Saturday, 1 October 2011

Summer Reading (2)

"The Life of Senna" by Tom Rubython

 This somewhat protracted reading experience charts the life and untimely death of Ayrton Senna da Silva, the three times Brazilian Formula One motor racing champion. Written originally as a series of articles, Rubython’s writing style becomes repetitive, as pieces of information from earlier chapters are revisited at the beginning of new chapters. Clearly, Rubython has researched Senna’s life thoroughly and he reveals something of his complex character in the book. Senna comes across as a completely single-minded man, who will cross the line of fair-play in his pursuit of driving excellence, but is a thoroughly patriotic Brazillian whose primary concerns within his private life are seen to include family, spirituality and justice for the poor street children of his homeland. Rubython describes virtually every race of Senna’s career in detail, from his early days in karting through Formula Ford and Formula 3000, on the way to his Formula One career with Toleman, Lotus, McLaren (and 3 world titles) and his brief three race career with Williams. The chapters describing Senna’s death are poignant, revealing that Senna, due to his fiercely competitive nature, is compelled to race at Imola against his better judgement, despite the death of Roland Ratzenburger in the qualifying heats, and his obvious doubts about taking part. A small Austrian flag is found in the sleeve of his overalls after his death and it is assumed he was intending to win the race and dedicate it to the memory of Ratzenburger. Ultimately, it is the power and charisma of his subject matter that may force the reader, who is not a Formula One die-hard, to grapple with Rubython’s book. For a briefer, more literary look at this great champion, a better option might be Richard Williams’ "The Death of Ayrton Senna".

Watch the trailer for Asif Kapadia's recent movie: Senna

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