Genius and Mystical Experience: Ayrton Senna

26th April 2013: I’m reposting this in enthusiasm for Senna, and for the current F1 season, which seems like one of the most interesting so far.  Since I wrote this in 2011 I took my kids to see the film Senna, where in-car footage of the man driving flat out had them riveted to their seats.  Senna is still one of the most widely celebrated individuals in sport, and worth remembering,  19 years on from May 1, 1994.

In his lifetime, Ayrton Senna was acknowledged as the greatest F1 racing driver in the world.  Gifted with immense natural skill and technical understanding, he rose to the top of the sport and became world champion three times, an astonishing achievement.  Even his detractors admitted he had no equal inside a racing car, and though his professional methods were tough, that was the nature of the sport he was in: to finish at the top you needed to have utter faith in yourself.  Privately, he gave millions away to the poor, and once risked his life – pulling his car over and getting out to run across a track during a race – to help a fellow driver who had crashed.

He did not come from a humble background, but still had to work his way up the ladder in the most competitive sport imaginable.  He classed himself as a Christian, but of his beliefs, he said:

“There is no end to the knowledge that you can get or the understanding or the peace by going deeper and deeper.  I pray regularly, not because it is a habit but because it has innovated my life.  I hardly go to church because the only time I feel really good in a church is when there’s nobody there.”

An intellectual subscription to religion is not exactly remarkable, but Senna was a highly gifted individual, certainly within the realms of genius.  Genius is, evolutionarily speaking, close to the threshold of mystical experience.  A short step or sudden experience can carry such an individual from one state to the other, and even if only momentarily, give a glimpse of altogether different world of intelligence.   Consider this description of events at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix of 1988:

“..the last qualifying session.  I was already on pole, then by half a second and then one second and I just kept going.   Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my team mate with the same car.  And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously.  I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension.  It was like I was in a tunnel.  Not only the tunnel under the hotel but the whole circuit was a tunnel.  I was just going and going, more and more and more and more.  I was way over the limit but still able to find even more.

“Then suddenly something just kicked me.   I kind of woke up and realised that I was in a different atmosphere than you normally are.  My immediate reaction was to back off, slow down.  I drove slowly back to the pits and I didn’t want to go out any more that day.  It frightened me because I was well beyond my conscious understanding.  It happens rarely but I keep these experiences very much alive inside me because it is something that is important for self-preservation.”

Two seconds is an eternity in a sport where thousandths of a second are the usual measure of skill.  The difference is especially surprising as Senna’s team mate at the time, Alain Prost, was widely regarded as one of the smoothest and fastest drivers of all time, and also became a multiple world champion.  From his own words it is clear that Senna – a supremely clear thinking, pragmatic, hard-headed individual, not prone to wishful flights of fancy – after developing the capacity for intense concentration rivalling that of the mystic, occasionally crossed the threshold between his own consciousness and a greater one beyond his understanding.

Senna had an intuition which extended into the heart of the machinery he was driving.  During one high speed practice for Mclaren, he pulled his car into the pits and instructed the mechanics to replace his engine.  Ron Dennis was not amused – this was a serious waste of time, and he put it down to “brain fade” on Senna’s part.  Senna insisted, whereupon the chief mechanic pointed out all the electronic and mechanical sensors showed perfectly normal readings.  Again Senna insisted; such was his authority within the team that they complied and after a lengthy inspection found a tiny hairline fracture in one of the components which would soon have resulted in a blown engine.

On the last weekend of his life, for the first time ever, Senna did not feel he should drive in the San Marino Grand Prix on the Sunday.  The Williams he had envied and longed for was now his, but the previous year’s car had been designed with traction control.  This meant that normal design considerations for oversteer and understeer could be sidestepped to some degree, as the car would automatically balance the load on the suspension and avoid wheelspin for maximum grip.  But these devices were suddenly banned – perhaps because Prost, in the Williams, had walked away with the championship in 1992.  The Williams Senna stepped into was now unbalanced and unpredictable – when pushed to the limit it understeered into some corners, and snapped into oversteer in others.

There had already been a fatality during practice, and another serious crash involving Rubens Barrichello.  After a long phone conversation Frank Williams convinced him to drive, but Senna had an omen about it.  In the race, Senna was chased by Schumacher, driving for Benetton and with the advantage of outlawed electronics and traction control devices hidden in the software.  By depressing the clutch and following a certain sequence of events on the grid, a hidden menu option appeared which allowed Schumacher to choose launch control and activate the electronics for the race.

In fact Briatore’s team had already been caught taking the filters off their fuel rig, which enabled 12% faster refuelling at the risk of incinerating the driver and mechanics, as almost happened when fuel spilled out all over Jos Verstappen’s engine.  It was blamed on a rogue mechanic who valiantly accepted blame, an unlikely culprit who stood to gain nothing except endangering his and his teammates’ lives in a fireball.

Much later, Briatore and Schumacher would show how far they were willing to take cheating – even endangering other drivers’ lives.  Briatore made history by talking Nelson Piquet jr. into deliberately crashing, flooring the car into oversteer and keeping his foot down until disintegrating into the wall, allowing Fernando Alonso to take advantage of the safety car and get an extra pit stop.  Schumacher would also gain fame by parking his Ferrari in the middle of a Monaco turn, pretending he was unable to steer out of the corner at about six mph, in order to call a halt to the qualifying of his rapidly gaining rivals.

But in the Pacific Grand Prix in April of 1994, Senna, having retired, stood and watched the remainder of the race to listen to the engine sounds.  He became convinced that the Benetton had illegal traction controls, something Damon Hill had already noticed, referring to Schumacher’s magical flying carpet as “that cheating car”.

After that race, the manufacturers who came 1st, 2nd and 3rd (Ferrari, Mclaren and Benetton) were required to submit their engine management source code to the FIA for inspection.  Ferrari did so straightaway but Benetton only did so three weeks after the FIA’s deadline – giving them about enough time to hide any illegal cheats – for which they were fined $100,000.  Business as usual.

Flavio Briatore’s bright idea for increasing fuel speed during pitstops: Jos Verstappen nearly burned alive in the 1994 German grand prix

This was the nature of Formula 1: win at any cost.  Before the race, Senna was photographed sitting in the car but strangely without his fireproof head protector, as if savouring his last taste of fresh air.   Chased by Schumacher’s finely balanced machine, somehow Senna lost grip at the fast Tamborello corner, where the immense torque actually snapped the steering column: on impact with a solid concrete wall the front wheel assembly separated from the chassis and, complete with suspension, flew backwards at 300 km ph, crushing Senna’s skull.  The force of the car’s deceleration alone was equivalent to a 30 metre drop onto a solid surface: either circumstance would have rendered him brain dead immediately.

In-cockpit video in the moments leading up to the crash show the steering wheel’s arc of travel, by the motion of a bright yellow button on its left hand side not following a constant radius but swaying wildly from left to right as if the steering column was made of rubber, until the car suddenly flies off the track like a missile.

Sid Watkins, a world renowned neurosurgeon, and the head of F1 medical team, performed the emergency tracheotomy in an attempt to re-start breathing, and was with Senna when he passed away:  “..he looked serene. I raised his eyelids and it was clear from his pupils that he had a massive brain injury. We lifted him from the cockpit and laid him on the ground. As we did, he sighed and, although I am totally agnostic, I felt his soul depart at that moment.”  In the sleeves of his overalls they found not just the Brazilian flag but the Austrian one as well – he had intended to wave it on a victory lap in honour of Roland Ratzenberger, who had died in the previous day’s practice.

