The Life of SENNA, Tom Rubython

BusinessF1 2004

Mark Haddon

"He established his own limits. When he reached those limits he wanted to beat them and establish new ones. I never knew how far he could go. I had an understanding but I didn't know."

Alain Prost



2004 is the tenth anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna the Grand Prix racing driver. For those of you who are reading this review and are not interested in Motor Racing I ask you to read on as there is much to be learnt about life in this story of a racing driver.

This biography attempts to be the definitive life story of this great driver and from my experience it has succeeded. The book is 602 pages in length, and uses the classic approach of starting at the end and reminds the reader of the dreadful accident on 1st May 1994 at the Imola racing circuit, where Senna raced his last race. It then take you back to 1960 and his birth and through every detail of his private and professional life over 36 chapters. For racing nerds there are then 17 appendices covering every statistic imaginable about his racing life, every race, every qualifying time, every grid position, every finishing position, every fastest lap, everything!!

But 600 pages takes a lot of filling and perhaps this is where the book lets itself down. Although it progresses chronologically through his life, there is a tendency to look forward to evaluate the consequence of his actions and I felt a certain 'd?j? vu' in future chapters, with the feeling that "I had read this before", signs of an out of control word processor I think

Some of the detail is a little unnerving and learning every detail of his crash, the reasons for his death, the description his facial disfigurement caused by the impalement of a piece of metal through the front of his crash helmet, the fact that the mortuary attendants were in despair about how they could tidy him up, the fact that the coffin lid, traditionally left open at funerals in Brazil, was left closed because of how bad his face looked. This is grim stuff.

At the start I asked non motor racing fans to bear with me. This part of the review is aimed at every reader. The book goes into some depth about his relationships and we learn of numerous girl friends along the way and through this we learn a most important lesson about life and that is, no matter what you wish to happen after you are gone, you have no power to ensure it does happen. Senna's family, to which he was very close, wished him to settle down with a former girlfriend Xuxa Meneghel a very successful TV presenter with the Brazilian broadcasting company TV Globo. However in his last 18 months he had fallen in love with and intended to settle down with Adriane Galisteu a model of limited professional success. Sadly for Senna and for Adriane, Senna's family chose Xuxa as the official 'widow' and at the funeral Adriane, Senna's true love, was pushed into the background and over time, forgotten. What Senna thinks about this, as he looks down from heaven will only be known by his family in the fullness of time.

In summary, a good read, lots for the motor racing fan, but importantly life lessons for the non fan. Give it a try.



Reviewed on 01/08/2004 by Peter


Reviewed item details

ISBN: 0-9546857-0-9

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