INDIANAPOLIS — Helio Castroneves has been a part of Indianapolis Motor Speedway history for more than two decades. Now, he's a part of the famous racetrack himself.
A bronze brick commemorating his four Indianapolis 500 wins was dedicated in the Yard of Bricks. The brick is one of five special markers laid into the iconic start-finish line at IMS.
All four drivers who have won the Indy 500 four times - A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears and now Castroneves - are honored with bronze bricks featuring their name and the years they won the race.
A fifth bronze brick was laid in the center of the Yard of Bricks in 2011 marking the 100th anniversary of the first 500.
"What an honor to be with A.J. Foyt and not only Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears, which is my hero. I wish he would be here, then I probably would be crying, I wouldn't be able to speak," Castroneves said. "Wow. This is an incredible dream."
Helio wasted no time getting his first Indianapolis 500 win, leading 52 laps of his first attempt at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in 2001.
He joined the two-time winner's club the following year, going 2-for-2 at Indianapolis, but not without some controversy.
Castroneves was trying to stretch his fuel to the finish with Paul Tracy, driving for CART-affiliated Team Green, bearing down behind him. Tracy passed Castroneves in Turn 3 of Lap 199, just as a caution flag came out for a crash involving Buddy Lazier and Laurent Redon in Turn 2.
Team Penske, which had moved to the Indy Racing League from CART, argued that Castroneves slowed down when the caution flag came out to preserve fuel and that is when Tracy made the pass for the lead. IRL officials ruled Castroneves was, in fact, leading when the yellow was shown.
Tracy's team owner, Barry Green, protested the decision, but was denied by Tony George, CEO of the IRL and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
After just missing the hat trick in 2003, when teammate Gil de Ferran prevented Helio from three wins in three tries at the 500, then a third-place finish in 2007 and finishing fourth in 2008, Castroneves picked up his third win at Indy in 2009.
A spot in the exclusive four-time winners club eluded Castroneves for more than a decade until 2021, when his win for Meyer Shank Racing set off a raucous celebration in the stands and on the track.
Helio Castroneves celebrates 4th Indianapolis 500 victory
After getting out of his car near the finish line, the Brazilian recreated his famous fence climb to salute the fans, then took off on a jog north down the front stretch, where he was greeted by several drivers to congratulate him for the victory.
Castroneves will try to win his fifth Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28, becoming the first driver to accomplish the feat.