This week I had the opportunity to see Senna, the ESPN Films documentary about the life of Ayrton Senna, the infamous Brazilian Formula 1 driver of the 80’s and 90’s. I must say, I’m not one of those crazed racing/car guys, like one of the people I saw the film with, but that didn’t seem to matter. The documentary which was compiled of incredibly rich, grainy footage from throughout Senna’s career, gave me a new perspective on what it meant to race a V10, 1,000 horsepower car, lacking everything from ABS to traction control.  The men that raced these cars day in and day out were heroes, and Senna, for a ten year span, was the best of them.

More importantly, the film made me realize that gone are the days when athletes so clearly embody the archetypal hero from our proverbial past, at times egoless in their seemingly maniacal quest into the unknown. So wrapped up in his purpose in life, viewers realize that for a rare number of individuals the self and the quest are one in the same. Inseparable.

According to Senna’s sister, the night before his final race at San Marino in 1994, he asked God for a gift. God responded that he would give Ayrton the greatest gift of all, himself. The next day he lost his life in a somewhat mysterious crash, becoming, to this day, the last individual to die at the wheel of a Formula 1 car.

This film will leave you speechless and broken, but reconnected with the once pure spirit of competition and greatness. Sports fans, historians, and anyone captivated by those who live passionately will find the story of Ayrton Senna to be unlike any they’ve ever been told.




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