Valentino Rossi’s helmet designer: You will be familiar with his work, but you may not be aware of his name – Aldo Drudi is the creative force behind Valentino Rossi’s helmet designs (as well as many other MotoGP and Motorcycle Grand Prix riders), and his influence extends back for decades. A methodical and hard worker, Aldo Drudi is a man who mostly shuns the limelight and would rather let his work and designs do the talking.
Aldo Drudi has been hugely influential in turning a rider’s helmet into not just a safety feature, but a canvas and a way for the rider to express themselves and delight their fans. And there is probably no rider who does this more than Valentino Rossi – Valentino may be the most famous modern motorcycle racer, but Aldo Drudi is the sport’s most famous designer.
Aldo Drudi is from the same area of Italy as Valentino Rossi, and he currently lives in Riccione, which is an area rich in Motosport history and is surrounded in racing icons – the Ferrari headquarters and the Ducati headquarters are only a hundred or so kilometers away.
Drudi became friends with Graziano Rossi (Valentino’s father) early on in Graziano’s racing arreer and Drudi has been friends with the Rossi family ever since.
This is an interesting interview that Drudi conducted with motorcycle clothing manufacturer Spidi, whom he was doing some design work for. Drudi talks about his past in Rimini and Cattolica, and how he met Valentino’s father Graziano Rossi and began designing helmets for him initially, before moving on to working with Valentino.
Valentino Rossi and Aldo Drudi:
Drudi has been responsible for Valentino’s helmet graphics since the very start of Rossi’s career. This is Valentino’s first real racing helmet, way before he joined the premier class, and you can see the Drudi Performance stamp and logo on it already.
From this initial start Drudi would go on to work with Valentino to develop many of the logos and motifs that would be used through his entire racing career, like the famous ‘Sun and Moon‘ theme that has pretty much appeard on most of Vale’s helmets in one way or another, often dominating the design. The Sun and Moon are said to reflect the two sides of Valentino Rossi’s personality and the two characteristics that racers are required to have – the positive sunny side, and the darker competitive side that makes them want to win at all costs.
How does Aldo Drudi and Valentino Rossi come up with their special helmet designs?
Aldo Drudi creates all of Valentino Rossi’s helmets, so what that means in reality is the creation and design of the primary race helmet that Valentino will wear throughout the season, but also the special one-off helmets that are also created for significant events in the season like the Mugello and Misano GPs.
Drudi has been responsible for all of Rossi’s most famous designs and Drudi has stated that in general the process of coming up with ideas is usually done in a relaxed atmosphere, over some food and wine. However, there are times during the season where a quick design is required – such as for Misano and Mugello, Rossi’s home races.
These two races are significant events on the MotoGP calander and attract thousands of passionate motorcycle racing fans, with many showing up to support the Italian riders and Ducati. Predicatably, Valentino Rossi is usually the center of attention and he usually makes sure he plays up to the extra focus by getting Drudi to create an eye-catching one off helmet design for the occasion. Many of these helmet designs have become iconic and memorable moments in themselves, and are often discussed during the race weekend as much as the race itself. Valentino has used the designs to give messages to the crowd, to pass commentary on his performance, or to poke fun at any of his recent failures.
One of the most memorable was the 2008 Mugello helmet that feature a picture of Valentino’s screaming face on it, so fans could see what it felt like to race a MotoGP machine around Mugello.
Drudi has stated that the time taken to go from concept to actual final design for these races is usually very quick, and they can go from exploratory discussion and brainstorming to the finished product in just a matter of days. Rossi and Drudi usually wait until the last minute in order to make sure the design is up to date and they have a chance to capture any recent events, or emotions, that Rossi may want to express. Once they have the idea, then they get down to work.
This photo shows Drudi and Rossi revealing the Tartargua (Turtle) helmet design that was created just before the Mugello MotoGP in 2013. The design was intended to pay tribute to the animal that Rossi has used as a mascot since his childhood racing days, and to also poke fun at the fact that Vale had been too slow during the 2013 MotoGP season and couldn’t keep up with the 3 leading riders of Lorenzo, Marquez, and Pedrosa.
Who else has Aldo Drudi designed helmets for?
Aldo Drudi is hugely prolific and has designed for famous riders in MotoGP and WSBK, and it’s not just helmets, Drudi has designed motorcycle liveries, leathers, and safety equipment during his long career. Helmet designs are what he remains most best-know for, and some of the famous riders that Drudi has created distinctive helmets designs for include:
- Marco Luchinelli
- Graziano Rossi
- Kevin Schwantz
- Mick Doohan
- Mattia Pasini
- Colin Edwards
- Ben Spies
- Alex Barros
- Alvaro Bautista
- Loris Capirossi
- Carlos Checa
- Alex De Angelis
- Nori Haga
- Sylvian Guintoli
- Leon Haslam
- Randy Mamola
- Marc Marquez
- Gary McCoy
- Marco Melandri
- Shinya Nakano
- Kenny Roberts Jnr
- Marco Simoncelli
…And many, many more. Basically, if you have ever watched a motorcycle race in the last 25 years, then you will have seen plenty of Aldo Drudi deisgns on track. All Drudi designed helmets feature the words ‘Drudi Performance‘ on them somewhere, so look for that stamp if you are ever unsure if a helmet has come from the design pad of Aldo Drudi.
A selection of some notable Valentino Rossi helmets by Aldo Drudi:
The ‘True Italian’ helmet from Mugello 2002, Drudi and Rossi created a helmet based on Valentino’s father’s racing helmet:
The Eyeball – created for the 2011 Mugello MotoGP to remind Valentino to watch the track closely after breaking his leg in a crash the previous year at the same track:
The Wooden Spoon – a design created to make the helmet look like it was made from wood, in order to poke fun at the fact that Vale had been finishing off the podium for a run of races during 2004:
The Heart – Another Mugello classic, a design created so Valentino could show his love and appreciation to all his fans: