Goodbye Gary Nixon and Claudio Castiglioni

Paying tribute to the careers of Gary Nixon, one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time, and Claudio Castiglioni, a powerful influence in the Italian motorcycle industry.

| November/December 2011

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    Gary Nixon leads Jay Springsteen in one of the pair’s “Battle of the 9s” races at Barber in 2005.
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    Claudio Castiglioni and son Giovanni, 2005.

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Gary Nixon: 1941-2011
Gary Nixon, 1967 and 1968 AMA Grand National Champion, passed away August 5 after suffering a heart attack. He was 70 years old.

Over a decades-long career that started with his first professional race in 1958 at the age of 17, the indefatigable Nixon rode his way to the top of the American racing scene. Nixon really vaulted to fame in 1967, when he started his championship-winning season riding a Triumph to first place at the Daytona 200. Nixon built a reputation for toughness, riding, for instance, for three seasons with a stainless steel rod holding his left leg together after stuffing a Triumph dirt tracker into a post in 1969.

During his career, Nixon had 19 AMA National wins and more than 150 Grand National finishes. He should have won the World Formula 750 road racing title in 1976, but saw it taken away from him when in a controversial ruling results from the Venezuelan race were thrown out because of scoring errors.

Although he officially retired in 1979, in the mid-1990s Nixon, then in his 50s, raced in the Legend series, which he won twice. In 2003, Nixon jumped back into the national limelight when he and three-time AMA Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen thrilled vintage race fans at Daytona in the “Battle of the 9s” between the two stars: Upon retiring from the pro circuit, Nixon had passed his national number 9 along to Springsteen, then a rising star, but Nixon continued to use his old number in vintage events.

In 2004 he started racing in the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) series. Riding for Jerry Liggett and Steel Breeze Racing, Nixon took the Formula Vintage National Championship aboard Liggett’s 1972 Triumph Trident that year: He was 65, and clearly hadn’t lost his competitive edge. From flat track to road racing, Nixon did it all, and always excelled. He was indisputably one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time.

Claudio Castiglioni: 1947-2011 
Claudio Castiglioni, owner and president of MV Agusta, died August 17 after succumbing to cancer. He was 64 years old.

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