Remembering Marco Simoncelli

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Early yesterday morning, when my phone began blowing up with reports of Marco Simoncelli’s death, I was dumbstruck. Clearly the gregarious MotoGP star deserved some kind of remembrance, but what could we, who have never so much as seen him ride in person, hope to do that could do it justice? Then, our friend Peter from Hungary, who’d spent time with the rider, reached out. He wanted it to be his words, these words, by which Marco was remembered. — Ed.

Photos: Peter Guld

It’s been a day since Marco Simoncelli passed away, but I still can’t believe it’s true and I’m still crying. Just when I’d written MotoGP off as a sport without character, along came Marco, full of energy, life and passion. He showed us that motorcycle racers could still be people.

I’ll never forget that Friday in 2008 when I was granted my first MotoGP interview. After spending several hours waiting in Gilera’s hospitality tent, I was greeted by this huge smile. It felt like I had known him my whole life. He was so sweet and friendly — not just with me, but with everyone — that you felt like his friend. And that never changed, even after he became a World Champion. That weekend, we spent a lot of time together and I even watched him qualify and race from his pit garage.

That one Sunday touched me. Before the race, we were together in the garage, with his mother Rossella, girlfriend Kate, sister Martina and father Paolo. His father sacrificed everything on the chance his son could have a career in racing.

Before Marco climbed aboard his race bike, he went to his father and hugged him for several seconds. It seemed so long, as if they knew they might not ever see each other again. They clearly understood how dangerous racing can be.

I imagine they hugged each other yesterday, too, before he pulled out of the pits. Today, Marco is already a legend. I don’t know what to say to him other than you had a wonderful life and I hope to see you in the next.

  • Liquidogged

    I have to say that HFL’s coverage of this is tasteful and classy, unlike some other popular gearhead sites that I won’t mention. Thanks for a nice tribute. RIP Marco Simoncelli.

    • robotribe

      Absolutely, and I’m especially grateful to HFL for not being crass-enough to post a link to the video of the tragedy.

    • Restless Lip Syndrome

      +1

      • Bruno

        +1

        • http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305107 stickfigure

          -1 for hypocrisy, unless you can say you didn’t google it. In which case -1 for lying.

          • isambard

            I was definitely a Simoncelli fan and I wanted to see it for myself. Once was enough.

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      Yep, nice to see HFL do something to remember Super Sic.

      I’ve gotta say I have been disappointed by major new sites as well, I was just watching some CNN coverage and they showed the accident replay about 3 or 4 times… I mean have some respect. Not showing the replay – I see that as a mark of respect and consideration for all involved. Continually showing the replay – I see that as just the opposite.

      • Rick

        Mainstream media cannot disappoint if one keeps his expectations at rock bottom: they will never change in regards to their treatment of these incidents.

        NEVER.

        EVER.

        • Terry

          Amen to that.

          I haven’t even seen his death mentioned anywhere outside of moto news sites, though.

        • jwinter

          I disagree. No matter how low your expectations are, they always manage to plumb new depths.

  • Miticale

    Sempre piu in alto verso l’alto. #58forever

  • Thom

    This HAS NOT been a good year for Motorsports . Especially with now two tragedies back to back , albeit in different arenas .

    This one though , at least by all the reports available , seems to have been Marco’s fault .

    Not that this detracts one iota from the Tragedy of the event . But ……….. well this one may of been coming for quite some time . You only get to throw the dice so many times the way Marco did till your number comes up .

    Having said that though ;

    RIP Marco . Your kind is sourly missed in motorsports in spite of the tragedies that usually ensue .

    • The other Joe

      I have to agree with you about his overly aggressive riding. When I saw that horrific accident I was thinking the same thing, that it had to happen sooner or later. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone though, he was a very talented rider and I’m sure he would have had a great career in MotoGP.

      I probably should have been killed a few times over myself when I was that age, I guess I was just lucky or something. These things happen though, I’ve lost a few friends over the years to just as shocking events. One friend mowed down on his bicycle by a drunk driver, another hit a tree when he decided to run from the cops. My brother died from a motorcycle accident 15 years ago when an SUV turned in front of him.

      You gain some perspective after a while, and you realize that everyone dies sometime and it is what it is, there is no point in worrying about when, how, or why. Just live your life your way and don’t waste your time with worry, fear or regret.

      • Thom

        Hell I had a friend , who to this day is still mildly mentally handicapped because some asshole hit him from behind at 45 mph while he was parked at a Red Light

        Fact is , when its your time , its your time , regardless of how safe you’re trying to be .

