Hélio Castroneves was born in São Paulo, Brazil is one of the top drivers in North American open-wheel racing, first in the Champcar series and now in the Indy Racing League. After showing potential but lacking reliability while with the Bettenhausen and Hogan teams, Helio joined Penske and became a regular front-runner. He switched with the team to the rival IRL for 2002, and has remained there ever since, now teamed with American Sam Hornish Jr.
He won the Indianapolis 500 in both 2001 and 2002, and finished second to teammate and countryman Gil de Ferran in 2003. He only started one other IRL race in 2001, hence his low championship position.
Racing fans have given Castroneves the nickname "Spider-Man" because of his victory celebration, in which he climbs the track-side debris fence, a practice since adopted by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart in the 2005 Nextel Cup season.