People Staff
November 26, 2001 12:00 PM

He’s not faster than a speeding bullet, but whizzing by at 200 miles per hour, this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner sure looks like a superhero. Nicknamed Spider-Man for climbing the fence to get closer to the crowd after a win last year, Helio Castroneves, 26, doesn’t hold back. “The fans love to share your emotions,” he says, “and my blood’s bubbling all the time.” When he was 5, his father smuggled him into the pits at a stock-car race in his native Brazil, and he still remembers “the noise of the engines, the smell of the oil. From that moment, I knew I would be a race car driver.”

Single and living in Miami since 1997, the 5’8″ Castroneves “can charm his way through life,” says his sister and manager Katiucia, 28, whose main concern is her brother’s safety. To that end, she sprinkles holy water over his car before each race. “I am a Catholic,” says Castroneves. “I believe in God, not luck. If you work hard and deserve it, I think good things will happen.”

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