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2002 Special Mugello Helmet
NEWS

Rossi At Mugello: A History In Helmet Design

May 312021

“On Monday you start to feel butterflies in your stomach, you feel nervous and you realize that this is the Mugello race weekend. It’s a special appointment, maybe the most important in the whole race calendar. For sure the place I love most. Then arriving on Wednesday, breathing the fresh air and the beauty of the Tuscan hills, I feel so excited. This is my 27th time. I started in the Sport Production. Every year the excitement is always the same”, confessed Valentino Rossi on the eve of the 2021 Italian GP.  

There is a special relationship between Valentino Rossi and the Mugello circuit. A love affair that was formed by seven-consecutive wins in the MotoGP class between 2002 and ’08, and a total of nine victories and 14-podium finishes in all classes. 


Every year Valentino celebrates the Italian GP with a special helmet, and his traditional Saturday-morning unveiling has become a special moment in the season. Each helmet tells a story, a particular moment in Valentino’s career. “I communicate through symbols, colours and numbers in the design”, continued Rossi, talking about the tradition of his helmets. “Ever since I have been a rider, on my helmet, I have always had the symbols of the sun and the moon. I like them graphically, but in a way, they also represent me: I’m both the day and the night, the good and the bad, the angel and the devil. In a way this is what every good rider should be”.   On the helmets are also the iconic images that accompany Valentino’s epic battles like the Ninja turtle, Guido the dog, Rossifumi, Valentinik, and then the Doctor. 

A special helmet helps Valentino to enter the right headspace and mood for a Grand Prix; and for this reason it has to be done perfectly. “When you do everything perfect, you win the race, helmet included”, explains Drudi who started designing helmets for Graziano Rossi; not to mention Kevin Schwantz, Marco Lucchinelli, Loris Reggiani, Mick Doohan, Alex Criville, Sito Pons, and then he continued with Valentino Rossi, Marco Simoncelli, Franco Morbidelli, Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo, Enea Bastianini and many others. 

 

 “My career in the GPs started with Graziano Rossi,” states Drudi. “From the first helmet that I made for Graziano to the new helmet of Valentino that will be unveiled on Saturday, is a 40-year-long history. I started designing an enchanted castle with a rainbow for Graziano. It was such an original helmet for those years, but Graziano was like that. He was special and Valentino has inherited from him the taste for colours, graphics and the fun about racing. My favourite helmet? The 2002 special edition, Valentino’s tribute to Graziano."

 

Behind every graphic, is the creativity and the hand of Aldo Drudi, who has designed all Rossi’s helmets and liveries. Make no mistake though - Rossi is along for the ride of the design process at every turn - applying the same attention to detail that he has for everything around his race bike.  

 

A special helmet helps Valentino to enter the right headspace and mood for a Grand Prix; and for this reason it has to be done perfectly. “When you do everything perfect, you win the race, helmet included”, explains Drudi who started designing helmets for Graziano Rossi; not to mention Kevin Schwantz, Marco Lucchinelli, Loris Reggiani, Mick Doohan, Alex Criville, Sito Pons, and then he continued with Valentino Rossi, Marco Simoncelli, Franco Morbidelli, Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo, Enea Bastianini and many others. 

 

 “My career in the GPs started with Graziano Rossi,” states Drudi. “From the first helmet that I made for Graziano to the new helmet of Valentino that will be unveiled on Saturday, is a 40-year-long history. I started designing an enchanted castle with a rainbow for Graziano. It was such an original helmet for those years, but Graziano was like that. He was special and Valentino has inherited from him the taste for colours, graphics and the fun about racing. My favourite helmet? The 2002 special edition, Valentino’s tribute to Graziano."

One of Valentino’s first helmets was a tribute to Graziano, his father, a key person for him. The colours of the Italian flag were interpreted in a traditional way, and the rest of the scheme represented Graziano's helmet colours when he used to race. 

As with every Italian, football is a great passion and for the 2003 Italian GP, Valentino took inspiration from the world of football, using the blue team-colours of the Italian National football team, the Italian flag and four stars, his 4 titles at the time (the 125 cc title in 125, the 250cc title in 1999, 500cc in 2001 and MotoGP in 2002). The Doctor was already a legend having won in all the classes. That year he clinched the 5th of his 9 world titles. 

