We never fall, but if we really have to, Imola’s the best place to do it. There you at least get looked at and looked after.
BARRY SHEENE, 1975
DOCTOR CLAUDIO MARCELLO COSTA, THE SON OF RACE ORGANISER CHECCO, TOOK THE MATTER OF FIRST AID FOR THE RACERS TO HEART. AS A BOY HE HAD RUN ONTO THE TRACK TO HELP DUKE. FROM 1972 TO 1976 HE WAS IN CHARGE OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL AID AT IMOLA WITH HIS COLLEAGUES CAROLI AND RUSSO. THEN THE IDEA CAME TO HIM: LET’S BUILD A MOBILE CLINIC!
“Why don’t we build a travelling hospital?” he asked his doctor friends. The next step was to put it all down in writing. The onboard equipment needed was identifi ed with the help of Professor Luciano D’Urso, senior consultant in anaesthetics and resuscitation at the Rizzoli in Bologna. Then the space it would require was calculated. The “Life Car” looked feasible and the search was on for the most suitable vehicle to provide it.
In the end, a Volkswagen was chosen, a TL 35 with a 2,700cc diesel engine that was 5.35 metres long and 2.15 metres wide. The plan was to get the vehicle fitted out by the bodywork specialists Introzzi of Como. Everything was settled. Now all they needed was the money.
It was at this point that Gino Amisano of AGV helmets entered the history of the Mobile Clinic - right at the beginning. With a donation of twenty seven million lira, Amisano was the first and only sponsor to answer the call, cementing his reputation as a real man of sport with strong values.
The presentation of the fi rst clinic took place on 3 February 1977 at Bendor - a little island south of Bandol, not far from the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet - and it first saw service at the Austrian GP in Salzburg on 1 May. That Sunday five 250 riders came off on the fastest stretch, which was enclosed within the metal barriers of the guardrail throughout. Stadelmann tragically didn’t make it due to the severity of his injuries, but Cecotto, Braun, Fernandez and above all Uncini, the worst of the four, all pulled through thanks to Costa’s team. The figures for that first year in a long series of seasons’ service speak for themselves, with 178 racers treated and a total of 1,287 medical services provided. Amisano had taken the first step, making the whole venture possible, and at the end of the year he was joined by a number of motorcycle world championship riders and the Imola Moto Club Santerno, who provided the additional funds needed to balance the budget for the doctors’ fees.