Such is the hardness of the sport that, after death, not a single member of the Williams’ team went to see the body.  Brazil declared a three day period of mourning to mark the passing of the country’s greatest ambassador; the funeral attracted six million people and full military honours, with a 21 gun salute.  Brazil was grieving the loss of its beloved son.  More than 15 years later he is still referred to as the greatest F1 driver of all time.  Lewis Hamilton, a veteran of modern 600 hp F1, once drove Senna’s turbocharged 1100 hp Mclaren for a BBC TV special.  After an exhilarating few laps of Silverstone he freely admitted it was impossible to understand how a human being could race such a machine on the limits of its performance, with such fragile bodywork, no carbon fibre protection or any modern electronics, and with one hand darting back and forth constantly to the gearshift.

Genius represents a genetic point of mental capacity in which mystical experience is a definite possibility.  Religion, the ages-old legacy of mystical experience, has kept this possibility before the mental eye of mankind, as also the lifestyle most useful to the evolving brain.  The modern brain already has the potential of attaining access to a higher dimension of life, and the modest alterations to behaviour and attitude required to assist the evolutionary forces have been repeatedly marked out in the spiritual scriptures of mankind, which is why they have been instinctively held dear since the earliest days.  Far from being outdated, abstract or irrelevant, the experiences of Ayrton Senna show how intimately mysticism is woven with human life, and why it has such an irresistable appeal to the human mind.

About iain carstairs

I have a great interest in both scientific advances and the beauty of religion, and created about 15 years ago with the aim of finding common ground between the scientist and the believer, and to encourage debate between the two sides.
This entry was posted in Atheism, Autism, Ayrton Senna, Brain damage, Evolution, Genetic damage, Genius, Materialism, Science and Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Genius and Mystical Experience: Ayrton Senna

  1. Carmel says:

    Wonderful tribute to the best racing driver the world has seen. Thank you for highlighting the German’s cheating.

  2. Thanks! I enjoyed hearing about practical jokes between him and Gerhard Berger. I understand once while sitting in a heavy traffic jam, Berger took the keys out of Senna’s ignition and threw them out the window; Senna was forced to hunt for them under all the cars! Modern drivers seem to only have two sayings. One is: “the team did a great job” and the other is “maybe the team didn’t do such a great job”. Sport needs characters; I’m looking forward to seeing the film of his life.

  3. hey, it is late already but I am here reading about Ayrton. Thank you for your article and his photo.

    I am so deeply moved by everything I watch and read about him. It is an unbelievable loss that he is no longer with us.
    I agree with you that he was a genius- the ultimate state of being and human achievement, reached through his simplicity, dedication, honesty that helped him channel his energy into finding intuition. The moment when subconscious mind comes into real life.
    I wish I had had a chance to meet him.

    so disappointed by the Senna movie from 2010. The interesting thing they mentioned was… that he lost his concentration during 1994 season, and that resulted in weaker control over the car and his own intuition.

    I will come back tomorrow to read your text again


    • I’m very heartened that you enjoyed the brief article. Actually I took my children to see the film Senna, as I wanted them to see the kind of greatness that can result from life as well as sport. I suppose the film was a compromise of sorts, but I think the footage of him driving around Monaco was breathtaking! Even having been raised on endless realistic racing simulators, my kids were gasping with astonishment as they were in the cockpit, inches from disaster at unbelievable speeds. Having tried my hand at motor racing and sports cars, I am all the more amazed by what he achieved. It is so difficult to be quick, all the time! Thanks again

      • Cheryllyne Vaz says:

        I can’t believe the film makers missed the Donnington race altogether. It’s a travesty! Lovely article, Mr. Carstairs.

  4. Vikram Sumer says:

    I am from India and I hardly knew anything about F-1 and for that matter Senna. While watching Top gears tribute last year I came across the phenomena named “Senna”. Over these last 10 months I have read and watched every resource available on this legend.

    On factual basis, while reading this feed, there was nothing I did not know already, but by God, this is by far the best article on Senna I have ever come across. You have captured the soul of the subject. I must congratulate you.

    I have read many books on the life of Senna but truth be told none of the authors have done justice to the persona of Senna. After reading this article, I think you the fitting person who can write about Senna. Someone needs to narrate Senna’s stories of not who he was, but “What” he was. He is an example of the higher power.

    Vikram Sumer

    • That is extraordinarily kind of you – yes, Senna fascinates me as a person as he seemed to be propelled by something big and overwhelming, even standing still, outside the car. Watching his interviews after disappointing races was like seeing high explosive just barely contained; I raced once at Donnington in Formula Ford in 1991 and found it a very tricky circuit; two years later when Senna went to the front in one lap, after being pushed down to fifth in the opening stretch to Redgate, I realised the huge difference between him and an amateur. He needed to win and feared nothing. Lots of drivers are quick – but I agree with you that Senna became important because of his spiritual nature, which showed you don’t have to be a saint, to be a saint. I think seeing that kind of spirit up close, in a human form we can relate to, and understand his trauma and compare how he deals with it to how we might, in his place, is a very encouraging thing.

      I’ve thought about going to India again; I visited Srinagar, Delhi and Agra in 1977 and thought I had landed in a new world. We stayed on Dal Lake, and I remember one day having a terribly painful stomach cramp. A waiter in the hotel advised me to walk up into the hills as fas as I could until I found a mountain stream, and drink from it. I did so, and found the waters completely calmed the pain. I’ll never forget seeing the Himalayas so close. They seemed to fill the horizon from side to side. I can understand why such a sight would make one feel a daily sense of awe. We ventured out on the lake one day and found an island where carvers were patiently making these beautiful little wooden icons, while puffing with even greater dedication on a hookah. The Taj Mahal was indescribable, and the acoustics are amazing. In those days security was a little lax, so I went and sat in one of the rooms with a domed ceiling and went “auumm” until the whole building seemed to resonate.

      The poverty was staggering but seemed to be an accepted part of life. What impressed me about the people was their innocence, in that they seemed unable to hide what they really thought, but were always too polite to say anything against anyone. I never saw anyone get angry in those three weeks. At the bank I had to change Canadian dollars to rupees, and patiently filled in three complicated but identical forms, separately – no carbon paper – with passport number, hotel address, and so on. There was a red one, a green one and a white one. I handed them to the teller and watched him tear two of them in half and throw them away! Oh, no! What did I do wrong?! He just shrugged and said, “oh, nothing sir! regulations say we must complete three forms, but we only need one.”

      I hope you keep reading and hope I find something interesting to say! Don’t forget the Monza Grand Prix tomorrow – Senna’s nephew is racing for Renault I think. All the best.

      • Cheryllyne Vaz says:

        Thrilled to read you love India. I’m from Goa. Have you been there?

      • Hi, yes, India is a genuine land of wonders. A good friend of mine just returned from Delhi, and she often recounts the steady westernisation of her younger nieces and nephews.

        I haven’t been to Goa, but being peripherally in the holiday industry I see it in brochures all the time. It looks stunning! I can never tell if it’s just the photography, but I have to say, if there were anywhere to go and forget about computers, emails and work stress it looks like it would be there.

        Natural scenes of beauty stimulate the brain. How wonderful to come back from there with loads of new, better ideas. Thanks for the letters!

  5. Airton Senna um de nos…. Brasileiro de corpo e alma, aveva um coracao de ouro … amava as criancas do brasil e sempre ajudou …. Deus salve Airton Senna do Brasil !!!! Deus Salve a Fundacao Airton Senna!!!! UM beijo grande Airton no seu coracao de ouro!!!

  6. ana says:

    He had Asperger’s. That explains it all. Even the so called “mystical” experiences. People with AS have the ability to focus much more intensely than “normal” people, and also have genetic altered hormonal levels in the body. Alltogether create a “rare” individual, very focused, very strong in his/her opinions, a little bit “out of this world”, and also quite moody and “strange”. They have a high inability of social intelligence, and feel very deeply the need for justice and fairness. Lose control in injust situations quite easy and can become physically violent. Afterwards, remords…

    That’s Asperger’s syndrome, people, not any “mystical” experience. Between 3 and 8% of the world population is thought to have this syndrome.

    Good luck!!

    An Aspie

    • But surely any state of mind which enables a person to outperform the entire human race, at an exceptionally difficult task, and in which the individual senses a different intelligence acting through their brain, is, by definition, an act of genius, and probably a mystical experience as well? Whether he had Asperger’s or the flu, the result was the same!

      • ana says:

        Whay I’m saying is that the Asperger’s syndrome predisposes towards “genius” things through a much bigger ability to focus and get things done. That said, he was very fortunate to have applied his talent and his abilities to an activity like F1, where individual achievement and ability to perform better than other are crucial. In some other activities, like working in a company, such individualism would have rather been an obstacle.

    • Jim says:

      Pretty ridiculous if not plain outlandish claim, there’s absolutely no mention or record anywhere that Senna might have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and even if – reductio ad absurdum – he was, as far as I am aware, this should be confidential information, doctor/patient confidentiality, hello… so unless you were his doctor (in which case you would be in breach of the said doctor/patient confidentiality clause) how could you possibly be in the possesion of such info.

    • Barbara says:

      “He had Asperger’s. That explains it all.”? To me that explains nothing except a misunderstanding of the man and the subject, Ana (and yes, I’ve seen that you refer to yourself as an Aspie). “Asperger syndrome” (to quote the dreaded Wikipedia) is “characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests”. This could hardly be further from the truth about Ayrton. Please take a look (for example) at the 3-part series on YouTube entitled “Ayrton Senna’s lifestyle in Brazil” and then decide whether that description fits.
      “Asperger syndrome” is merely a name given to a collection of perceived personality traits. Almost all of us exhibit some of those traits to some extent at various times: like nearly all human characteristics, they form a continuum or spectrum within which everyone fits somewhere. Ayrton, for instance, was curiously clumsy as a small boy, dropping things and even having trouble climbing stairs – until his father took the inspired decision to make him a small motor car, after which he became possibly the best coordinated human being in history. And he was described by some as the most organised person they had ever met – these are the only traits that to me suggest anything typical of Asperger’s. As for difficulties in social interaction (“a high inability of social intelligence”, as you put it), take a look at the list and the identities of Ayrton’s girlfriends. And friends in general. He was noted for his charm, his empathy and for the way he cared about ordinary people – not exactly typical Asperger traits.
      And BTW, Senna certainly did work in a company: his businesses were worth 400 million US dollars at the time he was killed on the track in 1994. He had wide-ranging business interests and close links with the managers and the staff of many multinational companies, all in addition to the humanitarian interests that prompted him to give away millions – anonymously – to children not only in Brazil but (for example) in former Yugoslavia during the war there.

      Iain, thank you – this is a fascinating discussion that does justice to the extraordinary man Ayrton Senna was. And thank you for your insights into Kundalini energy and genius: most enlightening!

  7. Radu says:

    This is a a good article, but there are a few mistakes. Ayrton Senna won the World Championship three times, not four (1980, 1990, 1991).
    Also, Verstappen’s fire was not at the Pacific GP, in April, but at the German GP, at Hockenheim, in July, after Ayrton’s death.

    • Radu says:

      Ooops, sorry about the Verstappen part – I misread the text in your blogpost and thought you were saying it was the Pacific GP. Sorry

      • Well spotted re the championship count – I can’t understand how I got that wrong. I guess it was believable though, as nobody noticed! Corrected now, cheers

  8. Truly excellent article – as a kart (and occasional Formula Ford) driver from 89 to 97 – Senna was of course THE ONE we all aspired to – a phenomenal force of nature who was truly incredible – regularly performing at seemingly impossible levels (like beating team-mates by 1 to 2 seconds in quali) – I try to explain this to non F1 fans by analogy to an athletics sprinter running 100 metres in 9.0 seconds – regularly.

    I was fortunate enough to meet him once – just as a starstruck kart racer meeting MR SUPERHERO himself – a surreal experience itself. I had realized as early as 1990 he was the greatest racing driver of all time – on a completely different level than anyone else. By 1993 that belief was cemented in stone and to this day i hold hat he was the greatest sportsman of all time. That being the case, the subject of Senna’s psychological processes, as an uber-genius in his chosen field, is very interesting – and this article touches on aspects that all other sports journalists have failed to ever consider -probably as your interests in science and religious beauty are outside their scope – granted, F1, science and religion is a highly unusual eclectic mix, but one that I share with you – I found this article to be fantastic – well done – really really good job.

    • Thank you very much indeed. I tried my hand at Karting in the late 80’s and then Formula Ford – I found I was not quick enough. Much later I tried some really fast Formula Jaguars and it served to show me that you should either use all your brain for this kind of life – or none of it! And by that time, I saw how impossible such a sport was for anyone not completely convinced of their own invulnerability and immortality.. I love motor racing, because it is such a thrill to overtake someone in the same equipment as yourself! It’s a great sport, but like all things, to take it to the limit requires complete commitment. Scary stuff! and all the more impressive to see people perform who have made that choice. Thanks again for writing.. drive carefully!

  9. Nandakumar says:

    In the past 2 months I’ve had a few such ‘experiences’ and have been doing some online research, which is how I found your blog. It is quite strange actually as I am a professional rally/test driver and an automotive engineer and I work in Dynamics.

    The first time it happened, it lasted for a week, I had been working on a difficult chassis development project and I realised that the cartesian model used to describe vehicle dynamic forces isn’t an effective enough model, this realisation co-incided with an article that said light isn’t the fastest object in the universe anymore. It came home that that there is a big difference between Reality and how we perceive it.

    Therefore accepting my reality as I perceived it allowed me to rest and not have any more questions and that was when it happened for the 1st time. It was very intense and I was struggling to describe it to anyone. But the effect it has had on me is beyond me as well. My perception of everything has changed unbelievably.

    I also found another such ‘mystic’ who is a brilliant guitarist and a friend, I was watching him play and realised what was happening. I confronted him after the show and he said he’s been having these experiences too. A short while after speaking to him I had another experience with the same symptoms.

    About a week later I was reading an article about Higgs Boson in the paper, there was a line in the article that said, “it has been thought that an invisible field of consciousness permeates the universe.” This was my understanding of the experience that I had. I was pure consciousness and I was connected to another consciousness much bigger that me but was in everyone & everything. after reading the article, I had another experience.

    Today I decided to google mystical experiences and found your blog. As I was reading Senna ‘s description of his experience, It happened again.

    I’m starting to understand the triggers better now, and am more at peace with it. But I just thought I’d share it with you.


    • That sounds like an authentic experience for sure – you can understand the conviction which people feel, when their own brain has co-operated in such insight, and why they can never be dissuaded from it.

      It seems to me that when enough people in the sciences experience this sort of thing, there will be an attempt to find the biological mechanisms behind it, and that in turn will be traced to the genetics of the individual. After that, it will become a matter of excitement to find what parameters affect and encourage such experiences.

