Book Review: It’s Been A Great Race

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Produced in extremely limited numbers and never made available for commercial sale, “It’s Been A Great Race” was commissioned by Yamaha to celebrate Valentino Rossi’s six extraordinary seasons with the company.

Photos: Grant Ray

Update: the book’s been won.

Composed entirely of photographs shot by legendary Italian motorcycle photographer Gigi Soldano, the book is a visual walk through Rossi’s successes and failures in MotoGP between 2004 and 2010.

This is where we’d typically tell you the photos are an intimate look at the real, behind-the-scenes Rossi, but shots of him outside of a race paddock or doing anything that doesn’t involve the M1 are curiously absent. Rather than feeling like an omission, the breadth of racing, talking about racing, getting ready to go racing and celebrating having raced photos instead suggests that the seven-time world champion doesn’t really exist in any other form. As such, this is likely as accurate a portrait as we’re ever likely to see.

Soldano has captured critical moments in Rossi’s career including his collision with Jorge Lorenzo at Motegi, his struggle with the M1 during that difficult first season, his epic pass on Stoner through the dirt at the Corkscrew and the ecstasy of winning multiple world championships. Unlike typical super high-contrast, frozen-time motorcycle action photos, Soldano paints a more characterful picture of Rossi’s time on top.

It speaks volumes of Yamaha’s corporate character that they produced such a tribute after Rossi announced he was leaving the team for Ducati. This is a class act.

The number of copies made of this book isn’t clear, but there are very few. Unless you’re affiliated with their race team or they’re a fan of what you do, then you’re not likely to ever acquire one. Unless you’re an HFL reader. We’ll send our copy to the next HFL subscriber to tip us on a news story that we end up running.

  • T Diver

    This one has nice pics. The last article had crappy pics.

  • the_doctor

    Oh man, I better just make some shit up about motorbiking so I can get a copy.

    • tpnewsk

      go crash like a squid real quick and send them the link to the youtube video?

      • Wes Siler

        Excellent idea. But go read one of our disclaimers first.

  • jwinter

    Fack. Want.

  • John

    Very pro of you guys to shoot the photos of the book in landscape and not portrait which would have shown the whole image…

  • Gene

    I think Rossi & Masao Furusawa had just about the best working relationship possible, and a deep friendship as well. Rossi did a YouTube video with him about his opinion of each of the bikes, and it was evident there was a lot of mutual respect there, and this was after he’d announced he was leaving.

    I think Yamaha’s success was Rossi said “we need to do X” and Furusawa said “we will do X, then”

    One of the big threads in Kenny Roberts’ book was getting Yamaha to do something, finding out what they actually did, then at the beginning of the next season they’d start all over from scratch with random new stuff, so this appears to be a big departure from how Yamaha used to do business.

    I hear the big theory is that Furusawa is retiring (or maybe “got retired” if you know what I mean) and that is the main reason Rossi left.

    I wonder if this book as Furusawa’s idea…

    • jwinter

      Every time I hear stuff about Furusawa it makes me like him even more. If you can find the clip, check his smirk when Rossi battled Lorenzo at Motegi last year. It’s obvious those two really respected the hell out of one another.

  • Gene

    And in this day and age, limited copies of books is just a f*cking crime. It should be illegal. There’s no call for that crap.

    You should post a 24hr guard on your copy and be happy I’m on the east coast!

  • T Diver

    Moto GP is going to buy WSBK. Now send me the book.

    • pinkyracer

      I hardly think counts as a real tip. you’re trying to tip off a site that prides itself on providing ORIGINAL content. I can think of far easier ways to wrestle that book from Wes’s mitts…

      • T Diver

        I read the details on Bloomberg too. It is up in the air with who (if anyone) buys WSBK. However it should be noted that they are trying to sell. Similar industries like to consolidate but who knows. The Bahrain Sovereign Wealth Fund was also rumor have interest.

        • pinkyracer

          I dunno. Looks like the people of Bahrain aren’t too stoked about that idea…

          FIM is the current owner, right? they should sell it to the NASCAR folks. Look what a great job they did with AMA! (kidding)

          • T Diver

            The current owner is Infront Sports and Media. I don’t think they are part of the FIM. They are a separate privately held company that has the rights to some other things as well. I like WSBK. I wish it had more of a presence in the US. I’m not smart enough to speculate on what would happen if they got bought by the MotoGp people but it would be interesting. Ah screw it. I just was trying to get the book.

  • damien

    Man, I would love to own this.

  • Rick

    Newsflash: Max Biaggi turns 40 on June 26th. I’m surprised! He’s been riding like a much older man lately…

  • damien

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! Who was the lucky bastard that won this jewel?