MOORESVILLE, North Carolina – Helio Castroneves certainly knows how to go fast at The Milwaukee Mile but what the IZOD Team Penske driver hasn’t been able to do is finish ahead of his fellow IZOD IndyCar Series competitors. Castroneves has never won at the famed short oval at the Wisconsin State Fair Park but is confident that can change on Sunday in the Milwaukee 225.
“It’s a short oval with no banking, it’s fast and you can use different lanes but it is flat,” Castroneves said. “If you are too aggressive you will pay for that. It may not be fast in speed but inside the cockpit it is very fast. We don’t have time to even look to rest or make some change. When you are on the straightaway you are turning so you don’t have time to rest. I got my first pole position there in 1999 and we’ve been in contention many times. We can’t give up we have to keep pushing because that door will open sometime and we have to be there.”
When Castroneves isn’t racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series he spends time at his South Florida home with his girlfriend, Adriana Henao, and their baby girl Mikaella.
Let’s spend a few minutes “Catching up with Helio Castroneves” as the IZOD Team Penske drivers heads to the Milwaukee Mile hoping to finally get into victory lane at the historic short oval.
INSIDE IZOD – A lot of the IndyCar drivers from Brazil live in the Miami area. What was the reason why you decided to live there?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I moved to Florida at the end of 1996 and from there on I discovered it was very similar to the weather in Brazil. Before that I lived in Columbus, Ohio. After spending the winter in Ohio I certainly found the weather to be much nicer in Miami, especially coming from Brazil. I really enjoy it because the Latin community in Florida is very big. I enjoy it a lot. I have fun. I have a good time. I’ve made a lot of friends and it keeps on getting better and better. Certainly, if I want to go to Brazil it’s an 8-hour flight which is not bad. It feels like we are in Brazil and it’s a great place to live.”
INSIDE IZOD – What part of South Florida do you live?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “Right now I’ve moved north of Miami to Fort Lauderdale which is 35 minutes north of Miami. It’s a little more calm and relaxed. If I want to have dinner with friends or have fun in South Beach it’s pretty close. Last year Fort Lauderdale became my new area to be.”
INSIDE IZOD – What are some of the things you like to do away from the track?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I live very close to the ocean. I love running and jogging on the beach and jumping in the water. It heals a lot of things not only the body but the mind, too. I enjoy playing tennis with my friends. I don’t have a ‘Poker Face’ but I do enjoy playing Poker with my friends because we talk more than we are playing. We’ll have dinner together and things like that. Those are the things I enjoy doing. Today, my best neighbor – Gil de Ferran – we’ll see each other every day. It’s great to have him very close by because he understands racing and we were teammates so that is very nice.”
INSIDE IZOD – What is your workout schedule?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I work out every day when we aren’t traveling and that includes indoors and outdoors. Most of it I like outdoors because the heat in the summer is like it is in the race car. The intensity of the exercise is what we are after. It’s not long distance, it’s like 25 minutes or 30 minutes of exercise that are full sprints – going as fast as you can. It’s a lot of exercise. It’s like circuit training. It’s nice. I enjoy it. There is a basketball court by the beach and I do a lot of running. I try to maintain the weights because you don’t want to add too much muscle because that will add size. I don’t do a lot of biking because I’m concerned about the roads here. Some of the drivers go for 100-mile rides but I do have a team that has about 50 riders. One day I will ride with them but other days I just watch them and let me do my own thing.”
INSIDE IZOD – How much has being a father changed your daily routine?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “It’s awesome because every time I come home after a race it doesn’t matter what result, Mikaella has a big smile on her face and tries to show her latest tricks. It’s really cool. It’s great to wake up in the morning and play with her at breakfast and take her out on the beach. If I ever decide to take her to a musical class I try to be with her so I don’t miss any moments. She’s only 17 months old.”
INSIDE IZOD – South Florida is known for its restaurants. Do you like to cook or eat out?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I prefer to eat out. I wish I could cook but whenever I cook I’m always hungry and that’s not good to do that because you will overeat. I prefer to go out and have some great restaurants around but in any other day we like to cook and like to spend time at home.”
INSIDE IZOD – What are your favorite foods?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I love Sushi; I love fish. I love Italian as well. Those are my favorites. I’m not a big fan of spicy food but there is a really good Mexican restaurant around here. I enjoy a lot but I don’t eat red meat. I haven’t had read meat since 1990 – 21 years ago. I don’t drink soft drinks or things like that. What I do enjoy is a great cookie. I’m a ‘Cookie Monster.’ I have to have a good cookie or desert after a meal.”
INSIDE IZOD – Because you won “Dancing with the Stars” people think you can dance, too, in addition to being a great IndyCar driver. How positive is that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I feel very positive about it. It’s very rare that I was able to do what I did. I was able to add more fans because of “Dancing with the Stars.” My intention was to have fun which I did. But when you have 25 million people watching you every Monday and Tuesday it helps your recognition. I’m impressed – it’s been quite a few years. It was 2007 and people still talk to me about it. That’s good because it shows I’m staying in shape. It was awesome to be on the show and be in a different type of public environment. I worked as hard as I worked in a race car.”
INSIDE IZOD – What about pets?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I have one pet named Tuggy (pronounced, TOOGY) which is a Beagle. I’ve had Tuggy since 2005. He’s hilarious. He has anxiety separation – he can’t stay away from anybody. He has to be with someone. He is a cute dog. I love it.”
INSIDE IZOD – You have one of the most engaging personalities in sports. Have you always been a guy that has fun and is able to draw attention?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “Not really. I was a very shy guy. I used to be very reserved when I was 14 or 15. I was in my own world. When I moved to England and I started to understand a little bit more the different culture. But it was when I moved to America that I realized how different it was. When I was in England Tony Kanaan told me to not be so shy and try to have fun. I was having much more fun than before. When I came over here I was having a lot of fun and it was great. You can enjoy life more when you are not so serious.”
INSIDE IZOD – What music do you like?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I like pop music. I don’t like slow songs to be honest. Disco music is what I enjoy most.”
INSIDE IZOD – Did your “Dancing with the Stars” partner Julianne Hough get you interested in Country Music because that is what she is doing now?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “Julianne is shooting a movie and we had dinner the other night. She is going to be a superstar, I’ll tell you that. She is a talent. She can dance, she can sing, she is pretty and can act as well. She is going to reach the top.”
INSIDE IZOD – What is the last thing you have loaded on your iPod?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I can’t tell you what it was. It’s Selena Gomez. That is more a teenager song. But I still feel like a teenager.”
INSIDE IZOD – With the team being involved with IZOD what are the things you like about IZOD fashion?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “I like the sportswear section that they have. They are so big that when we went to New York and saw their showroom, it was fantastic. I was surprised. The sportswear section was very nice and they have some elegant clothes, too.”
INSIDE IZOD – What is the most fun aspect of being involved with IZOD?
HELIO CASTRONEVES – “They are an incredible company. They can accommodate every taste – if you are a sports guy or a business person, there is a choice and that is an incredible thing to have a taste for each individual.”