Belfast-born writer Richard Craig, author of ‘Ayrton Senna – The Messiah Of Motor Racing’, has offered his tributes to the late Brazilian Formula One driver. This month marks twenty years since Senna and Roland Ratzenberger lost their lives at Imola in separate tragic accidents.
While Craig acknowledged Senna is always going to be talked about more than Ratzenberger, he called the equal respect shown to both drivers “heart-warming.”
Craig said, “At the end of the day, status should not come into it. They were both men of the same age killed doing the same job.”
Craig, 30, attended Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, before studying Law at Queens University Belfast and then a Creative Writing Masters in London. Here he began work on his Senna book.
“I was very lucky in that I didn’t decide to do it, as such. What happened was that I went to see the ‘Senna’ film with my girlfriend but, instead of being enraptured by it, found myself being slightly irked at the way Senna was portrayed.
“I decided, like all good keyboard warriors, to let the world know of my opinions via my blog. Incredibly, Darton Longman and Todd (the publisher) found what I’d written and offered me a book deal. I didn’t need asked twice!”
Craig’s impressive amount of research – he was only 11 at the time of Senna’s death – allowed him to shed light on the racer’s off-track character. Senna’s ruthless pursuit of championship points was balanced by the spiritual and loving persona that his family knew:
“He loved his family. He was a loyal friend to the few that were allowed into his circle of trust. He gave a lot to charity and he actually had a pretty keen sense of humour under all those layers of self-imposed reserve.”
Craig’s most memorable Senna moment actually came in August 1983, a couple of months after his own birth, from Senna’s days in Formula Three, at Oulton Park.
“He was in second place right behind Martin Brundle when he decided to try and overtake, from miles back, when there was simply no room. His car ended up on top of Brundle’s - but the first thing Senna did was to peer over the side of his car to see if his rival was still in one piece!”
Sadly for Senna, his sudden demise will always be remembered most, and Imola 1994 will always lead to solemn reflection, both for his own friends and family, and those of Ratsenberger.