The 18 lap race was chalked full of great moments. Max Biaggi was a force from pole position but after a drive through penalty for running straight on through a corner he was relegated to the back of the field. That left the door open for fellow Italian, Marco Melandri and rookie Irishman, Eugene Laverty to duel it out for top spot. You can more read about it at one of my favorite moto blogs, Asphalt & Rubber.
As the race wound down, Chris and I walked over to the section of the grand stands facing the podium to get a better view of the winning riders, (1,2,3) E. Laverty, M. Melandri and M. Fabrizio. As we’re waiting for the riders to take the podium we notice fans walking up the track. I’m thinking to myself, just a few sirly fans looking for last minute kicks when suddenly the track marshal standing in front of us opens a gate and allows everyone in our section access to the track. Before I know it, I find myself standing on the main straight of one of the most historic grand prix circuits of all time.
With the champagne celebrations well underway we are now standing with several hundred other people underneath the podium. This being my first WSB race ever, I had no idea of the aprés-race tradition where riders remove the knee sliders from their suits and launch them into the beckoning crowd below. See picture below, right – top right corner.
I was one of the lucky ones and caught a knee slider thrown by Marco Melandri, like a catching a bouquet at a wedding. Wait, what? A great souvenir though.
Among the chaotic flurry of people playing the “catch the knee sliders” game, I get a call from Chris who has managed to hop over the wall and into the pit lane! Dude, you gotta see this, he says. I don’t waste any time finding him, quickly throw over my camera and knee slider, scale the 7 foot wall myself. I don’t know which was better: standing on the main straight at Monza or standing in the pit lane at Monza facing those legendary garages.