Photo of the Week: SuperSic Forever

10/24/2011 @ 12:50 pm, by Scott Jones31 COMMENTS

As a 250cc rider, Marco Simoncelli struck me as being very talented, but also a grave danger to his fellow riders. In the 250GP races in which Simoncelli participated, he was always the wild card, and one never knew what he might do in his spirited attempts to win. As the list of other riders who’d narrowly escaped serious injury in on-track incidents with Marco grew, I developed a profound dislike for how he behaved on track, and I thought that this behavior indicated what type of person he was.

But as I gained access to the MotoGP paddock, and found opportunities to glimpse the riders’ personalities, Marco Simoncelli was one of the first for whom I recognized that I could not draw such conclusions based solely on what I saw on TV.

On a motorcycle, Simoncelli was ferocious, as the cat on the back of his helmet indicated. In person he was soft spoken, gentle, quick to smile and generous. Always a gracious participant with Riders for Health fundraising events, he courageously faced crowds who spoke no Italian and charmed them in his accented and limited English. He signed whatever people asked of him, and posed for photos with patience and grace.

In addition to his oh-so-rare ability to claim pole position in MotoGP, Marco had a personal charm that some equally fast riders envied. Fans responded to this as they became aware of it, and though his on-track judgment remained a problem, and other riders suffered for it, SuperSic was easy to forgive from the grandstands, if not from the hospital bed.

I’ve still not truly come to terms with the conflicted feelings of criticism for his racing decisions and appreciation for his friendliness and personal warmth. “Tragic” is a word often used to describe fates such as Marco’s, but in his case it is nothing less that he will never have the chance to tame the inner wildcat and become the mature and blindingly fast racer he could have been. I will miss seeing him in the paddock, along with my certainty that he will say “Ciao” back if I greet him. He certainly brought the magic to MotoGP, and we are all diminished by our loss of his presence.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer known for his great action shots and poignant candids when covering MotoGP and WSBK racing events. You may have already seen his work on MotoMatters (they still have more calendars available that feature Scott’s work by the way). Not only do we like Scott’s shots, but he fits right in with our all Nikon-totting office. You can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • Really wish dorna would do something about this Bridgestone tire issue.. All GP riders have complained about tire heat issues and still we don’t see any big changes!! Give the riders a softer tire which heats up quicker and is safer for the riders… too many 1st and second lap crashes in Motogp. Besides if they used tires that slowly lost grip maybe the racing would be better and riders would have to be patient and conserve like in WSBK!! We don’t care if the winner of the gp is 15 seconds quicker than last years winner we want more passing and safer racing conditions… #58 rest in peace….

  • Silva

    Race In Peace, Marco.

  • Pacasp

    I just read this article, and Kevin Schwantz’s on Superbikeplanet. I gotta get this off my chest. Please allow me the following hurting heart diatribe… 
    In my humble opinion, motorcycle road racing is the single most fascinating sport in the world. The perfect blending of a brave man’s desire to push the physical limits with the technical man’s ultimate creation fascinates me; a man going very fast on a very cool machine. It is the ultimate sporting challenge.
    But to go fast and beat your opponents on a motorcycle is only one part of the fascination we have with the true greats of GP racing. Those few men have had the capacity to go fast and at the same time had the ability to attract people to the sport because of his character; these are the true greats.
    Very few men have that ability to do both: to attract people to the sport because they enjoy seeing him go fast on a world level motorcycle, and at the same time, genuinely care about his successes and his failures. Nicky Hayden is an example. Has that kid from Kentucky lost ANY of his humor, or his humility, since he left America as a young kid and gone on to the high-pressure, often cynical world of grand prix motorcycle racing? Even though he’s struggled mightily on that damn Ducati, don’t you find yourself rooting for him because you RESPECT him, and want him to succeed?
     Ok, here we go. Watch your toes. I know I’m gonna piss off some people here, but this is NOT a pro-Rossi, anti-whoever else diatribe. It’s really not. This is coming from a fan of motorcycle road racing, plain and simple.
    Marco Simoncelli’s death brought to light how very important Valentino Rossi is to MotoGP. He really is so much bigger than the sport. He’s fast, and he’s a fascinating personality, too. And Marco Simoncelli was well on his way to becoming that as well.
    Do any of the other “aliens”- Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa – bring anything CLOSE to that level of, um, “magic” to the sport? I can appreciate Stoner’s talent on a motorcycle. He’s certainly fast. But winning a championship is only part of his battle of trying to become one of the true greats. He’s lacking something. I find it impossible to care about him as a person. Does he ever really seem like he’s enjoying himself? Does he respect his fellow riders? Does anyone turn on the tv or go to a race because of their fascination with his, or Pedrosas, or Lorenzo’s “presence,” or “magic,” or “aura,” or personality, or whatever else you wanna call it?
    Does Casey Stoner’s winning of the championship this year add anything else to the sport besides his name on the trophy? Can he really carry the sport on his back the way Rossi has, or the way Simo promised to be able to do? Simo had one podium. Just one. But didn’t seeing him up there celebrating make you happier than all of Stoner’s win this season? Didn’t you really WANT Simo to do well in the future because you liked him as a person? I know I did. And it was not only because he was fast on a bike. But because he really was a genuinely good person whom you couldn’t HELP but root for.  
    MotoGP will obviously certainly survive without Marco Simoncelli, but does the future of the sport look any better without the likes of him, or Rossi, or Hayden?
    I cry for the loss of such a talented, fascinating young man, and I cry for what his loss means to the future of the sport I love.