      When it is found that a different kind of consciousness is possible within a normal human brain, it will sweep away forever all the superstitious nonsense that life is a random matter of dead molecules in a Universe devoid of consciousness. Consciousness is, by far, the most important aspect of the Universe: the most complicated and the most subtle and elusive – and yet we each have some of it! I find it so painful to watch public speakers – applauded as men of deep thinking – kick their own mind to the kerb by deriding it as a meaningless illusion. It is the only thing which renders the Universe habitable and makes life worthwhile, and the element with the most unlimited theoretical scope for expansion.

      I’m excited to hear about your experiences, and also about the morphological resonance that seems to be taking place in recent days. Something is definitely happening and I’m very pleased to be communicating with such unique individuals as yourself who seem on the threshold of a new phase in human life, who have faith in their own mind and who are grounded in reality, with a penetrating intellect – and therefore keen to find explanations to satisfy it.

      All the best – would be great if you keep us posted as to how all this develops for you.

  10. Nandakumar says:

    Hi Iain,

    Thank you very much for your response. After I had the 1st experience, I went online and met a few people who also claimed to have had such experiences, I tried contacting these people as I was trying to make some sense of it. However I didn’t really get any explanations from these guys except for the usual “relax, enjoy it and don’t try to figure it out”.
    The funny thing is I had no doubts about anything ‘during’ the experience. I just ‘was’. An entity that was a part of something else. My existence as pure consciousness was more real than my ‘connection’ to my body. I was disconnected from my body. I was energy, emotion( an intelligence,calmness and love beyond description). I didn’t feel any anger or lust.
    I could not understand how it was possible to ‘be’ something else and not something you have spent your whole life believing you are but it just was.

    When the experience ‘exploded’ There was a really loud hum/ringing sound in my ears as well, it was louder than all external sounds which might have something to do with the disjointed feeling. There was also a slight pain above my ears.

    After the experience subsided, I was left with a very strong memory of it, I felt like I had to do something to save the world, I felt compassion for all living beings( I’ve since become a vegetarian and I used to be strictly carnivorous) I try and do as much charity as posssible. I became more aware of the evils of our financial system, and the list goes on.

    But more than anything, I wanted the feeling again.

    I don’t know what the mechanism is or how it works, but I do believe that it has something to do with states of mind. Driving a race or rally car fast( itself a very relative term) requires a certain state of mind as do lots of other disciplines like martial arts, music etc,

    Because of my technical background I have been able to dial in a good ‘safe pace’ into the car. Which meant I didn’t have to go into this ‘no mind’ zone as much. But on occasion when I was required to, It revealed new perspectives to me.
    IN some of those moments I had glimpses, the results were fantastic and the pace was unbelievable but I felt nothing afterwards, I wasn’t overjoyed with the results when I would have normally been. I felt very neutral and it almost felt like I had nothing to do with it, I was observing myself being in auto-pilot.

    But I thought nothing about it till recently.

    I’ve actually stopped trying to figure it out now as I doubt you really can and strangely enough once I stopped trying, I find myself closer to the ‘restfulness’ and am also able to express some of ‘its’ qualities in the work that I do. The humming sound is also louder now than when I was trying.

    I really don’t know if this ‘awakening’ as some people call it is the next stage or an evolutionary shift in consciousness. Although I did think that the human race is spiralling out of control and a shift is what is required to bring itself back from the edge.
    A lot is still happening, everyday more is revealed or realised and I am learning to ‘rest’ and observe myself.

    • A book you might like to read is The Awakening of Kundalini, by Gopi Krishna. The mechanisms are explained in great detail, as also the effect they had on this man’s life.

      As I understand it, the nerves and the reproductive system combine to fuel the brain with a certain amount of a very subtle “psychic energy”. In the vast majority of people, this stream is so finely balanced that the individual is completely unaware of its actions, and accepts the state of mind generated as a normal state of affairs. In a creative mind, the energy is somewhat accelerated, so that the brain benefits from a greater amount of creative energy. In the genius, this is advanced still further, and in mystical experience, further still.

      The result is that in the creative or mystical brain, the energy is also in danger of fluctuating to a much greater degree than in an average brain. The sudden drop in this vital essence leads to states of barren mental infertility, depression, or even stages of insanity. Because it is linked to the reproductive forces, if the individual over-indulges his physical pleasures, it can lead to the onset of these negative mental states. This is a common pattern in the modern creative type, who experiences great fertility in his mental work, only to fall victim to despair and depression, without ever realising the cause of these traumatic changes.

      In periods of creativity, there is a strong attraction to mystical concepts, and these often emerge in the creative work of an individual – van Gogh is one such well-known case, but there are dozens of others – artists, writers, designers and musicians – who I mention in other posts. The intensity of genius invariably brings with it some mystical affinity, and Senna is evidence of this.

      There are other implications too. The quality of this energy is linked with the emotional state of the individual. If the energy is in a toxic condition, it is denied access to the brain itself, with the result being overwhelming and uncontrollable sexual desires as the body tries to eject it from the nervous system. This development of the brain is cyclical in nature, the aim being to upgrade the brain to a higher state of performance, meaning that at periods of intense activity, the sexual urge can decrease or even disappear completely, again without the individual understanding the reason why. The urges reappear again once the cycle of upgrade is complete, to the best of the potential allowable within that individual.

      The ancient statues of the Hindu religion show the creative goddess dancing on the helpless, prostrate devotee – this very accurately shows the dominant nature of the power and its indifference to the concerns of the individual human personality. This psychic energy is essential for the brain’s performance, whether in a reduced or enhanced quality. Although this is a depressing subject, it is well known that during hanging, the victim will often be found with an erection. The reason is that, in a last ditch effort to save the brain – now starved of oxygen – the nervous system is roused to immediate activity, as the energy is carried through the nerves within the spine. The inverted triangle of the Caduceus, from which two serpents coil around a staff to reach a winged peak at the top, is an ancient representation of this Kundalini energy. It is all over the spiritual lore of mankind, and even in the Bible, as the serpent in the “Garden of Eden”, a parable relating to the human nervous system.

      The binary nature of genius and insanity, and of creativity and depression, all hinges on the behaviour of this still undetected, intelligent force of nature, which has definite biological components and a powerful influence on human life. It even has implications for marriages – you will often see creative types who seem blissfully happy in their partnership, but after a period of only a few years, are literally at each others’ throats. The reason is simple: an excess of sexual activity has started to drain the brain of its higher powered fuel. The brain itself tries to limit the damage by generating feelings of revulsion towards the partner.

      It is commonly known that the brain cannot feel pain. But it signals its distress at damaging or draining situations during which it is being stressed beyond its limits, like a tearing muscle or a strained ligament would do using feelings of pain, by generating emotions of annoyance or even anger, in an attempt to influence the personality to remove itself from the situation or deal with the cause somehow. The otherwise inexplicable revulsion and anger which people sometimes feel towards partners they were completely happy with only a short time before is evidence that the brain is at work in a way that is completely beyond the control of the individual.

      You can, I’m sure, see that this is a vast field which has a great influence over human behaviour, but which is dismissed at the moment as an impossibility. The only way for people to verify or disporve these ideas is by experimentation within their own body, but books such as The Awakening of Kundalini go a long way towards understanding what is really happening.