Valentino’s helmets always speak about himself—they are iconic, and most of the time ironic. Rossi has a great auto-irony in this sense; the designs never refer to someone else, and are never an answer to another rider.In 2004 Valentino was tired of the fourth places he scored in the two previous GPs, so he decided to show on the helmet a wooden medal with a Roman number 4. With this symbol he wanted to remind himself that it is always better to get on the podium. It was a good extra motivation and on Sunday he won the race. 

That year Valentino arrived at Mugello fresh with a degree ‘Ad Honorem’ in Communications from Urbino University. On Sunday, a newly graduated Doctor put on an incredible race performance; dominating Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri from lights to flag. 

In 2006, Valentino asked the famous cartoonist Milo Manara to draw Enzo Ferrari, Steve McQueen, the chicken Osvaldo, the dog Guido, Rossi himself and some topless girls on the helmet. Rossi opted this year to pay tribute to his myths and passions. 

Most of Rossi's helmets show his appreciation for his fans, as was the case with this heart helmet in 2007. Once again Valentino Rossi, such as the great communicator that he is, opted for a symbol that unifies everyone. 

The beauty of this helmet lies in its simplicity:  everybody once in a lifetime has designed a heart to show love to someone. The big heart on the helmet was a tribute to the fans. What’s more; this is the only helmet that Valentino has ever thrown from the podium to his fans.

Most of Rossi's helmets show his appreciation for his fans, as was the case with this heart helmet in 2007. Once again Valentino Rossi, such as the great communicator that he is, opted for a symbol that unifies everyone. 

The beauty of this helmet lies in its simplicity:  everybody once in a lifetime has designed a heart to show love to someone. The big heart on the helmet was a tribute to the fans. What’s more; this is the only helmet that Valentino has ever thrown from the podium to his fans.

It’s one of the craziest and most iconic for the Mugello deadline. “That time we were in a deep crisis,” tells Drudi. “It was 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday before the race and we didn’t have any special ideas. I kept on talking and I asked him to describe to me the emotions of riding a MotoGP bike at Mugello, because there are some legendary corners. When he was simulating the Casanova-Savelli turn he made such a face, saying: ‘This is an incredible corner, when you brake you don’t see, it’s like being on a rollercoaster.’ It was so funny that I asked him to do it again and we made that helmet with Valentino’s face that has become iconic.”

 

It’s one of the craziest and most iconic for the Mugello deadline. “That time we were in a deep crisis,” tells Drudi. “It was 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday before the race and we didn’t have any special ideas. I kept on talking and I asked him to describe to me the emotions of riding a MotoGP bike at Mugello, because there are some legendary corners. When he was simulating the Casanova-Savelli turn he made such a face, saying: ‘This is an incredible corner, when you brake you don’t see, it’s like being on a rollercoaster.’ It was so funny that I asked him to do it again and we made that helmet with Valentino’s face that has become iconic.”

The black background is quite exceptional for Rossi.  The two designed big gloves symbolize Valentino’s hands in his hair: this is how Valentino presented himself at Mugello in 2009. 

The dedicated precision that Valentino has when racing and working with his bike is the same for the helmet. So, the eye represented on the 2011 special Mugello helmet is his actual iris, which Drudi took a photo of. That year the message was double: 

It’s the attentive eyes of the fans that support him, but also they are curious to see him on a Ducati bike at Mugello. The eye design has also a double meaning: it is a reminder for Rossi to watch out, to be careful after the 2010 incident he suffered at Mugello.

In his second year with Ducati, Rossi kept on struggling with Ducati. When Mugello rolled around; Rossi and Ducati’s home GP; the Doctor got inspiration from the slogan that Italian singer Gianni Morandi created for the San Remo festival "Restiamo uniti", “let’s remain united”, to motivate his team and the people around him. 

