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Helio Castroneves

Full Name:
Helio Castro-Neves
10th May 1975 (Age 45)
Sao Paulo
Most recent race (in database):

A three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, star of television’s Dancing with the Stars and exonerated of tax evasion charges in 2009, Hélio Castroneves has many claims to fame. He hardly set Europe alight during his one season in British Formula 3 but his career in American open-wheel racing yielded fame and fortune.

Formative years at home and abroad

Yet to win a professional championship, Castroneves finished as runner-up in Formula Vauxhall, Sud-Am and Brazilian Formula 3 in successive seasons from 1992 to 1994 while racing in South America. He joined Paul Stewart Racing for the 1995 British F3 Championship and won at Donington Park. Third in the Zandvoort Masters, he also finished in that position in the final championship behind Oliver Gavin and Ralph Firman.

Rather than remain in Europe in 1996, the Brazilian moved to America to race in Indy Lights with Tasman Motorsport – runner-up in his second season with the team when narrowly beaten by compatriot Tony Kanaan.

Success at Indianapolis with Penske

He graduated to Champ Cars in 1998 with Tony Bettenhausen’s Reynard 98I-Mercedes and finished second at Milwaukee. 1999 was spent with Hogan Racing (qualifying on pole position at Milwaukee) but his breakthrough opportunity came in the most tragic of circumstances.

Canadian Greg Moore had signed for Penske Racing for the following season but was killed in the final round of 1999. Castroneves was drafted in as his replacement and did not let the chance go to waste – winning three times for the revitalised team. Better was to come in 2001 when he narrowly beat team-mate Gil de Ferran to win the Indianapolis 500 for the first time, a race sanctioned by the rival Indy Racing League.

Penske defected to the IRL in 2002 as America’s open-wheel civil war edged towards a conclusion. Despite his success so far, the American media kept calling him Neves so he changed his surname from Castro-Neves to Castroneves. The Brazilian became the first driver to win at Indy on his first two appearances (and the first back-to-back winner for 31 years) with his controversial 2002 victory.

Paul Tracy passed him on the penultimate lap just as the yellow light flashed for another accident. Castroneves was declared as the winner two days later after Tracy protested. He finished the year as championship runner-up behind Panther Racing’s Sam Hornish Jr.

On pole position for the 2003 Indy 500, he just failed to win the classic for a third year in a row when narrowly beaten by de Ferran. Castroneves finished third in that season’s standings and was remarkably consistent for the rest of the decade – always a race winner, never lower than sixth in the points but still unable to win the title.

Winner at Indianapolis for a third time

Runner-up again in 2008 behind Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, the start of the following campaign was compromised when accused of tax evasion by the American authorities. Castroneves missed the opening round but returned to the series at Long Beach after being acquitted. It was a stunning comeback – qualifying on pole position for the 2009 Indy 500 and winning the race for a third time. He also qualified on pole at Indy in 2007 and 2010.

Fourth in the championship that year and the next, he slumped to 11th in 2011 in his worst season since joining Penske. That included knocking team-mates Ryan Briscoe and Will Power out of the races at St Petersburg and Long Beach respectively.

He rebounded from that winless campaign to take two victories in 2012 as he finished fourth in the championship once more. Runner-up for the next two seasons and third in 2016, he came within 0.2011 seconds of becoming the fourth four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 so far in 2017. He was passed by Takuma Satō with five laps to go but that second place finish briefly gave him the championship lead. He dominated the Iowa Corn 300 and entered the final round with a mathematical chance of the title. However, he finished fifth at Sears Point and championship victory continues to elude Hélio Castroneves.

IMSA Sports cars and part-time Indycar driver

The Brazilian switched to the IMSA sports car series in 2018 as part of Penske's Acura line-up. Castroneves and Ricky Taylor scored the team's first victory at Mid-Ohio and were second at Detroit's Belle Isle as they finished seventh overall. He also raced for the team's Indycar squad at both Indianapolis races and set the fastest race lap before crashing out of the 500.

Those race programmes continued in 2019 and Castroneves/Taylor finished third overall in the IMSA DPi standings, despite not winning a race. He was a lapped finisher at both races at Indianapolis.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2020 WeatherTech Sportscar Championship
Acura Team Penske
3 2 3 3 0
2020 NTT IndyCar Series
Arrow McLaren SP
Team Penske
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
27th 57
2019 NTT IndyCar Series
Team Penske
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
29th 33
2018 WeatherTech Sportscar Championship
Acura Team Penske
1 1 1 1 0
2018 Verizon IndyCar Series
Team Penske
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
32nd 40
2017 Verizon IndyCar Series
Team Penske
17 3 3 1
6% win rate
4th 598
2016 Verizon IndyCar Series
Team Penske
16 2 4 0
0% win rate
3rd 504
2015 Verizon IndyCar Series
Team Penske
16 4 5 0
0% win rate
5th 453 (456)
2014 Verizon IndyCar Series
Team Penske
18 4 6 1
6% win rate
2nd 609
2013 IZOD IndyCar Series
Team Penske
19 1 5 1
6% win rate
2nd 550
2012 IZOD IndyCar Series
Team Penske
15 1 3 2
14% win rate
4th 431
2011 Australian V8 Supercar Championship 64th 147
2011 IZOD IndyCar Series
Team Penske
17 (1) 0 2 0
0% win rate
11th 312
2010 IZOD IndyCar Series
Team Penske
17 2 5 3
18% win rate
4th 531
2009 IRL IndyCar Series
Team Penske
16 2 4 2
13% win rate
4th 433
2008 IRL IndyCar Series
Team Penske
17 4 11 2
12% win rate
2nd 629
2007 IRL IndyCar Series
Team Penske
17 7 5 1
6% win rate
6th 446
2006 IRL IndyCar Series
Marlboro Team Penske
14 6 6 4
29% win rate
3rd 473
2005 IRL IndyCar Series
Marlboro Team Penske
17 2 3 1
6% win rate
6th 440
2004 IRL IndyCar Series
Marlboro Team Penske
16 5 5 1
7% win rate
4th 446 (461)
2003 IRL IndyCar Series
Marlboro Team Penske
16 3 8 2
13% win rate
3rd 484
2002 Indy Racing League
Marlboro Team Penske
15 1 7 2
14% win rate
2nd 511
2001 FedEx Championship Series
Marlboro Team Penske
20 (1) 3 4 3
15% win rate
4th 141
2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series
Marlboro Team Penske
Penske Racing
2 0 1 1
50% win rate
24th 64
2000 FedEx Championship Series
Marlboro Team Penske
20 3 4 3
15% win rate
7th 129
1999 FedEx Championship Series
Hogan Racing
20 1 1 0
0% win rate
15th 48
1998 FedEx Championship Series
Bettenhausen Motorsports
19 0 1 0
0% win rate
17th 36
1997 PPG/Firestone Indy Lights Championship 13 4 7 3
24% win rate
2nd 152
1996 PPG/Firestone Indy Lights Championship 11 (1) 1 3 1
10% win rate
7th 84
1995 British F3 Championship 1 1 1 1 3rd 169