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Feature: Bucket List Events: The Italian Grand Prix at Mugello

Credit: MotoGP.com

In this brand new series of features by all of the Motorsport Radio team, we will be looking into numerous events and placing a select few onto our ‘Bucket List Events’ list. From MotoGP to F1, Indycar and even Road Racing, be sure to find that on every Wednesday, there will be something for every single motorsport fan from across the world to enjoy.

So, with housekeeping out the way, where to start? With it being a recent event and, in particular, probably the greatest holding of this event since it became solely at this one circuit, how about the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. An event that is already high on the priority of many a MotoGP enthusiast, the reasons why you should go are endless.

Autodromo del Mugello is arguably the greatest motorcycle racing venue in the world. Year on year, it provides top class racing across all categories but there is something special when MotoGP rolls through the endless, glorious scenery of Tuscany for the Italian Grand Prix. Undoubtedly, the Italian Grand Prix has become the spiritual home of nine-time MotoGP champion, Valentino Rossi. The 39-year-old Italian won every premier class race from 2002 to 2008 and has been nothing short of spectacular at the circuit since – although he is yet to get back to winning ways at the venue.

With Rossi comes tens of thousands of fans, all coveted in their yellow garments and radiating the passion and desire for their hero to win. Now, you’re probably asking, ‘why is Mugello any different to any other Grand Prix?’ and you’d be right to think that, but this is where Mugello becomes it’s own, unique chapter in the MotoGP calendar. There’s not enough words to describe the carnage that happens at Mugello. Camping over night, chain-saws at full volume, home-engineered electric shopping trolleys, the endless chants for Rossi, air horns all through the night and the beer-fuelled atmosphere that just carries on from Friday morning to Sunday evening. Mugello is more than just a Grand Prix, it is a festival.

It is a festival for anyone who enjoys motorcycle racing, engineering, frighteningly high speeds and just all round chaos. For one weekend a year, the quiet, majestic rolling hills of Tuscany descend into a vibrant valley of noise, wheel-to-wheel racing and 24/7 pandemonium. If you go to Mugello camping, expecting a quiet weekend, then just don’t go. The noise you hear on race day from the fans can drown out the bikes through the TV screens and to do that when there’s 24 MotoGP prototypes around is something a little bit special – so imagine being at the heart of it all.

The noise, cheers, jeers, pantomime villain-style chants, screaming, roaring and celebrating are one thing but to be apart of it all is something that the English language cannot put into words. It is captivating, removing you from any form of normal life. To see the passion off the crowd track-side, you get the impression of the passion that this Mediterranean country has for motorcycle racing. To feel the passion, to witness it and indulge in it with your own senses is something that no smart-phone camera, nor TV coverage can replicate. They just give you the starter, it is down for you to abandon oneself to live it and breath it and feast on it as your main course.

The traditional track invasion is mind-blowing. 90,000 people running to see the podium, to see their heroes and give them the biggest plaudits is something truly spectacular. To put yourself amongst the frenzy and experience the utter joy and high-like feeling of just running with the crowd. Nothing comes close. Full of adrenalin and almost forgetting about real life for a short moment, the atmosphere lifts you up and not just in spirit but it almost takes you on a journey; it takes you on a journey that you will not be able to experience again – whether it is the same road you are on or not. The phrase, ‘in the heat of the moment’ does not do this justice.

Besides the cork-in-a-bottle explosiveness of colour, movement and jamboree, you are in the most spectacular country in the world. Italy has elegance and flamboyancy, intertwined with impulsiveness and bedlam. To come to Mugello, you will more than likely fly into one of two of Italy’s greatest cities. One can wanderlust to Florence, a slightly nearer city, roam around the endless Pizza houses, coffee shops and phenomenal architecture. On the other hand, you could find yourself enjoying the large plazas and crooked towers of Bologna – slightly further afield but if time is not a pressing matter for you, then you have nothing to worry about. The intrepid traveller can peregrinate to either of these locations for a city break – but go in June and treat yourself, extend the city break to a week away and take in the hair-raising atmosphere of Mugello and witness the definition of, “letting your hair down.”

I openly admit, this will not be your cup of tea if you’re not a fan of Valentino Rossi, or if you don’t appreciate what he has done for the Italians and their interest in sport. But experience Grand Prix, the terrific racing and fierce rivalries, the hard-passes and spectacular speeds; it is made solely on atmosphere track side and when an Italian has a sniff at a win, once more the crowd will lift Mugello onto another level. I swear you will never experience a better rendition of the Il Canto degli Italiani. Go to Mugello – it is the land of captivation and re-imagination, that will leave you longing to come back each and every year, in a hunt for that same experience again.

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