British Influence on ItalianIron Classics, LLC

Posted by Scot Wilson on

Our story was created from a passion for motor racing that started for me as a child growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1960's and 1970"s. I learned at a very early age about Scots and Brits generally were making a mark on the world stage on 2 and 4 wheel racing and at the time British industrial complex was the envy of the world. I idolized racers such as Mike Hailwood, Jackie Stewert, Phil Read, Paul Smart, Geoff Duke and John Surtees to name a few. 

I was naturally drawn to the Brit bikes such as the Norton, Triumph, and BSA singles and twins. However, I never felt that I fit on the old BritIron and started to experiment. I was on my way one day to purchase a running Ducti 860 GT but was lured away by a collector who was closer geographically and a a "basket case" Ducati 750 GT. It was to be almost a decade before I finished that bike as the next bike that I purchased was an Imola "Replica" Bevel Drive 750 ss. It arrived not quite sorted so I took some time to learn about the bike and once I had it running well, I would take it out on the roads and then to the track. At the DOCC event at Gratten racetrack in Michigan USA, I "won" loudest bike with this bike running high compression pistons and using race fuel through "open" Imola pipes. It was indeed a symphony to behold!!

There are many great Ducati specialists who have helped but in these early years one of the best was Malcolme Tunstall of Syd's Cycles fame and we stay in touch to this day thanks to his generosity of time. As the Tunstalls are Brits by birth, it was a natural fit and I have flown down to St. Petersburg, Florida numerous times with projects and to"drink-in" all of their expertise and race successes. Below is one of the many photos that Malcolme has shared with me. Nothing like chasing down Miguel Duhammelwhen Team Obsolete flew across the pond to compete in the UK and Europe. With Malcolme's tutelage, I became a respectable amateur racer and now he is doing the Team Management and mentoring job for his son, John in AMA. 

In addition to being introduced to the Tunstall legacy of racing, they also introduced me to one of the other International Authorities of Ducati motorcycles and that was Mick Walker who lived in England. As my mother lives in Cambridge, England, I find myself traveling to visit and to borrow her car to drive to Wisbech to meet with Mick and his family. I felt that I was in the midst of British racing royalty as Mick would talk about his next book and also talk about his racing career and the careers that he had aided. It is a shame that he has passed but I do have his autobiography which was a massive undertaking and a project that he was so proud of. In particular, he would share that he did not "hold-back" on any of his stories and experiences in his book. If you do not have his book in your library, it is a "must" in my opinion. With all of Mick's years of experience in owning motorcycle repair shops, he was a very sought after British writer who has written countless books on the Ducati racing effort, the Ducati factory and on other marques. Mick was pleased with my interest in Ducati and we initially talked about the Ducati 750 GT, however, he was most keen to discuss my restoration projects of the 1972 750 Sports and the Imola 750 ss. I was quite smitten with the attention and was happy to share photos of the progress. In 2001 Mick published photos of my 1972 Imola 750 ss Replica in the book below when he was one of the general editors. It was always enjoyable to meet Mick, to pick up his most recent book and to build a nice friendship and ultimately an introduction to some other British Racing Royalty. Mick had photos of Barry Sheene sitting on one of his bikes at the shop in Wisbech. He also had Paul Smart's 1972 Imola winning Ducati 750 ss in his shop at one point. The win in 1972 is arguably one of the key accomplishments that launched the Ducati factory and Ing. Taglioni and his Corse racing efforts into World Class competition and huge racing successes. I will post on another blog some photos of Mr. Smart's 750 ss that I received from Mick when he wrote an article for the December 1999 issue of Classic Bike. Fortunately I did get Mick's autograph on the article on my last trip before he passed. I did get Paul Smart's signature on that article in 2005 at the AHRMA and Vintage Days event at Mid-Ohio racetrack when Ducati was the featured marque that year. I was honored to have one of my 1972 Ducati 750 Sports invited to that event which was an outstanding success. Ducati North America, the Mid-Ohio complex, and all of the experts involved did an outstanding job at that event. 

The only signature missing on that article is of the photographer, Mac McDiarmid who Mick had "sweet talked" into sharing a CDR of all of the photos for that magazine shoot with me.  Maybe I will get Mac's signature the next time I fly back to see my mother in the UK. 

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