On 8 October 1911 the first Italian Motorcycle Championship took place under the aegis of the newly formed Italian Motorcycle Federation. We retrace the stages of the epic of a group of courageous people who gave life to the world of two-wheel racing as we know it today
The last round of the Civ season in Vallelunga scheduled for the weekend 8-10 October coincides with the 110th anniversary of the first race in the history of the Italian Speed Motorcycling Championship. Exactly on 8 October 1911, on the Milan-Aprica-Milan route, the first Italian Motorcycle Championship on the road took place reserved for the half-liter and one-third-liter classes under the aegis of the newly formed Italian Motorcycle Federation which saw the light on 29 April of the same year with the words Moto Club d’Italia. Twenty-one riders lined up on the starting line, a single test on a 315 km track where Carlo Pusterla triumphed on Triumph in the 500cc half-liter category and Mario Acerboni on Frera in the 334cc third-liter category. A week later, all the participants in the unprecedented championship were awarded the famous laurel wreath in Piazza Duomo in Milan by the organizers and institutional authorities. Thus began the epic that from the first single-stage championships passed through the city circuits up to the modern tracks, a historical, industrial and social path that has seen motorcycles, categories, race formulas evolve and great champions challenge each other breathlessly.
the Civ at the dawn of time
According to reports, the first real motorcycle race was held a hundred and thirty years ago, on May 10, 1891 in Paris on the dirt road covered with potholes near Longchamps. There were two competitors, a sign of the absolute novelty and of the change of times that would gradually take place. The chronicles of the time always report that, again in Paris, but near Neuilly on April 28, 1887, a race took place, but the race was not homologated because only one competitor showed up at the start. In Italy, the debut of the first Italian Motorcycle Championship was anticipated by the exploits of Adalberto Garelli, again in 1911, with his 350 2-stroke “valveless” split cylinder and by the battles at the velodrome and at the racecourse in Milan where Maffeis, Balzarini, Sassi, Pisani and Giuseppe Gilera threw down the gauntlet. Battles that fueled and grew the myth of speed and the legendary exploits of its pilots.
Between the two great wars
It evolves the motorcycle both technically and as an industrial product. The artisan production shops sprout like mushrooms, the first great Italian brands come to life: Garelli, Benelli, Bianchi, Gilera, Frera, Guzzi. Then MV, Morini, Ducati, Laverda, Motobi, Mondial. But, at the same time, the first European and American motorcycles also arrive in Italy. The arrival of the First World War effectively blocked the competitive activity which resumed in 1919 in Cremona. In 1920 it was the Circuito delle Valli del Ticino that hosted the Championship in a single test, with 84 drivers in the four scheduled classes. In 1921 the Italian Championship began to be held over twelve tests, of which four on the circuit, four uphill and four long-distance races, including the North-South Raid which assigned a higher score. The new formula proved to be a success. Ruggeri, Pusterla, Benelli, Panella, Tenni and Pigorini were the undisputed champions of those years. Without forgetting Tazio Nuvolari, winner of a title in 500 in 1924 and one in 350 in 1926. Between 1940 and 1945, the Second World War once again stopped the nascent world of racing.
1946-1972: city circuits
Those were the years of city racing, but something was changing. In 1953 the Imola racetrack was inaugurated which, together with that of Monza and Modena, became the fixed installations available at the time in Italy for competitive activity. In 1957, the former racecourse where some car and motorcycle races took place was transformed into a real racetrack: the Vallelunga circuit. It was the turn of the great Italian champions such as Umberto Masetti, Libero Liberati, Enrico Lorenzetti, Tarquinio Provini, Carlo Ubbiali, Remo Venturi, Renzo Pasolini. It was 1964 when the driver considered by many to be the greatest of all took to the track for the first time: Giacomo Agostini. The then young Lombard rider won all the races, with the exception of the Vallelunga one at the home of a crash, winning the first Italian title, that of the 250 with the Moto Morini. Thus began the career that will lead “Ago” to conquer 16 national laurels, consecrating himself as the most successful driver in the history of the Italian Championship.
1973-1999: the era of racetracks
Speed moves in its “cathedrals”, the racetracks. In the early seventies, the then Autodromo Santamonica di Misano was inaugurated, which marks the definitive abandonment of road races. The 1973 Italian Championship opened on the Modena Aeroautodrome and continued in Imola, Misano, Vallelunga and ended again in Misano. In the 500 class MV Agusta dominated with Giacomo Agostini. Also in those years another plant was born, destined to become a piece of history of Italian speed and beyond: the Mugello. The race formulas evolve in the following years, with the debut of Superbike and then of Sport Production in the late eighties. At that time, there were exceptional drivers involved in the Italian Championship such as Lazzarini, Villa, Bianchi, Reggiani and Lucchinelli. Without forgetting Ferrari, Gianola, Chili, Cadalora, Pirovano, Tardozzi and Uncini. Fausto Gresini, Marcellino Lucchi, Paolo Casoli, Valentino Rossi, Marco Melandri and Manuel Poggiali the protagonists of the nineties.
The third millennium: the arrival of the Civ
2000 is the year of the relaunch of the Italian Championship. Five classes allowed: Superbike, Supersport, Superstock, 250 gp and 125 gp. The names of the protagonists: Cruciani, Pedercini, Brignola, Roccoli, Polita. And then again Petrucci, Savadori, Gramigni, Scassa, Borciani, Pirro, Baiocco. Then in 2009 the other important change for the top national speed championship: the management, organization and promotion carried out directly by the IMF.
2012-2017: Moto3, Premoto3 e SS300
In 2012 the Moto3 category arrives in Civ. The first champion was Kevin Calia, who will be followed by drivers such as Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Andrea Locatelli and Marco Bezzecchi. 2014 sees the entry of another novelty: Premoto3, a category that allows very young people, aged 12 to 15, to compare and gain experience on the best Italian circuits. An interesting category where Celestino Vietti Ramus and Tony Arbolino graduated. In 2017, the SS300 makes its debut in the Civ, an entry class dedicated to production derivatives, whose regulations will then be the inspiration for the homonymous category of the World Championship.
There are numerous riders who have passed from the Civ to the world championship series: Pecco Bagnaia, Franco Morbidelli, Foggia, Di Giannantonio, Rinaldi, Bassani. In 2021 Michele Pirro, thanks to the eighth Italian title obtained in Sbk, joined Carlo Ubbiali and Walter Villa in third place in the ranking of the most winning drivers ever in the Italian Championship, ranking where Giacomo Agostini stands out followed by Tarquinio Provini.
8 October – 09:36
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