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Coluche, the story of a motorcyclist

Coluche on the occasion of his first record attempt

Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci - known as Coluche - (1944-1986) was a very successful comedian in France. Alongside his professional activity, he developed a great taste for motorcycling and in 1985 he entered the gallery of notables by setting a speed record. At the time, the relevance of speed records was not of the first order, however I have this episode very much in mind due to the fact that the protagonist was a first-rate public figure in France and that, at that time, the information we had access to in Portugal was mostly from there (the “Moto Journal” and the “Moto Revue” - they arrived two weeks late at Portuguese newsstands and were the freshest information we could access - at that time, in Portugal, motorcycle information was treated as a poor relative in automobile publications and the “Moto Jornal” was edited monthly - with some breaks -).


The record starred by a 94 kg clown!

The comedian together with his friend and journalist Erick Courly set out to break the speed record in the 750cc class. Coluche would try to beat the established mark for the launched km (219 km/h) while Erick proposed to exceed the launched mile mark. These records are established in accordance with the average speed for the length in question. For this purpose, they would use a YAMAHA 750 OW31 at the controls of which Patrick Pons, now deceased, had finished the “Bol d'Or” in second position in 1979. Coluche's goal was to reach the 300 km/h average.

The attempt would be carried out on the Nardò ring, which is a unique structure in the world intended for the testing of motor vehicles and which, among others, has been used as a FIAT test track, it is a perfectly circular, almost horizontal layout, with a radius of 2 km and length of 12.57 km, the outside area has a slope (relevé) towards the inside. In order to make the eventual record official, they supported the costs of the timekeepers and those responsible for the Italian and international federation, they moved to Nardò, on July 17, 1985, a friend drove a CITROEN DS station where they accommodated the bike, Erick and Coluche (they traveled by plane) were in Nardò to achieve their goals. The engine stalled on the first attempt and as they didn't have any parts, they returned home empty-handed.

The popularity of those involved led ELF to become interested in this operation, so it sponsored them and on the 29th of September of the same year, Coluche finally achieved its first objective, the record for the km launched on a 750cc motorcycle. It missed 300 km/h, but managed to reach an average of 252.087 km/h. Erick was also successful in setting the best mark for the mile thrown: 259.108 km/h.

Coluche's record was broken by Loris Capirossi in 1993, also in Nardò, riding a HONDA NR 750, with an average speed of 299.825 km/h. This is the brand that, even today, is yet to be beaten.

Coluche by Jean Graton

At the time, Coluche's achievement reached such popularity in France that it merited the publication of an edition by Jean Graton (the popular author of Michel Vaillant): “COLUCHE C'est l'exploit d'un mec ..."

The genesis

Michel Colucci was the son of an Italian father (painter and decorator) and a French mother (florist).

During his youth, his mother gave him a SUZUKI 50 to help him deliver the flowers. What his mother didn't know is that he lent the bike to René Metge, who sometimes used it to race at the Montlhéry circuit, Coluche accompanied him to experience the racing atmosphere that he fell in love with very early on and both were fans. of the French star of that time Georges Monneret.

The career

Before starting a professional career as a comedian, Coluche worked in various occupations, including a gas station employee, a fruit and vegetable trader, a florist and a waiter. Later, he became interested in music and started working in Parisian cafés, and it was in this condition that he met Georges Moustaki, who he became a friend and protege, who, at that time, took him in, having also offered him his first real motorcycle.

He later began his career as a comedian, first helping to form more than a troupe of comedians and, although he was immediately successful, his addiction problems with alcohol prevented him from continuing on that path. During this period he married and had two children. Then he chose to launch a solo career. In this condition, always considered an irreverent and acid comedian, he obtained great notoriety on stage, radio, cinema and also on television as an actor and director.

J'y ai dit viens

In 1980 he announced his candidacy, supported and promoted by the publisher “Charlie Hebdo”, for the presidential elections, taking advantage of his popularity to ridicule the position of president in particular and political positions in general, finally resigned and did not run. Its slogans were: “Before me, France was divided in two, now it will be doubled in four” (in the original “être plié en quatre” which in free translation could be “will disassemble itself laughing”) and “Coluche – the only candidate who has no reason to lie.” Pressure (François Mitterrand saw him as a threat to his own candidacy) and the murder of his manager (René Gorlin) were the reasons for his withdrawal.


Due to the suicide of a friend, Patrick Dewaere, with a weapon that Coluche had offered him, enters a dark period and, in 1983, plays a dramatic role in “Tchao Pantin”, which earns him a “César Award” as the main actor in the category “Best Foreign Language Film”. At this stage, he was also involved in various causes of a social nature, such as “SOS Racisme” and having founded, in 1985, “les Restos du Coeur”. At the same time, he also gained prominence by announcing his marriage to Thierry Le Luron, another famous French comedian. To the delight of the arts community and the French, they simulated the wedding in Montmartre where they committed themselves “for the best and for laughter”. This statement, and the false marriage itself, is often interpreted as a public act of revenge, especially by Le Luron's friends, as most of the attention was focused on Coluche, although the press praised them both for their outspokenness. On June 19, 1986, he died in a road accident when he hit a truck at the controls of his HONDA VF 1100 C and at a time when he was driving around, without a helmet, with some friends. Its notoriety has given rise to much speculation about the accident and some conspiracy theories. In fact, the investigations carried out ruled out the hypothesis of murder and concluded that he had hit the truck, which was making a maneuver to change direction on a national road, with excess speed and without a helmet.

The bikes

During his short life, Coluche had many motorcycles, among them: YAMAHA RD 500 LC (painted pink), MARTIN Kawasaki (with MORIWAKI kit), YAMAHA FJ 1100, KAWASAKI RX 1000, KAWASAKI Z1 900 and many others .

Coluche with Raymond Roche on an occasion when he tried the French pilot's HONDA NS 500

The motorcycle he was on when he had the fatal accident, HONDA VF 1100 C, was quite altered (complete racing exhaust and forced air intake system), on it, Coluche said: “I built the V Max that HONDA never dared to build”. Whenever possible, he liked to visit motorcycle racing and live the passion he had since he was a child. In their friendship relationships, many pilots, journalists and others who lived in the intensity of this environment punctuated.

“Je veux chevaucher une dernière fois

Mon cheval d'acier vers la mort

Je veux monter là-haut, tout là haut

Sur la colline de mon malheur

Et me jeter dans le précipice

De mon destin“

lyrics written by Coluche for a song by Boby Bouillon, for his character in the play “Ginette Lacaze”

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