  • Cpt.Slow

    ^+1… the x-factor

  • Cpt.Slow

    You can literally see the joy, the passion, the bliss in Marco as he jumped up and down while trying to keep his hat on. I don’ think I remember anyone making me smile so much for getting 3rd place.

    This tragedy is nothing short of heartbreaking…

    “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”

    – Ferdinand Foch

    R.I.P Brother… R.I.P

  • Super Sic was easily my favorite ride to watch this season, yeah it was rough at times, but towards the end it got real good. The battle with Dovi in Australia was fantastic, and the laps he traded with Bautista right before the end were fantastic.

    I am really going to miss seeing that massive hair on race day.

  • Desire68

    You said every word which describes the exact way i feel about the sport and these personalities. It is for this same reason that i follow Haga so closely. It’s more than just the passion of the motorcycle and the race, it’s the individual and their magnetic personality!
    Well said brother, i was starting to think that i was the only one who thought this way.

    Rip SuperSic #58

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  • Pacasp- Ditto. I feel exactly the same way about my favorite riders, Rossi, Hayden, Simoncelli, and Doohan. I thought we were going to be treated to a shaved headed Super Sic this season as he had promised to shave it all off once he won a GP race. Just not enough time…
    Just a heartbreaking week with the loss of another great personality in racing, Dan Wheldon.
    RIP Super Sic

  • 58

    u’re not discrediting Stoner, Pedrosa and Lorenzo for being too smart for the competition are you ?
    i think you’re setting the bad example of what this senseless but loved motorcycle racing should be.
    i hate to say this but i’m sure i’m not the only one who saw what happened to Marco coming, just like i did for Tomizawa. in this sport (business) there is no place for what you’re talking about, it’s either you think ahead or you’re putting your life on the line.
    i agree with “dc4go” on the tires regulations, i think the races should be done with soft tires for everyone and adjust the race distance accordingly to weather/track conditions to make them last.

    Rip Marco, your speed will be missed

  • Harumph

    Take heart, Marco will be remembered in a way that Casey can never achieve. This is a terrible time and even Simoncelli’s detractors are stunned by his loss. I never met him but burst into tears once his death was announced. I did see him race twice and saw him around the paddock and it did nothing but make me like him more. He will be appreciated and remembered and that is just the best that can be expected from such a case of unfulfilled promise. He was a special person and will be remembered as such even though he hadn’t yet gotten to his proper height.
    Remember him and he will never really die.

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  • R.Yu

    Italian racers don’t just go fast, they go out there with class, true story

    R.I.P. Marco…. i started watching moto only since last year, but i really liked watching you both on and off the track

  • Sean in Oz

    Wow just 2 posts before it becomes about Rossi.

  • Bryan

    Marco was magic to watch. A real loss. Still unbelievable.
    Sean is spot on. Been a long time since Rossi was exciting to watch for mine.
    There are a crap-load of fans who can’t get enough of Stoner-Pedrosa-Lorenzo and others on the grid. It has to be said that maybe for the future of Motogp, Rossi’s memory has become a burden to the category. He has set a high standard for the publicity game, and in the early days, the racing. It has become a shame for some that others don’t follow suit. Not for me. Couldn’t give a rats whether they deliver the percentage quotes. Racing is Racing.
    Prediction: The next complaint to come from fans will be that everyone gets on so well; not enough bad blood.
    Itching for every race weekend.

