Like a lot of people, I considered Tommy Aquino one of my best friends. I talked to him every day on the phone and he sent me a picture of himself just before his last ride.
Tommy was a very special person. We enjoyed a close friendship that was, of course, punctuated by laughter. Lots of laughter.
I'd crash on Tommy's couch for months and he'd stay at my place too. Tommy came to my house after Barber in 2011 and stayed for a week. In that week he managed to total my car coming home from my friends house on a route that involved just two turns. I got home before him and remember getting this looong ... three page text message from him, of this elaborate story of what happened to my car. According to Tommy, it involved a fox running out in front of him, and him being so strong that he broke the power steering away so quickly and with such force that the car just could not handle it and crashed. When that theory ran out of gas he suggested that maybe even people had changed the roads and that's why he crashed. It was hilarious. The turn where he wadded my car is forever named "Aquino Curve".
Whenever I think of Tommy a million images rush through my head. Whipping around cars, crashing my car, playing bored games while driving to races together, making it to Infineon Raceway from LA in 5 hours, playing golf and giving each other unlimited mulligans per tee because we were definitely not born golfers, finding scooter jumps and trails at the track on setup day during race weekends, riding dirtbikes in the hills behind his house, setting new records of getting to Chic-fil-a with minutes to spare before breakfast closes only to get there and realize it's Sunday and they're closed, running from guys that were not happy with us at Siebkins, cycling from Key Largo to Key West, sneaking me into the Yamaha tent to get some good food before my race, riding around the track and giving me some pointers, telling me not to be such a pussy before my race, then showing up in the winners circle and being more stoked than I was, are just a handful off the top of my head.
One racing related memory that truly stands out in my mind is from Laguna 2010. It was Saturday and he qualified on pole for the DSB race the next day, and I won the Supersport race that day. Saturday night he came back to my hotel to go to dinner with me, and my team. We walked into my hotel room, still in our team gear, and plopped down on the bed exhausted. Staring at the ceiling I told him how happy I was to win that day, and felt so worry free and excited for the future and his race the next day. He said with a tired voice "Yeah man... everything is all good when you win."
Tommy Aquino was one of my best friends, an incredibly nice guy, and a passionate, talented rider. As a person, he was funny, kind, positive and always in a good mood. I'll never forget him.