The Doctor Is Out

Valentino Rossi’s career through the lens of Milagro’s Gigi Soldano.

He may be best known as The Doctor, but he’s long since evolved into a whole different animal: the GOAT. Greatest Of All Time. It’s hard to argue against Valentino Rossi’s impact on Grand Prix motorcycle racing. Even 15-time world champion and original GOAT Giacomo Agostini would likely nod in agreement. In 26 seasons of GP racing, Rossi earned 115 wins, 235 podium finishes, and nine championships, seven of those in the MotoGP class. But Rossi’s character, passion, and charisma shine brighter than any of his trophies. His fans are forever faithful, his presence is noticed everywhere he goes, and he has taken MotoGP to parts of the world that may not have even seen motorcycle racing before he brought it there.

Photography group Milagro and Gigi Soldano have been there and seen it all through the viewfinder. From Rossi’s first 125cc race, Milagro has chronicled the achievements of the bright yellow sun that is Rossi. But more importantly he has communicated Rossi’s lust for life, capturing Rossi’s speed and tenacity in an instant of action. His photos are a glimpse inside Rossi’s head and heart.

Without these images, Rossi would still be the GOAT. But Milagro’s photos have contributed to Rossi’s immortality.

Rossi will retire from Grand Prix racing at the end of the 2021 MotoGP season. Ciao, Valentino. And grazie mille, Gigi.

—Justin Dawes

The bikes, the competition, and the face have changed over 26 seasons. Rossi’s amiable nature never has.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi secured his first championship at the 1997 Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno with three races remaining in the season.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi’s first premier class win on a 500cc GP bike came on a Honda at the Cinzano British Grand Prix in 2000, his first year in the class.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Celebrating his first 125cc victory, Brno 1996.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi stormed through the 2001 season winning 11 races and finishing off the podium only three times on his way to his first 500cc championship.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi’s post-win antics often included skits with his fans; here he is stopped for speeding by Mugello polizia.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Bowling ’em down after a win at the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
A podium celebration after a second-place finish at the 2008 Catalan Grand Prix.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Che spettacolo—what a show! Rossi wrapped up his sixth world cham- pionship at the 2004 Australian Grand Prix.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
What if Rossi had not locked up his seventh championship at Sepang in 2005? These guys would look pretty silly.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi took his first win of 2008 in China, starting his march to an eighth world championship.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi battling with his first archenemy, Max Biaggi, at the 2004 Africa’s Grand Prix.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Leading Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden in 2008 enroute to his second win of the 2006 season.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi’s fan club often takes over entire sections of the grandstands. This example is from Holland 2013 after another win.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
What’s with the chicken? Rossi made up a sponsorship from a nonexistent poultry shop called Pollería Osvaldo. Some of his most famous helmet designs featured the mascot Osvaldo, and he even took a victory lap with a friend in a chicken suit after a 125cc win in Sepang. Here Osvaldo helps with a celebration of a ninth world title.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi’s famous (or infamous) go-for-broke pass on Casey Stoner at Laguna Seca in 2008.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Another title celebration, this time with a notary making Rossi’s eighth world title official.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Assen 2009 marked 100 victories for The Doctor.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Honda’s Marc Márquez became Rossi’s last and most spectacular archrival; the two more than once tried to occupy the same spot on the track at the same time.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Surveying the Dainese Museum’s collection of his custom leather racing suits.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Focus of a champion.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Bright designs on Rossi’s helmets and leathers made it easy to spot the Italian even when he wasn’t at the front of the pack.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano
Rossi's impact on motorcycle racing will last long after his retirement.MILAGRO-Gigi Soldano