The British influence on two wheel and four wheel racing cannot be denied. From the might of the British Industrial complex came the multitudes of British brands such as Norton, Triumph, BSA, Velocette, and Vincent to name a few. However, Great Britain also contributed racers, engineers, craftsmen and other motoring pioneers who have forever made their mark in the history of racing and on the world stage. Please find a photo of Barry Sheene with Mick Walker at Mick's shop in Wisbech England.
As Malcolme and Syd Tunstall were the source of my introduction to Mick Walker, Mick was my introduction to Paul Smart. It turned out that on one of my trips to the UK to see my mother and to see Mick, he said that he would assist in helping me to meet Mr. Smart who was the winner of the famous Imola race in 1972. I never knew in what way he helped, but was alerted by Mick that Paul Smart was going to be the guest of honor at the Vintage Days event at Mid-Ohio racetrack in 2005 when Ducati was the featured marque.
At the event, Mr. Smart was obviously swarmed by the crowd that had gathered in the Ducati tent to meet him and to get his autographs. However, when I met him and explained some of my connections to the UK, to Mick Walker, to the Ducati race history, and had a Bevel Drive Paul Smart replica, he could not have been more friendly. For someone who is as accomplished as Paul Smart, he was truly so "down-to-earth", fascinating and congenial. At some level, I felt guilty that he was sharing so much of his valuable time with me who in my mind was just another Ducati enthusiast. However, he signed the article from the March 2002 issue of Classic Racer where he discussed "HIs Factory days" and got a nice photo of him. It was quite enjoyable to get his insights into his famous Bevel. It also never hurts asking about the celebrity himself and his family. I had been following the career of Paul's son, Scott Smart and he was proud to share about Scott's successes as well.
At that event Paul did take a Ducati 750 ss Imola bike out on to the Mid-Ohio track. Mid-Ohio is special in my mind as it is one the racetracks in the US that really resembles the European and UK racetracks. However, the bike that Paul took out on the track was not his famous #16 but a collector's bike that he had brought for this US event. The sound of the high compression bevel drive engine through open Imola exhaust was breathtaking. It was surreal to witness history repeating itself with Paul mounted on the Ducati Bevel Drive Superbike and putting it through its paces on the track again. Quite the wonderful event.
The Imola Victory is truly one of the "David versus Goliath" success stories in motor racing which is why so many books and magazine articles continue to be written about it. One of the things that I love about Ducati is its recognition of these historical racers and others who have contributed to the success of the brand and to the race passion for the brand. It is truly contagious.
Thankfully, Paul Smart remains active as an ambassador of the brand and of the history of motorcycle racing that he was a part of from the beginning. As promised, please find photos that you may not find elsewhere as they were part of the photo shoot of the Paul Smart #16 race winning bike back in the UK. This shoot was done for the article in Classic Bike written by Mick Walker
It is my hope that these photos give some good detail as to how this racebike was put together by Ing. Taglioni and Franco Farne and the Ducati team for the Imola event back in 1972. It is my hope that these blog posts have been enjoyable and I welcome any suggestions and questions.