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Brazil pays tribute to legend Ayrton Senna, 30 years after his death

Thirty years to the day after the death of Ayrton Senna, Brazil pays tribute on Wednesday to one of his greatest idols, pride&eac; national whose aura is comparable to that of that of the "King" Pelé.

Fans of the three-time Formula 1 world champion (1988, 1989 and 1991) are expected throughout May 1st in front of his grave in a cemetery in Sao Paulo (south-east), his city native, where he was buried in 1994, at the age of 34, after his tragic accident on the Italian circuit of Imola.

As every year since his death, a race on foot is organized on the Interlagos circuit, also in Sao Paulo, where he won twice at the end of his career, in 1991 and 1993.

Programs paying tribute to the man who gives his name to many streets in Brazil have multiplied in recent days on local televisions.

A traveling exhibition entitled “I, Ayrton Senna da Silva – 30 years” opens on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, after visiting several other Brazilian metropolises.

In this exhibition, visitors can hear the voice of the pilot retrace the significant moments of his life and career thanks to artificial intelligence.

On the splendid Copacabana beach, an emblematic site of Rio, numerous walkers take a photo as usual in front of the bronze statue of the pilot, which immortalizes him with his arms raised and brandishing a flag of Brazil.

Brazil pays tribute to legend Ayrton Senna, 30 years after his death

Ayrton Senna, then McLaren driver, waves the Brazilian flag on the podium of the European Grand Prix, April 11, 1993 in Donington (United Kingdom) © AFP – Pascal PAVANI

Among them, Joao Paulo Bertoloni, 30 years old, who was a baby when Senna died.

“I wasn't able to see him live, but my family was always a fan of his. My father, my grandparents… Everyone was talking to me about Senna. At the time, Brazil was stopping on Sunday to attend his races”, says this business manager.

– “A guy like us” –

< p>Marilane Mattos, 66, perfectly remembers the moment she saw the Imola accident live on television, on May 1, 1994.

“It was horrible, it still makes me sad today. But I prefer to remember the good times (…). He was a simple guy, a guy like us”, she confides, afterwards a selfie in front of the statue in Copacabana.

Brazil pays tribute to legend Ayrton Senna, 30 years after his death

Photo of the traveling exhibition “I, Ayrton Senna da Silva”, taken on April 30, 2024 in Rio de Janeiro, the eve of the 30th anniversary of the death of the legendary Brazilian pilot © AFP – Pablo PORCIUNCULA

Beyond sporting exploits, the legacy of Alain Prost's great rival remains alive in Brazil through the Ayrton Senna Institute, which was recognized in 2004 by UNESCO for its educational projects aimed at children from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“Ayrton always said that if we wanted to change things, we had to start with education,” says Viviane Senna, Ayrton’s sister and president of the institute, in a video recently published on social networks.

Founded six months after the death of the pilot, the institute says it has benefited some 36 million students in 3,000 Brazilian cities.

For the Brazilian writer Ernesto Rodrigues, author of the biography “Ayrton, the hero revealed”, Senna left his mark because he “restored the esteem of self to Brazilians” at a time marked by political and economic crises.

Brazil pays tribute to legend Ayrton Senna, 30 years after his death

Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna before an F1 GP in Donington, Great Britain, April 10, 1993 © AFP – Jean-Loup GAUTREAU

When he won his world titles, Brazil had just emerged from a military dictatorship and was experiencing a period of hyperinflation.

“Son heritage has been largely preserved. He gave his name to important avenues throughout the country. Every time his name is mentioned, it gives a lot of pride to Brazilians,” concludes the biographer.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116