Bad Boy No.1: Marco Lucchinelli

The coke snorting champ: The story of Crazy Horse, the original Grand Prix rock star

Marco Lucchinelli was the closest thing to a rock star that motorcycle racing has ever had. The long hair, the excesses of drink and drugs, the beautiful women and fast cars, hell he even played at Italy’s massive San Remo Song Festival (think Glastonbury but without the mud) and cut several singles in the early 1980s.

His nickname of Crazy Horse was well deserved but, even so, the motorcycling world was shocked to hear the news that, on December 6, 1991, Lucchinelli had been arrested on suspicion of running an international drug ring. This wasn’t a club racer after all; Lucchinelli was a former 500cc champion of the world, the highest accolade in motorcycle racing. Between 1975 and 1986, the Italian won six 500cc Grands Prix, set nine pole positions and nine fastest laps, and scored a total of nine podiums. Riding a factory Suzuki RG500 he took the 1981 world championship ahead of the likes of Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene and Randy Mamola.

After his GP career was over, Lucchinelli won the 1987 Daytona Battle of the Twins race on a Ducati 851 and scored two wins in the first ever World Superbike season in 1988 before becoming Ducati’s team manager in the series the following year. He was still in Ducati’s employ when he was arrested on drugs charges along with four other Italian men and six Peruvians. It was alleged that Lucchinelli and the others had been smuggling cocaine into Bologna by a most ingenious method, transforming the narcotics into invisible films that were hidden in the courier’s suitcases.

Lucchinelli had been with two of the Peruvians in a flat he owned in Bologna when they supplied him with 200g of cocaine. The prosecution took this as evidence that the former GP star was involved in the trafficking trade but Lucchinelli insisted he was only being supplied with drugs, not dealing in them. “I am a cocaine addict,” he admitted to judge Michele Massari, “but not a drug dealer.”

Lucchinelli had started taking cocaine during his latter years as a rider and quickly became addicted to the substance, eventually becoming an ‘extreme’ user in the months prior to his arrest. Facing a possible 30-year sentence on trafficking charges, he managed to persuade the court that he had not been involved in the operation itself and had only been in the flat with the other men to collect 200g of cocaine.

He was handed a much lesser sentence of five years and four months for possession but only served three months in Dozza prison before spending a further five months under house arrest at his luxury home in Imola where he lived with his wife Paola and children Cristiano and Rebecca. The shamed champ later spoke surprisingly positively about his time in Dozza saying, “The prison was useful to me. I wish I had gone there before so as to get rid of this damned slavery (cocaine addiction) long ago.”

Lucchinelli was also ordered to attend a weekly detox programme in hospital as part of his sentence. He returned to Ducati’s employ in 1992 and still has links with clothing manufacturer Dainese, attending various events as a special guest. He continues to play with his band and can be found singing his heart out on YouTube. His tribute song to Carl Fogarty ‘Foggy Day’ is a must-hear. No, really.

Bad Boy No 2: Billy Lane