This club history has been compiled by Spaggy, now the longest surviving member of the DOC GB, with membership number 17. Any inaccuracy is entirely accidental, and will be corrected by the author if advised by someone with better knowledge. Indeed, input from club stalwarts Jilly Penegar and Pete Ward has already corrected a couple of errors and oversights. This is expected to be the definitive history of the Ducati Owners Club GB, and it is likely to be updated, added to, and changed over a period of time.
The Ducati Owners Club GB was started up in 1974, by the late Steve Finch, who had a lifelong passion for the Italian bikes. During the course of the first few weeks, yours truly sent his £1.50 membership fee off to Steve, and there commenced a 30 year association with the best Ducati club in the world. During those first weeks, I remember discussing with Steve (who only lived about 30 miles away) the subject of a "newsletter", and what to call it. Taking inspiration from other one make clubs, like the Norton owners (who's mag was called Roadholder) and the AJS club (Jampot) I suggested something that would be unique to Ducati's, descriptive, short and snappy. Whether anyone else in the club that Steve spoke to had the same suggestion is impossible to say now, but in September 1974, whilst the club membership only numbered around 40-50, the first issue of “Desmo” (the name I suggested for the club magazine) was printed as a four-page newsletter.
(It is our aim to eventually have a PDF copy of every issue of Desmo available on the website. Work is almost complete on this and only 1 copy now remains missing these can now be viewed in the Desmo Archive)
Desmo no.3 was the last one produced by Steve, who appealed for someone to take over the running of the club, and so in early
1975, I volunteered to do so, and started a spell as "Editor" of Desmo (from no.4 on) and club Secretary, as the first Comittee was formed, drawing on other local Ducati owners of my acquaintance in Paul Smith (Chairman) and Helen Boyes ( Treasurer). At this time the club numbered around 80 members. Mick Walker became the first Club President.
In Desmo no.5 an appeal was made for a club badge design, and a Mr. Pankhurst (the Christian name was never recorded) submitted the chosen design.
Shortly afterwards, the first club badge was produced for members to identify their allegiance, and in Desmo no.6 the first TT Gathering and the first DOC Rally were announced. The TT Gathering was at the Bungalow, and the first DOC Rally took place in the grounds of Thrumpton Hall, Notts, a stately home owned by club member and Judge, George Seymour, over the weekend of July 19-20, 1975. This year also saw the end of Ducati singles production, and we all shed a tear.
Following a suggestion by racer member Alan Warner, September 21st the same year saw a "Ducati Only" race at Gaydon (now a Rover test track - or not!) which was an event repeated several times over the years. The race was won by Mick Hunt on a 350 Desmo, and one R. McElnea was 10th on a 750 Sport. The first seven home were on singles. Bear in mind that at that time Dukes were only really competing at club level, with TZ750s, RG500 and TZ350s dominating at national and international level. Foggy was just a kid while his dad George was racing the Sports Motorcycles Ducatis. Paul Smart turned up to demo his Imola 72 bike for a few laps, and a lovely racket it made too.
The DOC was enjoying considerable support from Mick Walker, Sports Motorcycles (Steve Wynne) and Coburn and Hughes (Ducati importers) in these early days, and we still enjoy excellent relationships with all of the people and organisations that helped us in our formative years. Long overdue public thanks are due to all of them.
Desmo no.8 saw the anouncement of the late Vic Camp's help in setting up the first discount spares scheme, and the formation of the first branch of the DOC, in the London Ducati Club, set up by Rod Sibbons. Ducati won the Barcelona 24hrs with a 905cc "900SS" and we all danced in the street!
At the 1975 Motorcycle Show at Earls Court, the DOC were provided with space on the importes stand, and the 200 member milestone was reached that week, prompting announcement of the clubs first AGM on April 25th 1976. Plans were also laid for a "Club Run" to Imola 1977, to include a visit to the factory.
The 1976 AGM saw the first elected committee, which eventually evolved into the current Council of Management (COM) With John Stevens in the Chair, and Chris Bennett as Vice-Chairman. Ray Elliott (of Coburn & Hughes) was elected President (an honorary position). Pat Slinn, also of Coburn & Hughes, and later to have a hand in the Hailwood comeback and Tony Rutter stories, became the DOC's first Technical Advice chief. We adopted an unusual subscription rate of 50p (Yes - 50p!) for annual membership, with Desmo costing £1 more as an option, and the first club rules were published.
Desmo no.15 (October 1976) was a watershed, as it saw a new (third) Editor, in the shape of Jilly Penegar (then Mrs. Jilly Bennett) who introduced some radical new ideas, such as putting a date on the Desmo front page! That helps with this history!
In November, the Comittee decided that the optional membership fee idea was unworkable, and the new subscription rate from 1st Jan 1977 went up to £3.50 a year (shock - horror).
