Ayrton Senna was born on 21 March 1960, the second child of Milton da Silva, a successful businessman and landowner. The family lived in Santana, a well-to-do neighborhood of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Growing up Ayrton was an awkward child and was later diagnosed as having a motor coordination problem. His doting father, who was a motor racing enthusiast, noticed how his serious little son was also attracted to cars. The senior d Silva had amongst his many holdings a car components company and believed that cars would be the key to reach his son’s potential. At the age of four Ayrton was presented with a 1-hp kart and getting behind the steering wheel he was a different boy, no longer awkward but focused and confident. The key had been found and every weekend the family would go to local parks where Ayrton could drive his kart. He was an indifferent student but facing the loss of his “driving” privileges he would apply himself as best he could while his heart was obviously elsewhere.
At the age of eight he was driving the family car and looked to Europe and the exploits of Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart as his inspiration. During this time the first great Brazilian driver Emerson Fittipaldi was beginning to make a name for himself driving for Colin Chapman’s Lotus. On his tenth birthday his father gave him new full-size 100cc kart. Since the minimum age for racing karts in Brazil was thirteen, Ayrton had to settle for practicing at Parque Anhembi, the local kart circuit. In 1972 Brazil had its first World Champion in Fittipaldi and the following year it’s first Grand Prix at Interlagos, just outside of Sao Paulo. The race was won by the reigning World Champion and all of Brazil celebrated. In the midst of this excitement was a young boy who dreamed of being not the next Fittipaldi or Jackie Stewart but the best ever.
Become a Member & Get Ad-Free Access To This Article (& About 6,000+ More)
Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes most ads, lets you enjoy unlimited access to all our premium content, and offers you awesome discounts on partner products. Enjoy our premium content.