Ride wild. Stay gentle. Luigi Taveri – In all classes a class of his own.
His racing successes have remained unbeaten to this day.
He was the only motorcycle racer in the world to score world championship points in all solo classes as well as in the sidecar category. He became world champion three times. He competed in 143 Grand Prix races, won 30 of them and was on the podium 89 times. As a fair sportsman with a wild riding style, only 1.62 metres tall and weighing only 58 kilograms, Luigi Taveri was a highly respected personality on the international road racing scene.
Luigi Taveri started his motorsports career at the age of 16.
In 1947, he made his debut as co-pilot in the sidecar of his older brother Hans at the European Grand Prix in Berne, which he was allowed to participate in thanks to the consent of his parents and a special police permit. He then made rapid progress on two wheels of different brands before the trained auto mechanic signed his first professional contract with the Italian manufacturer MV Agusta in 1955 and competed as a works rider on the world’s racetracks for five years.
Taveri owes his international breakthrough to his wife Mathilde. In 1960, without his knowledge, she wrote a letter to the European headquarters of the Japanese brand Honda to recommend her Luigi. Although the three factory riders had already signed for the upcoming season, Taveri was offered a factory racebike from the previous year for three races. So ‘Tilde’ Taveri also made history as the first female motorsport manager to take care of her husband’s business at a time when this field was still dominated by men.
In 1962, 1964 and 1966, Luigi Taveri wins three world championships for Honda in the 125 cc class.
His riding skills, keen technical understanding and strong will in these three test races laid the foundation for his lifelong relationship with the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. In 1962, 1964 and 1966, Luigi Taveri wins three world championships for Honda in the 125 cc class, and is successful for the Japanese brand in the most prestigious motorcycle races all over the world, including three victories on the Isle of Man. His spectacular fights with Giacomo Agostini, Jim Redman, Mike Hailwood or Phil Read remain unforgotten.
When Luigi Taveri announces his retirement from active motorcycle racing at the age of 37 after his third world champion title, company founder Soichiro Honda himself invites the entire Taveri family to Japan to dissuade the highly acclaimed Taveri-San from his decision. But his attempt is unsuccessful. Honda appoints him as a lifelong brand ambassador in recognition of his success and, year after year, a new Honda model is delivered to his house on Lake Zurich.