What other people have to say about Johnny CecottoHere you can read what other people, who have been in any kind of way connected to Johnny Cecotto, have to say about him. This can be friends, fans, stewards, racing drivers, technicians, photographers, media and so on. Everyone has his own thoughts about Johnny Cecotto.
Official Johnny Cecotto Fansite
Jon Ekerold: World Champion Motorcycle Racing 350cc in 1980
"Johnny Cecotto first came to the attention of the world with an astonishing performance in the 1975 Daytona 200 mile race. It was a perfor-mance that had the journalists searching for new superlatives, and when it was announced that the kid would contest the 250 and 350 world championships on works Yamahas, the racing world could hardly wait for the action to begin. But Johnny was to prove to be more than just a great racer. He had those indefinable superstar qualities that attract crowds and have the press frantically reaching for their note pads. When we heard the news that Johnny had both won the 250 and 350 GP's in France, beating the great Ago in the process, we were totally stunned. I was to accompany Kork Ballington at the 200 mile race at Imola and I figured it would be a great opportunity to see Cecotto in action. At the 6th gear sweep after the start and finish I had my first glimpse of Johnny. He was the only one not to rolling off and he had the big Yamaha squirming all over the place. But what struck me more than anything else was how smooth and effortless he made it all look. I will never forget the sight of young Johnny trying to make his way to the victory rostrum after the race. With the self-confidence of a man who seemed to know he was destined to be a champion, he strode through the thousands of delirious Italian fans, leathers around his waist and dark glasses in place. He was pure superstar. The French Grand Prix 350 at Paul Ricard in 1980 was undoubtedly the finest race of my career. It was the first opportunity I had of racing against the man while being at the peak of his ability and it was a treat for me to be able to witness his awesome skills up close. Johnny Cecotto was without doubt one of the finest motorcycle riders ever to grace the Grand Prix scene. He was extra-ordinarily skilful and he possessed a fierce will to win. To have beaten him in a straight one to one fight was an incredible thrill for me".All words taken from the book "The Privateer" with kind permission of Jon Ekerold
Pentti Korhonen: Former Finnish Grand Prix Motorcycle Racer
"Well, if you ask me why Johnny was so good: in my opinion he was a very, very young person, only 19 when he came to the GP. It was not normal at that time and he was a very light guy and I think he was very lucky because he did not know how good the European riders were. I mean he didn't even realize to be afraid of Braun, Agostini etc. Of course all tracks were new for him and it was really amazing how quickly he learned for example Paul Ricard, he was a very good pupil. Of course Venemotos was a good help with the factory Yamaha. The Italian fans took him "home". Anyway after an amazing start he got some problems for succession and he retired too much and was too busy with PR-promotions and nice girls. It's not easy for a 19 year old teenager to handle all this publicity and l think he (or manager) made a mistake to let him race 500 and 750 classes. For sure he would have dominated 250 and 350 classes for years. Johnny was always a gentle rider, never any dirty things. He was simply very, very fast and I think he used his machines very smoothly if you understand what I mean. I remember once in Imatra, the Finnish GP, I think it had to be in 1975. For example I had raced there since 1969 and Johnny was the first rider who's idea it was to use riding also the walking street (you remember Imatra was a street track) in the station corner. His bike was very light and so was he, so he could make it although the step from the road to the walking street was about 20 cm and the corner speed was about 130 km/h. Nobody before Johnny took the risk (or even think about it) for crashing or destroy the wheel on that tramp. In Imatra we had very bad showers and toilets (as almost everywhere in those day's) in the paddock and I'm quite sure that Barry Sheene and Johnny burned this toilettes one year and we got new ones. Barry and Johnny also did some harm in the Valtion hotel because they destroyed some rooms but you know, in those day's riders were living like the last day while so many got killed on that kind of tracks. Once we went to the Venezuelan GP, I think it was 1977 in 350 class. I had a very good start and got problems with my engine and I dropped. I got it solved and finished 4th but the organizers didn't realize my result. Think about that, we were in South America. Then was the start of the 250 and I had told Johnny that if he wouldn't help me I'll loose my points. Just before the start Johnny stopped the whole circuit and said the organizers that no-one would start the 250 if Pentti's result is OK. And that happened very quickly (but I never got the price money). They said though they made my result just because Johnny wanted".