        FYI he did have a helmet on which is the only reason he’s still alive and reasonably functioning ( his handicap is minor )

        Having said that though , risking it all for a career ( in Marco’s case Racing ) and risking it all for the sake of risk are in my book very different things ;

        The one ( career ) I can respect and understand

        The other ( risk for the sake of risk ) is just plain stupid

        • The other Joe

          I’m reading that as risk for career = risk for money, risk for sake of risk = risk for fun.

          I would have to say I respect risk for fun more than risk for money, at least you’re doing what you love to do.

          MotoGP riders may have money and fame, but i like to think that they do it just because it’s what they love to do.

          • Thom

            More a comparison of Risk with a purpose ( winning a race ) within a contained atmosphere ( race track ) where everyone within your range of risk are doing the same with full knowledge of the risks implied vs Risk with zero purpose ( if you can’t have ‘fun ‘ without risk , you have no comprehension of the term … fun )and for the Adrenalin high on Public roads , placing innocent potential victims within the realm of your risk .

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

    Super Sic for life…

    • Groomez

      Absolutely. I’m still in shock that Sic is gone – MotoGP just isn’t going to be the same without him.

      Honestly, I’ve never shed tears over an athlete – Marco was the first. And hearing this yesterday made me realize how important motorcycles and racing is to me.

      Ciao Super Sic

    • $Lindz$

      Super Sic FOR LIFE, bro.

  • cookey

    a huge loss, THE one to watch

    • Jeff

      I was so hoping that this was going to be the race where he was on top of the podium. He had been riding more carefully the later part of this season. As a tall lanky fellow with a lot of personality I definately paid alot of attention to him. I was up watching live and I turned off the set as I had that feeling. So sad to see him go.
      Feel bad for Rossi and Edwards hope they have people around them as I fear the emotions/turmoil that they may be dealing with. They are 2 good guys and it isn’t an easy thing to deal with.

  • Frosty_spl

    A local Atlanta guy died a few weeks back while racing too. This month is terrible.

    • fikays

      I’d prefer remembering him by his name – Bryan Andrews.

      RIP Bryan and Super Sic!

      • Miticale

        I read the NESBA thread about that, sad to hear as well.

  • smoke4ndmears

    Thanks for the personal insight and tasteful take on this tragic event HFL.

  • jwinter

    I was watching live from the east coast at 4am and the time between the accident and the announcement that he had died was excruciating. The wreck looked bad but you always hold on to that hope that he escaped somehow. When the announcement came through it was the most deflating moment I can remember in a long time. With Tomizawa you could hear it in the announcers’ voices before it was official but everyone got the news here at the same time.
    Sad for Edwards and Rossi too as that can’t be a weight to carry easily, even if they couldn’t have done anything.
    RIP Marco.

  • Rick

    Having recently seen the movie “Senna” I’m remembering something the great Brazilian driver said: that when he sees a gap he will go for it, and when this stops happening he is no longer a racer. On that point Senna was very clear, direct, and unapologetic with his critics.

    I think Marco and Ayrton very much shared a common vision of what being a racer is, and the controversy it brings.

    • Richard

      I just saw Senna recently and agree, there are number of parallels between the two, I also happen to agree with that mentality, unless you’re willing to fight tooth and nail for every position, what’s the point? I was alwas kind of a fan of the way Simoncelli rode and got pretty tired of the bitching coming from certain people in the paddock. If more GP riders showed half the heart that Marco did, it might be worth watching again. But for now, I think I’m done…Probably not the most popular opinion but that’s how I see it

      • Jason

        “If more GP riders showed half the heart that Marco did, it might be worth watching again.”

        Amen to that. I remember watching the race when Senna was killed, and felt the same sick feeling when Marco crashed. Shame to lose such talent.

        • Miticale

          Can’t help but make the analogy of Senna / Prost, Simoncelli / Dovizioso. Although the Italian rivalry wasn’t nearly as intense as the former, they weren’t exactly best buds. Having read that Dovi went to Simoncelli’s pits to be with his father really goes to show through the intensity & fierce competition, they’re all out there looking out for one another.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    We should all be so lucky to go out doing something we love. You will be missed, Marco.

  • JTourismo

    Absolutely devastating, didn’t realize how much the hero’s in motorsport meant to me until I lost one from my own generation. My hopes and prayers are with his family, thankfully his father Paolo was there to be with his son.

    Thanks HFL, I knew I could count on at least one news source to get it right.

