Competitor Profile: Renzo Pasolini

TT Career Summary
Position2DNF
No of times25

Biography

PhotographRenzo Pasolini Translation Renzo Pasolini was made for the pure pleasure of bike fans. He was one of those men that love to give everything, he wasn't conservative: every race contested seemed to be the most important one for him. When he was racing he didn't think to the future or to the championship, but was thinking only about approaching the next bend in the best way possible or the next straight. He was racing, gaining an incredible balance in every moment, so close to the limit and was so amazing to watch on the bike. But with this kind of philosophy - he wanted "everything immediately" - "Paso" (this was his typical nickname) lost the 1969 Championship of the World in the 250 class with the Benelli. In this year Kel Carruthers was "Paso's” substitute, after the Italian rider suffered two bad crashes. And at the end of the year, Kel won the 250 cc title...

Watching Pasolini racing, the crowd experienced two feelings: from a certain point of view, he gave a lot of pleasure through all the spectacular things that he was able to show, but also there was the fear of a possible crash. Pasolini in the Sixties was the master of road racing in Italy, on the street circuits of the cities in front of the Adriatic Sea, like Rimini, Riccione, Milano Marittima and Cesenatico, special places in which every spring, some races called "Temporada Adriatica" took place. In this environment "Paso" was able to reach the peak of his skill: his particular style consisted of a good background as a motocross rider, so sensitive, and he was able to use the throttle as he was mastering the tight road racing circuits of the Adriatic. Even though Renzo was giving 100% at every moment, it is interesting to point out that in all his career he fell off only few times (but, sadly, in very important moments, like during 1969 obviously) and his fatal crash (Monza 1973) was probably due to a seized engine.

Even though, to tell the truth, lots of people in Italy are still not thinking this way: they are thinking that there was oil on the tarmac and this should be the cause of the last Paso Crash.

Pasolini was also a very enjoyable kind of person and he had a very good sense of humour. Lots of times he was able to make his fans laugh, especially during the interviews on the Italian TV channels, when Renzo used his humour against his typical rival: Giacomo Agostini.

He had a lot of power and strength in his hands; he was not too tall or too short. His eyesight was not so perfect and he had to use glasses. And not only on the bike... When he was little more than a boy, he tried boxing and then motocross. Renzo said that if he had not been a bike rider; he'd have been a good puncher! But even though Pasolini was a very good sportsman, his behaviour was not so perfect: he loved smoking and also spending the night enjoying eating and drinking with his friends... Renzo Pasolini was born in Rimini (close to the Adriatic Sea) on 18th July 1938. His father Massimo was himself a bike rider and himself, broke some class world speed records in his career.

The first racing experience of "Paso" took place when he was twenty years old in motocross. From that point on he loved motocross and was using motocross bikes every winter, throughout his career, to keep him fit.

In 1962 he began road racing with an Aermacchi 175 cc and was immediately able to beat a very young and sensational rider called Giacomo Agostini two times. This was a typical sign of the destiny. The struggle with Mino ended only in 1973, the year of the Paso’s fatal crash at Monza: 12 seasons later...

In 1963, when he was 25 years old, "Paso" had to go into the Italian Army Service and went to the Isle of Sardinia (south of Italy). This was not a fantastic moment for his career, he was not able to race, because he had no time to do it, but he met Anna, the girl that would later become his wife. Anna, some years later, gave Renzo two babies: Sabrina and Renzo Stefano. (when Renzo died at Monza in 1973 Sabrina was 6 years old and Renzo Stefano only 2 1/2 years old).

In 1964 Renzo came back to racing in the "Senior" class in Italy, at this time, was the class of the most experienced riders. He raced in the middle class with Aermacchi single’s 250 cc and 350 cc: the problem for him was the lack of engine power, but sometimes he was able to beat more powerful machines, thanks only to his riding skill. In 1965 he was second with the Benelli, behind the famous Provini in the 250 cc Italian Championship and was third in the 350 national Championship, just behind Giacomo Agostini and Giuseppe Mandolini.

