Celebrating Life & Contributions of Tony Rutter at Italianiron.com

Posted by Scot Wilson on

At Italianiron.com and TGA/Molnar Precision LTD our goal is to engage you, the Vintage Motorcycle racing fan and racers worldwide in this significant chapter in the history of the early belt driven Ducati engines through our portfolio of TT & F1 speciality racing kits and spare parts. We are also excited to support the new International Vintage Motorcycle Race series for modern Ducati 1100cc and 1000 cc engines that use our chrome-moly race frames. Team Molnar Racing will be campaigning a pair of Post Classic TT 1000 Racers with these large capacity Ducati engines in the CRMC in the UK. Additionally, we are developing a Pantah style rear head for these larger engines where the carburetor is mounted to the rear of each cylinder head. Our efforts are due in no small part to the racing successes accomplished by Tony Rutter and Chief Engineer, Pat Slinn, and in addition to their contributions to the development of these Ducati TT and F1 racers.  

Unfortunately, Tony Rutter passed away earlier this year (2020) but he left his legacy as a four-time F2 TT world champion, a seven-time Isle of Man TT winner, a nine-time North West 200 race winner, a five-time Ulster Grand Prix winner and twice as a British Championship title holder. Shown below is team TR/Ducati UK Racing getting the champ's racer started with engineer, Pat Slinn listening to the glorious exhaust note that he created through his tuning expertise. Pat is well known for his expertise in working with race icon, Mike Hailwood and their famous TT race win in 1978 on the Ducati 900 ss bevel drive racer. As formidable as that bevel drive engine was, it is interesting that Pat has commented that the Pantah engine is one of his absolute favourite Ducati engines. Suffice it to say that both Tony and Pat were deeply instrumental in the development of these successful Pantah based racing motorcycles. 


As Tony Rutter and Pat Slinn were at the forefront of this new chapter in Ducati racing history, their involvement with the Taglioni derived belt driven Pantah engines was essential to the success of this new Ducati racing motorcycle. Pat was kind enough to share some insights with me from his time working with Tony on what it took to become World Champions. He found Tony to be very much his "own man" who got whatever he wanted or needed to make the TT racer better. However, the other component of success can be found in Pat's comment," I got on well with Tony, he was a nice guy, and he did his own thing as I did my own thing as well." As a good teammate, Pat adds, "Tony never ever criticized my work on his TT's as he let me get on with things as long as his TT 1 and TT 2 were competitive and reliable he was happy (ish)!!" My view, too, is that a racer is never completely happy as developing a competitive motorcycle for the track is always a challenging and evolutionary process!! 

Pat states that,"During my time with Tony Rutter, he never stopped with a mechanical problem in testing, practicing, qualifying or racing!" What an incredible team effort!! Pat adds that due to their successful collaboration that Tony, in fact, only failed to finish three races on the TT 1 or TT 2. "At Oulton Park," Pat states, "we had a piston rod brake on an experimental rear suspension unit supplied by and tested for the Ducati factory. Then there was a crash in a practice session at Thruxton but due to the snow!!" And finally there was the infamous and life threatening crash at Mountjuich Park that fortunately Tony ultimately survived. Pat shared that "Tony crashed at Montjuich on oil that had been left on the track when the Suzuki GSXR that was being raced by Andy McGladery threw a rod with the obvious consequences". Shown below is one of the only two original documents that I was given for the team TR/Ducati UK Racing by Franco Farne as the factory was interested in the development of this new belt driven Ducati twin cylinder engine as racing successes have always been linked to the success of the Ducati brand. 

Historically it was up to these two team employees, Tony Rutter and Pat Slinn to develop this new Pantah based racer. "I was given that document in 1981 when I built TR's 600cc Pantah engine."recounts, Pat. The second document, shown below, is what he was given at the end of 1982. "This is all the documentation that I was ever given by the Ducati factory" stated Pat. "I spent a lot of time working with Farne and Pedritti in the Ducati experimental department and I made copious notes and sketches of stuff, eg dimensions, port sizes and shapes etc. All my documents and many photographs including all the technical information of race engine spec that I had used on TR's engines, and what I had to send to Farne (Telex ) after each meeting, jet sizes, ignition timing, oil and petrol consumption." The sole significance of team TR/Ducati UK Racing's contributions to the developmental success of this new racer can be best be understood by the original Telex from Ducati saying that they did not think that it was worth bothering with a bike for the 1981 IOM F2 TT!" Team TR/Ducati UK Racing was on its own!

However, It must have been very clear to the management and engineers at Ducati that the end of an era was at-hand for the Ducati bevel driven racers now being relegated by these newer, lighter, simpler, more reliable and in turn, faster Ducati Pantah powered racers. I would imagine that Chief Engineer Fabio Taglioni was not surprised at all of the success of the newer, lighter belt driven Pantah engine. However, as much as I love my Ducati bevel drives (and I do), our Ducati TT and Pantah racers build great power and in contrast are so dramatically lighter than my bevel racers. Such is the evolution of a racing machine based upon advances in modern technology. Thanks to Dave Railton for this shot of him (below) chasing Tony Rutter's 600 Pantah with a larger capacity Ducati Bevel Drive racer. This photo illustrates so effectively the evolution of a Ducati race-bike and the effect of superior Power:Weight Ratios, in action. 


