Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Happy Birthday Cook Neilson

If you've not sent a card, you've missed Cook Neilson's birthday, and if you're a Ducati fan a card is the least Cook deserves. Back in the mid seventies he was editor of Cycle magazine and wrote "Racer Road," a series on race prepping the Ducati 750SS that became know as the California Hot Rod/Old Blue. This culminated in winning the 1977 Daytona 200, still the only time a Ducati has seen the top step of the podium in a Daytona Superbike race.

When Benzina #1 was still just an idea, Vicki Smith of casually mentioned she knew Cook and my jaw dropped. Cycle had cost double what UK magazines did, and as a college kid I had to make tough decisions about the mags I bought: in the end there was an overarching rule - if there was a Ducati in it, I'd buy it. If it was a Racer Road I'd rob Peter and Paul. So I asked Vicki if she might approach Cook to write something for Benzina

Vicki promised to forward a few questions, with the caveat that there were no guarantees. Cook's a legend, so I guessed I'd get stonewalled, but hoped for a couple of hundred words. When Cook submitted the piece I was blown away. That 2,000+ words of perfect prose arrived without a single typo inside a few days was wildest dream stuff.

And the best bit in what a nice guy Cook is. He pays for his own copies of Benzina, and tells other people to do likewise. I've been lucky enough via Benzina to get in touch with quite a few of my past heroes and...well, I can see how they got difficult jobs done in the face of adversity. But Cook's just a great guy, and if Benzina had just published his story that would be enough for me. So happy birthday, Mr Neilson: you deserve it

(and apologies to Motorcycle Classics for the spoof bottom pic)

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