text and image by dean adams
February 16, 2010
Photo: Rossi in 1997
February 16 is Valentino Rossi's birthday; he turns 31 today. The nine-time world champion will no doubt spend a quiet night in with a few hundred close friends, all of them chatting and laughing at machine gun volume and pace.
While Barry Sheene maybe came the closest to eclipsing the sport before Rossi, the Italian has truly transcended motorcycle racing with his popularity, accomplishment and charisma. While Rossi currently has no plans to leave racing or retire, MotoGP is certainly going to be a very different place without him.
As former world champion Wayne Gardner put it a number of years ago: "Every time you see Rossi ride, you're seeing history made."