Cars, bikes and racer homage

We are in the heart of Italian automotive country. We’ve already visited the automotive museum in Turin. But the Mugello MotoGP round is coming up, so we thought we’d go and see some of Italy’s iconic motoring brands and heros.

First stop was to the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena. It’s a really nice purpose built building on the outskirts of the city. There’s a massive hall that takes you through a timeline of Ferrari with cars from each era. It was aesthetically very pleasing. However, the cars were almost all GT cars, not their more iconic sports cars and there was a big gap where the timeline jumped from the late 70s to the late 90s. We wanted to see a few sports cars, especially a ridiculous scooped, winged and louvred 80s one!

Next we drove just up the road to Bologna where Ducati motorcycles are assembled. We took the factory tour and visited the museum. I’ve been involved with car manufacturing before, and lots of what we saw at the Ducati factory was very familiar to me, if a little simpler. The tour guide did provide lots of interesting information, but unfortunately it was a ‘no photos’ zone. They even put stickers over each of the cameras on our phones. The museum was interesting as it was a mix of Ducati’s road bikes, their superbikes (which are road bikes modified to race) and their MotoGP bikes (which are race prototypes, much like F1 is for cars). There were many landmark models that had been chosen either because they were popular, or because they introduced a pivotal feature like the desmosotronic valve system.

We then headed further south east to Tavullia, a village in the hills not far from the Adriatic coast. The reason for the homage was that it is the home town of the motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi, the 9 times world champion who is still racing in the top level MotoGP events today at the age of 40… and we’re both massive fans (particularly Joolz). In the early days of his career, Rossi set up a small pizzeria, a bar and a shop in the town. His fan club is also based there (which Joolz joined). He now owns a massive business empire selling merchandise for his VR46 brand,and also the majority of the other racers on the MotoGP grid. One of the distribution depots is also outside the town. He’s invested quite a bit in this otherwise anonymous village. He also has a ranch a few miles away where he has build his own dirt track where he trains.

Finally, we headed back north to Coriano. It seems a bit posher than Tavullia and has a nice view of the sea in the distance, but it’s not too dissimilar. It’s the home of another racer who was Rossi’s protege and close friend, Marco Simoncelli. Unfortunately Marco died in a freak accident at a MotoGP race in 2011. ‘Sic’ as he was known was a massive character (at least as big as his hair) and many believed that he was destined to become a top class MotoGP world champion well before his untimely death, as he already had the 250cc MotoGP world championship under his belt. There is still a great deal of affection for Marco amongst MotoGP fans and you still see many red 58, and ‘Race your life’, flags, t-shirts, hats and stickers for Marco.

The small exhibition dedicated to his racing career was very moving as was the memorial nearby.

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