The Gran Fondo resistance races of Italy from the 1950s were synonymous with passion, hard work and excitement. In these races, riders spent days on end on their bikes, crossing all of Italy and the most famous races were the "Milano - Taranto" and the "Motogiro d'Italia". The Motogiro is remembered as the most fascinating and adventurous two-wheeled race, the quintessential Italian motorcycling experience.
The race began in 1914 as the "Giro Motociclistico d'Italia" and quickly became a classic. The race was incredibly challenging, lasting 9 days and covering hundreds of kilometres. In order to compete in the race, riders had to have great endurance; every day was a full day of riding and their only rest came during the short nights. The Motogiro was most famous in the 1950s, as Italy was growing and changing after the second World War. The passion of the public and the press surrounding the Motogiro made it an especially unique atmosphere with enthusiasm coming from all directions.
Winning the Motogiro was a victory for both the rider and the motorcycle and the public and the press cheered them both on along the way.
In post WWII Italy, the industrial and economic changes pushed companies to try new markets and seeing the growing passion for speed and the overall economic growth, new companies entered the world of motorcycle production. For these new entries, participation in the Motogiro was essential: it was the perfect way to introduce a new model, to stimulate the public's interest and to demonstrate its speed and reliability.
In the 1950s, rather than the public travelling to go to a race, the resistance races came to the public on the streets of small-town Italy. It was through the Motogiro that some Italian bikes became known for their excellent mechanics, their reliability and their high performance engines.
The 1950s were also important years for Engineer Fabio Taglioni, also known as "Doctor T", who began working at Ducati in 1954 and, who created the Gran Sport Marianna in 1955, specifically to compete in the Motogiro.
In the mid 1950s the "Motogiro d'Italia" became extraordinarily successful and had more than 50 kinds of motorcycles signed up to participate in the more than 3,000 kilometre challenge. It was through the Motogiro that riders such as Giuliano Maoggi, Emilio Mendogni, Leopoldo Tartarini and Remo Venturi became legendary heroes of motorcycling.
Motorcycle marques like Ducati, Moto Morini, Gilera, Moto Guzzi and MV Agusta lived up to all the consumer expectations and aspirations for two-wheeled transportation and became the leading marques of the time.
Despite the success of these races, the Italian government stopped all of the resistance races in 1957 (both automobile and motorcycle) after a couple of serious accidents: at the "Le Mans 24 hours" in 1955 and at the "Mille Miglia" in 1957. From then on, no other Italian sporting event has ever reached as many people across the country.
From the 1950s to the new millennium, the "Motogiro d'Italia" was put on hold but it was not over. In 2001, Dream Engine, a Bolognese company specialising in event organisation, re-launched the event with Ducati as the main sponsor. The race was totally sold out with participants from all over the world. Since 2001, the Motogiro has been a yearly success and with each edition, more and more people participate, and more and more vintage bikes are brought back to life.
Thanks to Dream Engine and Ducati, the legendary "Motogiro d'Italia" has returned as one of the most important stops on the motorcycling calendar.