Ayrton Senna won the Brazilian Go-Kart Championship for the first time on July 16, 1978, at the Tarumã Go-Kart Raceway, in Viamão, near Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul). Senna raced with a #16 go-kart, wearing an orange suit and a plain white helmet with a blue stripe. He would debut the iconic -green-blue helmet design during his next competition, the World Go-Kart Championship, at Le Mans.
The Brazilian championship started on a Friday (the 14th), with the first qualifying sessions. After three heats, the champion of the 1st 100cc category – the one Senna was in – was crowned. All 21-lap races took place on Sunday.
Senna, who was 18 at the time and raced for team Sulam, won all the races, making things even with his rival, Ralter Travaglini. His adversary had won the title in the previous year, when Senna was the runner-up.
In an interview to newspaper Zero Hora in 1994, journalist Lemyr Martins said that Senna drove from São Paulo to Viamão in his father’s pickup truck. Ayrton had just gotten his driver’s license and immediately hit the road on the way to Rio Grande do Sul. Not minding the tiredness, Senna loaded his two go-karts on the truck’s bed and drove more than 1.100 km (680 miles), crossing three states.
The 1978 go-kart championship had more than 150 drivers in its roster, in five different categories. In the 2019 edition, the tournament featured 19 different categories in Cascavel (PR). In 2020, competitions will be held from December 7th at SpeedPark, a go-kart track located in Birigui, São Paulo.
Take a look at how some newspapers reported (in portuguese) on Senna’s achievement at the time .