[re-posted from my other blog, Living. by VMR]
shocking. I really shouldn’t have to do this two Mondays in a row, but there’s little else I can think or write about and even my clothes seem to fit poorly. This tragedy hits a bit closer to home, since I’ve actually seen Marco Simoncelli in person, seen him ride a motorcycle at high speeds, and seen him save something that really shouldn’t have been saved. Still, in a random bit of high drama, another Sunday has come and gone, and so too has another motorsports talent.
Simoncelli was not quite twenty-five, a bright and vivacious, if controversial, rider in a sport that encourages personalities in a way that few others still do. The Italian rider, who had yet to win a race in the premier class of MotoGP racing, but who had won the 2008 250cc world championship, passed due to injuries sustained in a crash on the second lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.
He had lost control of his motorcycle in a lowside, one that oddly drew him back across the track and directly into the path of two other riders. Both veterans of the sport, Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi had nowhere to go but into Simoncelli. Edwards struck the young Italian with his front wheel, then proceeded to cartwheel himself and his own motorcycle down the track, resulting in a severely dislocated shoulder for the American. Rossi hit the front wheel of Simoncelli’s bike. Ironically, the elder Italian considered the younger to be his younger brother and often appeared to have seen him as his heir apparent to Rossi’s nine world titles and an international following. The impact from both riders managed to tear Simoncelli’s helmet off, though it was the impact to his chest and neck that actually resulted in his death less than an hour after the incident. Just like last week and Dan Wheldon’s tragic accident at Las Vegas, the race was halted, then canceled altogether.
Simoncelli had both hair and a personality larger than life. He was fiery and sometimes thoughtless on the track, pushing hard to make his machine go faster than it was capable when in the hands of others. He pushed and sometimes shoved his way to his title, but seemed to have settled down in the latter half or third of this season. It was only his second in the premier class. Simoncelli was already a great talent and needed only better machinery and the wonders of time to show just how far he might have gone. His death leaves no question as to the safety of an inherently dangerous sport: there’s nothing that can be done when no one has anywhere else to go.
Simoncelli has inspired the second great outpouring of sadness within the racing community in less than a week. No matter if one drives on four wheels or rides on two, these men and sometimes women, their family and friends, all know the dangers they face every day they make their living. It doesn’t make it any less tragic, but it does band together the various athletes and their fans across disciplines. Wheldon’s memorial service was Sunday, less than twelve hours after Simoncelli’s death and exactly one week after his own. Death, and especially death of a young and public figure, bring a lot of things into perspective. Tears may blur one’s vision, but they rarely cloud the future. Rejoice in family, in friends, in life. Be careful, but be fulfilled.