Marco Simoncelli would have been 32 years old this past Sunday, January 20. Eight years after the fatal accident at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia that claimed the life of the 2008 250cc Grand Prix world champion, the memory of the charismatic Italian is still alive in the heart of MotoGP fans around the world.

"I still cannot understand this global phenomenon," Paolo Simoncelli, Marco's dad, admitted. "Since his loss, every single day we have received a letter, a message, a donation, a gift from the most remote corners of the world. The amount of love that my boy was able to raise is incredible. He is more popular now than when he was fighting hard versus Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, or Andrea Dovizioso.

“Marco was a simple person. He was authentic, genuine, sincere. I think he was able to touch the hearts of the people, no matter their nationality, because he was true. I’m impressed by the avalanche of messages that I receive. I’m overwhelmed by the number of tattoos inspired by Marco. I’m starting to collect photos of them. They are beautiful. Some are masterpieces.”

Since Simoncelli’s death, many things have been done in his name, including a museum in Coriano, his hometown, and the Marco Simoncelli Foundation run by his former fiancé, Kate Fretti. The foundation manages several international projects, such as a hospital in Haiti.

This past weekend, the Simoncelli family unwrapped a special gift. “Casa Marco Simoncelli” will provide support for disabled young people and their families. It features a small living space, a gym, a swimming pool, physiotherapy rooms, meetings rooms, and a huge garden.

Casa Marco Simoncelli
Located less than 2 miles from the Italian hometown of its namesake, “Casa Marco Simoncelli” was inaugurated this past Sunday, which would have been the former MotoGP racer’s 32nd birthday. The home for the disabled is wholly financed by the Marco Simoncelli Foundation.Courtesy of Marco Simoncelli Foundation

The project started five years ago, Paolo said. “Marco used to attend to this community with the local priest. We wanted to give back the love we have received and also by the blessing to have a kid like Marco. But I have to say that the amount of love we receive every day is more than double. You cannot heal the wound represented by the loss of a child, but the affection of the people helped.”

In a world in which motorsport is so often synonymous with business, the younger Simoncelli was a voice from the choir, a hymn to the authenticity and roots of our sport, where riders often spoke their mind.

“Marco was strongly criticized for his aggressive riding style,” Paolo said. “Can you imagine what battles we could have had between Marco and Marc Márquez? Marco died before he could show the world what he was able to do.”

The Simoncelli name remains connected to the MotoGP paddock with a Moto3 entry, the Sic58 Squadra Corse. "Taking care of the young talents and running a team has brought me back to life," Paolo admitted. "It keeps me busy and takes me away from thinking."

The Simoncelli Foundation often refers to an Italian expression, that, loosely translated, means, “If you don’t dare, the dream of your life will remain forever closed in the drawers of your house.” For Paolo Simoncelli, another dream has come true.