  11. michael says:

    I have also found this experience you are discussing, and in fact it commenced whilst i was reading a book on Ayrton Senna, about 1995. He almost started the “shift” in my consciousness, but it took more time for the total to become centred. I have done work with some “new age” self development groups, and the shift in understanding has changed my perceptions fully. In fact the work done equilibrates the lop-sided perceptions we take in via our senses, and gives you a great level of understanding of god and what the universe is about. It also deals in quantum physics/science to integrate the relationship within both realms.

    In the case of Ayrton, he was one of the most influential humans to grace this earth. And his message was sent via car racing because that’s where most males are focused, from time to time.

    A mystic is a person that can achieve a higher state of consciousness, and finds God. You also are a very connected human being. There is definitely a movement occuring with some individuals on this planet.

    With gratitude.

    • It’s interesting that this particular post should generate so many letters. Probably the reason is that here we have a person intimately connected with the world and some of its most difficult problems; not some wandering escapist, or abstract writer of theories – someone who had to deal with issues of life and death, and resolve them according to his own convictions.

      Today most people are under pressure of some sort, whether it be financial, relationship, mental stress, health, or just fears about the state of the world. There is a tension as if people everywhere are bracing themselves for an impact. There are many who feel a profound sense of pain when they see shocking disparities between the ease-loving rich and the abandoned poor on this planet, and it takes a lot of energy to fight this despair. Senna also felt these emotions, and became a symbol for those in Brazil who were struggling. In the film I remember there was an interview with ordinary people who said, “okay, we don’t have much, but we have Senna.”

      This influence was undoubtedly spiritual – no politician or businessman could have hoped to generate it! To see all this from someone freely admitting his own faults while battling on so many sides is an inspiration. I’m sure his life might have become a little larger from a distance, but there are many world figures practically forgotten only a few weeks after their death. Again the human mind has a remarkable ability to retain what has genuine value to it.

      All the best

  12. I appreciate your nice info, really help me. I will revisit your site.

  13. Nandakumar says:

    I’ve finally gotten down to posting a reply in here. Firstly Iain, I do genuinely enjoy your articles very much, which leads me to a question, Have you had any such ‘experiences’? Because I see expressions of the ‘self’ in your writings and paintings. I realise that lots of people who ‘allow’ themselves to become ‘instruments’ do this as well.

    I can see that you have done a lot of research on the subject and understand it’s biological mechanism better, I can also identify with a lot that you say. It does seem to explain a lot of things about myself & my father & my grandfather as well actually.

    The point that I am at right now is basically that the experience itself doesn’t matter, Although It has had an undeniably positive effect on my life & It has given me a sense of purpose that I will try and fulfill But I’m not going to spend any time chasing it (it’s easier when yr not chasing it actually)

    An interesting observation though, and point of interest in this post is the trigger, I’m not able to put my finger on it but my trigger was a ‘realisation’ within my reality that was in effect a parallel to a higher ‘truth’. It was a really big ‘explosion’ & my initial thoughts were, that I had awakened some part of my mind, but then I realised something else,I understood ‘consciousness’ & I had no doubts that this was my real and true sense of being. When I realised this, there was another ‘bang’ and I ‘saw’ something else that is impossible to describe..after 3 days, it began to subside although a visit to the forest re-energized the resonances, which I am able to do now by ‘meditating’.

    This is where it gets a bit too unreal, my trigger was initiated by someone else, who asked me a question, the answer that I ‘figured out’ was the realisation. This other person though has never had any experiences except for one, he was involved in an accident, in which he had ‘died’ and had to be resuscitated, he understood my experience because of this.
    3 weeks ago, I tried an experiment on another friend, gave him the question, and guess what, he heard a bang too, & he ‘stepped out of his skin’ for about 15 minutes.
    I’m not sure if you have been following my facebook ‘debate’. I was trying to do the same thing but it didn’t have the same effect though….

    • Your experience sound sgenuine – I really suggest you contact the ICR and see what you can glean from them; they may well be interested in recording your experiences for others to learn from. It’s fantastic to me to find that so many people have these experiences.

      I’ve never had such an experience, no. I’ve had the reverse a little; I suffered from depresion for most of my life: as a child they just assumed I was being difficult! But there were days when I could not understand the point of living. I got off to a bad start – when I was only a few weeks old, an older relative (a child) found me lying on a hardwood floor and dashed my head against it repeatedly out of jealousy, until I passed out, presumably from brain trauma. The result was that my cerebellum must have been affected (the lower part of the brain at the rear which governs motor co-ordiation) as I did not move or crawl for the first year of my life. Apparently I just sat there laughing and getting fat. Only after a year did I move my legs, and that was to stand up and walk. My large motor co-ordination has alwas been bad as a result; but my fine motor co-ordination has been great!

      In a way it’s good that I’ve never felt such an experience, as it means I am forced to argue from an intellectual perspective, and not rely on something which I would probably be unable to communicate. Arguing for spirituality I try to convince people who even have no awareness that such experiences exist! I feel everything has to have a possibility of intellectual explanation, or else one could never be prepared to accept the reality of spirituality and religion. My life has been a series of changes and surprising twists and I’m lucky to have got this far, or even to have lived at all.

      Thanks very much for writing; perhaps you can let us know more about what happened and what you experienced? Perhaps I could include a post about such experiences from people still alive today. There would be a great interest in them, I’m sure.

  14. Nandakumar says:

    I understand depression quite well Iain, Like I said I identified with a lot of things you described. I shall send an email to the institute & we’ll see how that goes. I met another musician yesterday who I identified straight away. He’s had it too. That makes the total number of ‘mystics’ I personally know 4. Strangely or not, these guys are really reluctant to talk about it. I suppose for fear of being called ‘crazy’ as well as the impossibility of describing the experience itself.

    I’ve always had highs & lows, but around the same time last year it got really bad, A doctor previously diagnosed me as being bi-polar( my father was supposed to have been bi-polar as well). I was not however convinced with his diagnosis and got a second opinion. He asked me to keep a log of my thoughts to specifically identify the root cause but he said he didn’t believe that I was bi-polar. Through the logging, I managed to identify that I had unresolved anger and grief issues with my father & his death.
    It had to get really bad before it could get better but when it happened, something changed. this weight that I had been carrying suddenly wasn’t there anymore. Like a lot of people who suffer from bi-polars disorder, my highs were always accompanied by manic creativity. I never felt more alive than when I was driving a rally car or designing stuff and doing things that allowed me to express this creativity.
    The highs & lows gradually went away but the creativity remained.

    I have never been a deeply religous person. But I am very single minded and determined in what I do. I have a background in martial arts, and I understood the ‘state of mind’ required to win. This ‘state of mind’ training is found in lots of ancient disciplines and is the essence of the hindu philosophy of ‘Karma Yoga’. In a nutshell, Detachment from the fruit of your actions but strive for perfection in what you do & dedicate the fruit to God.

    In the past 3 or 4 years, I have tried to integrate this into everything I do. rally driving, engineering, business etc. I also read the Bhagavad Gita everyday repeatedly for the past 3 years. My motivation wasn’t spiritual in the beginning, It was about ‘the state of mind’ But during my lows, the scripture was also comforting. I wondered about the scriptural definitions of God in it and eventually wrote a mathematical equation of the definitions in my head. At some point, I substituted the value of a reality that can’t be proven with a reality that can be proven and understood a concept. But when someone asked me what I believed in, I answered “my concept of god has been evolving but I think for this reality, it must mean that God is the collective conscioussness of everyone who is trying to keep humanity alive” my “42” was a big bang, a synaptic connection so big that my brain just stopped. That’s when it happened, I stepped out of my body, I existed as spirit, I knew exactly what consciousness was because I was consciousness. As the first ‘explosion’ started to subside after 3 days, my mind started trying to figure out what was going on, I somehow saw myself as a kind of energy field, like my body was a generator for this field and I realised that if I was this consciousness, all other living things must have their own individual consciousnesses and we must all be connected, this was when I heard another bang, & I ‘saw’ this giant field, only thing is I couldn’t see it, but I felt it, I was a part of it and it was me. I felt what this field felt, love, intelligence, bliss.. I saw that the earth has a spirit, and that man was hurting it & hurting himself as well.

