Ask motorcycle GP racing fans to name some big names from the 1980s and you may get Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Gardner, Wayne Rainey, Randy Mamola and Kevin Schwantz. What you probably won’t get is Marco Lucchinelli, the man whom they used to call the Crazy Horse, and who won the 1981 500cc motorcycle GP world championship.
Born in 1954 in Bolano, Italy, Lucchinelli began his roadracing career in 1975 on a Laverda. But though he started with endurance racing, Lucchinelli moved to 500cc GP racing in 1976, with Suzuki. His wild, devil-may-care riding style earned him the nickname of Crazy Horse, and Mr Horse crashed hard, and often.
Lucchinelli moved from Suzuki to Yamaha for the 1977 season, but returned to Suzuki in 1978, which was also the year when he won his very first 500cc GP – at the Nürburgring, in Germany.
Riding a Roberto Gallina backed Suzuki in 1981, Lucchinelli took five 500cc GP wins and took his first and only world championship. Unfortunately for him though, it would all be downhill from here, and though he raced with Honda in 1982 and 83, and Cagiva in 1984 and 85, Lucchinelli never found his earlier race-winning form again.
Lucchinelli tried to go car racing in 1986, driving a Lola-Ford in the Formula 3000 series, and joined the Ducati Superbikes team in 1988, ultimately moving on to assume the role of team manager there – a position which he held for some years.
At the end of the day, Lucchinelli only won a total of six 500cc GP races ever, and one 500cc world championship. With his long hair, earrings, multiple divorces, the propensity to rebel against everyone and everything, controversies galore, and popularity with women everywhere, Marco Lucchinelli lived a rock-star’s life. They don’t make motorcycle racers like him anymore.
Other great racers from the past:
John Surtees: The only man ever to win motorcycle GP and F1 world championships!
"Barry Sheene was a cheeky sod!", says Stephanie...
Freddie Spencer: The Sultan of Slide
Wayne Gardner: The Wild One!
Wayne Rainey: Mr Consistency
Kevin Schwantz: The Cowboy from Texas
In this rare video from 1988, Marco Lucchinelli tests the legendary Ducati 851 Tricolore!