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Motogiro to roll through

By   /   Friday, June 27th, 2008  /   Comments Off on Motogiro to roll through

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Vroom vroom.
The cycle tour slated to hit the Central Coast in July is nothing like what area residents have grown accustomed to in recent years. These bikes have engines.

It’s called Motogiro America and is based on an Italian motorcycle race that dates back to 1914. By the mid-1900s, the race became a showcase of the latest and greatest Italian motorbikes, including Gilera, Ducati and Benelli. This summer’s tour through Monterey and Paso Robles will mark the event’s debut in the United States.

“Paso Robles offers some of the most fantastic scenery, roads and American hospitality imaginable,” said David Gross, founder of Motogiro America, in an e-mail interview with the Business Times. Gross was in Italy. “Its restaurants, inns, wineries capture the spirit of the local villages and small cities that the Motogiro D’Italia is famous for in Italy,” Gross wrote.

American motorcyclists Cook Neilson and Phil Schilling, known for their work on “Cycle” magazine, will attend the event, as will the 1957 Motogiro D’Italia winner Giuliano Maoggi.

The five-day timed tour is set to commence July 13 from Monterey’s Cannery Row and stop at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a lap on the track. The riders will cover more than 100 miles each day, reaching Paso Robles on July 14. They will spend two days touring the regional landscape before heading back to the finish line in Monterey.

While in San Luis Obispo County, the participants will ride into Paso Robles’ City Park and start races from there the following days. The park also will be the site of agility testing for the riders.

Although Paso Robles tourism coordinator Shonna Howenstine said she’s not sure if the event will draw in many spectators, she does hope it will help to expose the city to potential visitors. She described the event as a “traveling museum” because of the variety of vintage bikes involved.

“This is more of a tour for [the riders] to get to see Paso Robles,” Howenstine said. “We’re hoping the locals will come out and enjoy it.”

The original Giro Motociclistico d’Italia stopped for several decades after the Italian government prohibited road races in 1957. In 2001, the event was resurrected by Italian event organizer Dream Engine. Based on the success the event has had in recent years, the organizers are bringing Motogiro to the United States.

All brands of motorcycles are welcome to participate in the tour, which is divided into five categories: vintage racing class, touring class, 1970s twin class, super sport class and Vespa class.

The vintage category will be limited to 120 bikes, allowing a maximum of 175cc for bikes manufactured before 1957. Bikes manufactured after that date but “inspired by” original Motorgiro bikes are also eligible. The touring category is open to bikes of all makes and years.

The 1970s category includes motorcycles manufactured from 1968 to 1978. The Super Sport category is open to 250cc motorcycles and sidecars of all makes built until 1968. The Vespa category is designed to celebrate the roughly 100 versions of the scooter made in the last half-century.

“It’s a wonderful event,” Howenstine said. “We hope that international visitors will be introduced to Paso Robles and spread the word about how beautiful it is here.”

Three hotels in Paso Robles will host the riders while they are in town.

“We’re … hoping to see it grow,” Howenstine said. “They’re great people to work with. They’re very cooperative with the hotels they’re all staying in.”

The full event, which includes a dinner symposium on Italian design, auction, awards dinner and motorcycle exhibit, runs from July 11 to 20. Sponsors include Ducati, MotoGuzzi, Vespa and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

“Motogiro America brings all of the most exciting aspects of Italian industry and culture – creativity, dynamism, competitive spirit, technical innovation and a dose of real torque to California this summer,” Gross said.

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