Time to let the legend of Marco Simoncelli rest?

Motorcycle racing is the ultimate adrenalin rush for many, the pinnacle of its heights only ever reached by a handful. From club racers to MotoGP aces, the personal risks and emotional rewards are the same each time they slip on their leathers, fasten their crash hat, and release the clutch when the lights go from red to green.

Whether it’s gathered few at a club meeting at Lydden, or a full house crowd at Suzuka , it doesn’t matter. The fans will cheer their man on whether they know him personally or not.

You form a bond with your hero for many reasons. It might be the brand of bike he’s racing, his sponsor’s products or even because you think he’s the bee’s knees. But unfortunately motorcycle racing is a dangerous sport. Thankfully it’s rare these days but every now and then a rider won’t get to see the chequered flag…

As much as we wish this never happens, we have to accept that it does.

Certain numbers can transport you directly in your head to a particular rider, 7 (too easy) Sheene, 10, (bit tougher) Grant, 19, Spencer, 34 Schwantz, 58 Simoncell. In the motorcycling lottery of results 58s number came up all too soon.


You all know the story, most of you probably watched it live on TV, and some of you may have actually known the guy personally.

His untimely death was a shock to everyone, but also a reminder why on the back of even a spectators ticket it clearly states ‘Motor sports are dangerous’.

I will be honest with you from here on in, those of a nervous disposition, or people who believe what PR linked publications tell you best – look away now, sometimes we need to remove the sugar coating applied by others and look at what actually happened.

I hadn’t heard of Simoncelli, I’d seen his picture here and there, he looked a likeable chap and obviously he could ride a motorcycle fast, in short he wasn’t on my radar. I know no facts about him because I wasn’t a fan. To me he was a guy on the grid, I could if I wanted quickly Google his career and sit here with Wikipedia open, and copy and paste stuff to make myself look like I’m a hardcore fanatic, but I won’t insult your intelligence.

Until that fateful day I was blissfully unaware of the guy really, and his race number 58.

That all changed, suddenly the motorcycle world and press went into over-drive. If Simoncelli had been a singer his songs would top the charts for weeks.

Before you reach for the comment button and call me names, let me make it clear I’m not trying to make light of his loss of life, I’m trying to understand why after 2 years, there’s still such a massive attachment to a guy who’d won a single 250cc world championship, it’s not like he’s the only motorcycle racer to ever be taken cruelly from us.

In the past, fatalities within a racing season were sadly the norm, a combination of poor run off areas, badly designed circuits and sometimes the organisers that promote the sport would insist races took place in weather conditions you wouldn’t throw a dog out in, then of course there was the safety equipment, crash helmets, leathers etc.

We now live in a bubble of a world; we know things sometimes before they even happen thanks to news channels doing their jobs properly. But when we hear bad news we haven’t been prepared for the basic human instinct is to be shocked, I get that. I personally was a bit shocked when it happened, for a little while, and then like they say life carries on.

Thanks to social media there were public outpourings, again all very healthy in principle, then it was like motorcycling as a whole didn’t quite know what to do next, instead of rest in peace it was more like a circus.

Subsequent Moto GP rounds saw the usual minutes silence and stuff like that, then more creepy tributes started to gather pace, things like seeing on Facebook an image of Simoncelli on his bike heading into the clouds (guessing they meant heaven), with a huge 58, what was even more awkward was seeing it had several thousand ‘likes’, what exactly are people liking?

So, as the Moto GP season continues in 2013, I’m guessing I can expect to see more cheesy tributes, more corporate alignment from product companies. This isn’t me being awkward or antagonistic, human nature is to follow the herd, obviously a crucial gene I don’t have in my DNA make up, but I surely can’t be the only person who thinks that Marco should actually be allowed to just Rest In Peace?


