Suzuka, where he and Rossi won the 8 Hours of Suzuka
For Colin Edwards, those were the good days, with indelible heartfelt images of joy and sporting victory.
Yet, just as those days come easily to mind for the American, the worst day of his career and life is easy to pinpoint: October 23, 2011. Sepang International Circuit in Sepang Malaysia. Or, as that memory wound is more commonly known: the day racing and the world lost Marco Simoncelli.
Gresini Honda rider Simoncelli crashed in the opening laps of the race, and in the unavoidable melee that followed, Edwards and Valentino Rossi pinned their front brake levers to the bar yet were unable to avoid colliding with Simoncelli and his motorcycle.
Simoncelli was killed almost instantly.
Years later, when discussing the incident, Edwards' face drains of blood, his complexion goes ashen and he begins to wipe tears from his eyes.
"Worst day ever. Yeah," he said of October 2011.
He begins to talk, smiling at some memories and instantly shaking his head at the final memory from that day. He won't publicly admit that he considered retiring after the incident.
|"I got to live with it," Edwards says solemnly.|
"At that time, 2011, there were definitely three characters in the Grand Prix paddock," Edwards says. "Me, Valentino, and Simoncelli. We had our own style, our own style in press conferences. Our own ... we were just, maybe a little different than the rest, because we did our own thing. We were old school, you know? And you talk about cruel twist of fate, we happened (is that) all three come together (at Sepang). And one didn't walk away."
With his eyes searching the motorhome ceiling, his son looking startled at seeing his dad tearing up, Edwards continued to talk about the "worst day ever" of his career.
"I had long conversations with my wife (about it). She wasn't there. We talked about it so much. She is my rock, you know?" That was a bad deal." Edwards says, remembering the incident.
He plays it back in his head, describing the horrible mental images.
"I saw (Simoncelli) him crash. I saw him tuck the front. I was looking right, looking way ahead, and I thought there might be some debris or some stuff on the track. I tucked it inside, just not even thinking, and Valentino followed me. We were just trying to get out of the way. And when it all came together, last I remember is I, out of the corner of my eye, saw him coming back in the frame. I'm thinking, "What the f*ck?" That's not ... should've been ... he crashed a long time ago. And in trying to get out of the way, me and Valentino both ... Obviously it didn't work the way we thought it was going to work."
Already crashing, Simoncelli came into the path that both Edwards and Rossi had taken to try to avoid him.
Those that were at Sepang in '11 say that once it had been announced that Simoncelli had died from injuries suffered in that incident, the paddock became almost silent. One could hear a wrench dropped five garages down. Fans around the world mourned the Italian superstar in the making.
"I got to live with it," Edwards says solemnly. "Valentino's got to live with it. We all got to; but you got to still move forward somehow."
Ironically, Sepang would be the last race where Edwards would race an M1 Yamaha. With an injured shoulder he sat out the final GP of the season at Valencia, then was on a CRT bike in 2012.