With the Benelli team, together with the veteran, Gilberto Milani, he also contested some races in the World Championship: he was 4th at the Nurburgring and at the Dutch TT. He was also in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, but not with a lot of luck: he retired in both races: 250 and 350.

In 1966 his best results in Italy were all in pure road races: second place at Milano Marittima 250cc, second at Cesenatico in the 500cc class (with a 350cc bike) and two third places in the 250 and 350cc class at Ospedaletti.

In the World Championship he was fourth or fifth in 350 classes, but the best achievement was a place on the podium (third) in The Netherlands, alongside two legends, Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini. At the end of the season, the Benelli factory decided to give him the new 500cc bike (four cylinders). With his bike "Paso" immediately scored a victory in an Italian race, in front of the old Gilera of Remo Venturi.

1967 was the hottest time of his duels with Ago that drove the Italian crowd crazy for so many years. Giacomo Agostini with MV Agusta against Renzo Pasolini with a Benelli: it appeared to be the title of a fantastic movie with a lot of thrilling sequences and never ending sequels! But the duels all took place, in Italy. Mainly because the Benelli factory did not have the will (or the money) to race abroad in every race of World Championship. Regardless, when "Paso" was racing, the results spoke for him: in the World Championship Renzo was third at Hockenheim and Assen with the 350cc bike (both times behind Hailwood and Agostini). In Italy the emotions were growing and growing every time: at Modena "Paso" won (Ago retired), and was second behind the MV Agusta at Riccione and Milano Marittima. Renzo won the 350cc race at Cesenatico in front of Ago, and was second at Imola and third at Zingonia, both times in the 350cc class. To these results we have to add two victories (even though Ago was not in either race) with the 250cc Benelli at Milano Marittima and with the 500cc bike at Pergusa.

In 1968, Pasolini and the Benelli only beat Ago and his MV Agusta twice in Italy, at Cesenatico and Imola, but achieved second place eight times in Italy and abroad. The power of the MV was unbeatable. "Paso" did have good victories in the 250cc class at Rimini and, at the end of the season, in the 250 cc and 350cc Italian Championships.

1969 seemed to be the beginning of a fantastic season for Pasolini, because he started the year with an incredible sequence of victories: Rimini 250cc and 350cc (with Ago second in this race), Modena 250 and 350cc (with Ago retired), Riccione 250 and 350cc (with Ago second in this race) and Riccione 250 and 350cc (Ago second) and Imola 250 and 350cc (Ago each time second - and rather angry - in the 350 class)! Then came the races at Cesenatico, when "Paso" won the 250cc race and came second, behind Agostini, in the 350cc race.

But Milano Marittima was to be "Paso's" vengeance: two victories in 250 and 350cc races, with Agostini retired. The competition between Paso and Ago was incredible: in Italy the bike enthusiasts were divided into two parties: Paso's fans and Ago's fans.

And not only was every race a step forward for the duel, every interview in the newspapers and every presence on TV shows gave the chance for some more battles of words and humour. Then a final showdown between Paso and Ago, to decide (obviously, with a lot of money for the winner) who is the best rider.

The idea, to be honest, was very interesting but the Italian federation and also Benelli and MV Agusta were not happy about it, because it could be very dangerous. In the end, the challenge was forbidden by the FMI (Italian Federation).

1969 was also the year in which Pasolini was closest to achieving his ultimate career goal: winning a World Championship. He was in a very good position in the 250cc class, but at Hockenheim fell off during practices and was not able to race. And for physical problems, he had to withdraw to race at the Tourist Trophy and Le Mans races.