    • WhoDey

      didn’t realize how much the hero’s in motorsport meant to me until I lost one from my own generation

      +1

  • Knife

    I get tears in my eyes whenever I think about what happened. Marco seemed to be so accessible, kind, friendly, genuine, and unassuming, the type of person everyone would want as a son, brother, or friend. My heart goes out to his family and his girlfriend. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  • Rick

    Here’s one that’ll put a smile on your faces, if only for a short while- Marco’s cooldown lap celebration after World Suoerbike heat 2 at Imola, 2009.

    TURN IT UP:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GttkZfCaGL0

    • The other Joe

      I don’t think the camera was shaking quite enough, I could still see what was happening.

      • Rick

        …but not bad for a guy jammed against the fence by mobbing tifosi!

    • Mr.Paynter

      This made me happy and sad. More happy though.

      Thanks!

      • boxofbits

        +1

  • CrankyHippo

    Like the beginning of the article pointed out, i never met Marco or saw him race in person. But i can’t help but feel he touched my life but many others, watching his passion throughout the season this year is something we should all be so lucky to have. I’m going to miss you Marco, i was really looking forward to seeing more of you.

  • ktaisa

    RIP super sic

    you were the character and excitement everyone wanted in GP.

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    RIP Sic

    I keep forgetting he was only 24… tragic.

  • FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

    Other than his family and close friends, I feel the worst for Edwards and Rossi. I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.

    • raphmay

      +1

  • Mr.Paynter

    He lived fast, he died young.
    RIP #58
    A character we’ll miss sorely in MotoGP for a long time to come.

  • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ gregorbean

    The only solace I can find in this is that he went out doing what he loved best and that it was quick. My heart goes out to him and his loved ones, as well as Edwards and Rossi. May peace be with them all. Me and my friends have all been torn up since the news, I can only imagine the despair those close to him are experiencing. Rest In Peace Marco. We all loved watching you.

  • Terry

    I was a bit of a bandwagon critic, like lots of people, after his incidents earlier this year, but I had noticed how he seemed to have steadied up a bit and was starting to really take it to the competition. I was starting to come around to him, his hair, and his style… And then like so many, I was absolutely crushed to read the news Sunday morning. I didn’t realize until then, how much I love these MotoGP guys and what they do for themselves, and for us.

    I really feel for Colin and Valentino, too. What a gutting, wrenching thing this is. I never met the guy, but I already miss him.

  • Kahlil

    My condolences to his family and friends!

    Like many of you have said, it must also be hard on Rossi and Edwards. I know it is not their fault, but it’s a tremendous weight to be carried.

    In all my years of following motorsports, seeing his accident on TV was the first time I felt chills going up my spine and goose bumps all over, I was shocked when I saw what happened. I admired Simocelli, because in my eyes, when he raced, he was all in and gave it his all. Some may have criticized him for it, and I can understand how. He was a young rider in the MotoGP class, and he was learning. To be honest, he learned fast and he seemed to have gotten the hang of things later this season. Such an unfortunate accident. Simocelli was a rising star, he was a rider that MotoGP needed. Like many of you, I never met the man, but I always looked forward to seeing him race on TV. He will be missed!

  • Alejandro Zapata

    It is proof of his talent and personality that as many people feel so torn about this as we do, he had an infectious personality, much like Rossi, it’s (almost) impossible not to like Marco, I think only some Spaniards hate him for all the comments Lorenzo made and the Pedrosa crash, but he was getting better and showing true Champion calm, cool and speed, combined with his always-present passion and aggressiveness.

    I always loved to see him race, even after he crashed with Pedrosa, who is one of my all-time favorites, he brought something else to the table, he was always interesting, but the last few races I saw something else, I saw the pace and attitude of a MotoGP World Champion, and I was sure he was going to get the best season next year, maybe even Champion…

    Like I said in a comment somewhere, he did more to the image of the sport and how enjoyable races were (at least for me) in the past 2 years that both the Champions did, both the pedantic Stoner and the fridge that is Lorenzo…

    • jwinter

      To be fair to Lorenzo, I think he is just not as comfortable with himself as Simoncelli was. He was brought up in a vacuum by his dad to be a racer and nothing else. I believe he’s a good guy when it comes down to it. I think he’d be sad to think he’ll be historically linked to Marco by their small feud. Like a lot of people have said, even if people had problems with Marco, they all loved him too. I saw him twice at Laguna Seca and he was so magnanimous in the paddock with fans and so natural about it too that you couldn’t help but just have good feelings about the man. Even if you felt he was sometimes over the line, he had a magnetism that is so warm and innate that he just made all that other stuff insignificant. This was a really hard thing to watch unfold live and the outpouring from the paddock and the fan base is only a testament to Marco’s beauty. Really sad stuff.

