A lot of the time Instagram will throw image after image of absolute garbage at you, but on other occasions you come across something that is simply superb. Ice hockey goalkeeper Andrew Hariraj has just completed the painting of his new mask, inspired by the idol he shares with myself and millions of other Formula 1 fans worldwide – Ayrton Senna.
Senna's helmet – adorned with the colours of his native Brazil – is perhaps the most iconic and widely recognized helmet design in motorsport history and was partly the inspiration behind current Formula 1 favourite Lewis Hamilton's original helmet design. After much research, it has taken Andrew three weeks to complete painting the mask. He explains; 'I'm by no means a professional when it comes to painting so the preparation is where I spent the majority of time… all of the styles are amazing but the 'Rheos' with the green lining was my favourite. In total, it probably cost $140 (CAD)… it was a relief after I put the final clear coat on and see it turn out the way I wanted!'
The custom design masks is commonplace in the sport of ice hockey, with goalkeepers commissioning or crafting their masks to reflect their personality. Having begun playing the sport at the age of 9, Andrew was once on the roster at the Stoney Creek Warriors AA team. Now making more time to study, he still finds time to play competitively and as the results of his work demonstrate – he takes great pride in his masks. 'I noticed my favourite goalies in the NHL had amazing masks that were like a persona for them. For example, one of my childhood favourites was Curtis Joseph, with his famous rabid dog helmet. Senna had amazing determination and dedication to be the best. So I figured painting my mask like Ayrton's was the best way to incorporate one of my heroes into my game. It was also my way to keep practicing, improving my game, and conveying the Senna speed and reflexes on the ice.'
Despite having been too young to witness Senna racing first hand, it hasn't prevented Andrew from developing a deep affinity with Brazilian icon. Of all the footage he says it's difficult to pick his favourite Senna moment but that any on board footage always stands out. 'Watching him not just control that McLaren MP4, but pushing it to the edge just shows how talented he really was. The famous Monaco runs showcased his great level of skill and talent. Also, the amazing Donington comeback in 1993. That is another Senna moment where you are just left speechless. Really, it's possible to keep going on and on about Ayrton because everything about him was great.'
A truly impressive mask from a goalkeeper with a great passion not just for ice hockey, but for Formula 1 too. This is a wonderful tribute piece made all the more impressive by the fact Andrew completed all the work himself.
To see more of Andrew's cool mask and snapshots from his life in Canada, follow Andrew_RXGR8 on Instagram.
Driven by an intense passion for cars seemingly since birth, Jonny throws himself into his writing as if it was a twisty corner in his native region of Devon. A region he once described as "one of the best places in the world to analyze a car". Whilst lost, he once drove around aimlessly for nine and half hours inside central Paris, and he's still getting over it.