So Kel Carruthers took his place. The come back of Pasolini was in the Dutch TT at Assen and Renzo won the race in front of Carruthers and the Spanish Santiago Herrero (Ossa). But there was a bad surprise for Renzo at the Belgian GP of Spa Francorchamps: his engine broke and he was out of the race. Then came two more victories for Pasolini, at Sachsenring and Brno, in-front of Herrero and Gould.

At Imatra, during the Finnish GP, another bad crash put Renzo out of contention for the Championship. At the end of the season the winner was the very lucky and, above all, conservative, Kel Carruthers...

The only pleasure for the very sad Pasolini was the victory in two Italian Championships, 250cc and 350cc, not much of a consolation at the end of the day...

For the 1970 season there were some new technical rules: it was no longer possible to race in the 250cc class with a four cylinder engine, so Pasolini and the Benelli preferred to race in the 350cc class. With his bike, "Paso" won at Rimini and Riccione (not World Championship races).

In the World Championship, his best results were second places at Assen, Sachsenring and Brno, every time behind Giacomo Agostini on the MV Agusta. In the "GP delle Nazioni" Renzo Pasolini had to retire his Benelli 500 after setting a new lap record at 203 kph.

But during the season the relationship between Pasolini and the Benelli factory deteriorated and got worse. This was because the rider felt that the bike was still not so competitive and, at the same time, the opinion of the factory was... the contrary. So it was not possible to avoid a sad divorce between Benelli and Pasolini.

The Italian rider decided to come back to his first love: the Aermacchi. In the meantime, the factory had changed is name, and was now called Harley Davidson. The new, and very interesting bike at the factory was a 250cc two cylinder that needed a lot of testing to became competitive: not a problem!

Renzo Pasolini, as ever, was ready to do the hard work! But the task was not so easy: the 1971 season was lost with a bike that wasn’t reliable.

For 1972 there was something new and positive on the horizon: finally the 250cc HD of Gilberto Milani and Mr. Mascheroni was competitive, and for Paso the glory was to return. He won the Nazioni GP at Imola, also in Yugoslavia (Abbazia) and Spain (Barcelona); he came second at Clermont Ferrand (behind Phil Read), at Assen (behind Gould), at Sachsenring and Brno (behind Saarinen).

In the national races in Italy, he won at Riccione and Ospedaletti, winning also his fifth Italian title. Results were also good in the 350cc class: he was second at Imola, Sachsenring, Brno and Barcelona.

At the end of the season, in the World Championship, Renzo Pasolini was second in 250cc class and third in 350cc class: well done!

During 1972 "Paso" raced in the USA at Ontario Race Park with a 750cc Harley Davidson: he was third at the end of the race, and best factory rider.

In 1973 he tried to race in the "Daytona 200" with the 750 Harley, but with no luck. Regardless it was to be a very good season for Renzo. The HD had two new bike models, including a very competitive, two-cylinder water-cooled model. It is then, not surprising when, at the beginning of the racing year, "Paso" won at Riccione and Vallelunga (near Rome) and he also immediately won the Italian Championship (his sixth).

But the fatal date was waiting for him at Monza, the 20th of May 1973. After an amazing race in the 350cc class, in which Pasolini was challenging for victory with Ago, his engine seized.

Just after this unlucky race, Pasolini was due to start in the 250cc class, against the very competitive team Yamaha, with Jarno Saarinen as best rider. At the very first fast bend, "il Curvone", after a few hundred metres from the start, Pasolini fell off, and lots of riders followed him in a multiple and terrible crash: Saarinen, Walter Villa, Giansanti, Palomo, Kanaya, Mortimer and Jansson.

For Pasolini and Saarinen death was instantaneous. All the Italian bike fans cried, including Ago's fans and Ago himself, for the loss of Renzo Pasolini.

But this is not the right way and not the appropriate mood to remember the fantastic rider, Renzo Pasolini. It is better to remember him on his bike, with his eyes looking for the next bend and the throttle flat out as he loved to do throughout his entire career, and his life.



Thanks to Mario Donnini for the translation to English.



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