On 25 May at the Checco Costa Museum of the Enzo & Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola, the 50th anniversary of the endurance race conceived by Checco Costa and the birth of the ‘first aid on the track’ created by his son, the famous “Dottorcosta”, are commemorated.
To celebrate the memory of two historic inventions that changed the image and substance of international motorcycling half a century ago, on May 25, 2022 at the Checco Costa Museum of the Enzo & Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola, the commemorative event of the first edition will be held. of the 200 Miglia di Imola where the new medical service for drivers made its debut on the track. In fact, 50 years have passed since at the Imola racetrack motorcycling became the protagonist for two extraordinary events that have remained in history, beyond the borders of Motorsport. It was April 23, 1972 when Checco Costa, patron of the Imola circuit, inventor of the Italian Nurburgring and many unique races, brought the Daytona 200 from the Florida sea to the banks of the Santerno river, making it the “race of two worlds” and projecting motorcycling into the future of show business. At the same time, in that same weekend, Claudio Marcello Costa – Checco’s eldest son – revolutionized the concept and way of rescuing pilots with his own team of excellence: a ‘first aid on the track’ focused on the figure of the anesthetist resuscitator.
the spark of barry sheene
The “Dottorcosta”, so from that 23 April 1972 Claudio Costa will be called by everyone and everywhere, before the race he visited, one by one, all the riders taking their blood groups and checking their state of health. Only one pilot refused: the 21-year-old long-haired Barry Sheene who said in English, smiling with a cigarette in his mouth: “I don’t let myself be examined because I’m fantastic”. The next day in the race Barry crashed into the Piratella, breaking his collarbone and when he was taken in an ambulance to the Autodrome Medical Center he said to the Doctor: “I’m not as fantastic as I told you yesterday. From today, you will be the doctor who will cure all the fractures that I will have in the future, because I do not accept to run with reason, I run with emotion, with the consequent risks “. In a subsequent interview published in an English magazine, Barry Sheene praised the Imola medical service by telling his fellow riders: “We on the track go fast and take risks and therefore we can fall and be injured. There is only hope of falling in Imola, where there is a unique service with a special doctor. Indeed, it is to be hoped that that health service and Dr.orcosta will accompany us always and everywhere, in every world race “. It is the spark that leads to putting into practice what Claudio Costa already had in mind for the realization on the circuits of a new health facility, later called “Clinica Mobile”. The drivers’ doctor will write: “This clinic is the house we donated to the heroes of the mythological world of motorcycling”.
the first traveling hospital
Just as the rider tries and takes risks on the track to reach his finish line, so the Dottorcosta and his staff will try and risk to give the rider back what he wants more than anything else after a fall: to go back to racing. “To come back to life – says Claudio – to go back to chasing his dream of racing. In those moments it is the emotion that becomes the master of decisions, both for the rider and for the doctor who wants to fulfill that driver’s goal “. From this, even feats considered impossible become possible, fueling the racing fairytale, with the pilot-hero supported by his doctor-friend who experiences the same emotions as the injured racer. Then there is the inevitability of the adverse “fate”, the lady in black with the scythe, in front of which all that remains is to return to the transience of the human condition. It will be right after the tragedy in Mugello of 16 May 1976 with the fatal accidents of Otello Buscherini and Paolo Tordi that the Clinica Mobile project, intended as a permanent medical facility present in every circuit, becomes reality. The first “traveling hospital” was presented to the drivers and the press on February 3, 1977 in Bendor, on the Côte d’Azur, on the occasion of the French Paul Ricard race. On May 1st of the same year there is the operational debut at the Austrian GP on the very fast and dangerous Salzburgring. Among the many falls, particularly serious, the one that on the first lap of the 350 involves numerous riders including Uncini, Villa, Cecotto, Braun, Fernandez and Hans Stadelmann who, after hitting a bike already on the ground, dies instantly. Chaos on the circuit, with the race that continued and with the rescues delayed by the intervention of the order service with police dogs on the track that attacked and bitten the rescuers, first of all the Italian doctors of the new Mobile Clinic at its baptism of fire. Despite being hindered and even injured themselves, the doctors led by Claudio Costa managed to bring aid to the riders who remained unconscious on the asphalt, saving the life of Franco Uncini. The hindrance to rescue caused by the disorganization of the circuit provoked the harsh protest of all the riders who from then on imposed the official presence of the Mobile Clinic. A revolution.
