Contributions of drivers, journalists and others who were involved in any kind of way with Johnny Cecotto during his career...
DR. CLAUDIO COSTA: Doctor in the Clinica Mobile, the "mobile hospital of motorcycle racing 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 nr. 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 unholstered. His love for cars eventually led him into automobile 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 Costa
DR. CLAUDIO COSTA added some words personally by e-mail afterwards;
"Johnny Cecotto, wonderkid 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: 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".
PENTTI KORHONEN: GP motorcycle racer in 250 and 350;
"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 normally 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 remember 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.....".
WIL HARTOG: Dutch ex-driver in motorcycle Grand Prix racing;
"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".