Do you ever get so excited about an idea that you can't talk properly because your mouth is grinning so much? Well, that's what happened when Michele the editor of GQ Italia rang to say he'd like me to interview Valentino Rossi for the cover story of his next issue. Er... OK!
Editor's note: this story originally appeared on Sideblog, it's been reprinted here with permission.
I flew into Milan, met up with Michele, then drove four hours to Pesaro, just ten minutes from Rossi's home in Tavullia. The next day we went to a great photo studio and prepared everything.
There was a whole team there: Michele, James the photographer, Amber his assistant, two lighting guys, the fashion editor, the assistant fashion editor, a make-up fella, a driver and me. Oh, and two catering staff.
There must have been 80 different outfits, 40 pairs of shoes and boots, 100 ties, 40 belts and three fake mustaches. The vast majority of it remained unused. Valentino turned up 45 mins late. This is pretty much on time for him. He did the photos over the next two hours, then we carried out the hour-long exclusive interview. Mat Oxley told me this was quite a big deal because VR stopped doing one-to-one interviews before the season started and Yamaha cancelled all the ones he had booked in because (I'm guessing) they didn't want him talking up Ducati (the only thing any of the bike mags would want to talk about). But Michele and Valentino go way back and he agreed to do this.
The cover line translates (roughly) as: “You're not having my scalp! When you are hurt and the young can smell your blood, they get the courage to attack you.”
The magazine comes out on the newsstands tomorrow. Go buy ten. He's quite rude about a certain Spaniard.
I should remind everyone that Valentino gave us permission to run an exclusive English version of a story he wrote for GQ Italy. It's in Sideburn 4.
Occasional HFL contributor Gary Inman is the editor of the world's best flat track fanzine, Sideburn.