Italy’s “dirt bike” MotoGP fan favorite, from his huge Jack Daniels tattoo to his longer hair and party-boy persona, to his determination to live life to the fullest, Pecco Bagnaia is living a story the world is just starting to see.
A son of a moto racer, he was 19 when he first entered the sport in 2007, but he took it head on.
He has climbed the podium twice in the MotoGP world championship, including a third-place finish last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A rookie, he will be looking to take the world title this year.
Teammate Carmelo Latta is grateful he can tap into his teammate’s talent at Indianapolis.
“He is a motorcycle racer, it’s his destiny. He lives and breathes and eats and breathes this race,” Latta said. “He is the maestro here.”
Pecco Bagnaia has made no secret of his explosive racing style. He lets everything flow and then rides like a steam roller. It’s evident in his Facebook profile.
Another post shows the view from the cockpit of his DTM pro-AMG LCR prototype racing car. He posted the photo so it would not show up in Instagram selfies during the eight days he competed.
“He does not let anything slow him down,” Latta said. “At the end of the day, this is his sport.”
Many aspiring riders dream of racing in Indy. People talk about getting in on the ground floor and heading into the Grand Prix series as the next superstar of MotoGP. Pecco Bagnaia has that distinction, and it was his dream to come to the nation’s capital to compete against the world’s best.
“I came here to the Motor City just to watch motocross and see the super bikes on the streets. I love MotoGP. I am not a fan of dirt bikes,” said the young man who reportedly used to be attacked by dirt bike racers before one of them spit in his face and the other threw a gun at him.
“But I come here not to watch dirt bikes, but to enjoy the sport I love. I grew up on all the motocross and MotoGP cars, so I love it,” he said.
“It is a dream come true,” said one supporter who showed up in full MotoGP regalia at Sunday’s practice.
Pecco Bagnaia made headlines during a test session at Indianapolis in 2013 when he received the large Jack Daniels tattoo on his bicep. Jack Daniels billboard in downtown Indianapolis gives an indication of what kind of fan he is.
Bagnaia was even voted “sportsman of the year” in the Italian city of Trento — where he grew up. His tattooing has also caught the attention of artist Mark Bullock, the creator of artistes like Daxy and X-Men.
The tattoo artist said he saw Bagnaia on television one night and decided he would be perfect for a motorcycle tattoo. He now has seven tattoos, many on his bicep. His girlfriend enjoys his tattoos, too.
It is a hobby he has not missed a day since it began.
“I did not quit working on it,” he said with a grin.
The 30-year-old is in Washington to race in an Indy race. The best riders make it up here for the Indianapolis 500. But no one knows if this is the last time, or even a competitive career.
“I am not thinking about it,” he said, when asked about his future. “MotoGP is a great sport. That is my dream. I am going to ride tomorrow and give 100 percent. Then we will see what happens in the future.”