ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – 12th of May, 2009 – Powerboat racing has lost a truly dedicated driver as 53 year-old Enrico “Chicco” Vidoli passed away due to an accident on the 9th of May on Lake Lugano doing what he truly loved best, competing and racing on the water.
The Italian ex-F1 driver was last seen as a competitor at a U.I.M. Grand Prix event in late summer of 1998 when he qualified 15th of the Grand Prix of Italy at Stresa on Lake Maggiore. He was helping in the introduction of the then new Belco Avia designed boat with the Rainbow racing organization.
“Chicco’s” most memorable racing event may have come back on the 15th of September in 1985 when he was running at speeds of up to 225 kph or (140mph) at the Grand Prix of France in Lyon when riding flat out in his 550 hp catamaran hulled boat. The young driver went airborne in spectacular fashion blowing his big V-8 powered craft end over end. Luckily Vidoli received only bruises and no broken bones in the incident. The series of photographs that were published worldwide of the event that year made about every major sports magazine on the planet.
Vidoli, was part of the first wave of talented Italian drivers that made their way into the sport in the early to mid 1980’s. He along with Carlo “Lillo” Colombo, Luigi Valdano, Guido Caimi, Nicole Mora and Roberto Saverio were all part of the group that was chasing legendary Renato Molinari who would go on to win three world titles in the U.I.M. F1 World Championship Series in it’s first four years of history.
Enrico scored his first points in F1 during the 1983 season when he finished in fourth place at the Grand Prix of Italy at Casale Monferrato in June in a race won by Molinari. The following year Vidoli improved to finish in a three way tie for fifth in the championship claiming 14 points during 1984.
His best racing results of the year came at the final two events of the season as he grew into his role as up and coming talent by taking his first ever podium at the Grand Prix of Germany in Munich followed two weeks later with a second at his home Grand Prix in Milan.
The 1985 season proved to be his high water mark in the sport, picking up two career victories and finishing fifth in the championship with 26 points. He reached the top step of the podium in June of the year at the season’s second race at the Grand Prix of Sweden in Stockholm holding off Frenchman Francois Salabert and Sweden’s Bertil Wik.
His most popular victory came in America at the fourth Grand Prix in the United States that summer by winning the Pittsburgh “Three Rivers Regatta” in front of 250,000 spectators. He held off Ben Robertson of Charleston, South Carolina, who would later go on to win the event five times in his career, along with British driver Rick Frost who took third.
“Chicco’s” final foray onto the international stage of F1 came in the 1998 season. He qualified for the Grand Prix of Italy at Cagliari starting 15th before dropping out early and being classified 20th at days end at the opening race and later finished his career later in the summer in Stresa, Italy.
Enrico did what he loved. It was reported that he won a race in Verbania one week before the day he died. He was racing in an Endurance Group B event running a Class S1 boat in the Italian National Championship event "100 Miles of Lake Maggiore".
God’s speed “Chicco” you will always be remembered for your love of the sport and being loved by the members of the worldwide racing community that will never forget your enthusiastic style and charm every time you entered a racing paddock.
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