    I have learnt to describe it better now but I just didn’t know how to explain it then. I told my wife and my mother, but they couldn’t understand it as well. They both humoured me, thinking it’s stress or something. But the change in personality is too big to ignore

  15. fascinating –

    especially about the comfort from scriptures: I believe one of the oldest icons is of a deity raising a hand in a gesture intended to dispel fear. I may have mentioned this in a post called “science of the future”.

    Lori and I are putting a book together this year, equal parts photography and writing; the working title is “natural intelligence – the bridge between science and religion”. One of the chapters will be spiritual experiences in the life of modern man, along with attempts at explaining the processes involved, perhaps down to the molecular levels. I wonder if over the course of the year we could do an interview with yout or take some pictures, and include your story?

    anyway, thank you for writing – I’m sure your experiences will be of interest to many people.

  16. Nandakumar says:

    I would gladly do an interview Iain.

    • Super, that’s much appreciated – once we’re enmeshed in the inertia of the project we’ll figure out a way to meet up and take some photos – perhaps of you looping the loop in a 4×4 or riding a jetbike across the grand canyon!

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  19. Cheryllyne Vaz says:

    Have you ever heard this press conference of Senna’s after he observed Martin Donnelly’s crash in Jerez in 1990:!

    The British media accused him of being overly religious but I think what he had to say was so profound and philosophical and quite lovely.

    Here’s part of a brilliant article on the crash:

    Read all the parts if you can.

    • Thanks; I hadn’t heard that interview before. Especially I was amazed by Senna’s qualifying lap, how on the straight between the 6th and 7th corners there are suddenly two cars right on his line! His reactions were aimed at saving the lap, not just avoiding an accident. His Lotus seemed to have so much mechanical grip. Perhpas he needed to tame the circuit, to put it in its place after what happened to his team mate; without taking that action he might have had nagging doubts which would have crippled his performance. Great article, many thanks

  20. Joe says:

    Just saw “Senna”, and it opened my eyes as to what a religious wing-nut he was. Chritso-narcissism at it’s finest. You may be religious, but I am much more religious, so holy in fact that I talk to god from the cockpit of my car. Top that!

    Of course with god behind him, he could rationalize or justify any kind of bad behavior, up to and including crashing inot your opponents.

    Jimmy Clark was the greates driver ever, certainly not Senna.

    • Clark was a great driver, no doubt about it, but I would tend to put Fangio at the very top, because he seemed to be without character flaws of any kind. He only ever made any given mistake once, was constantly thinking ahead of his time, and relied completely on his own impressions. He had a superb understanding of the machinery he was in, and was actually the first racing driver to concentrate on fitness. It seems to me that he thought his way around problems much as Stirling Moss did.

      He also earned the complete respect of those around him – including the villagers in his hometown (who clubbed together to buy him a racing car), the other F1 drivers, and even, once, his pro-Castro kidnappers! – and his subtlety was such that to this day Moss doesn’t know whether the hairline victory he won over Fangio while both drove for Mercedes was gifted to him by the older man, or completely earned. This kind of generosity of character, I think you’ll agree, is rare enough, but rarer still in motor racing, where even a gifted and popular racer like Moss would drive over gravel, throwing up a hail of bullets, to make sure the driver just behind kept his distance, or pretend to lose control at a corner in order to scare whoever was chasing him.

      I expect, judging from that age and from his country of origin, Fangio would likely have belonged to the church but he seemed to keep his thoughts about it private. A misconception of religion is that it should magically erase all character flaws and produce a perfected human being, or else have no use at all. Often its real role, perhaps far more useful, is an expansion of the inner world which can lift an ordinary, flawed, person to levels which might otherwise have been impossible for them.

      There has to be a good reason why Senna was a national hero, to the extent which I think you’d be hard pressed to find an equal anywhere else in motor racing’s history. Enzo Ferrari, for example, was equally a national figure, but a strange and even poisonous human being, disliked even by Fangio. This idea of upliftment is a recurring one in religious thought; if it applies to Senna, it still makes him a very interesting personality to discuss.

      • Joe says:

        I’m probably biased because I came of age in teh 60’s and saw Jimmy Clark win at Watkins Glen with a broken rear syuspension. But, yes, Fangio was a little before my time, but he was another legend among legends. And one of his greatest victories was actully surviving, unlike most of hie rivals from those dangerous days.

      • I was also lucky to have a little family contact with the motor racing world. A very distant relative, Marion “Joe” Carstairs, held the record for the fastest woman on water in the 1920’s. There’s a book written about her, called the Queen of Whale Quay, referring to her “rule” of a Bahamanian island after giving up on the UK and powerboat racing.

        My paternal grandfather remarried a woman named Hazel Dunham, a vivacious blonde who raced for her father’s MG dealership. her father would berate her for coming second and she would reply, “don’t forget all the other drvers were men!” My parents remember meeting Stirling Moss via my grandfather, and being impressed and a little confused by all the gadgets in his house, in the 1960’s.

        Fangio did a demonstration race in his old Mercedes, in Australia, which you might enjoy. He said he would agree to drive, but only if he was permitted to race. Watching the crowd’s reaction, and hearing the announcer’s astonishment, when the much older man is taking dangerous risks with a cast iron museum piece and floating it around corners not for any championship or personal gain but purely for the thrill of racing, and watching the mechanics all surge out of their pits just to see him fly by and cheer him on, you get the sense that here is a truly great human being, remarkable and electrifying at any age, and under any conditions!


        And you might enjoy this too – some big moments with Fangio around the old Monaco circuit. For some years I drove a Ferarri around London, and this is exactly how it sounded at around 6000 RPM – like the end of the world is going on right behind your head. When Fangio roars out of the tunnel and towards the chicane at an insane speed, you might feel your heart getting ready to say, that’s enough, I quit!


      • Joe says:

        But I will add that I think Clark was the most “natural” driver of them all. From what I have read he was not highly technical, although he could communicate well with Colin Chapman, who could translate Clark’s obversations into proper set up. He seemed to do it by feel and by caressing the car into high performance. Just my bias.

  21. Joe says:

    Give me the good old fashioned political skulldugery of Alain Prost over the irrational, confused maunderings of a person messed up on religion.

    • Jim says:

      “He was the best driver who ever lived”
      – Niki Lauda
      “His skills, craft, subtlety, and courage were of such magnitude that he dwarfed his generation of drivers”
      – Ron Dennis
      “Ayrton was, and still is, the best Formula 1 driver I’ve ever seen”
      – Bernie Ecclestone
      “Actually, he was an even greater man outside the car than he was in it”
      – Frank Williams

      Pretty sure I will take their opinion any time of the day over that of a grumpy old man who feels so threatened by religion and spirituality that feels the need to come and comment (ironically enough) on a blog about spirituality, religion and science, by throwing mud at arguably the best and most talented driver in the existence of F1. And why, because he ‘dared’ express his belief in a higher force publicly. Insecure much? It’s people like you, with absolutely no understanding of what pure skill and talent (and probably genius) is, that Ayrton despised the most, and for good reason. He was probably one of the most humble, perseverent and hard working (on top of incredibly gifted) of the known F1 drivers, who drove to perfection and in the process challenged mostly himself and his limits, but it takes someone with both their brains and heart in the right place to actually figure that out. Yours, sir, is not an informed opinion (obviously you have no clue of the real Senna’s personality and character), but the opinion of a hater pure and simple. And therefore it does not add to or inform this forum and has no value whatsoever, other than to your own sorry self.

