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HOME > Dancing with the Stars > Dancing with the Stars 5

'Dancing with the Stars' Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough dish

By Christopher Rocchio, 11/28/2007 

Helio Castroneves went from behind the wheel of an IndyCar to Dancing with the Stars' ballroom, and was able to claim the ABC reality series' fifth-season title with professional partner Julianne Hough during last night's live finale broadcast.

"This has been an incredible experience for me," said Castroneves during a Wednesday morning interview with Good Morning America Radio.  "I never thought changing racing shoes to dancing shoes would be so much fun."

After 10 weeks of competition, Castroneves and Hough defeated Spice Girl Melanie Brown and professional partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who finished second, and entertainer Marie Osmond and professional partner Jonathan Roberts to take home Dancing with the Stars' mirror ball trophy .

"I'm definitely so glad that my partner Julianne made me a good dancer.. or not so bad dancer," said Castroneves during the interview.  "Julianne was so patient to teach me every single move.  And again, you have to remember in ballroom there's a lot of rules that you have to be following.  For me, every dance was a new experience, and that was great... She turned me into a dancer."

Castroneves and Hough spent two months perfecting their skills on the dance floor, and while he said it was "hard work," he added it was also "great" and he's "definitely going to miss" her.

"I had a good student," said Hough, who also participated in the Good Morning America Radio interview.  "He's actually been amazing.  I couldn't be more proud of him.  He's come a long, long way."

Castroneves grew-up in Brazil, and the 32-year-old said he didn't do much dancing during his youth but was still around the sport because his sister was a professional ballerina.

Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough show off their new Dancing with the Stars mirror ball trophies (Photo credit ABC/Carol Kaelson)

"The closest I got to a dance floor was actually the front row, watching her dancing," he said.  "That's all.  I like racing, and that's really what I put my life into.  All of a sudden, to be doing what I just did, it was great."

Castroneves won back-to-back Indianapolis 500 races in 2001 and 2002, fulfilling a goal that was personally more important than capturing the mirror ball trophy.

"The Indy 500... It's what I dreamed my entire life," he said.  "Obviously when I had the opportunity to be dancing -- at the beginning -- it's out of my territory.  I had no idea.  Trust me, we are racecar drivers, we don't move our hips... The steps that we do is forward.  Pedal to the metal!  That's it."

Somewhat ironically, it was Hough's fourth-season celebrity partner -- five-time Olympic speedskating medalist Apolo Anton Ohno -- who encouraged Castroneves to participate in Dancing with the Stars

"He's a good friend of mine," said Castroneves.  "He came to Indianapolis this year and he said, 'Man, it's fun.  You've got to do it!'  He actually told everybody from the Dancing with the Stars show, 'You've got to call Helio.  He's one of the guys that's going to have fun with it.'  And I did have a lot of fun -- a lot of hard work -- don't get me wrong.  Practice from eight to 10 hours a day.. it was brutal!  But you know what, it was all worth it."

While most Dancing with the Stars celebrity participants usually shed pounds by competing on the show, Castroneves said he experienced the exact opposite.

"I gained a lot of muscle -- especially in the legs -- because it's something [racecar drivers] don't use," he said.  "Muscle we use, but it's like in the upper body, the neck and the shoulders because that's for driving.  But dancing was mostly the feet, and I have to say it was incredible.  [I gained] about five pounds, but I have to say it was worth it... When you put your mind into dancing, people don't realize that it's a lot of exercise.  It is a true sport."

Castroneves currently resides in Miami and said now that he's picked up some dancing skills, he may have to explore the city's nightlife scene a little more avidly.

"I'm sure there is a lot of places, but I don't know them," he said.  "Now, probably, I'm going to have to go for it because I had so much fun." 

Throughout the fifth season, Castroneves said he and Hough tried to have as much fun as possible before finding themselves in the finale.

"I learned so much.  Obviously you want to win, it's a competition," he said.  "Actually the last show, I said, 'Julianne, now the fun is still going, but I want to win now.'  Because it's a competition, and you want to do the best you can."

The two claimed the crown based on the combination of the judges' score shares for the dancers' Monday and Tuesday night performances and the share of home viewer votes cast immediately after Monday night's broadcast.

"He's definitely the rightful winner in my eyes," said Hough of her partner.  "But this season has been so unpredictable with so many things happening, that we really had no idea.  It was a huge shock, but a nice one at that."

Hough and Ohno claimed Dancing with the Stars Spring 2007 fourth-season crown together, as she joined Cheryl Burke -- who won Dancing with the Stars' second-season title with Drew Lachey and the third-season crown with Emmitt Smith -- as the only professional partner to have two mirror ball trophies to their credit.

"It's been a completely different experience [dancing with Helio]," Hough said during a separate Wednesday morning television interview with Good Morning America. "I have said from the beginning it's not about me winning. It's about my partners winning. [Helio has] come so far and I'm so proud of him. We've said from day one all we're going to do is have fun and just do the best he can do and it got him the trophy."

While Brown and Chmerkovskiy were the fifth-season's highest-scoring couple -- with five perfect 30s -- they were the last duo ousted from the competition when the mirror ball trophy was awarded to Castroneves and Hough.

"I've loved every single second of it," Brown told Good Morning America

While she described her time on Dancing with the Stars as "an amazing journey," it did apparently take a physical toll.

"From head to toe, it all aches," said Brown.  "There's no one particular spot."

Chmerkovskiy finished third during Dancing with the Stars fourth season with partner Laila Ali, and although he made it back to the show's finals this season, he met a similar fate and came up just short of the crown with Brown during last night's fifth-season finale.  However according to Chmerkovskiy, he's happy with the way things have worked out.

"I wouldn't trade the two friendships [with Ali and Brown] for any trophy," said Chmerkovskiy.  "Helio can keep this one."

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