True local heroes – people who are not only successful, but who give back to society and are an inspiration to us all – are all too rare. Jorge Martinez Aspar is one of a select group of people who deserve such a title. An iconic figure in international motor racing and one of the most prominent sons of the Valencia region, the four-time World Motorcycle Champion is as popular now as he was when he was winning races and setting the world alight in the 80cc and 125cc classes.
On the 24th of March a large crowd gathered to honour his life achievements and celebrate a career that spans 30 years and includes four world titles, one runner-up title, one European title, 12 Spanish titles, 37 wins as a rider and 69 GP victories as team leader. Already one of the sport’s legendary champions and a national sporting icon when he ended his 18-year career in 1997, Jorge Martinez Aspar’s role has since evolved to founder and leader of highly successful racing teams in no fewer than three categories.
The teams that carry his name and fly the flags of both Spain and the Valencia region have been prolific in competition, continuing a tradition that started with Aspar’s first title in 1986. By 2009, the year that marked his 30th anniversary in motor racing, Aspar Team had become an impressive outfit that runs like a well-oiled machine and nurtures local and international talent both in the form of riders, mechanics and engineers.
To his many fans Jorge Martinez Aspar is a hero; to all around him, he is above all a gentleman and an inspiration. In a tough and competitive sport that is not without its controversies, Aspar has managed to maintain his optimism and openness to life, while colleague and competitor alike describes him as a ‘great guy’. A natural motor racing talent who, at the age of seven boldly stated “Jo seré campió del mon” (I will be World Champion), he has since matched that prowess on the track with a calm and level-headed approach to business.
An important part of his success as an entrepreneur has been his core team, people such as his assistant Silvia Pelufo, who have been with him for 20 years or more. They too shared in the limelight as this affable and modest man was recognised for the innovator and inspiration he is. Valencia thanked the ‘young man from the village of Alzira’ for all the trophies he has brought home, the work he has done to establish a professional infrastructure for motor sports in the region, and the commitment he shows to the development of young minds and spirits in an age when so many of them seem lost.
From his successes on the track to the motor racing circuit he has helped to realise – and which he insisted bear not his name but that of his predecessor and colleague Ricardo Tormo – Jorge Martinez Aspar is a respected and much-loved icon of this region. His many friends, including many an international motor racing legend, were present at Valencia’s stunning City of Arts and Sciences to honour him and celebrate one of the most outstanding careers and personalities the sport has ever created.
The exhibition of Jorge Martínez Aspar’s motorbikes can be visited until the 27th of June at the City of Arts and Sciences Museum.