      • Try to remember though, and you’ll see this from the letters, there are some who make fun of “science and religion” – including the strange types at (they’re still parodying me over my comments about chemtrails a year or more ago – they’re clearly a government shill outfit. Notably, the head honcho there, Mick West, chickened out of a lie detector test I arranged for him!) – but scientific evidence from the labs is gradually pushing them to the edge.

        Everyone’s opinions are welcome – of course, some fly in the face of facts and discount their own selves, but we wouldn’t want everyone saying the same thing, and that’s the point of the information mix which is the web – everyday I read something I never knew about before.

        But if you read anything which makes you really irate – and we all do – remember everyone has a bad day, and just think how valuable oxytocin is to the brain!

  22. Gustavo says:

    Hey man, if you like spirituality, you can actually practice it in a very practical way via Reiki, which is a Japanese technique in which you transmit good energy via your hands. I have received it and gaven it, and people usually show psyhological and physical improvements after receiving it. I am an engineer and I think that science can’t explain it, but it works on me and many other people (not all people though)… maybe you will find interesting to do a course on the topic in which you actually USE those energies. It lasts usually two days and it adds beauty to life.

    If you like, just contact me and I can give you a free session remotely!

  23. joannekilty says:

    I am intrigued on your recent Senna post. Although I agree and also appreciate the majority of your comments and observations on the greatness of the man, I am curious why it Senna you have decide to isolate these accolades and admiration to Senna over and above the likes of equally deserving drivers such as Clark, Fangio and (the even eventually admired by the English) Schumacher?
    Just curious!
    Would love to see a similar piece on one of the great talents behind the drivers in F1 such as Ron Dennis, Ross Brawn etc.

    • Yes, well, it’s a good point – I’m a big fan of Jim Clark for example, and he worked miracles in the car but perhaps because he was a private person, there’s nothing about his spiritual ideas I’ve been able to find. Also I’ve read a lot about Fangio and consider him even a step above Senna, as he survived an age when it was normal to die young, won the title in different cars and started at an age when many drivers were either retiring or dead. He was the archetypal driver the way Michelangelo was the artist. Even marriage is discarded as wasteful of the energy brought to the craft. You can’t help but admire such determination. Fangio also cut his teeth driving impossible vehicles over impossibly long distances, and he knew everything about the car mechanically. Driving the Nurburgring without a clutch! He had great intuition, and was a hero in every sense of the word. Schumacher was a great driver, no doubt, and I’ve hoped for his recovery, but without any spiritual aspect to write about that I’ve been able to see, and it’s a blog about spiritual and practical intersections after all.

      I like Ross Brawn! How does someone remain good natured throughout such pressure! As for Ron Dennis, and though I’m sure this is a neccessary trait in the jungle, publicly all I know of him is this nauseating corporate waffle and tipsy-toe speak which makes me want to vomit. I do remember one time when he accused Senna of brain fade when Senna insisted that an engine be changed – I told the story elsewhere here. After Senna’s insistence, it was removed and a tiny hairline crack was discovered, in the crankshaft I think, which would have blown the engine to pieces eventually. Nobody understood how Senna could have detected that.

      By contrast with the corporate captains Senna was so blunt and so overt about his beliefs that he makes the ideal character to write about. And then there’s just time – you’d be surprised how long it takes to write even a few hundred words and check facts and make it interesting. Whatever I’ve published on this site, I’ve easily given up on or scrapped the same amount. Time! Who ever has enough of it..?

      • joannekilty says:

        Lol. I certainly do not have enough time to research and check my facts to the extent you do, I only wish I had, I could lose myself for days into a subject. I am envious that you are able to do so!
        In the meantime and absence of required time (I hear my twin babies beginning to stir in their cots) I will leave you with this quote, one i believe all racing drivers must understand and one that I used to guide me through life prior to my days of responsibilities (having my girls)!!!
        “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle for me, it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I will make it burn as brightly as possible”
        GBS I believe (but no time to check that as fact!)

  24. The writers of letters on this blog are writing more interesting stuff and way better than I do! This has got to stop!

    I’m betting you saw Chris Helmsworth in that recent film about James Hunt and Niki Lauda, directed by the Happy Days guy – but if not, put that bottle of gin down, grab the twins, jump in the car and drive around until you find a cinema playing it!

  25. Pablo Patino says:

    Dear Ian , I apologize for my English , because I’m using the google translator , it happens that I can read it but I can not write in this language.

    I’m Argentinian , 47 years old and Ayrton has been a great source of motivation in my life
    In my youth I ran kart racing and like you , admitting that it was not done fast enough ( or had money required too !) .

    At 11 years of age ( 1977) began my passion for F1 ,and inever losing a gp by tv .

    Acquired all English Italian and French magazine from 1979 to 1994

    I was able to attend my first GP in Buenos Aires 1981 , was emotionally very intense
    When I became involved in the atmosphere of the kart , I met people who had contact with Ayrton on the occasion of some South American championships.
    Absolutely all these people spoke to me of someone very shy and polite, that runway was transformed into a prodigious tightrope , sense of speed was so superior that no one doubted his future in f1 .

    There are countless anecdotes of these extraordinary capabilities, it is curious that many people describe him as a demon behind the wheel, especially if we consider the spiritual dimension that express at the height of his career
    I think that adjective used to try to explain that energy that was beyond his comprehension

    In 1988, 89 and 90, I had the privilege of attending the Montreal GP with my Press Accreditation
    Are engraved in my mind countless images, sounds, feelings, smells and emotions of those experiences, which then repeated in Buenos Aires 95, 96 and 97.

    But see on track Ayrton overcame my rational understanding of the facts
    Prost possessed a soft, exquisite style, Mansell was pure courage while it looked like it was muscular force battling the elements in a uncontrolled speed .
    Who can explain to me what I saw with my own eyes
    in 89 in Montreal, under heavy rain, everyone had rain tires and his car skidded to accelerate.
    Except one
    Senna had slik tires for a nearly 10 laps, and his car not skated on acceleration.
    Not only that, besides increasing the distance it looked like he had his followers …

    Watch live conveys the true dimension of what it means to drive these machines and this could experience it in different eras and different drivers (Reutemann, Piquet, Gilles Villeneuve, Jones, Mansell, Prost, Rosberg, Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, Hakinen, etc. ) and always produced me the same admiration.

    But Senna was in another dimension
    It’s very subjective what I say, but I’m talking about energy
    When he got out of the car, I watched him very closely in the pits and was very impressive energy that emanated

    I remember that once away from his side every person remained contemplating her car.
    The way we did, it was as if that car out of his own body
    It is very difficult to explain in words
    Throughout my life, I have experienced situations in higher states of consciousness
    I witnessed as someone with an aura and a very very special magnetism, communicated with that powerful machine

    The mystique of Ayrton is not a myth

    I witnessed this

    The best for you Ian

    Best Regards

    • How great, that a passion is so strong it survives machine translation! Likewise, Senna’s magnetism has survived to grow stronger over the years; truth makes itself recognisable in all its forms. Thank you very much indeed for a beautiful letter and your memories. Peace!