      • Rick

        At Laguna Seca we watched SuperSic high-five every fan’s outstretched hand while striding towards his pit box, and that was LOTS of hands! It was really cool.

        Hey, maybe a thin silver lining to this tragedy is already forming now, with the midnight oil burning at safety gear manufacturers around the world. Simoncelli’s loss must inspire new innovations that will save future racers and ordinary riders alike. I am absolutely certain that designers take these matters very personally, so in this sense we are Marco’s humble beneficiaries.

        • jwinter

          You don’t realize how special he was til now. That really sucks.
          Ugh.

          • Rick

            Remembrances of Marco are even more valuable when they drive us towards something meaningful, and for some this meaning will manifest as actions that improve safety for all. You can be sure the good men and women of AGV, Dainese, Honda, Bridgestone et al feel exactly this way.

            What would really suck is to walk away from this with no lessons learned, and a legacy of unmitigated loss.

            • Thom

              There is nothing to learn from this accident

              Marco pushed his luck a step too far this time

              When he lost control , he made the Freshman mistake of trying to hold on , rather than let go of the M/C

              Then the situation went from bad to worse when his M/C’s trajectory took him and the bike back into traffic

              Everyone knew a severe accident for Marco was only a matter of time

              The fact that it took his life is the only real surprise here

              • Rick

                A more in-depth investigation will analyze the failure of his helmet retention system and the quality of trackside care by first responders. The bike’s telemetry will also be evaluated.

              • austin_2ride

                “There is nothing to learn from this accident”

                The only thing that there is nothing to learn from is Thom!

                • 1

                  Agreed.

  • RT Moto

    The news of Marco really bothered me more than what I thought it would. Terrible tragic accident that had the most horrific outcome. Like others have said, you don’t realize how much these guys racing on these machines mean to you until something like this happens. Marco had a personality and spark to him that makes this all the more difficult to cope with. He was going to be one of the greatest of all time if not the greatest. I send my condolences to his family, girlfriend, and close friends who knew him beyond what I ever would have. Race in Peace, I hope to see you again someday. Ciao Marco!

  • 2ndderivative

    Didn’t watch the crash, don’t intend to. Too scarring. Still wondering how the helmet came off and how I can keep it from happening to me.

  • James

    Tasteful tribute, Autosport a few nice pieces too. Unfortunately the tabloids in this country were filled with vulgar freeze-frame images of the moment of impact, which turned my stomach.

    Cheers for avoiding that.

    James

  • William

    RIP Marco… A real character in the sport and a tragic loss. W

  • filly-fuzz

    Watched him race at Phillip island last weekend and almost lost my voice cheering for him.
    Next year would have been his…..

    Thank you #58
    you inspired so many and proved that humans can race too, not just robots.

    Thank you.

  • Michael

    RIP Marco.

    As has been said by tens of thousands across many forums, he was (and always will be) HUGE – talent, personality, style, potential, great person…

    Watched the race and stayed with the telecast until confirmation – I cried.
    Have been reading articles and forums across the www since.

    Not normally a poster, but this is one of the best articles/responses!! Totally agree.

    MM

  • Ben

    I was there. Happened right infront of me. It was very sobering, the whole grandstand on that side of the track just went hushed. The other stand that didnt see nearly started a riot when the red flag came out. I hope they feel like real jerks now.

    Rossi knew right away. The other riders rolled into the pits, chucked the warmers on and made setup adjustments. Rossi rode inside and shut the door.

    We lost one of the last bastions of personality in the sport this weekend. You will be sorely missed Marco, taken much before your chance to be the best.

    • Brad W.

      That had be tough. Seeing the accident on video was bad enough, but seeing it live must have been painful. I think Edwards reaction was the hardest to watch.

  • Thom

    Lets please gain a bit of perspective here

    Yes Marco was a rising star

    Yes he was a hell of a character

    But calling him a Legend is in fact Hyperbole in its purist form and trying to make him out a Hero is to ignore the facts

    He WAS a Wild Card . Unpredictable and known more for his crashes than his wins in Motogp . Taking risks that when far beyond the desire to win . Many times verging on showmanship rather than racing ( read the comments over the last two years from his competitors )

    So yes this accident is sad .

    Losing Marco is unfortunate

    But racing is racing / racing is dangerous and as long as people race / people will die

    Also ! Calling this a Tragedy ignores the definition of the word , and again verges on hyperbole .

