Saturday, 28 January 2012

Hailwood in waiting

This is just one of the ad-and-padding free pages of Benzina #007, out soon - it shows Mike Hailwood racing at Bathurst on a TZ750 in early 1978. This would have been every bit as daunting as racing a Ducati 900 on the Isle of Man as he would a few months later, and great preparation for what us parochial Brits like to think of as his "comeback." The other pic was taken by a press photographer for a defunct newspaper: we'd love to be able to credit the guy, but haven't been able to discover his identity, especially since this is the only pic we've ever seen of Mike wheelieing. In fact it's the only pic I've seen of a Ducati 750SS being wheelied...and yet...

In fact it's not Mike, although that's how the pic was sold and credited. The snapper wanted the shot, but Mike just handed his helmet to co-rider Jim Scaysbrook whose motocross expertise allowed him to effortlessly hoist the bevel twin skyward. More (and more photos) in the hardcopy.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Back in the room

At last, life gets back to normal. A CD that represents Benzina#007 is in the post and the actual magazines should be with me within 10 days: late again...sorry. And the of course they've got to be bagged and sent for the post office to work their magic. Absence from the blog (and everything else) is due to the sheer workload involved in layout, proofing and wondering why InDesign changes things back to defaults when merging documents: apparently it's trying to be helpful.

But the main delays have been in trying to get things right: the brilliant debut of Ducati's Desmo 125 at Hedemora I've already owned up to, but even more challenging was getting to the bottom of Mike Hailwood's racing success on a Ducati 750SS in 1977. Yes, 1977 - in Australia, repeatedly, and well before that '78 TT comeback. He also raced at TZ750 at Bathurst, a properly hairy-chested circuit that the Isle of Man TT folk want included in a new world series for street racing.

The pic shows Mike's 750SS in Easter '78 livery (again before the TT): co-rider in the Castrol 6 Hour was Jim Scaysbrook, who deserves more recognition over here: he's been successful in most motorcycle racing disciplines and is regarded as Australia's #1 motorcycle writer, with a slew of books to his credit (including the one below): bizarrely his books are largely unknown (well, to me..) in the UK. Jim helped me no end, largely via Phil Aynsley without whom neither this story or the Desmo 125 piece would have ever got finished. Phil rang people, got things straight and pointed me in the right direction more than once. Please buy his photographs and book (if you can still find a copy). More soon, including a fab pic of Mike wheelieing the big Ducati...

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Things that make you go "Hmmm..."

Spotted for sale on an Italian website - a DOHC "Bialbero" Bianchi 175 "As raced in the Motogiro." Hmmm....

The Giro was originally for production bikes, but being Italian this rule was quickly so twisted that for 1956 there were two classes - one for production bikes (macchine derivite della serie, aka formula 3) and sport/formula 2, a run-what-you-brung, as long as it doesn't have a fairing or more than 175cc.
The only time Bianchi featured in the F2 class results was the final Giro in 1957 when Franzosi came home 6th (though the Tonale had a great record in the F3 class), which may or may not have been a one-off DOHC racer: but all the film clips, photos and even Bianchi publicity material show the SOHC Tonale, including a Corsa version I'd assumed was the F2 entry. So what's this pic? The one-off DOHC 175 built by Lino Tonti in 1960? But wouldn't that make the bike even more valuable, and of course the Giro as a pure road-race was gone by 1960.
So it looks like a fake, and an example of how well equipped native-Italian "restorers" are...unless you know different?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Bus-like Parillas

Just like buses - you wait ages for one, and then three turn up. No sooner do I line up a Parilla piece for Benzina, than the very same bike makes Classic Bike and Classic Racer use this fantastic shot of Eraldo Ferracci racing a hi-cam Parilla in 1960. Eraldo still runs Fast by Ferracci who prepped Doug Pollen's winning Ducati Superbike back in the 1980s. If this whets your appetite for more Parilla morsels, you should try Mike McGary's excellent Moto Parilla website And please remember to vote for John's Parilla in the Classic Bike of the year competition simply by sending a blank email to

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Vote, vote...VOTE!!!

I've trailed pix of this Parilla before, but ran out of time and space to get it into issue #006 of Benzina - all sorted for issue #008, out January if I don't have a nervous breakdown in the meantime...

The story of how John came by this little know beauty is fantastic, and he's a deserved finalist in the Classis Bike bike-of-the-year competition (CBOTY). In fact he should win the competition outright, because not only did he do most of the work himself (becoming an real marque expert along the way) he did it in-between running a full time business and looking after a growing family. Plus the other finalists are pretty ordinary - Brit twins (admittedly one with a funky De Fazio front end, a lardy old Honda plus some other stuff that I can't even remember from my surreptitious spying in WH Smiths.

Parilla's are so rare than CB even calls them OHC (only the original 250 racer was - the rest were strokers or OHV) but bikes just like John's still won classes in the Motogiro and Milano-Tarnto. And John's should win the CBOTY which is decided on a free vote - you can support him by just emailing to - one email ID gets one vote. Hmmm, I've got at least half a dozen emails addresses...