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Deja View – USA National Ducati Rally, Mid-Ohio 2005

Posted by Vicki Smith on May 3rd, 2014 at 12:49 pm
Museum? I preferred to think of it as The Holy Desmodromic Church...

The year we built the Holy Desmodromic Church

See the video HERE

As the weather gets hotter and 2014 summer plans start to solidify my thoughts go back to the first BIG summer event job I ever took on – Zero to 999, Passion In Motion.   These days Barber Vintage Festival pretty much owns the fun, family friendly all brand motorcycle scene but it was Mid Ohio Vintage Motorcycle Days (VMD) that invented the genre.  I’ve always thought branding a weekend “vintage” that was really all years of bikes was somewhat ill advised but Mid Ohio did it and every year it grew and grew.  AHRMA races, the Will Stoner Swap meet, an AMA bike show and “Ride ’em don’t hide ’em” ride was all part of the appeal but the biggest thing, what everyone waited to hear, was what was the “Featured Marque” and in 2005, after 4 years of work and begging Ducati owners to restore bikes for the event our 3 days in the sun was here.  I guess when you work on something for as long as we worked on this (my employer was the AMA, who managed this event with Mid Ohio) it’s not surprising that it took on a life of it’s own, and in the process changed mine.

Gianluigi Mengoli, Cook Neilson, Paul Smart, Reno Leone

Gianluigi Mengoli, Cook Neilson, Paul Smart, Reno Leone

Eventually I found myself filling a 5000 square foot tent (It was so big I was sure you could you could see it from space), with Ducati North America on board to handle Demo rides and oversee the camping rally.  We built Ducati City. One whole side of the tent was open to the track and you could sit at tables under umbrellas, sip a cool drink and look at Ducati history evolve from the first clip-on engine Cucciolo to the actual GP bike of Loris Cappirossi, loaned to the display by the CEO of Ducati in Italy.  72 bikes, one of every significant model Ducati has ever built were on display, an accomplishment that had never been done before and it’s never been done since. At the end of each day, before I sewed the door shut, I would stand alone in the room that was the Holy Desmodromic Church. Just amazing. Even “Old Blue”, the Ducati 750SS that Cook Neilson and Phil Schilling raced to a win in the Daytona Superbike race, was there. And Cook Neilson, at the time long retired from Cycle Magazine and the motorcycle scene as well, attended to find himself surrounded by Ducati owners who one after another were compelled to let him know how

DSC00285much impact he had had on them, the sport and especially the Ducati brand.  Paul Smart came as Grand Marshall, riding a similar bike to the one he won the 1972 Imola race on (a 1973 Imola shortstroke) and Reno Leoni and Gigi Mengoli, who was over from the Ducati factory were crowd favorites all weekend.  Secondary displays featured SportClassic models with the vintage Ducati that inspired each model, side by side, Ducati outboard engines and electronics, Ducati custom builds as well as a ride in ride out bike show all had individual space in the giant area the AMA had given us. It was really something to see (and if you were there feel free to share your impressions).

By the end of the project my team and I had added “museum curators” to our resumes, I had met my life partner and Ducati North America could cross throwing a traditional national rally off it’s bucket list. The track told me more than 40,000 people visited the display. I really hope they liked it.

To see the video: Big Ducati Weekend