  • Beary


    I don’t agree at all with your ‘Cult of Personality’ essay. I would turn on the TV, or go to watch Stoner, Pedrosa, Lorenzo etc race any day to watch the sheer talent, the fast bikes, the great skill. I’m not drawn to anyone because of their ‘Magic Aura’ i’m not that easily starry-eyed by elaborate post-race pantomimes. (looks at Rossi, and copycat J-Lo) I’m drawn to people who can ride faster than others and who win a lot, cause that takes a lot of skill and guts. And that’s what drew me to admire Simoncelli – he was so fast – raw, he pissed a lot of people off, he hurt himself and others in the process, but he was a no-fear racer who was just starting to get it together and that makes this thing so hard to swallow.

    And you know what – Rossi’s merchandise tent at Phillip Island was emptier than I’ve seen it in years. What makes a great racer magnetic, is winning races and being fast. Not showmanship. Someone mentioned Doohan amongst people who were more watchable?! Doohan was even more prickly than Stoner with fans and the media. But like Stoner he was fast and he dominated his Era. And that’s what made the Rossi legend. Being fast and dominating his era. The other stuff Rossi did was just the trimmings. People who are attracted by that shit don’t stick around being fans of bike racing. And is Era is over. Now that Rossi is no longer winning and he quite honestly will never dominate the class again – too much younger, faster talent – I don’t think he’s anywhere near as important to MotoGP Racing as you make out. Not any more.

    Oh – and #58 had two podiums, not ‘just one’. He also came 2nd at Phillip Island a week before this horrible thing. Which is nice to remember him by – got a third, then a 2nd. He was on the rise.

    Supersic – Race forever.

  • Westward

    Simoncelli was the most exciting MotoGP pilot to come along since Rossi. He was genuine, not like Lorenzo, who seems like he is forcing it, or like Stoner and Pedrosa, who appear sometimes like they can’t even be bothered by it.

    I think a Simoncelli victory was going to feel like a Rossi win, but without the antics (which I enjoy, it adds personality to the sport for all the good reasons)

    Unlike the article, I felt you could sense the genuine good nature of Marco, and he was learning to see the bigger picture of the sport through the eyes of a mentor like Rossi…

    I watched him through his 250 days, and often wondered how someone his size could best all these little guys on those diminutive machines. But it was an awesome spectacle to behold…

    Next year could have been his year, and it would have not surprised anyone… By-the-way Pacsap, it was two podiums…

    The world feels a little different, it always does when someone, anyone passes on, and MotoGP is definitely a lesser sport without him…

    My only hope now, is that Rossi does not over burden himself about circumstances, with which he truly had no control over. I do not know how this event will affect him, and his racing, but I will always be a fan no matter what…

    Godspeed Marco, and ease Rossi’s burden…

  • Westward

    “People who are attracted by that shit don’t stick around being fans of bike racing.”

    @ Beary

    You state it like its a bad thing…

    But don’t fret, when Rossi does hang it up, you and your buddies wont have to be concerned about traffic, parking, or the lines at concessions, cause it will be just like the old days…

    Seeing 4 Hondas in the top five, or 5 Hondas in the top seven spots, starts to look a lot like the talent needs to be on a Honda if they want a chance at a title. Lets not forget Biaggi’s moaning about how he wasn’t on a Honda therefore can’t win. Melandri and Elias have fallen into that trap too. Kinda makes racing feel like a joke anyway…

    Come to think about it, once Rossi does give it up, I think I will get more riding in, or do more track days cause my weekends would be more clear…

    That is, if I lose all interest in Moto2 as well…

  • Lumengrid

    I have to agree with Scott Jones and some other voices here:

    I dislike the fact that Marco created very dangerous situations on the track but coming to reflect on that it is racing and winning what matters after all and you could clearly see that Marco was gearing to be on the top and win GP’s.

    He will be missed as watching the MotoGP this season was not as exciting as to compare with Moto2 which brings me the thing that Westward touched, that Honda is dominating the GP at the moment.

    This makes the races boring and I’m afraid that MotoGP is heading in Formula 1 directions (the reason why I do not watch it anymore).

  • Re Marco’s racing in 250s, bear in mind he had to battle against Barbera and Passini, both do-or-die racers in 250s at least. Even the more level-headed Bautista was still capable of hard moves.

