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Meeting Johnny Cecotto and his family at Treviso during our holiday in Italy...

Friday June 8th 2012 at Treviso, Italy
As we met Johnny Cecotto in person for the last time at the Bikers’ Classics event at Francorchamps, Belgium in 2011 we agreed to visit him and his family at his house in Treviso as we would spent our holiday in Austria and Italy in June 2012. And so just before we left on our holiday I informed Johnny again by email we would visit him at Treviso and I would contact him when we were in Italy. As we arrived at Dolo, Italy near to Padova, Venice and also Treviso I called Johnny on June 6th to make an appointment to meet each other. We had to search for a possibility a bit and we agreed Johnny would call me again on Friday morning to see when we could come. On Friday June 8th after some phone calls we made the appointment for that day at 17.30 hours at Johnny Cecotto’s house in Treviso. Although we had been there in 2010 I didn’t recognize how to drive and as for my navigation didn’t know his address we came some 10 minutes late. As the gate was open we could drive into the parking lot and when we got out of the car Johnny Cecotto already came out on his balcony and waved hello to us. We went to his front door where he arrived a little later and welcomed us with a hug for me and three kisses for Carolien. He still knew that here in Holland we do 3 times instead of the 2 kisses they do in Italy.  Inside we also were welcomed by Isabella, Johnny’s wife and Julie, his daughter. His son Jonathan was out till somewhere in the evening at a school party. We sat outside together at the balcony to drink something and to talk about all kind of things. Mostly done in English, sometimes in German. Especially for Carolien it was a bit tricky as for she doesn’t know English that well. But she tried though and most of the time she did very well and was able to make herself understandable. Sometimes it was a bit difficult for all of us, including Johnny, to find the right words when you’re talking about specific things like for instance education. Translating some specific words from your native language to another isn’t always that easy. Nevertheless we did have a nice talk to each other. Me and Johnny were going down to the garage to look at his Yamaha OW31 750cc motorcycle which he still has there. It didn’t seem to be his original 750 machine on which he became world champion in 1978 but a machine which he build up in parts later. When he had a 700cc privateer engine he asked for an new one, a 750cc. This didn’t fit right into his frame though and so he became the 750 frame as well. All the different parts became to this OW31 750 machine which is comparable to his machine that he drove in 1978 on which he became world champion. After this we were going to Johnny’s storage point where he has old stuff and also the karts and vehicles of his team “JC Racing” in which also his son Jonathan is a member of course. This was just outside of Treviso and we would go to have diner together right after that at a Pizzeria in the neighbourhood. Daughter Julie didn’t want to come as for some children were playing outside and she wanted to stay with them. No problem for us. So we went to Johnny’s storage but as we arrived there he had forgotten the keys of the door. We decided to go and have diner first and Johnny was going to pick up the keys in the meantime. As we sat waiting at Pizzeria & Ristorante Tiepolo we heard that some time later a school would be there with all the parent s to have diner as well. It was tradition to do this at the end of school period. After Johnny came in again with the keys of his storage we ordered our pizza’s which were really big!! In the meantime we had some talking about all kinds of things. After finishing our meal we got outside to go to the storage as all the kids just arrived. That was a massive crowd and we were lucky Johnny had forgotten his keys earlier that day otherwise we would have been at the restaurant in a very, very noisy crowd (lol). Just in  a few minutes we were at the storage and there were all the karts of the JC Racing team and their bus and Johnny’s camper. Also his motorcycle, a Honda 1100 was there, he doesn’t ride it very much though. There were a lot of his trophy which he won during motorcycle racing and his car racing years. The one of the Daytona 200 mile in 1976 I immediately recognised. Also a lot of trophy’s from Jonathan which he won during his kart race stood there. That already was a huge amount. Johnny joked that Jonathan doesn’t like to come home of a race without a trophy.That’s the right way to think though: if you don’t think you are the best you won’t ever be the best!! Johnny showed an annual magazine of the Easy Kart season in 2011 in which a huge article was spent to Jonathan. He gave some to me to take home with me. Isabella coma in with an old motorcycle racing leather from Johnny Cecotto from 1977. She wanted to clean that up some day to put it into a frame. Somewhere in the future she would like to make some kind of museum of Johnny Cecotto stuff. A GREAT idea and I would be glad to help with it to put that together. So Isabella and Johnny when you’re ready to do so let me know!! I asked Johnny to hold his leathers in front of him and took some pictures of it. I joked him to put it on but it for sure wouldn’t fit. Then I became a nice jacket from Johnny from his JC Racing team. It fits well and I for sure are going to wear this during my racing weekends that I visit as photographer at the TT circuit of Assen here in Holland. Some promotion for JC Racing team!!! When we weere done at the storage it seemed Jonathan’s party was taking longer than expected and so Johnny invited us to his home again instead of leaving and return to our hotel. So we got to his house again to talk and drink something. As Johnny was going to pick up Jonathan I went with him in his BMW X5. He first had to refill his tank with gasoline and while standing at the pump a motorcycle came by in high speed and Johnny looked at me and smiled and gave a thumps up. A little later he passed by in the other direction and made us smile again. When Johnny got into the car he said “He was warming up his tires” and it gave us something to laugh about. As we picked up Jonathan at his school he was very surprised to see me as he expected to see us tomorrow. He welcomed me and it was nice to meet him again, he’s a nice and cute guy. I congratulated him with his victory last week in 100cc karts at Lignano. It had been a great time for Venezuelan racing fans with first Pastor Maldonado winning in Formula 1 at Spain, then Johnny Cecotto jr. in GP2 at Monaco and also Jonathan in Easykart 100 at Lignano. We arrived at Johnny’s house again in Treviso where Jonathan also welcomed Carolien which he had seen a few times more in the past. After this we sat for some time at home with Johnny, Isabella and Jonathan while Julie had gone to bed. In a few weeks they all together would go to Valencia to see Johnny jr. racing in GP2 there. Johnny was going to drive with his whole family in their camper to Valencia, something Jonathan thought it was a very long way and took too long to do. He had some computer games though which he could play in the camper and I joked to him that before he would have finished his game his dad already would be at Valencia. We talked a bit of our holiday and other things in life like my fear of flying. I have to say that nowadays I feel much more relaxed when I’m with Johnny Cecotto (and his family) than I used to be in the past. He is still my life-time idol of course but when we meet it feels much more natural. Also the way Isabella deals with us is a real pleasure. She really can make let you feel at home, something we both, Carolien and I, appreciate a lot! So we had a great time together this day during the time we spent together with the Cecotto family and for that we thank you all. At 22.15 hours it was time for us to go back to our hotel and we said goodbye to them. If you ever decide to come to Holland be our guests!!.....

Johnny Cecotto visit at Treviso 2012

Johnny Cecotto's Yamaha OW31 750cc
receiving a JC Racing jacket from Johnny
me and Johnny Cecotto posing