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I rarely watch movies, even when I fly – but this trip I made an exception. I didn’t know that the documentary Senna had been released, but was pleased to see it. He was my first hero – and his was the first death I fully understood and truly mourned.

For most of my teen years my idea of a good time was staying up late Sunday night to watch a grand prix – and the film’s early footage reminded me of those moments.

Notwithstanding that the documentary is a somewhat airbrushed representation of Ayrton’s career, I recommend it. It has some great footage of the ‘brute force’ days of formula one – before it went the way of America’s Cup yacht racing.

Also, Senna’s story is a good yarn – with danger, heroic acts, charity, and tragedy.

The documentary gives an insight into Senna’s discipline and focus – which was what was required to get the car around the track the way he did. It starts with footage of a rain soaked 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, with Senna eating the champions of the sport despite driving the inferior Toleman.

Senna was robbed of that win, and it sets the tone for his struggle.

I particularly admire Senna’s fighting spirit. The victories in Japan in 1988 (fighting back from 16th to win) and Sao Paulo in 1991 (finishing first in a broken car and then passing out due to exhaustion) are great examples of Senna’s qualities…

Looking back, I recall that it was Senna’s example that taught me you had to fight, with discipline and focus, to be successful.

The other thing his story reminded me of is that you must trust in God.

In the documentary Prost says Senna’s problem was that he believed that his faith in God meant he could not die in a racing car. I have never understood Senna’s life and death in that way, and in my view the documentary supports a different interpretation.

Senna felt that he had followed God’s calling into Formula One, and that doing his best there was what God wanted. Despite the fact that he had followed God’s calling for him, Senna also understood, as do all Christians, that his calling could be fatal. For God takes each of us when He desires – and there isn’t a thing we can do about it.

God took Senna at Imola in 1994. The fatal crash was at the at the Tamburello corner – a fast but ‘easy’ corner; not the sort of corner even inexperienced drivers make mistakes on. Most likely the steering column of Senna’s Williams snapped, and as a result his car hit the wall at ~320k/hr.

The car’s crash-shell protected Senna’s body so well that no bones were broken – it was a flying piece of suspension that hit Ayrton’s helmet, and dealt him the fatal blow. A few inches and Senna would have walked away.

For me, Senna’s story is a reminder of the greatest principle for living. Follow your calling, and give it everything – whatever it is, give it more than seems prudent.

Do what you are meant to, and do not fear. God will take you when He wishes, and there is nothing you can do about it. Glorify Him, by having trust in His plan for you, and making the most of your life.

Senna’s story inspires me because that is how he lived his life. He remains a hero of mine.


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