Graziano Rossi was one of the most talented and “crazy” riders in the history of the world championship. Vice-world champion in 250 in 1979, then a series of very serious accidents, today he tells himself: “Vale did not want to go to F1 because he understood that the rider counts for less than on the bike. Am I crazy? Maybe, but at the Nurburgring in 1980 I refused to race “
Talking to Graziano Rossi is taking a wonderful step back in the seventies, when the paddock was animated by crazy and colorful characters. Among them, the Pesaro-born particularly stood out for eccentricity, with ideas such as showing up on the track with a colorful Fiat 600 Multipla or taking the hen Cristina on a leash through the streets of his city. The memory of these extraordinary shows, in addition to having become famous as Valentino’s father, sometimes leads to forgetting his career as a racing driver. Graziano Rossi, on the other hand, was a great protagonist of Italian motorcycling, much loved by the public for his impetuousness and his spectacular driving. In 1979 he lost the world title in the 250 and in the premier class of the time, the 500, he proved to be competitive up to the Suzuki of Team Gallina. That 1980 season was his sliding door: a very serious car accident, which left him in a coma for several days, prevented him from showing up in good shape at the start of the championship. Despite the fifth final position, at the end of the season he lost the factory bike. It should be remembered that Rossi refused to run the last race of the Nurburgring, judged too dangerous, where team mate Lucchinelli obtained his first victory. Given Suzuki’s competitiveness the following year, if Graziano, now recovered from the accident, had stayed with Gallina, perhaps the story would have been different. With motorcycles, the Pesaro rider closed in 1982 after a tremendous bang in Imola, to devote himself to cars, both on the track and in rallies.
Graziano: you, Lucchinelli, Uncini and Ferrari were the four Italian musketeers. Who was the strongest?
“In my opinion they were strong in the same way: those who had something more in the corners, some in braking, some at the start, but I would put them on the same level. I was less fast. I was faster than everyone in Imola. Sometimes there is a particular feeling between a rider and a certain track, and Imola has always been in my heart. I particularly loved the Tamburello curve, every time you finished it you breathed a sigh of relief ”.
How did he go from cross to speed?
“I started with the cross because I was not yet 18 and my parents didn’t give me permission to go to the track. Then, as soon as I came of age, I switched to speed, because I liked it more and because motocross required physical strength to win that I didn’t have ”.
In the meantime, graduated from elementary school …
“I confirm, I graduated as an elementary teacher and I could very well have practiced, with all that this would have meant as a danger for the children. Maybe I could do it again … “.
Does the title lost in 1979 with Morbidelli burn you?
“Very very much! The period with the Morbidelli 250 was wonderful. In 1979 there were very fast riders like Ballington and Hansford, but at some point in the season I won three consecutive races and it would have been possible to fight for the title, but I managed to crash midway through the last lap at Silverstone when I was leading , this to tell you what driver I was … I had zero reliability! ”.
Was aggressive driving a handicap in terms of results?
“I do not think so. After the motorbikes I did about ten years in rallies, a sport that allows you to go equally fast in both clean and aggressive riding, and where there have been great riders like Colin McRae who, when he saw a stretch full of people, tried to put on a show. . I was like him, you can be sure that if I took a wrong turn, it would happen where the audience was full. Then, actually, I really liked wheelies with the bike, I think I hold the record of the longest wheelie with the Yamaha 750 during the 200 miles at Imola, it was really a great pleasure, I had a lot of fun ”.
He’s had some crazy accidents. Have you ever had any qualms about running?
“In the 1980 accident on the road I was not afraid, because I did not notice it, nor in the other one on the track at Imola in 1982, where I managed to fall in the fastest section, which was then done at 240, before the Tosa. Let’s say that I had a bit of fear afterwards, watching the bang with friends after being healed. But in general, you don’t really experience very serious accidents, because they are so fast that you don’t understand what is happening ”.
Yet, at the Nurburgring 1980 you were the only one of the big names to say no …
“We had never raced at the Nurburgring, we had only heard tales about it. Going into it with the 500 I immediately realized that it was really a very, very, dangerous thing. It was like going around the roads between Pesaro, Urbino, Fossombrone and Senigallia with a grand prix bike pushing to the limit. Together with some other riders we decided not to compete, and it was the right thing ”.
The hen Cristina, the multiple Fiat: were they inventions to make people talk about themselves or an expression of her light-hearted living?
“It was the good fortune to live in a small city like Pesaro where we all know each other, and to have a bar where you can stay with your friends every night to think and do great nonsense. The hen Cristina was one of these “.
The strongest rider you have raced against?
“I believe Kenny Roberts. I never wanted to compare him with Valentino because it’s not good to do so, but today I say that, after Valentino, he was the strongest rider of all time ”.
After the motorbikes you started with the four wheels: what experience was it?
“Very nice. When someone has always raced on a motorbike, where, however, you realize that you are doing a dangerous thing, and you discover that with cars you go fast the same, you have almost the same fun and risk less, then it becomes a wonderful thing. Then, when you are a fan of very long wheelies but you realize that cars also go sideways and you can stay in them for as long as on a single wheel in motion, you have truly discovered a new flavor of life “.
Is today’s paddock so different from that of its time?
“The technique, the money, the colors are different, but the spirit is the same, because in the end the concept is that you are always alone against other madmen and savor extraordinary sensations. Today then I find real magic in the fact that there are on average ten riders in two tenths. Magical, really ”.
Bikes that go at 360 hours: isn’t that too much?
“I think we need to start worrying, because 360 is really excessive. I think that, as the Federation intervened when the 500 two-strokes had reached 220 HP with 135 kg, it will soon do the same with the MotoGP bikes. Maybe it’s time to give yourself another regulation ”.
If instead of Valentino the Arab prince had asked her to make a team, who would she have chosen?
“I would make the same choices as Valentino: Luca Marini, Bezzecchi and Ducati … I got a suggestion”.
Don’t you find that young people arrive at the World Championship too early today and are often overly responsible for their families?
“No, because young people have to start early, when the ability to learn is greater. As for the parents, I was lucky enough to become a pilot before my son and I know that too much effort, too much empathy with the parents brings bad results. So, when I arrived with Valentino, I was aware that the more Father is out of the way, the better it is for everyone ”.
When Valentino tried Formula 1, did it seem like an opportunity to seize?
“Yes, I was very fascinated by this possibility. Valentino, who is much more down to earth than me, soon realized that it would be more fun to continue with the bike. By doing the tests with the others he also understood how little the driver counted in Formula 1, while he was aware of his importance on two wheels ”.
Graziano has had a very intense life, what conviction has he reached on what is important: money, fun, fame, sex?
“The most important thing is to always have good friends around. You have to be able to invent the joy of living, have something interesting to do and this depends a lot on your friends. Yes, friendship I think is the most important thing there is “.
August 17, 2021 (change August 17, 2021 | 12:24)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED