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Thirty years.

That weekend of exactly thirty years ago forever changed the approach to motor sports competitions, for insiders and outsiders alike.

And perhaps it contributed to upheaving the perception of much more. A house of cards from an era as carefree as it was, probably, still too unaware, collapsing like that, over a weekend.

Imola 1994 is also this, a piece of an endless chain of generational passages, ready to define a "before" and an "after".

An anniversary that has a face, or rather two. A heavy, uncomfortable anniversary that puts heroes, anti-heroes, myths, and legends in their place thanks to a hefty bill, that no one has ever fully paid and never will.

These are the feelings, the perceptions, thirty years later from who, on that April 30th and May 1st, were just over 7 months old. Sensations passed down by the media power of those events, which dug so deep as to contribute to creating a passion, mine, so strong that it became one day one of the most intense reasons for living.

My story alongside and within the world of motorsports has obviously been shaped by the tales, the events, the stories of those who came before me. And it would simply be foolish not to mention the legend of Ayrton Senna among the most influential of this "book of memories".

Something visceral and magical, which has passed from the distant images, light-years away from the cathode-ray tube TVs of the 90s, from those VHS tapes with snippets of races, television programs on that F1 interrupted halfway and stitched together, almost forming a treasure map that led to emotions so strong along its path, making everything else boring, everything a child should have watched. Occasionally interesting, yes, but ridiculously flat in comparison.

These are the aftermath of a perfect story, with a yellow helmet predestined, first in trouble with someone and then forever delivered to eternity, without a happy ending as the best screenplay predicts, told over the years by illustrious people. Ezio Zermiani, Clay Regazzoni, Guido Schittone, Mario Poltronieri, Giorgio Terruzzi. Voices distant from anything present today, romantic storytellers worthy of the title of evangelists, to exaggerate.

And then Roland, the other side of the coin. The cruel fate of a "wheel worker", a self-made man to whom something decided to clip his wings, before letting him taste the true sense of achievement.

Testimonies of an era of different values, not necessarily better or worse, which knew how to make itself a cornerstone that, no matter what is said, remains light-years more evocative than today's. More human, less programmed. But also damn less responsible, careless of consequences. A legacy that weights like a boulder in nostalgia and in the shards to be disposed of.

A legacy, indeed, like the one left by that weekend. In sports and much, much more. In the heart of who's writing and, evidently, in the hearts of millions of people.

© Simone Marchetti


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