Marcel Ankoné: Former Dutch Grand Prix Motorcycle Racer
"Yes, I do have some memories about Johnny Cecotto. Back in 1975 we had a Daytona 200 team with the “golden racing leathers” together with Wil Hartog, Boet van Dulmen and Rob Bron. I was there for the very first time and had to get used a lot to this kind of circuit. Already there it was clear how talented he was. He immediately qualified 3rd and after a lot of problems at the beginning of the race he made it to 3rd spot. No one could have imagined this. I enclose 2 pictures from me with Johnny, probably he lapped me here. As a comet he came into the front in the Grand Prix field. With the support of Ippolito he knew to get the right equipment, he learned fast and finally he did beat them all. Me myself didn’t do that much Grand Prix’s back in 1975 due to a injury. I clearly remember the Italian Grand Prix in 1976 at Mugello and the speed he had there in the 350cc class. In 1977, my last Grand Prix year, I went to the Venezuelan Grand Prix. This was a result of course because of the fact that Venezuela now was also counting in the Grand Prix circus. There I also did visit the Ippolito building at Caracas. Also after his motorcycle racing career he just went on with Formula and Touring cars. Just like his predecessors Surtees and Hailwood who also reached the top in that racing branch. To be short: a real talent of nature".
Roberto Ravaglia: Multiple World-, European- and National Touring Car Champion
"I raced the first race with Johnny the first time at the Salburgring in 1985 with BMW 635 Team Schnitzer (on the same car because the race was 500 km (250 km for each driver) and I realised immediately how good driver Johnny was. Since 1985 to 1992 I raced on same competitions (touring cars) with Johnny and I had a lot of good race battles for race position and for that I can say that Johnny has been one of the best drivers in touring car that I have seen in my race driver career, a driver with a lot of personality, quick and with a very good preparation in term of technique".
Henk Hindriks: Head Pit Steward of TT circuit Assen from 1977 until 2019
My dearest memories about Johnny Cecotto; "In the seventies he was a real greatness. Most drivers started in 250 and 350cc class but Cecotto immediately got to battle also in the big 750cc. He had real great sponsors but also very faithful fans. Cecotto was very much beloved and he was also approachable and knew how to handle with that. For me he was a racing driver who never made trouble in the pit lane, which was sometimes different at that time, for instance with the smoking of other drivers. Also Johnny was very grateful for what we meant as officials, he showed that we all needed each other. The big money wasn’t the most important thing at that time. What is really clear on my mind is the enormous fire crash which happened in the “knee curve” back then (now the GT corner) but fortunate nothing bad happened there. For me he still is one of the biggest drivers and I will not forget him ever”.
Dr. Ulrich W. Schiefer: Manager of the AtTrack GmbH Company
"Johnny Cecotto, an analytical engineer in the body of a hot blooded South American. We started working together when he was driving for BMW and I was head of BMW’s worldwide touring car activities in 1994. Since then he had already left two motorsports lives behind himself. For anything what comes later, there is probably no better learning bench for how physics of driving works, than being Motorcycle world champion and driving in Formula 1. The very first impression I got about about him was his extreme desire to achieve. And this comes in combination with an extreme egoism, when it comes to any kind of prerequisite in order to be successful on the race track. This power is breathtaking for anybody, who isn’t used to it. But already the second view shows clearly that this is a nearly not to copy recipe, when continuous success is required. Describing the way how Johnny behaves and works at the race track, is a blueprint for any young driver to become successful in motor racing. The reason why there was all the time a small crowd of high performing guys around himself was that he never asks anybody to do more than he would ask himself for. And this means long nights for engineers and mechanics. He basically will never stop searching for clarity and solutions until the slightest doubt is wiped out! We haven’t worked together for a long period when I asked him to drive for my Bioendurance team (www.bioendurance.de) in 2006. And he had a period behind himself when he was purely doing business and not driving. It was impressive to see how he just comes back to the track, analyses the situation, sits in the brand new car and is initially quick. He had never driven a Subaru before and even more had no experience with 4wd. But nevertheless he comes in after two or three laps and provides you with a bunch of actions how to alter the car in a performance gaining direction. It is always a pleasure for me to have him in my team and should there be a future opportunity, I definitively will not forget to ask him. I also look forward to the future of his son whom I call "little Johnny". Being prepared with the Genes of Johnny and having Johnny as a teacher, I am sure that he will be a great one on international race tracks in the future!".
Emanuelle Pirro: Multiple National Touring Car and ALMS Champion
"I feel honoured to be able to write a few lines about Johnny. I believe he has been a great driver and a rider with whom I had a lot of nice battles and competition. Especially in our BMW M3 days we both were very competitive and wanted to win. I was a bit jealous of his "special relationship" with BMW Motorsport management which admired very much his past successes as a bike rider. So I wanted to beat him on the track with four wheels. I have to say in those days we were not "best friends" because the level competition and the rivalry was very high. But also because of our "Latin" character. Johnny could get very "hot" at times and in this situation you better stay away from him. Thinking abut it now, I have to say, it seams a bit silly! But we were young and "hungry" of success. When we did a full DTM season in 1992 he was running on Michelin tyres and we had Yokohama's, he was often faster than me and I always put it down to the tyres. God knows if I was always right! Anyway I admired Johnny a lot and I still do and I believe he deserves every success he had in his career.".
Dr. Claudio Costa: Clinica Mobile Doctor (Mobile Hospital in GP’s)
"In September 1975 a budding young talent who had just become 350cc world champion was brought to me. His name was Johnny Alberto Cecotto, and the fractured astragalus of his right foot was to bind us together in a story of great friendship (even if the medicines I prescribed him often ended up in a drawer on account of his preference for the consolation of beautiful women). To keep a closer eye on how the bone was healing we spent a long period living in the same house; the injury was a complex one, and there was a risk that the bone would die, thus compromising the shining career of a great motorcyclist. His convalescence was long and difficult. Six months later, in March 1976, Johnny Alberto Cecotto triumphed at Daytona, powering on his #5 Yamaha to victory in front of some of the best riders in the sport. That victory did him more good than all the doctors and therapy in the world. That same year, Johnny took me to his hairdresser in Bologna - another dyed-in-the-wool motorcycling fan - and practically obliged him to look after my hair forever. This odd commitment had something of a superstitious ring to it and being superstitious myself, I accepted with pleasure. So, since then my hair has always been cut by Gianni "Sultan" Farioli, a keen Burraco player with whom I was to establish a lasting friendship. Back then I would often live at Johnny's house and he at mine. We also spent a lot of time together in his car, a lightning-fast Ferrari. The fear that bubbled up inside me whenever and wherever he drove soon dissipated, as I slowly realised I was in safe hands. Yet he soon made me anxious for another reason: his driving would attract the attention of the police, who stopped us on several occasions, their guns un-holstered. His love for cars eventually led him into auto mobile racing where he went on to drive in Formula 1 and all others sorts of competitions: motorcycling lost a splendid champion, and I a friend!".All words taken from the book "doctorcosta" with kind permission of Doctor Claudio CostaDR. CLAUDIO COSTA added some words personally by e-mail afterwards;"Johnny Cecotto, wonder-kid full of talent which made him forget that sometimes, restraint is an essential staple in the lives of human creatures. He was so great and daring that he often forgot measure and restraint. And this possibly cost him a few world titles".
Hero Drent: Dutch Fan and Motorcycle Racing Photographer
"Memories about Johnny Cecotto always fall apart in a few different parts. First of all it's always as such a matchless motorcycle racing driver he was. As a young man he did beat the big names on pure driving skills. I have been a joyful witness of that during the 6 years he did race in various classes and different circuits in Europe in motorcycle racing. The directly following part is the engaging personality he was and probably still is. Easy approachable, always prepared to talk to or to pose with the fans. He has helped me and my kids a lot with getting paddock tickets although he, especially in the beginning, hardly knew us at all. The third part still is, next to the highest tops of pure sensation when he won (think at the 500cc at the TT of Assen in 1978, Nivelles F-750 in 1978, 200 miles of Imola in 1978 and the match races in Imola 1979), the deep descents of disappointment and fright when things went wrong (F-750 Assen in 1975 where he almost straight in front of us fell in the ditch at the "Veenslang", the fire crash in F-750 Assen in 1976, the 500cc crash in Salzburg 1979 and later also his Formula 1 crash in England in 1984). But looking at it all together the memories about Johnny for me are only positive. To see him driving after the TT in 1975 we went outside of Holland for the very first time to a motorcycle race and the following years to different races in various countries which finally led to photographing motorcycle races all over the world. To me he always was very approachable and has helped us where he could. And above all because of his natural driving skills to which the two world championships he gathered don't give enough credits to the qualities he possessed".
Wil Hartog: Former Dutch Motorcycle Racer and GP Winner
"I remember Johnny Cecotto as the phenomenon who as a very young driver with number 96 went very fast on the Daytona Speedway in Florida in 1975 . In the following years he showed to be a fantastic racing driver in the Grand Prix's, very fast, always fair and very kind indeed. The most difficult moment I had with Johnny was in 1976 at Assen when he fell of his bike at the Geert Timmer curve. He then lost his burning fuel tank which came against my foot while driving behind him and therefore I had to retire. He was a fantastic racing driver and a magnificent human being".
Mario Lega: World Champion Motorcycle Racing 250cc 1977
"I met Johnny Cecotto in 1974 when I went to Venezuela, invited by Andrea Ippolito to do a race in San Carlos. The trip was made to collect the new water-cooled Yamaha not found in Europe. After the first tests I immediately realized, even though I was away and the heat was certainly not usual for an Italian, that Johnny had an extra gear that is the stigmata of the predestined champion. Back in Italy, talking to journalists and professionals, I announced that there was a great champion in Venezuela and that he would go to Europe to participate in our World Championship. But I was not listened to as in many cases they didn’t take me serious. Later it turned out that I was right. We reciprocated the Venezuelan friendship, hosting Johnny and his mechanic (yes, only two) in the Diemme stable in Lugo, the one that made me race. In the first year Cecotto became World Champion in the 350cc with a practically standard bike, showing a rare ease in learning the tracks, unknown to him, and running fast in all conditions, cold and rain that were not encountered in Venezuela. Battle with Agostini and fighting with Villa and his very fast Harley Davidson, he immediately showed what he was made of and I was proud to have "discovered" him and announced him to the world. Johnny was fast even on the road tracks which were very dangerous, but they didn't scare Cecotto who in circuits like Brno or Imatra beat all the strongest drivers of that time. I'm talking about Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts, Steve Baker etcetera. So much that often after the tests Yamaha stole the engine developed by Cecotto to pass it to Roberts, which annoyed him so much that he gave up his motorcycles to switch to cars. In 1975 I returned to Venezuela for joint winter training in San Paolo del Brazil. As soon as I landed in Venezuela, they immediately took me to a radio to ask me about the “famous kick” of frustration that Villa tried to give to Cecotto in Spa Francorchamps: unacceptable for the Venezuelan media. I repeat that in my opinion Johnny Cecotto was one of the best 500cc riders, his record of results and victories partially demonstrate this because Johnny could have won much more as an eclectic champion of cars and motorcycles. In a book written by Carlo Cavicchi, historical director of Autosprint magazine, entitled "Senna", to the question asked to the great Ayrton, who was the driver who had suffered him the most difficulties, Senna answered Johnny Cecotto who shared the Toleman Formula 1 single-seater with him. Johnny is one of the few pilots I have infinite esteem for".
Jonathan Cecotto: Son, Lamborghini Drive Instructor and Racing Car Driver
"Probably, a good starting point is where it all began. I was watching my brother race go-kart and at my 4th birthday I received a go kart as a gift from my dad. That’s where the passion, or I can also call it an obsession, started. My dad has been following my career from top to bottom till the recent years, where I started walking on my own feet. He was everything next to me: my mechanic, my engineer, my driving coach, my mental coach and at the same time my dad. He’s quite a straight forward guy, probably many would call him intimidating, but that’s the only way to achieve certain results like he did. I tried to absorb everything from him, he taught me all he knew, and he still does. Of course, the world of motorsports has changed dramatically from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, to the current years. This has brought to many adaptations, which are challenging for him to understand, simply because the role of a racing driver changed and this explains why we have different opinions on various aspects. Anyway still today, after my dad being in the motorsports business for around 50 years, I can feel the fuel running in his veins. This time not behind the steering wheel, but supporting my brother's career when he used to race, and now my career. For the Cecotto family this is not only a passion, it’s a lifestyle; a way of life. This is our reality, it has been going through 3 generations, and it will not stop here, the best is yet to come!