While Marco Simoncelli wasn’t a household name in the United States outside of motorcycle racing circles, the outpouring of grief and emotion from American fans shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Super Sic loved America, and Americans loved him right back.
Americans like their athletic heroes to be unique, aggressive and accessible. Simoncelli ticked all three boxes with ease.
His boyish charm, bright smile and huge ball of rusty-colored curly hair made him unique. His cut-and-thrust riding style disturbed some rivals, but it enchanted Americans. And Simoncelli always had time and sincerity for his American fans from his first race on these shores, in 2008 during the hurricane at Indianapolis.
One example of Simoncelli’s ability to connect with his fans came from a remembrance left Sunday night on motogp.com by a mourning couple. They were on their honeymoon during the United States Grand Prix this July in Laguna Seca and found Simoncelli in the paddock. They asked Super Sic for an autograph, but he was en route to an appointment, promising the couple he would return to sign in a few minutes.
Sure enough, he did. Simoncelli also signed for every fan waiting for him in the paddock after the race at Laguna.
More and more American fans responded to the gangly Italian kid with the goofy grin and curly moptop by showing up at Indy and Laguna Seca wearing Simoncelli-style wigs, and increasing numbers of banners, hats and T-shirts bearing “58” appeared at MotoGP races on these shores.
American media also enjoyed Super Sic for the same reasons as the fans. He was fast, fearless, frank and fun. Plus he always tried to answer every question despite his rough-but improving – grasp of English, sometimes finishing answers with a smile and, “Sorry for my English.”
One exchange during the Thursday pre-race press conference this year at Indianapolis was classic Simoncelli. Dorna TV commentator and press conference host Nick Harris asked Simoncelli a question about how his spot in the World Championship standings entering Indy wasn’t a true reflection of his pace during races.
Super Sic simply responded with a smile, a gentle shake of his head and, “No capisce.”
Assembled journalists laughed as Simoncelli continued smiling. Harris rephrased the question, and Simoncelli’s eyes lit up, with the first sentence of his response, “Ah, yes, of course!”
Simoncelli seemed to enjoy the wide-open spaces and anonymity away from the track provided by America. He spent part of the summer break between Laguna Seca and Brno this summer by touring American national parks, calling it a “wonderful holiday.”
The same could be said for the time Simoncelli spent meshing with his American fans during their holidays at the track. The pleasure was all ours, Super Sic.