Only a handful of people knew why Colin Edwards II was sitting stone-faced on the panel for today's press conference at COTA. Edwards had decided a while ago that 2014 would be his last season of racing, but he had only told his wife, father and very few close friends.
As his time to speak came, Edwards, his face drained of blood, swallowed and said, "I don't even know how to say it, and I have rehearsed it so many times. Ah, 2014 will be my last year of racing motorcycles...".
The room erupted in applause.
"I've been in Europe since 1995," Edwards said, his voice clearing and making reference to Marc Marquez, "and these young bastards like this guy over here have been kicking my ass."
A combination of factors forced Edwards' hand. He explained, "I don't know. I guess this year when we started the testing and I didn't really see the improvement that I wanted to see. Obviously the changing of the riding style helped, changing my riding style to make this bike work ... and it wasn't really working because as soon as you get into a tense moment you go back to your instincts and my instincts are to ride the bike differently."
Also, his family needs him. "That and my wife and kids. We've had a few conversations and there are some things that I miss (while being away). Baseball, gymnastics, kids in school ... I need to be home a little more."
Edwards continued, "I have way too many people to thank. I see him standing over there so I want to thank Bob Starr of Yamaha and Yamaha as a whole, they have helped me out a lot. My beautiful wife, my kids ..."
After a standing ovation from the assembled media, Edwards, clearly relieved, smiled and only then began to settle into his chair. Asked for his best racing memory, predictably Edwards brought up the Imola WSBK finale in 2002.
"For sure the second race at Imola 2002. Me and Bayliss. That was probably one of my best races ever .. and if I had to say one moment in motorcycles that was the one. Or, my Suzuka 8 hour victories with this guy," Edwards said while indicating he was speaking about Valentino Rossi.
Nine time world champion Valentino Rossi, when asked about Edwards' retirement, said, "Seriously I am very very sad about the news because Colin is one of my best friends in the paddock. We shared the bike together in the 8 hours in 2001 and in 2000 and I think this is also the best memory because we enjoy it a lot and also because we won, also."
"We were teammates for a long long time in the great moment of my career. These were great seasons for me with Yamaha. We always try to stay together in the box and work together and we enjoyed it a lot. Also, Colin always come in Tavullia with a motocross bike. Now at the ranch but also before where we trained before."
"I'm sad," Rossi said, "because he is a great guy and a great rider and we will miss him."