michele magnoni: the decorated driver of cagli

Story by Amanda Brings

Hidden behind a nondescript, clouded glass door is a garage unlike any other in the small Italian town of Cagli.

Countless gold and silver trophies crowd the shelf-lined walls of the garage.  Twelve well-worn motorcycle suits hang heavily from a thick, suspended metal rod in the room’s far right corner. Neon-stickered motorcycle helmets and stacks of large, treaded tires punctuate the space.  Three racing motorcycles are spotlighted in the fluorescent lighting overhead. A red, white, and green Italian sash drapes over one of the bikes. The sash announces that the bike’s driver had a win, a big win. 

The contents of the garage reveal the accomplishments of Michele Magnoni, a committed, young man with tremendous guts. Michele, or “Magnolux” as his fans call him, is Cagli’s motorcycle racing champion.

In between a stack of oil canisters and a pile of work rags, Michele leans forward as he sits on a wooden chair in his garage. He casually folds his hands together and recounts his initial interest in the sport of motorcycle racing.

“I wanted to ride because my father rode,” says Michele, who at 22 is athletic with short, brown hair and determined, dark-brown eyes. “He never raced in the circuit, but he loved to ride the highways. As a young boy though, I loved to watch the circuit races on television.”

Michele’s desire to ride was fulfilled when, at the age of eight, he began driving his first minimoto or mini bike. Over the next few years, the young Michele started competitively racing his minimoto. Once he began placing in regional, Italian, and European championships, the boy’s undeniable gift for racing emerged. 

Since his early days in competitive racing, Michele has carved out an enviable reputation for himself as a leader in the motorcycle-racing world. His consistent and consecutive successes provide him with the opportunity to race on motorcycle circuits across Europe.  Michele and his racing team, Team Baru Racing, have traveled to locations throughout Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany for competitions. 

In moto racing, drivers race their bikes on circuits or racetracks at extreme speeds.  Depending on the size of the bike’s engine, drivers may reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.  It is no wonder then that Michele’s involvement in the sport makes his grandmother, Carla, nervous. “She is the only one that can’t watch me race. She gets too nervous,” says Michele.

Nerves aside, Michele’s grandmother, his family, and many in the community of Cagli are proud of their hometown’s professional driver.  One of the community’s most thrilling moments occurred when Michele won the 2006 Italian Championships for the 600cc class. It was this win that earned him the title “campione” or champion.  It was also this win that revealed the young driver’s tenacity. Michele didn’t just win the championship; he won the championship with a broken foot.

Interestingly, good motorcycle riders need only one quality to succeed, Michele says, flashing the most genuine of smiles. “Luck.”

The endless glimmer from the trophies reflecting off the garage light suggests that, perhaps, a little more than just luck has played into Michele’s success. Michele, too, concedes there might be more to it than luck. “To get to the top, you must train,” he says. The confident-yet-humble, lifelong resident of Cagli cross trains up to three hours a day, bicycling and bodybuilding.  Some days, he bicycles over 45 miles.    

When he is not training, Michele works at his family’s store, Frutte e Verdure, and cares for his 3-year-old son, Matteo. Though too young to ride now, “If Matteo shows an interest in motorcycles, he may ride, too,” says Michele. Running around the outside of the family store, little Matteo erupts into giggles as he tries to put on an adult-sized motorcycle helmet.  The child’s interest appears to be inherited.

As for his future, Michele would like to continue racing for as long as he can. “There is a high, an adrenaline rush, that I get when my bike hits the pavement,” he says. “This is why I race, for this rush.” 


Michele Magnoni holds his helmet in front of cobbled wall.

A portrait of Michele Magnoni holding his racing helmet.

[Click image for slideshow]