“Legend tells of a legendary driver whose racing skills were the stuff of legend… “
If someone were to as you to name some Indy racing (or open-wheel racing, if you prefer) legends, which ones come to mind? Names like Andretti and Foyt (or Foyt and Andretti, if you prefer) are going to be there as will Unser and Mears. There will be other ones that arise depending on your age and favorite type of races, like Vukovich or Fittipaldi or Luyendyk or Parnelli Jones or whoever else you care to add.
But would you have “Castroneves” on your list?
Sports luminaries and philanthropy icons will be recognized when they gather at the 23rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner on Monday, September 22, at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The 2008 Great Sports Legends are:
• Andre Agassi
• Jerry Rice
• Scottie Pippen
• Joe Gibbs
• Helio Castroneves
• Richard "Goose" Gossage
• Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini
• Angelo Dundee
• Gabrielle Reece
“Legend” is a big word for anyone to carry around, much less someone who is still competing, but at the risk of inflating egos further let’s compare Castroneves to his peers to see if he’s at least statistically legendary.
Combining his CART and IndyCar records, Helio has won 18 of 188 (9.6%) races, which is good, but legendary? His contemporaries Scott Dixon (15 of 130, 11.5%) and Tony Kanaan (14 of 186, 7.5%) are in the same ballpark, as are Paul Tracy (31 of 261, 11.9%) and Dan Wheldon (15 of 92, 16.3%) who have excelled in one series or the other, so this isn't exactly rare air he's breathing.
However, Helio has two wins at Indianapolis – as many as thos other four drivers combined – which may be the penultimate measure of a “legend” in this form of motorsports. In fact, he’s got a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 4th there as well, making 5 Top 5s in just 8 attemtps at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Being your best on the biggest stage is definitely a trait of legends.
Then again, all of those drivers above not named “Helio” has won a series title, which should be a minimum requirement for any legend. And no, Dancing titles do not count in this discussion. At least I hope they don’t.
So the question to the peanut gallery is two-fold: would you consider everyone’s favorite fence-climber a “legend”, and if he’s not then does anyone else currently racing in the IndyCar series qualify for that title?
(Photo courtesy of TrackSide Online, and thanks to the Diecast Dude from bringing this to our attention)
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