From 2009: Ryder Notes: The Cult of Personality: Rossi’s Record of Race Revelry


When Valentino Rossi scored his 100th GP victory at Assen, he unveiled a giant poster with photos of every one of the previous 99 wins on it. It was the latest in a succession of post-race pranks that have entertained us over the years. Actually, that is a happy accident. They have always been plotted and performed for the benefit of Valentino and his inner circle of mates from the Fan Club—The Tribu dei Chihuahua. They are also designed purely for the amusement of this inner circle. Occasionally there may be a deliberate attempt to make a point—the chain gang in Brno, for instance, but much more frequently they are an in joke—like Osvaldo the Chicken. Sometimes they are only funny if you are Italian, like the layer at Motegi last year.

As Vale has already made it 101 wins as he eyes Agostini’s record of 123, we thought it was time you had a handy page chronology of the Rossi post-race celebrations. here it is:

1997

Japan—the first special crash helmet color scheme celebrates Vale’s friendship with the Japanese riders

Mugello—Blow up Claudia Schiffer doll takes the mick out of Max Biaggi’s PR stunt of being papped with Naomi Campbell at Nice Airport

Assen—Rossifumi superhero Superman cape on rostrum

Paul Ricard & Nurburgring—silly hats on podium

Donington—Robin Hood outfit complete with bow and arrow – costume supplied by Dunlop

Brno—celebrates 125 title by carrying a giant number 1

1998

Mugello—beach clothes on rostrum

Various—Polleria Osvaldo sticker and bandana appear

Barcelona—giant chicken – the real Osvaldo – rides pillion on slow down lap.

1999
Jerez—runs into marshall’s portaloo on slow-down lap.

Imola—shaves head in tribute to his crew chief Giovanni Brazzi—and wears Polleria Osvaldo bandana on rostrum

Rio—says thank-you to his guardian angel for doing a good job by giving him a lift on the slowdown lap.

2000

Not a lot, too busy learning the 500
2001

Jerez—takes comedy doctor back to pits ‘to give the bike a check up for Honda.’ The Doctor nickname follows.

Mugello—the most complex stunt of the lot. The bike, team and Vale’s leathers are decked out in Hawaiian shirt livery. Race day weather was anything but tropical and Vale crashed out of a rostrum position

2002

Mugello—stopped and booked by speed cops after he crosses the line to win the race.
Rio—celebrates the title with the fan club who dress up as the Brazilian football team complete with World Cup

2003

Jerez test—The Iraq war is about to kick off, Vale wears rainbow crash helmet with ‘Make Love not War’ on the back.

Mugello—the complex celebrations of previous home GPs are boiled down to a helmet, designed by Aldo Drudi, mimicking the great striker Paolo Rossi’s Italian team football shirt

Brno—the chain gang, a response to criticism from the Italian media

Phillip Island—tribute to Barry Sheene on rostrum—a sheet stolen from his hotel with a giant number seven painted on—the correct type face of course.

Valencia—the Austin Powers scheme was the result of a Spanish magazine competition, the Afro wig on the rostrum was Vale’s touch.

2004

Welkom—no accessories, just a racer laughing at his own audaciousness

Mugello—another response to criticism of his run of fourth places, his crash helmet is painted to look like wood. In Italy after the gold, silver and bronze medals, you get the wooden medal. Personally, I prefer the East European version—the potato medal.

Sepang—sweeps the track after destroying the opposition, a sarcastic comment on his penalty for cleaning his grid spot in the previous race.

Phillip Island – Che spectaccolo! What a show! Says it all really.

2005

Mugello—after getting an honorary degree from Urbino University his helmet bears the legend ‘Il Laureato’—the graduate.
Donington—crosses the line miming playing a violin—just something he saw someone else in another sport do, a totally spontaneous bit of mime.

Sachsenring—draws level with Mike Hailwood’s total of GP wins—’Sorry Mike,’ says the banner on the rostrum

Sepang—clinches his seventh title and poses for celebratory photos with Snow White & the Seven Dwarves.

‘Was your mother playing Snow White,’ asked a journo. ‘No, but my mother is the real Snow White!’

2006

Mugello—the helmet shows his heroes, Steve McQueen, Jim Morrison, Enzo Ferrari

Sachsenring—Italy win the World Cup, Rossi wears Matterazzi’s shirt on the rostrum – he was the one Zidane nutted.

2007

Mugello—wears his heart on his crash hat

Assen—the wacky colour scheme with all its 1950s references was down to Fiat’s relaunch of the Cinqecento. The poster on the back of Vale’s helmet was his detail. It advertised a band— Vale and the Chiuhahas—live at Assen!’

2008

Barcelona—bloody awful representation of an Italian football strip for leathers, football crash helmet. Hmmm…

Mugello—the best paint job ever for the crash helmet. Days before the race
Vale and Drudi hadn’t come up with a design. Talk me round a lap of Mugello, said Drudi. When he was describing the fearsome drop through Casanova – Savelli he made a face. ‘Hold it,’ said Drudi, took a photo, and that was the image on the lid.

Misano—helmet design is a cartoon of his house in Tavullia.

Motegi—championship number eight. He stops to have the papers endorsed by a lawyer.


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