  • adam s

    Marco will be sorely missed.

    given all this reflection on the man (24yrs!) and the state of moto gp… i found myself asking- if he’d have just lowsided, he’d be alive today.

    which then produced- how much is all the electronics on todays motogp bikes to blame in this? from traction control, to pitch control, to fly by wire control… once you step outside of “normal” parameters- how much can those over-riding controls produce unwanted results in the behavior of a machine?

    they make these bikes more and more brutally fast… yet then produce more and more little black boxes to tame them…

    i think it wouldve been an entirely different result had there been one throttle tube, two cables, a block of mechanically operated butterfly valves and a simple lowside.

  • I don’t see the point in bringing up other racers’ personalities while mourning Super Sic. That comes across as disrespectful to both the other racers and Simoncelli.

    @Pacasp & the others –

    Do you actually know any of these racers on a personal level? You even wrote “I find it impossible to care about him (Stoner) as a person.”

    Don’t you think the riders’ response to the media/fan circus is most likely Not a good indication of the complete picture of these human beings? Marco was special in that he did respond to the circus in a very likable fashion. Celebrate that trait on its own merit, not by trying to criticize other riders’ response to it. “Stardumb” is created by ridiculous fans, not the other way around.

    @adam s – good point. After hearing Kenny Roberts talk about the differences in bikes during his era and today’s at the Laguna Seca GP, it would be interesting to know what is being discussed about simplifying bikes. Something to the affect of today’s bikes are so narrowly focused and margin for error is way too thin. Let the ride the machine without so much of a secondary (electronics) rider conflicting.

  • adam s

    hoyt: its just that in 25 years of watching motorcycle racing- ive never seen a bike stay upright and under motive power while the rider is dragging his head and shoulders on the ground. there has to have been a little electronic brain, somewhere in the system- calculating god-knows how many times a milisecond- still trying to do its job of providing forward movement/metering out traction regardless of the position/circumstances of its rider.

    thank god that “robot driven” bike didnt do worse to Edwards or Rossi….

  • Greg

    @ Hoyt & Adam S:

    I’ve been thinking about Marco’s tragic end a lot lately and the thing that stands out to me about Super Sic is that he was a fighter. Marco was always out there mixing it up, taking (often unnecessary) risks that many times put himself or another rider off the track. When he was hit by Edwards and Rossi, his lack of low-siding certainly might have been helped by the electronic aids of the bike, but more than anything I think it’s because he was instinctively fighting to get the bike back upright so he could continue. He wasn’t thinking of the consequences of coming back across the racing line like that, he was just trying to get back into the fight. That’s just the way Marco was on the track.

    RIP Marco, and thank you for making the races you were in as exciting as they were.

  • I don’t doubt that at all. What is in question is whether or not the advanced electronics are getting in the way of racing and, ironically, safety.

    It’s as though the racer knows what he wants to do with the bike, but he has to consider what the additional electronics want to do, too. (at unimaginable speeds and reaction times).

  • Rest in peace SUPER SICK #58!! Nicest rider i’ve ever met in MOTOGP and the fiercest also.. The world will miss u greatly gone way too soon!! :/

  • Beary


    Oh, come now…. Not being disrespectful at all. You go on the discuss electronics, other riders (Kenny Roberts), the media circus, etc. Pot calling Kettle ?

    My last word/visit here would be to give a shout out to a well written Scott Jones tribute to Marco Simoncelli. The fact his life, personality and riding style will continue to spark discussion between people is a tribute to his success as a racer and his likeability as a human being.

  • @Beary – you are reaching.

    How does mentioning Kenny Roberts have anything to do with overzealous fans that find it IMPOSSIBLE to care about what happens to certain racers personally just because they don’t meet that fan’s expectations of stardumb?

    Kenny Roberts was asked a question to compare the bikes of his era to today’s bikes, specifically electronics. I mentioned his response because it was relevant to Adam S initial question at 10:05.

  • Singletrack

    Marco died the same way he rode.
    On the edge.
    Literally “hanging on till the bitter end”.
    He did all he could to save it by dragging an elbow and bodywork, and his determination did him in.

    There were no shortage of complaints about his ‘dangerous’ style early on, but I was impressed as the season went on. He rode smarter, and his results improved to show it.

    Its such a shame to lose a rising star so early.

  • Isaac

    R.I.P. Marco I never knew you but your death is sure a kick in the nuts, not just to me, everyone. Godspeed my brother. I hope I meet you in the next life.

    I made this in your honor:

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