Biking heroes Christmas special (Part 6/6)
MCN has teamed up with none other than the legendary Foggy and a host of other greats to name their biking heroes as part of our Christmas special. This week we have brought you some of biking's greatest names honoured and today the final in the online series is none other than the GOAT.
World champion 1997 (125GP), 1999 (250GP), 2001 (500GP), 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 (MotoGP)
Sam Lowes on Rossi
‘He makes you feel like the most important person’
“The rows surrounding the last month of the season change nothing for me because for 20 years Rossi’s been everything that a racer should be. I was too young for the Doohan era and just 10 when Rossi started racing 500s. At that age success attracts you and he was very successful! When I was a kid I had his posters on my wall and even got him to sign a picture in 2004.
“I really loved him when I was a kid but as I’ve grown older I’ve got even more respect for him because of the way that he holds himself and deals with people. Anytime that you talk to him you feel that he’s interested and that you’re the most important person at that moment for him. For someone who has so much pressure and demands placed on him, that’s hugely impressive. I don’t know what it’s like to be Valentino but I try and make sure that I treat my fans and everyone in the same way.
“He sent me a few texts through the year to say ‘good job in the race’ and different things like that and it means a lot when someone like him is taking note of you. I sent him a couple of texts after Sepang just to let him know that I still support him.
“Over the years I’ve became more and more impressed by him because of his attitude and his love of bikes. I’ve gone to his Ranch and had a lot of fun riding but he really loves it! You need that passion to keep riding and keep competing at the top and that drive is what keeps him young. He’s told me that I can go back anytime that I want, and trust me I’ll be going back. 20 years in Grand Prix is heroic by any definition of the word.”
Carl Cox on Rossi
‘This god of motorcycle racing wants to meet me?’
“Rossi’s a big music fan. A few years ago I heard he wanted to meet me and I’m thinking: ‘This god of motorcycle racing wants to meet me? I want to meet him!’ It was a battle of who was going to meet who first, whether it was in a club or on the grid. Eventually I got a grid pass at Phillip Island and the riders were on their bikes, in the zone. When Rossi noticed me his face lit-up. He got off of his bike, took off his gloves and shook my hand.
“Another time I was playing in a club near where Valentino lives. The crowd in front of me were screaming and going mad to the music, then I felt a tug on my left trouser leg, I looked down and it was Rossi smiling up at me. He didn’t want to get up on the decks as the people would’ve gone crazy.
“Rossi and Uccio came to my house in Melbourne, on his way to the Phillip Island MotoGP, from the airport one year. I think he just wanted to relax before going head-first into the madness.
“He had a sleep on my sofa while we got a BBQ going – he put his hoodie on, curled-up and went to sleep. I didn’t see him as a god at that point, just someone who was f***ed and needed a couple of hours off to recharge his batteries.
“Eventually he wakes up and eats with us. He was really relaxed and enjoying himself, then he says to Uccio: ‘Let’s have a coffee then go.’ I didn’t have a coffee machine, just Nescafe. I thought: ‘I can’t give an Italian instant coffee’. When I told him he said, ‘Uccio. We go’. And he left. I bought a coffee machine soon after.
“We’ve become good friends, hangout and stay in touch, but he’s still a hero to me.”