INDIANAPOLIS — After making history Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, four-time Indy 500 champion Hélio Castroneves had one more victory lap to take, but not anywhere near the brickyard.
It was back down North New Jersey Street, a place he had been once before.
“I told them, ‘Look, if I win the race, I’ll come here and celebrate with you guys,’” recalled Castroneves. “When you said it, you gotta mean it. You gotta make it happen. Because I felt very special, I felt very touched by those guys, the neighborhood, and I said, ‘Well, that’ll be a lot of fun if I win.’”
It was last Saturday during the 500 Spectacle of Homes “reverse” parade when Castroneves first met the Terzini family in front of their home on New Jersey. The homeowners had entered their décor into the contest, which took place in lieu of the typical 500 Festival Parade through downtown.
Something about their decorations, one in particular, caught Castroneves eye.
“What they did it’s a, I’ve never seen anything like it. Having the mannequin climb the fence, a mini Hélio or mannequin Hélio climbing the fence, celebrating a win,” Castroneves said. “So I said, ‘I’m gonna come here and celebrate if we win.’”
Turn on the nerves for the Terzinis, who took in the action in person.
“We were getting down 20 laps to go, 15 laps to go, 10 laps to go, and we’re like looking at each other, all my friends and everything, and we’re like, is this gonna happen? Is this gonna happen?” Jameson Terzini said. “We were kinda looking at each other in the stands, and ugh, just everybody, is this gonna happen? Is this gonna happen? Five laps to go we’re like, this is gonna happen!”
It happened, and the Terzinis didn’t know if Castroneves would make good on his promise until early Monday morning.
“He’s a man of his word, he’s a man of his word,” Terzini said. “He didn’t owe us anything. We thought it was fantastic enough that we were able to have him at our home to begin with, but then the follow up, and man, I don’t know. It’s just amazing right now.”
The Terzinis and about a dozen of their closest friends waited on their front porch and lawn, partying and enjoying the afternoon waiting for Castroneves to arrive. And arrive he did to an eruption of chants and applause.
“Thank you friends for the all excitement for helping this guy put this house, this beautiful house together. Now, we’re four-time winners,” Castroneves told the excited crowd. “I said I would and I will because I am a man of my word. Guys, thank you so much everyone. Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, have fun. I lost my voice! You can imagine why.”
Surrounded by new friends, Castroneves’ triumphant return to North New Jersey Street wouldn’t have been complete without pictures, hugs and even autographed gifts and souvenirs exchanged back and forth.
“It went from a normal weekend to very awesome, incredible, unbelievable weekend very quickly — very, very quickly,” Terzini said. “It goes down, more importantly, as one of the best memories and one of the best weekends that we’ve had.”
If the 500 Spectacle of Homes makes a return in 2022 or not, the Terzini’s say it’ll remain a tradition and a fond memory on their block for years to come.
“It was a crazy year last year with everything going on, and to be able to participate in a fun event and be able to have contributions from everybody, get positive affirmations from everybody, I can’t say enough,” Terzini said. “He just made my whole year.”