(Originally published Summer 2010 when Rossi was injured)
Today’s MotoGP race at Mugello will be an interesting day for those that run the Grand Prix world championship. With Valentino Rossi out for the foreseeable future, these days will offer an interesting glimpse of What Our Lives Will One Day Be Like.
It is indisputable that Valentino Rossi’s world popularity transcends the popularity of MotoGP racing, racing in general and rivals the popularity of motorcycles as a form of transportation in some corners of the world. This has been the case for more than a decade. Consider this: Rossi has fans that are children, middle-aged men, grandmas and every demographic in between.
It is indisputable that Valentino Rossi’s world popularity transcends the popularity of MotoGP racing, racing in general and rivals the popularity of motorcycles as a form of transportation in some corners of the world.
What makes Rossi especially significant is that he has fans who follow him around the globe that have no direct relationship with motorcycles. They don’t ride, don’t race, don’t follow any other form of racing. They are Valentino Rossi fans and the fact that he is a motorcycle racer is just a tiny part of why they tattoo his likeness on their bodies, stand on the side of the track holding flags they purchased at his stands and sob when he wins. Rossi is a worldwide racing phenomenon with fans that probably outnumber some obscure cults. Rossi has been committed to MotoGP and that commitment has made MotoGP nearly invincible.
It’s an interesting question isn’t it? Which is actually more popular, MotoGP racing or Valentino Rossi?
The preferred by many answer is “Valentino Rossi is MotoGP”.
Sadly, for the next six or so MotoGP rounds, there will be no Rossi for his fans to support trackside. Will those fans continue to buy tickets, hotel rooms and t-shirts? It’s going to be interesting to see what they do. If the tens of thousands of Rossi fans who would have attended Mugello, Silverstone, Laguna Seca and Assen stay away from the racetrack, will this cause a medium-sized recession to hit MotoGP rounds?
It’s been easy for the powers that be in Grand Prix to be chest-out proud about their series since Valentino Rossi began his GP career in 1996. He has never missed a race and is not just a gift to MotoGP, but a gift that keeps giving to MotoGP, round after round, year after year.
So now what? These next rounds will offer everyone a good look at a seismic event that they probably didn’t expect to feel the effects of until, they hoped, 2013–MotoGP without Valentino Rossi. And his fans.