Whenever a driver dies, people are often at great pains to point out – using all their powers of rhetoric – the very real dangers that all practitioners of motorsport face: the ever-present dark side of motorised competition.
But for Giuseppe Grossi – Pucci to all his friends and not only them; whole generations of rally fans from the 1990s up until now – it was not like that. And the way in which he passed has left a hole in the very heart of Pirelli, with which he was associated through the sheer number of rallies and championships won together.
He was 59 years and from Romagna in Northern Italy, with all the gregariousness that citizenship of the region entails. By trade he was a successful hotelier, but during the weekends he was purely a rally driver, winning seven national titles. As well as that, he was a fan of motorbikes. And it was while he was riding an enduro bike, on Saturday 20 August, that a sudden illness got the better of him, on a what was meant to be an enjoyable scramble over the gravel roads between Romagna and Tuscany.
All of us at Pirelli will remember him with a smile: inspired by the very same smile that Pucci himself wore constantly, in the face of more or less anything.
He won the Italian gravel rally championship six times and in 2008 triumphed on the Italian Rally Challenge as well, using Pirelli tyres once more.
Pucci was the first to make fun of his own achievement. “Seven titles, just like Michael Schumacher!” he joked at the time.
Because even with an impressive collection of trophies in his cabinet, he was never one to take himself too seriously. His dedication and commitment to improving safety though was something he took incredibly seriously.
Together with his co-driver Alessandro Pavesi (a well-known finance PR man, whose illustrious career history includes a spell with Pirelli – and a man with exactly the same passion for rallying as Pucci himself) the most recent few years were dedicated to training programmes for young drivers and improving safety on rallies.
Driving for the love of competition per se, rather than just the result it might bring. Driving as a way of living your life, not just to further your personal ambition. This is what Pucci Grossi was all about, and this is exactly how the world will remember him. Pirelli offers its heartfelt condolences to all his many friends and family, starting with his wife Sara – a pillar of Italian rallying herself – and the entire family of motorsport within the country.