We are very thankful to team TR/Ducati UK Racing for providing leadership in the development of the Ducati Pantah racing engine as it has become the bedrock and foundation for the current models of 2 valve racers and have contributed to the evolution of the World Superbike championship winning Ducati twin cylinder racers. Jim Blomley who founded Two Wheel Classics-UK was good friends with Tony Rutter and Pat Slinn saw the promise of these Pantah powered TT and F1 racers. It was due to this relationship that copies were made of the original race frames and bodywork kits that Tony and Pat had used so successfully throughout the team's racing career that ended in October 1985. Shown below is Tony Rutter in front of the old Two Wheel Classics shop near Manchester and surrounded by machines that he made famous. It is exciting to see the continued interest in vintage motorcycle racing series internationally and in this significant part of Ducati racing history.   


We are also very excited with the purchase of Two Wheel Classics by Molnar Precision LTD as there has been an infusion of engineering expertise and upgrading to the portfolio of our TT and F1 offerings. In contrast to the modern Ducati's that put out 200 plus BHP, I find that our TT racers with our chrome-moly frames with a Ducati 2 valve belt driven engine, offers that perfect balance between stellar power:weight ratios, safety through use of modern components and greater cost effectiveness when racing. I have always preferred, as a personal preference, racing/riding, for example, a Ducati 750 cc at the track or up our mountain roads as these engines have that exotic "Ferrari of Motorcycles" race finesse in their exhaust note and have loads of "grunt" while pulling hard through the gears. In many respects, I like this linear building of power from the engine unlike the sensation of being "shot out of cannon" from cracking open the throttle of my Ducati 996 rs. Our value proposition is that we can supply top quality items for those who want to build a vintage racer, a fun track day "weapon" or a striking vintage street bike. At Italian Iron Classics, we can assist you with whatever your vision, goal, or requirements are.  


Shown above is our Silver on Red TT 1000 racer that has been recently converted to be a dual-purpose machine as a race bike or as a spirited street weapon with endurance-style headlamps. Also shown above is our blue on red TT 1 with race-prepped 750 cc engine and equipped with our TT front cowling/fairing with recesses for LED headlamps. Currently, we have built a TT 2, TT 1, TT 1000 in addition to our Pantah 650 racer. After restoring two Norton Commandos, we will start working on a TT 1100 with a race prepped 1100 cc Ducati engine. Now through our focus on the Ducati TT & F1 Racers and through our builds, we believe that we have the expertise in addition to our comprehensive, quality portfolio of racing spare parts to aide both that vintage racer or that Ducatisti who wishes to build a striking vintage street bike. In this way we can aide those who wish to participate in this history and the significant performance of these belt-driven racers!! Contact me at Italianiron@msn.com with your requirements. 

At Italianirion.com we offer complete Chassis & Bodywork kits for the TT 1 & TT 2 for the Pantah/F1 engines as well as our TT 900  kit that accepts modern 1100 cc, 1000 cc and 900 cc two or three valve engines. However, we can also sell individual items "cafeteria style" so that we can provide you with what you are in need of. At our Italianiron shop in the Sonoran Desert of the American Southwest, we have several Ducati 900 ss and 750 ss engines as well as tubs of engine heads, barrels and cases as well as wheels, brake components and other hard to find items to assist in the completion of your specialty build. We are listing items as fast as we can. However, if you need something in particular, please contact me at italianiron@msn.com


Thank you to all who have given us accolades regarding our Ducati Pantah 650 racer build. It is my belief that as a result of the international interest in the Ducati Pantah motorcycles and hopefully due in small part, to our step by step FB album of the build, that we have received numerous orders for our chrome-moly Pantah chassis and bodywork kits. However, we can also offer individual Pantah items "cafeteria style"to provide you exactly what you require. In addition to having six Ducati 650 cc engines and three 350 cc engines in stock, we can also assist your Pantah racer build whether you are building a racer for AHRMA/Vintage Racing or building a striking street bike. We do offer our chrome-moly Pantah race frames through TGA/Molnar Precision LTD in the UK, however, we also have numerous Pantah frames with OEM frame numbers in stock as well. 


In addition to our product portfolio for TT and other Ducati racers, we are also excited to support enthusiasts for Norton Manx and Norton Commando racers through Molnar Manx and BritIron Classics Norton.  Please note that the "Make An Offer" feature is not available for TGA/Molnar Precision LTD items. However, the "Make An Offer" feature is available for use on all of our other OEM Ducati and Norton items. As a result of our offerings, it is our hope to help you to become immersed in the history, the passion and the early technology of these amazing machines. Let us "Fuel Your Race Passions" to keep the sport of Vintage Motorcycle Racing alive and well!!

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  • I find Your Site ‘Alluring.’ I own an Ex- Tony Rutter ‘hack’ and Love It.
    Could We Keep in Touch please.


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