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Motorcycle Classics at Motogiro America

by Richard Backus

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Motorcycle Classics and Moto Guzzi team up for Motogiro America

If you're like, oh, about 99.9 percent of classic bike fans, right about now you're probably wishing you had something along the order of a 100cc 1955 Moto Guzzi Lusso so you could participate in the upcoming Motogiro America, kicking off this coming Saturday, July 12. And who could blame you? With a planned field of 120 bikes competing in the Vintage Class (1957 and older, 175cc and smaller), plus a Super Sport Class for 250cc and smaller, a Super 70s Class for 1,000cc and smaller, a Scooter Class and a Tourist Class open to any bike – any year, any size – it’s going to be the classic rally of the year. Well, thanks to some help from our friends at Moto Guzzi, Motorcycle Classics will be there, running a 125cc 1966 Moto Guzzi Stornello in the Super Sport Class for 250cc and smaller bikes built before 1969.

Patterned on the successful Motogiro d’Italia (go here to see our article on last year’s event), a retrospective rally launched in 2001 celebrating the Motogiro that ran in Italy from 1953 to 1957 (itself a recreation of the original Il Giro Motociclistico d’Italia that ran, with interruptions, from 1914 until 1931), Motogiro America is enticing classic bike fans from as far away as Italy – including Fifties Motogiro winner Giuliano Maoggi – to come participate in what’s hoped to become an annual event.

We knew as soon as we heard about the rally (Giro organizers frown on calling it a race, preferring to focus on the event’s five stages as trials for time, not speed) that we’d have to get an entry in some way, some how, but it wasn’t until recently that we finally found the rider, the bike and the support to make it happen. The support comes, fittingly enough, from Moto Guzzi, a manufacturer with a long history in the Giro including entries in the early races in the 1920s and again in the mid-1950s after the race was relaunched in 1953.

Although I’d been hoping to make the rally myself, reality set in and it became clear I’d never be able to pull together the resources of time to make it happen. Spreading out over a full week and then some, the event kicks off with a bike show and auction on Saturday, July 12, and ends five days later on Thursday, July 17, with an awards dinner at the Hyatt Regency Monterey, the unofficial event headquarters.

Sunday, July 13, will be the big day. That’s when competitors will line up under Cannery Row bridge in Monterey before heading off to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a lap of the famed track, which will host the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix MotoGP the next weekend starting with practice and qualifying on Friday, July 18. Friend of the magazine Dave Miller, who teaches motorcycle restoration at City College in San Francisco (we featured Dave and his class in the July/August 2006 issue; go here for more), will be riding for us, decked out in a special Motogiro America jacket crafted for us by the folks at Vanson Leathers and riding a 1966 Moto Guzzi Stornello plucked from San Francisco resident Stewart Ingram’s lovely collection of Italian tiddlers. Ingram will also be on hand as well, riding a Moto Morini from his collection.

We’ll be running regular postings on our progress in the rally, so check back daily for updates on our bid to take the Super Sport class with our little single-cylinder Moto Guzzi Stornello, and look for a full article on the inaugural Motogiro America in an upcoming issue of Motorcycle Classics. Bene! – Richard Backus 

Motogiro America