  1. Johnny2blades says:

    Well put, good read

  2. FOD says:

    There were similar scenes of grief and shock when Kato died at Suzuka in 2003. Another likeable young chap with a 250 championship win and a great career ahead of him. I seem to remember then that some riders spent the rest of the season with a little 74 (yes, I had to Google it, I’d forgotten which number he rode under) on their fairings or helmets. They may still do?
    The main difference then of course was that social networking (as we now know it) simply didn’t exist. Facebook was just a twinkle in Zuckerbergs eye. We (the lucky one’s who had sold a kidney and managed to scrape enough readies together to buy an 8-gig’ desktop) were mainly tethered to a ridiculously slow dial-up.
    When the great Dave Jefferies died at the TT, just a few weeks later, we knew nothing about it (unless you were actually there) until the teatime news. Of course, if there happens to be a big off at the races next week, it’ll be all over facebook (probably with pictures, or a video) before the unfortunate chap’s wheels stop turning.
    This is a good thing in a way. We’re all hungry for instant information, but then we all fall into the trap of jumping on the bandwagon before all the true facts are known. Remember ‘bootgate’ at Brands last season? Shakey Byrne threw his boot into the crowd after the race, and video footage ‘seemed’ to suggest that some guy in a white top had punched a young lad in the face and snatched the boot off him. Of course, within a few hours there were calls to publicly hang ‘white top guy’. Name and shame the coward! How come the security guard nearby didn’t lift a finger to help the lad? Hunt the bully down and see how he likes a punch in the face!
    Of course, it happened that the poor guy was innocent (he never even saw the lad) and that in the melee that you’re bound to get when some ‘star’ throws an article of clothing into a packed crowd, the young scamp got knocked (or walked) into the handlebar of a push bike leaning against the pit wall (tears probably forgotten 5mins later)….all the ‘warriors’ skulked back to their keyboards, egg on their faces…and what good is one motorcycle boot to anyone, anyway? (unless, of course, you’re a one legged motorcyclist) Even then it’d have to be the right size (and the right leg!)

  3. Well put Scott, It was a horrific accident but it happened nearly 2 years ago !!
    There is much to discuss this season, when will Rossi finally win a race, will Marquez be allowed to carry on his “barge them out of the way” antics he has carried over from Moto 2,Will the Brits
    (especially Cal Crutchlow) get any podiums, etc.
    Personally I am very impressed with Mr Crutchlow, unlike countless other Brits (Fogarty & Whitham spring to mind) that were given a 500/Moto GP ride he has made careful progress rather than crash his brains out trying straightaway.As a result he is now a podium contender virtually every race & in Texas,where the factory Yamaha boys were struggling & blaming the track, he just got on with it !

  4. I remember the wild riding of Simoncelli which had been critisized by many.
    Yes he was fast, but just because it happened live on TV does that make any difference?
    I remember the incident, and no, I haven’t been on youtube to reaquaint myself with it, I seem to recall Simoncelli going in too hard and taking an odd line. The he lost it and that was the begining of the end.
    A shame that someone has lost their life, but please lets distort history with rhetorically fustian articles that have been written about him.
    We live in a world that now celebrates the untimely deaths by lavish prose and massive outpourings of grief.
    But please let us not forget the truth either.

  5. Visorvision says:

    Simoncelli is perhaps the first high profile racer to have a “Facebook supported evolving obituary”.

    Simoncelli’s death seemed to be quickly hijacked by swathes of the Facebook community who created, shared and took ownership of all manner of things to “pay tribute” to his death.

    Most of us love attention – a Facebook “like” on a post we have made is a tiny little bit of validation that the people you share this planet with actually “like” you, as well as the post. A “share” of a post is even better in the Facebook scorebook of ego-support.

    Mostly though, day-to-day, people don’t generate interesting content that will provoke the positive response they enjoy (“likes” and “shares”)

    No-one I knew failed to feel genuine shock and pity for what had happened to the poor bloke.

    But piggybacking on that emotion were far too many people (and even more nauseatingly, companies), who started to use his image to ramp up “likes” on their posts.

    Sticking a badly photoshopped picture up of Marco knee down heading for the eternal light was guaranteed to get 200 likes and 20 shares.

    For me respect ended somewhere around that, and the feeding frenzy of subconscious attention seeking started. I say subconscious, because in spite of all the stuff above, most people are well intended – there’s just a quiet desire to be made to feel better by being popular, which is where this “outpouring” really got traction.

    A well publicised and popular Facebook campaign was started “to leave Pole position empty at the next round as mark of respect for Marco”.

    Didn’t this have less to do with respect for Marco and more to do with leveraging the empowerment of the masses that the internet has provided? Think of the successful “Make Rage against the machine No.1 at Xmas” campaign – contrived solely to put the X-factor money making machine in place. Brilliant, partisan, accessible and the quickest way Joe Average has ever had to piss off Simon Cowell; what’s not to like?!

    But this particular piece of pole position internet lobbying wasn’t about a bit of a laugh, it was ultimately about a guy who died. A guy that deserved to be remembered in the right way, not have his death whored out time and time again to swell the ranks of morbidly obsessed Facebook voyeurs.

    We’re entering a new phase in this world where all people (with internet!) finally have an amazing ability to be heard collectively.

    What we do with this new found collective power, based on the quiet undercurrent of ego-feeding that occurred here, means that’s going to be very very interesting to watch. Certainly, all may not be as simple as it first seems….

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