Vicki’s View


About ten years ago I went on a buying spree, and no shopping malls were involved.  At that time a lot of old Ducati memorabilia, electronics, early motorcycles and Cucciolos (the first Ducati “motorcycle” was actually a bicycle with a clip on motor, the design sourced from Siata, an Italian car company).  It was pretty clear that the pipeline for these items was seriously limited, so whenever we came across an item of interest we bought it, or made certain someone like minded (by which I mean, willing to show it to the public on occasion) had a chance to.  This is one of the little bikes we brought back from Italy. By today’s standards they are crude. It’s hard to imagine this bike is the DNA of an 1199 Panigale, but it is.

The patina of a well lived life

The patina of a well lived life

This one is called a Ducati 48. It’s the first Cucciolo to not have pedals which makes it technically speaking, Ducati’s first motorcycle. It’s all original, runs like a top and if there was ever an argument for why mechanical contraptions are magical, one spin around the block will put a grin on your face that will completely eliminate any need for further explanation. Even better, this little Ducati, built in 1952, started and ran (perfectly I might add) with some gas, a new sparkplug and less than a handful of kicks.  Not bad for a 62 year old gal…



George Barber (HOF Class of 2014) with (left) Cook Neilson (HOF Class of 2006) and (right) Phil Schilling (HOF Class of 2011)

George Barber (HOF Class of 2014) with (left) Cook Neilson (HOF Class of 2006) and (right) Phil Schilling (HOF Class of 2011)

I often see updates from my friends that say things like Mary is “feeling happy today at (fill in the blank)” which I guess is Facebook’s way of helping us out with the hard things but right now I am going to steal a page from their playbook because I can honestly say “Vicki Smith is feeling happy today reading her email”. Why? Well, the one I just opened say’s George Barber got nominated to the AMA Hall of Fame on the first ballet and that, well, that makes me very happy.

Here’s why.  Regardless of how people feel about the AMA Hall of Fame (or any HOF actually, the Rock and Roll HOF has been in the news lately as well) it’s purpose is to make a place for people who stood out, and in the process accomplished things that made it important they be remembered long after they are gone.  I believe Hall of Fame’s are important. Frankly, I think George Barber has a better handle on that then most and can manage his own legacy very well, thank you. Nonetheless, he richly deserves to be there.

But just deserving doesn’t mean the light will shine on you.  It’s a damn long line when just a few people are recognized every year. Sometimes the light never finds them. The voting process is complicated, it only allows so many tries, and if you are unlucky to be nominated in the years when the choices are tough, you could literally get locked out.  Also, life, ill health and death does not figure into the voting process, realistically, how could it? So often inductions are for men or women now gone who never knew they made the grade or who actually passed away while in the process of voting. Not sure Facebook has a choice for “feeling very unhappy” but that be my post for when this happens. My point is, people who might be “obvious choices” for the Hall of Fame don’t always get to be there. And if you do, it’s nice when you know about it.

There is irony here because George Barber is a man who appears to have little desire to stand in that light. (Well, obviously not completely there is that matter of  “The Barber”, but I am speaking of his demeanor now.) If you are hoping to shake his hand during an event, there’s an equal chance he will be at the front door of the museum greeting visitors, or touring his facility making sure the birds and animals, plants and trees that live there are safe. He can tell you at any given time what’s nesting or having babies on his property. He’s a businessman, successful, respected and well known to be fiercely competitive, yet I have seen him collecting cigarette butts off the ground on the side of the ring road.  Barber Motorsports Park has earned environmental-planning certification from Audubon International. If I heard this about any other business I would assume it was some shortcut to tax credits but not here, no way.

I cannot think of one other person who has worked so hard for his sport, or his community. Anyone can see that building off the main path in Leeds Alabama has certainly made it harder for the museum to gain the world fame it deserves. This man is loyal to his community and it’s common knowledge that hasn’t always been easy.  And his it’s not just his passion for motorcycles and cars that he shares. There is art scattered all over his property, on the lawns, hills, woods and lakes, which expose everyday people that frankly I doubt would ever set foot in an art museum to the one Art In Public Places program that completely makes sense to me.  Not once have I stood looking at a piece of art on his property and thought to myself “that’s art?” So yea, he has great taste too. “The Barber” needs to be on any serious motorsports fan’s bucket list. It’s honestly that special. And it’s his gift to us. So what can the motorcycle world give back to a guy like that? I’m thinking an AMA Hall of Fame nomination is a perfect fit.

Clearly, at the end of the day George Barber does not need the AMA Hall of Fame. He seems to be in fine health and he’s never struck me as impatient. But there is a yardstick that measures greatness worth noting and that yardstick in our culture is a Hall of Fame nomination. Preferably one the honoree is aware of. Truthfully,  this honor is merely a celebration of the obvious. And so it is with George.

Vicki (feeling happy today)

For more info on Barber Motorsports Park

To join at the Barber Vintage Festival

For more on the AMA Hall of Fame


By Vicki Smith

When Ducati’s Were Red…

Near as I can figure, Ducati Island Laguna Seca turns 19 this year so when I found these old photos I thought they were worth sharing. There is, of course, a back story:

That little piece of land now known world wide as Ducati Island was originally under contract to another company. We heard a rumor the space might come available so my business partners and I made a deal with the track and rented it on a multi-year contract. The inspiration?  My partner had gone to Donington and came back talking about the sea of red Ducati’s. It sounded magical to me. We were in love with all things European and we thought how cool would it be to throw a big old Ducati party? I was already doing something similar in Daytona but for a party this size we needed WAY more Ducati’s for the visual impact when seen from the hill above. At the time Ducati Performance was still Gio.Ca.Moto and we were the GCM US importers. California always had the most Ducati’s so it was an obvious place to try and pull off a good Ducati display.   Our thinking of what could be more fun was spot on, it’s still the best party ever and gets better every year.   We didn’t call it Ducati Island though, years later when they took over the contract from us the Ducati North America marketing department gave it that name. I always though it was the perfect name. Not because of the water, but because Ducati Island really IS an “Island state of mind”.

SCN_0014These photos are from 1995. I can’t be 100% certain if this was the first year but the lack of any other vendors makes me pretty sure this was. It was SBK then, not GP and it was so much fun. Looking back it was kind of a crazy thing to do, spend the whole years ad budget on a party 3000 miles from your store but, you know,  it turned out ok…


For the rest of the photos go HERE

Vicki Smith photos and text

Roadtrip! Today we look at a Diavel backrest mod…

Yesterday we ran a windshield comparison from contributor Gene.  Today Gene is going to share the details of the other modification he has done for “Road Comfort” with the help of  Donnie Unger, from Ducpond (Ducati Winchester), a Diavel backrest that has made Gene’s fiancee, the lovely Nora very happy:

Ducpond, also added a passenger back rest for me.  Donnie Unger has developed a mod for the standard Diavel (non strada) version that attaches the backrest to the passenger grabrail. He fabricates a bracket and drills a couple of holes. It has two positions just like the grabrail, the forward position which Nora prefers, then the rear position which might be better for full bodied passengers. The other thing is the whole thing comes off with two bolts. I think this might be of interest to others but naturally they would want to work through Donnie since it’s his design/build.  diavel 020


To contact Ducati Winchester go HERE