His passing was reported by every major newspaper, TV and radio station worldwide, ensuring almost everyone knew about his death aged only 34. 21 years on and the world is a completely different place to the one he departed on May 1st.
The rise of technology and social media makes us all feel far more interconnected than was ever possible in 1994, therefore it can only be imagined the significance his death would of had in the era of 24/7 news.
His legacy will always live on through the work of the brilliant Instituto Ayrton Senna, who are carrying on the work Senna started throughout his racing career. For many sports and F1 fans he still has a special place in history, with many suggesting he is the greatest racing driver who ever lived.
A famous picture of the victorious Senna joyfully spraying the champagne after a crucial win in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix. Senna would win his third and final world title later that year. Photo copyright Keith Sutton/Sutton Motorsport Images.
For the millions of fans he still has they can comfort themselves with various memories, films and TV footage devoted to the Brazilian, and for many poor children in Brazil his institute can provide them with a chance to better themselves in life through education. That is the real legacy Ayrton Senna has left the world after his death. Ayrton Senna Sempre.
For more information on the Instituto Ayrton Senna please take a minute to visit their website. http://www.institutoayrtonsenna.org.br/ .
If anyone has any thoughts or comments please feel free to share them below and thank you for reading.