On the 21st of March 1960, Ayrton was born in São Paulo, Brazil.
When he was four years old his father Milton bought him a go-kart, and by the age of eight Ayrton was regularly competing in karting events. His career progressed so very quickly! At the age of seven, Senna first learned to drive a Jeep around his family's farm and gained the advantage of changing gears without the use of a clutch! It is funny to think back to those days and imagine this little guy in his black leather overalls and yellow helmet racing against kids often twice his age and sometimes twice his size!
He didn't only race stronger and more mature opponents, he actually went out of his way to pulverize them on the track. Brazil's tropical climate was very unpredictable, and the sun and rain played games with one another constantly!! Ayrton disliked days like these...as he hated the rain. No matter how hard he tried, his opponents were faster than him. Many factors were to be taken into consideration in my humble opinion though...he was lighter than many of his opponents which affected grip. He had his own driving style, which involved using power to drift through corners. This didn't work that effectively in the wet. He felt slow and not up to par, which almost surprised the young boy himself!
What he did next made everyone that knew him or raced against him realize just how special and determined this young boy was! Every time it rained, no matter how hard and for how long, Ayrton was out on the track practicing! He did this for hours and sometimes days on end, until his knuckles eventually turned blue. Very quickly he became unbeatable in the rain! A trait he kept throughout his racing career, famously known in Formula 1 as the Rain Master.
His father Milton, supported his son and Senna was soon managed by Lucio Pascal Gascon. Senna won the South American Karting Championship in 1977. He contested the Karting World Championship each year from 1978 to 1982, finishing runner-up in 1979 and 1980.
In 1981, Ayrton Senna moved to England to begin single-seater racing. This was a tough time for him as a Brazilian trying to cope with the harshness of English weather! He was terribly homesick and had very few friends in the UK. That same year he ended up winning the RAC and Townsend-Thoreson Formula Ford 1600 Championships with the Van Diemen team. A tough act to follow as a rookie!
Despite this accomplishment, Ayrton initially did not believe he would continue racing. At the end of the season, under huge pressure from his parents to take up a role in the family business, Senna shocked everyone by announcing his retirement from Formula Ford and returned to Brazil. Before leaving England, however, Senna was offered a drive with a Formula Ford 2000 team for £10,000. Back in Brazil, miserable and frustrated, knowing that he had a gift that would go to waste if he didn't follow his dreams, he decided to take up this offer and returned to live in England. This was the most important decision he had ever taken in his life...and it was going to revolutionize the face of motor racing for ever. Ayrton Senna...The Best Race Car Driver in the World.