  26. Bob says:

    You have an uncanny perception. I knew little about Senna, but I happened to see the video on Youtube of him waiting for the start of his last race. His expressions and motions gave me the unmistakable impression that he had a premonition and was wrestling with that sense as he sat there. Strange that if he had already proved the truth of his senses once in regard to the cracked engine, he would ultimately disregard them in that fatal instance.

    • Barbara says:

      Very insightful comment. Senna’s demeanour at the start of the fatal race does suggest that he knew, or felt strongly, that he had mere minutes left on this earth. It was fitting in one sense that he died as he had lived, leading a race and, some might say, fulfilling his purpose here by showing millions how to live, but it was nevertheless a loss to the world of a highly charismatic potential political leader who might – amazingly – have been incorruptible (several who knew Senna well, including Frank Williams, said that he would eventually have run for President of Brazil and won by a mile, had he lived).
      Senna’s uncanny perception, his well-documented heightened senses enabled him, as Iain says, to discern a hairline crack in the engine that was imperceptible to the mechanics and engineers without hours of painstaking searching. But the cause of his fatal impact has never been properly established, despite a 7-year court case in Italy. Driver error can be ruled out (did the greatest F1 driver in history really lose grip on a corner where, according to his friend Gerhard Berger and many others, driver error simply does not occur?), and the point at which the steering column broke, and why it broke, is still unclear and probably always will be. Berger knew the dangers, and the vagaries, of the Tamburello corner – in the event of a mechanical failure – from painful personal experience, and he and Ayrton had discussed safety measures there only weeks before the fatal race. Could the data transmission have been hacked (not by Williams) in order to disable the power steering? I don’t know, but I do know (insofar as anyone knows anything) that strange things have happened to those who might otherwise have changed the political scene and the world for the better.
      So Senna could insist on a change of engine during practice when he knew something specific was wrong. But his premonition on that race weekend appears to have been unspecific, however strong. And, as he told his friend Sid Watkins, he could not pull out. Sadly for the world.

      PS A word in defence of Ron Dennis (manager of McLaren, Senna’s race team throughout his world championship years): despite all corporate waffle, Dennis is in tears even now, decades later, when he speaks of Ayrton. The funeral footage from São Paulo speaks volumes on that relationship.

  27. I noticed on the cockpit video of Senna’s car during the last couple of corners, that a yellow button on the left which should have been making a clean arc as the wheel turned was actually moving from left to right – meaning the steering column was not only rotating but veering from left to right as well. But this is a steel component!

    The column had been welded and the weld had gradually given way – the thing must have eventually snapped or been loosened enough to lose control of the front wheels under the torque of going around that corner – and so the car went straight on.

    • Barbara says:

      Thanks, Iain. Yes, that’s what is often assumed, and what the 7-year court case eventually concluded, placing the blame on Williams (I have no affiliation at all to Williams, by the way!). But Ayrton was well known for his meticulous preparation and detailed personal car inspections as well as his superhuman perception, and I can’t help thinking that he would have noticed before or, at the very latest, during the first lap if there had been a dangerously dodgy weld (especially with the premonitions he clearly had that weekend) – yes, there was a weld in the steering column which Senna himself had asked for some time earlier (extra length needed as he had longer legs than than the previous driver, Alain Prost, around whom the chassis had been designed), and the column was found after the impact to have snapped there. But could it have broken, wholly or partially, because Ayrton had to apply excessive pressure to try to turn the car and prevent a head-on collision, and was that because the power steering (not the weld) had jammed for some as yet unexplained reason?
      Even if – very unusually – Senna himself didn’t notice that the weld was unreliable, wouldn’t his team have checked it regularly to make sure it was safe rather than risk killing the greatest F1 driver in history? (Even if a saboteur had somehow infiltrated the team, sabotage was very unlikely to have got through unnoticed.) “We are convinced that the welding was not the cause. The work was done in March, and both Hill and Senna had raced two Grand Prix with the modified cars and there wasn’t any problem.” – quote from Williams at the time. Damon Hill’s car had been welded in exactly the same way and he finished the race – without power steering, because Patrick Head of Williams instructed him to turn it off when the race re-started after Senna’s crash! (Why would Head do so unless Senna’s data had shown a power steering failure – presumably a jam?) Senna’s Tamburello crash happened right at the start of the race, on only the second full-speed lap. To me it simply doesn’t add up that the weld could snap spontaneously, and so easily, under normal pressure and power steering, so early in the race.
      Of course there are many other curious features of Senna’s fatal crash that I can’t go into here. Plenty to research for anyone with the inclination.

  28. It’s very simple – the steering wheel was not moving in a restricted circular fashion – it was rocking side to side. You can’t look at a weld and see if it’s safe – you can’t see into the weld. A weld can last so long and then give.. this is what happens. Perhaps Senna’s style was a lot heavier on the steering. Hill was very smooth into corners but Senna would push the car more to its limits – which is why he was faster. But either way, different driving or not, start of race or not, two different welds are never going to be the same.

    You can’t watch a floating yellow button and not realise the wheel was rocking. Steering wheels are not supposed to rock from side to side. Welds are not predictable, and they do get tired. I think it’s very simple – the steering failed, the car went off. Even then Senna would have probably been okay if not for the wheel and suspension which tore off and hit him on the helment with tremendous force.

  29. Barbara says:

    Hello Iain. I’m having trouble seeing it as very simple if it took 7 years to come to a conclusion that was hypothetical at best. Yes, the weld broke at some point, and the movement of the yellow button may well have indicated a steering failure. My question is about the role of the power steering in that failure. Patrick Head was heard to exclaim “Power steering!” around the time Senna crashed and as the telemetrics came through (the telemetrics showed wild fluctuations in the power steering readings – see inter alia Richard Williams’s (no relation) book The Death of Ayrton Senna: “The first (data readout), showing the direction and force of the steering effort, clearly demonstrated that Senna was holding the car on a steady left lock until the final instant. But the second graph, displaying the hydraulic pressure within the Williams power-steering system, is where some people came to believe the origin of the accident lay. What it shows is the pressure rising suddenly in the instant after the onset of the accident, then falling swiftly until the last half-second before impact, when it describes a crazy up-and-down pattern.” … “If the power steering broke, you’d expect the hydraulic pressure to go straight to zero … it would be the same with the other reading if the accident had been started by the steering column breaking.” And from Williams: “We presented documentation within a month of the accident which pretty much showed that we couldn’t have got any of the data that was recorded without the wheel being attached to the column”.).
    For the restart after Senna’s crash, Patrick Head instructed Hill to turn off his power steering. Why? As far as I know, that and many other strange aspects of the Senna crash remain unclear, and are still under earnest discussion – elsewhere – to this day.

  30. Bob says:

    And if Senna was the greatest driver of his generation, I have to ask myself if he was greater than Tazio Nuvorali, whom Ferdinand Porsche called “the greatest driver of the past, the present, and the future.” Can his victory in the 1935 German Grand Prix be exceeded? A victory against all odds in an obsolete car against the massive state sponsored efforts of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union? Or racing at night along the rough country roads of Italy in the Mille Miglia, chasing Achille Varzi’s lights with his own switched off to conceal his presence? Perhaps Senna’s was the greater age, and the terrible power and razor’s edge was so well concealed that only those who have driven can see it? That is the debate perhaps only for the maestros of speed themselves.

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