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Helio Castroneves Napa Quake Was 'Scariest Thing Of My Life!'

8/26/2014 6:51 AM PDT

Helio Castroneves -- Napa Quake Was ... 'Scariest Thing Of My Life!'

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Indy superstar Helio Castroneves tells TMZ Sports ... there was a moment during the Napa earthquake where he thought he was seriously going to die -- calling the experience the "scariest thing of my life."

The former "Dancing with the Star" champ says he was sleeping in a hotel in Napa Valley when the shaking began -- and it jolted him out of a deep sleep.

Castroneves says he was so discombobulated when he woke up -- he forgot he was in a hotel, and thought he was in an airplane that was crashing. 

"I thought, 'That's it.'" 

Fortunately, Helio was OK, but you gotta hear him tell the story ... pretty scary stuff. Watch TMZ Sports on FS1 Get the new TMZ Sports app!

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