In his second year with Ducati, Rossi kept on struggling with Ducati. When Mugello rolled around; Rossi and Ducati’s home GP; the Doctor got inspiration from the slogan that Italian singer Gianni Morandi created for the San Remo festival "Restiamo uniti", “let’s remain united”, to motivate his team and the people around him. 

In 2013, Valentino decided to joke about his performance so far with Yamaha, so he decided to represent himself as a turtle chasing three riders:  Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez and Jorge  Lorenzo. Valentino has always liked the symbol of the turtle, it has been a lifelong lucky charm for both him and his mother Stefania. In fact Rossi liked this symbol so much that he has tattooed it on his stomach.

It was a moment when Valentino was recovering in the championship. Valentino once again decided to use the irony so the idea was: ‘Vale’s pasta is never overcooked’, joking about himself, it was a way to re-affirm that – despite his age, he was still doing great.” On the back of the helmet: “Certified Italian product made in Tavullia: 46 minutes cooking time” and “it never overcooks”. A fantastic example that made many people smile: what a clever image: pure creativity mixed of lightness and irony.

 

It was a moment when Valentino was recovering in the championship. Valentino once again decided to use the irony so the idea was: ‘Vale’s pasta is never overcooked’, joking about himself, it was a way to re-affirm that – despite his age, he was still doing great.” On the back of the helmet: “Certified Italian product made in Tavullia: 46 minutes cooking time” and “it never overcooks”. A fantastic example that made many people smile: what a clever image: pure creativity mixed of lightness and irony.

For Mugello 2015, Valentino showed once again the deep love he has for the circuit. The helmet is mirrored to reflect the hills of Mugello and to ask extra energy from the fans. That year, he was looking for extra support, a charge of energy from the fans at that moment. “I like to think that when there are so many spectators supporting you, extra energy arrives. This is valid for everyone”, explained Valentino Rossi. 

Quite simply Mugello becomes Mugeallo. Valentino plays with the words “Mugello” and “giallo”, yellow to express his love for the circuit and his fans, who every year pack the grandstands and the hills of the Tuscan venue.  Once again, the simplicity is the success of the iconic helmet which is dedicated to the fans, to the people, to the special relation between Valentino and the Tuscan racetrack.  

Like almost every Italian, Valentino Rossi loves football, so he couldn’t be indifferent to the retirement of Francesco Totti the previous week after playing his last match for the Roma Club. It followed the dedication to the famous football player:  “Mo je faccio er cucchiaio". On the back of the helmet: “Un Capitano… c’é solo un capitano”. Which translates to “A captain, one and only captain”, the slogan that the fans were singing in the stadium supporting Totti. 

The 2018 graphics is a reinterpretation of the Italian flag playing with the sun and the moon, two symbols that have always accompanied Rossi’s helmets.  

Valentino Rossi pays honour to the very special Italian GP reinterpreting the Italian flag and using the surface of the helmet as a canvas, with the Italian flag standing out on the top of the shell. White, red and green are flanked by complementary colours such as orange, fluorescent pink, light blue and classic yellow. On the back of the helmet, under the spoiler, the sun and the moon are represented with a thin yellow line on the white background; below them the 46 drawn freehand by Aldo Drudi

Valentino Rossi pays honour to the very special Italian GP reinterpreting the Italian flag and using the surface of the helmet as a canvas, with the Italian flag standing out on the top of the shell. White, red and green are flanked by complementary colours such as orange, fluorescent pink, light blue and classic yellow. On the back of the helmet, under the spoiler, the sun and the moon are represented with a thin yellow line on the white background; below them the 46 drawn freehand by Aldo Drudi

 

 

Mugello 2020

 

Unfortunately there was no Grand Prix in 2020 because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The championship actually started in July. 

It's Muuugello time! “It’s a surreal graphic”, explains Aldo Drudi,  “the 2.0 version of the 2016 edition Mugello design. The idea is to play with the words and make people smile. It’s a Friesian dairy  cow”, explains Aldo. “Why if the cow goes ‘Muuuu’, why doesn't the blackbird (merlo, in Italian) go ‘Mee’? On the back the skyline of Scarperia with the medieval tower of Palace that characterizes the village next to Mugello circuit. 

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