Indy Driver Raises Profile—on Dance Floor

Castroneves' popularity surges after stint with stars
By Jamie Buss,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2008 12:00 PM CDT
Indianapolis 500 and "Dancing with the Stars" champion Helio Castroneves poses with the Borg-Warner and Mirror Ball Trophies at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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(Newser) – Six months ago, few beyond IndyCar fans recognized the name Helio Castroneves. Thanks to "Dancing with the Stars," however, Helio’s celebrity-status has skyrocketed. The Indy Racing League is enjoying the ride—the racer’s surge in popularity has been tremendous for the sport.  "It's interesting to be in this spot because of dancing," said Castroneves. "I always thought it would be because of racing."

Though Castroneves’ stint on the show is over, the friends he made on the program are following him to the Indy 500 this weekend. Former competitor Floyd Mayweather will wave the race’s green flag and Helio’s dancing partner, Julianne Hough, will perform the national anthem. "Next year, I don't know if people will remember me or not," said Castroneves. "Maybe I'll have new opportunities. But right now, it's racing."