    Sad yes . Unfortunate ? Absolutely .

    Tragedy though ? No . The Tornado that devastated Joplin MO , killing multiple innocent victims was a TRAGEDY . Motorsports accidents are unfortunate .

    Perspective . Another thing our society is losing sight off

    • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ gregorbean

      In honor of Marco, and in respect to HFL, I’m biting my tongue here.

      But let me just say that

      People are mourning. Let them. Fuck your stupid semantics. Fuck your perspective. Check yourself.

      Rest In Peace Marco.

      • austin_2ride

        I am in total agreement.

    • John

      Thom,

      Too soon. Show some respect.

    • isambard

      If you’re going to be a callous pedant, it helps to be accurate.

      Simoncelli’s death actually comes closer than a tornado to meeting the classic Greek meaning of a tragedy, as defined by Aristotle. A tragedy is a story in which the hero dies as a result of a character flaw or mistake.

      Simoncelli rode on the ragged edge and risked everything to win — that’s one of the main reasons fans loved him.

      • boxofbits

        I agree 100%.

    • austin_2ride

      If you are calling for perspective, perhaps you should know the definition of the word legend. As defined from Merriam-Webster.

      Definition of LEGEND
      1a: a story coming down from the past; especially: one popularly regarded as historical although not verifiable
      b: a body of such stories
      c: a popular myth of recent origin
      d: a person or thing that inspires

      You have no way of knowing who or what Marco has inspired. Show some respect and grow up!

    • filly-fuzz

      Please for once just STFU and get over yourself.

      Is it lonely up there on your high horse?

    • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

      Seriously dude, you just come across as a callous bastard. You obviously didn’t care for the man. Many others did, including myself, and we would like to voice our shock, disbelief and sadness…so there!

      Even riders he had “issues” with on track like Pedrosa, Aoyama, Dovisioso, all had nothing but nice things to say about the guy. He clearly showed growth in his race-craft throughout this year (especially the last few races) and everyone noticed. He was going to be a standout rider for a very long time by all accounts.

    • 1

      Can I personally refund your HFL subscription? So you can take your rubbish comments somewhere else.

      • austin_2ride

        I am in total agreement. I am in on this one. Does paypal work for you?

  • zato1414

    Marco was the only bright-light in Moto GP this year. I am still shocked and stunned over his accident.

    I can’t help but feel for Colin and Valentino… also his friends.

    Ride on Marco, ride on!

  • Rick

    So where to now for this increasingly troubled series? Is it time for “Occupy Dorna”?

    First off, put the fans first for a change…get rid of this wannabe-F1 style of exclusivity, where regular people get very little access for the money spent.

    Increase the spectacle! Go with steel brakes in MotoGP, the slightly longer braking zones should increase overtaking…more excitement and probably safety too, by dropping peak speeds. Without carbon brakes to learn, rookies and wildcards have an easier time adapting…more fan interest, again.

    Make life a little easier for the Big & Tall riders- have you seen how gaunt and emaciated they’ve become in the last two or three years? Losing muscle mass may make them more injury prone in accidents. Tweak the fuel allotment to reflect combined rider + bike weight. For example, someone like Simoncelli, whose combined weight was 10% higher than Pedrosa’s, gets 5% more fuel. That’s not very much, just a slight offset…Dani gets 22 liters, and SuperSic 23.1…

    Bridgestone must act to improve cool-tire behavior, even if it means a greater drop-off in late-race laptimes. They should be mandated to increase the number of tire choices available, improving the odds of any given rider finding something suitable.

    Quit with the frequent and massively expensive changes of engine displacement: 2002, 2007, 2012. Who’s got that kinda money anymore? Or even a big sponsor? Enough already!

    Look at your effing grids, Dorna, then look in the mirror!

  • Isaac

    R.I.P. Marco I never knew you but your death is sure a kick in the nuts, not just to me, everyone. Godspeed my brother. I hope I meet you in the next life.

    I made this in your honor:

    http://imageshack.us/f/37/marcotribute.png/

  • Stuart

    All I can say is that even though I always knew who would be in the podium and who wouldn’t, I always looked forward to see what Simoncelli would do. He just had some kind of energy in him that could be felt through the TV screen. I never met him but I came to appreciate and like him. I don’t know how he was outside the track but if the smile was as sincere as what I saw on the screen he was probably a good guy.

    I was shocked when I read the news last Sunday. I had the race recorded live and watched it on Sunday night. What I saw was not easy to watch and out of respect I will most likely won’t ever watch it again. All I know is that his death has made me sad. RIP 58.