The day Senna tested a Penske IndyCar

The question on December 20th, 1992, was whether Ayrton Senna, the world’s most famous race car driver, would turn his back on Formula 1 for America and Roger Penske’s IndyCar team. 

The Brazilian, a three-time F1 champion with the McLaren-Honda team, was in the southwestern state of Arizona, just outside of Phoenix, to test a Penske PC21-Chevy as the holidays approached. 

Would Senna, one of grand prix racing’s all-time greats, actually step away from the struggling McLaren team to sample the Indy 500? Was he prepared to replace Monaco with Milwaukee, or Italy for Cleveland? 

Twenty-five years later, on the anniversary of an event simply known as ‘The Test,” Senna’s day in the desert with his countryman Emerson Fittipaldi, Indy legend Rick Mears, and the young Canadian upstart Paul Tracy has become a fascinating footnote in his beloved career. 

It also remains the one and only time Senna orbited IndyCar racing. And, shortly after the test, the real reason for his brief American flirtation was revealed.

SENNA: The Test, is the first longform documentary made by motor racing writer/reporter Marshall Pruett, done in collaboration with veteran filmmaker Travis Long.

Visit to learn more about the project.

COURTESY OF Marshall Pruet (