Racing icon Frankie Chili reveals he's living with Parkinson’s disease

500GP and WorldSBK race winner - and all round racing legend - Pierfrancesco 'Frankie' Chili reveals he is living with Parkinson's Disease

Frankie Chili

Motorcycle racing legend Pierfrancesco ‘Frankie’ Chili has revealed he has been living with Parkinson’s disease for the past two years.

The Italian is a multiple race winner in both the GP categories and most notably in the WorldSBK Championship, but it was his lively, unabashed personality that particularly made him such a firm fan favourite throughout his career.

Chili has not raced competitively since 2006 when a trials accident damaged his pelvis, though remained active in the paddock as the manager of the Guandalini Racing team in the years thereafter.

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In an interview with MoW (Men on Wheels), however, he says he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s - a degenerative disease of the brain that leads to shaking, stiffness and difficulty to maintain coordination -  in 2018 when shaking hands prompted him to visit a doctor.

“When my hands started shaking I went to the doctors,” he said. “Two reassured me, a third, however, wanted to see more clearly and prescribed me an exam: I have Parkinson's. I have been diagnosed with it for two years now. 

Despite the ‘big blow’, 56-year old Chili retains a lighthearted view of the situation, likening it to a rider picking himself up from a fall. 

“The human body is no different from a motorcycle. If a motorcycle has bad vibrations, you take it to a garage. If a person is shaking, they go to the doctor.

However, while some have speculated whether it’s the consequence of accidents in his career, he refuses to dwell on the possibility.

"It was a big blow, but I'm a rider and the riders get up while they have life . I have fallen many ​​times, indeed some think that this disease may be a consequence of those blows to the head and of a head injury in particular remedied many years ago, but I do not ask myself. 

“That's just the way it is and you have to look ahead. I take medicines that keep the course in check, I can do practically everything and where I can't I get help.”

He also reveals he managed to get back onto a motorcycle for a track day alongside former WorldSBK rival Troy Bayliss, but admits he won’t attempt it again after ‘vibrating more than the bike’!

“I went to Australia to do some laps with Troy Bayliss. It was fun but I’ll never do it again, too dangerous, I vibrated more than the bike.”

A 500GP race winner in 1989, Chili went on to score four wins at 250GP level, leading to a peak of finishing third overall in 1992.

However, it was in WorldSBK where Chili earned a legion of fans, winning 17 races between 1995 and 2006 across Ducati, Suzuki and Honda machinery. 

And if you haven’t been introduced to the character that is Chili, this candid reaction to a crash at Spa-Francorchamps in 1990 should help… watch to the end.