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Ayrton Senna remembered

“Did you hear about Senna?”

It was exactly 20 years ago today that Charlie Baron asked me that.

We were standing in his office at TPC Summerlin. Charlie was director of our major golf tournaments; the Seniors were playing that day.

“Did you hear about Senna?”

He didn’t have to say anything else. He wasn’t smiling, and Charlie would always smile when he hadn’t seen you for awhile.

So I knew.

Knew that Ayrton Senna’s car must have somehow gone off the track at the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy, knew that something must have broken. Because Senna was a great driver, perhaps the greatest of all-time.

Better than Jim Clark. Better than Jackie Stewart. Fangio? Yeah, probably better than him, too.

Charlie Baron was an auto racing enthusiast. Before he got into golf, he was a publicity guy for Indianapolis 500 drivers such as Bobby Unser and Tom Sneva. He knew I followed auto racing, too.

This was grim news. Terrible news. But it was like Charlie wanted to tell somebody, and he was surrounded by golf people, and most golf people probably don’t follow Formula One.

They wouldn’t know the impact this terrible news about Ayrton Senna would have on global sport, how it would bring Brazil, Senna’s beloved Brazil, to its knees.

In Brazil, there was Pele, and there was Senna. Then the heads of state.

“Did you hear about Senna?”

It was exactly 20 years ago today.

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