the evolutions of the mobile clinic
The injured runner was immediately treated on the spot and only in exceptional cases transported to hospital. Specialists, anesthetists, resuscitators and paramedics were present in every curve of each circuit, so as to guarantee an effectiveness equal to that of an operating room in a hospital, but “in real time”, within a few tens of seconds. The traveling hospital of Dottorcosta became the symbol of the racing revolution, an institution desired and loved by all the drivers and by the Circus all over the world. Thousands of interventions in every season with many lives saved. In 1981 the number two Mobile Clinic made its debut, the renovated and upgraded structure that in the Imola race of 1982 will save the life of Valentino Rossi’s father, Graziano, who fell at the Tamburello at almost 300 km / h, entered a coma, was intubated and operated on board track. On May 22, 1988, the third evolution of the Clinic was inaugurated and on May 1, 1997, the fourth. In 2002 the fifth version, a hyper professional and hyper technological structure, still the flagship in the world championship. The words of Dottorcosta are always current: “The creation of the Clinica Mobile resembles an art form, a creation to reward the heroes of motorcycling for teaching us that pain can be defeated and that the artificial and meaningless world that society today there can be an alternative of a world that, despite being opposed by the same rubble, detaches itself from the everyday one to have a true and profound meaning … “.
life, dreams and pilots
The rest is news. Many miracles on the track, many riders saved, many champions brought back to the altars of triumph after purgatory. And, unfortunately, also days of mourning. The tragedy of Marco Simoncelli on 23 October 2011 in Sepang, the driver who lives and will always live in everyone’s heart, is emblematic. On 17 March 2014, at the age of 73, Claudio Costa left the racing world, appointing as his successor the Parmesan doctor Michele Zasa, born in 1979. The lesson of Dottocosta remains alive and goes beyond motorcycling and ran, and it is only one: “Life must be lived and this is possible only by looking for their own dreams”. Without arrogance, not going into trouble, but seeking each within himself his own possibilities and energies, our potential virtues of what we can do to each find his own happiness. The pilot, also injured on a cot at the Mobile Clinic, the first word he says is: “I want to race”. It will not be pain that will stop him from returning to his dream. Isn’t this the case for all the “wounded” of daily life who after a “fall” want to resume the journey of life?
the triumphs of agostini
But let’s go back to that April 23, 1972, when the first edition of the “Shell 200 Miglia” called the “Daytona of Europe” was held on the Imola circuit to match it with the prestigious American race scene of epic duels between overseas champions as well as bench of test and promotion for the 750 maxi motorcycles, at the time considered roaring “monsters” on two wheels in terms of size, power, speed. The Americans will discover the Italian riders in 1974, when Giacomo Agostini, making his debut with the Yamaha 750 4-cylinder 2-stroke, dominated at the Daytona 200 with the newspapers that titled “Needle as Christopher Columbus: conquer America!”. In that same year Agostini will do an encore by also dominating the two heats of the 200 Miglia di Imola, in its third edition, beating the Texan Martian Kenny Roberts and other US champions for the first time in Europe. Thus Agostini becomes the “hero of two worlds” for motorcycling. Without detracting from the value of the 200 Miglia Made in USA, which is the birthright of this type of racing-show, it was the 200 Miglia di Imola, with its thirteen editions between 1972 and 1985 that marked the history of motorcycling. world, developing for the better, with the touch of Made in Italy, what has already been good in America. This is thanks to the passion and genius of Doctor Checco Costa (father of Claudio Costa, creator and head of the Mobile Clinic and of the lawyer Carlo Costa, the historical “voice” of the Santerno circuit and of motorcycling of “Days of Courage”, inventor of the different way of narrating the race) which made Imola “the most beautiful circuit in the world” (Enzo Ferrari dixit), the world capital of motorcycling, organizing innovative, exciting races-events, with the presence of the greatest champions of all continents riding the racing cars of the main world manufacturers, and the setting for a record-breaking audience.
checco costa, a precursor
To understand who was Doctor Checco Costa just remember a banner hoisted on the circuit on the heart-pounding hill at the top of the Tosa curve: “Checco Costa, the greatest organizer of the past, present and future”. Costa is the inventor, as well as the Imola racetrack, of modern motorcycling. Marino Bartoletti wrote in the preface of the splendid volume by Angelo Dal Pozzo and Claudio Ghini (Bacchilega Editore): “He knew how to see far away, Checco: perhaps because he was the son of the fields, he had the sense of a horizon that never ends. And above all he knew how to see “ahead”, far ahead. Because he combined his passions with genius; his hopes for concreteness; his apparent lucid madness with the most disarming ease in transforming it into real facts. And it would be nothing if, in his incomparable path of life and work, he had not combined all this with an almost childlike candor and enthusiasm, with practically inimitable honesty and rigor. Checco was a child with an adult mustache; a wise and responsible puppy, a Peter Pan who had transformed Neverland into a Castle that only he could imagine ”. The human qualities and professional skills, combined with the boundless passion for racing and a genius enhanced by a dose of healthy madness, have made Costa, father and children, a trio of aces of excellence to which Italian motorcycling and motorsport and international owe a lot. Checco Costa and his sons Claudio and Carlo lived on the track with professionalism, passions, emotions: qualities and values accepted and recognized by all, in particular by sportsmen of every flag always celebrating on the hills of “heartbeat” and “passion” around the circuit of the placid Santerno.
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