April 1977 saw a group of seven DOC members set out on the club's first (dis)organised continental trip, to Bologna, a factory visit, and the Imola 200. We were priveleged to see the first prototype Pantah being put together and tested at the factory, met Fabio Taglioni, and became the subject of an article in Bike magazine (June '77) as one of the seven, Zed Zawada, worked for them, and Mac McDiarmid (later Editor of Bike) earned fame and fortune by binning his 860GTS and hospitalising himself on the way back. A less illustrious scribe (me) wrote an account of the trip for Desmo, and it was started in Desmo no.19 (June '77), spread across several issues, and concluded in Desmo no.29, in Nov 1978. Read Mac's story here (it's worth it!).
The group at rest on the way to Italy in '77
The AGM saw the election of Pete Knight (yup - Spaggy's brother) as Chairman, Rob Murray as Secretary, and Dave Ross as Treasurer. The club funds stood at around the £200 mark, and we had some 300 members.
At the TT, Roger Nichols came close to winning in a downpour, prompting a certaim S M B Hailwood to think about making a return. The TT Rally was moved to Glen Maye in 1977, on Mad Sunday, and there it stayed until 2008 (with the exception of a couple of years in the 80s when the cafe burnt down. The first time trophies were presented, the concourse award went to Hans Hartmeir, with a 750GT.
The "Ducati Only" race was run at Wroughton, and was won by Les Burgan (riding Stewart Frazer's 750SS, taken out to 860) and second was the venerable scribe Alan Cathcart (or is that CrashKart) on a 750SS. The first five home were V-twins. Extra prize money was provided for the race, and the winner took home £41.50 for his efforts!
In November '77 we organised a club Disco in Oxford, but it was not well supported, and, unsurprisingly, the idea never resurfaced for many years.
In March 1978, the club's first tee-shirts went on sale at £1.35 each, and so was born the DOC Regalia scheme. Francis McCarthy took over as Chairman, Mike Penegar was elected Secretary and Nick Adderly Membership Sec, and a few other positions were shuffled around. The position od Editor was also made a proper comittee post at this year's AGM.
At the TT, Mike the Bike made his return, and took the F1 TT as the massed ranks of the Ducatisti in the Island really did dance in the streets! Over 110 people turned up at Glen Maye as the event started to become established.
In September, the club comittee decided to launch a "Rare Spares" scheme, and a sum of £200 was allocated to start it off. A pile of second hand parts were purchased, with profits generated to be used for re-manufacturing unobtainable bits. Towards the end of the year, plans started to get laid for another "Club Run", this time to Barcelona and the 24hrs at Montjuich, in July 1979.
The club badge was also redesigned during this year, and featured a 900SS in silhouette on a plain background, like this.
It was later used as the basis for the design for the DOC teeshirts and sweatshirts, which sold well in black and gold for donkeys years. If anyone ever tries to sell you a "rare copy" of Desmo no.31, turn them down, as a trypong errut meant there never was one, with the numbering skipping from 30 to 32. Feel free to re-number all your old Desmo's from 32 onwards by reducing the issue number by one!
Desmo no.32 (March '79) carried an article by Steve Wynne about how Mike Hailwood's TT comeback came about, and an appeal was launched to help fund the 1979 TT assault.
Desmo no.33 was a further milestone, being the last ever desmo to be produced in A4 format, with single sheets stapled together, and Desmo 34 was produced in A5 format for the first time, though still without a cover at this time.
Mark Stevens took over from Mike Penegar as Secretary at that year's AGM as Mike moved on to be Chairman, and Brian Henley made an appearance as Membership Sec. Desmo's 35 and 36 were combine into one, so purists can re-mark their Desmo's down by one more digit if they want to be perfectly accurate anoraks about it. Mick Walker hosted a club comittee meeting and gave us all a comprehensive tour of the spares operation he was then running.
Five years on
1979 also marked the club's second group foray to the continent, this time to Barcelona for the 24hrs, and was composed of four members on three bikes.
In January 1980, due to work comitments, I resigned my post on "Rare Spares", passing the job over to Simon Doncaster. This was to be my first stint as an ordinary club member, having been a comittee member almost since the club formation in 1974, and I was glad of the break. It's probable that not a few were glad to see me go too! Metal lapel badges were introduced for the first time. By now the club had five local branches, London, Essex & Herts, South East England, South West England, and North Yorkshire. It is testament to lots of enthusiasm that four of these branches still exist 25 years later. Nigel Pettitt became member no 1000, but as lapsed numbers were not re-used, the membership was just over 600.
The AGM of 1980, Ingrid Herscher was elected Secretary, but no other positions changed. The club's assets had grown to around £1,600 by now, and the subs were raised to the heady heights of £4.
It was in 1980, though, that the club's founder, Steve Finch, had a fatal accident whilst spectating at the TT. He had seen the club he started move from just a couple of dozen hardy loyalists in 1974 to a truly national club with hundreds of members just six years later. The club sent a wreath to his funeral, and a sympathy card to his mother, which I know was warmly appreciated.
What we have as a club today we owe to Steve for his vision in getting it all off the ground when no-one else did. Thank you Steve.
Desmo no.42 (January 1981) marked another milestone for Editor Jilly, as black and white photos were reproduced in the mag for the first time. There was some heated discussion at this time through the pages of Desmo regarding the subject of pattern spares, the prices of genuine Ducati parts, and what would happen to your warranty if you didn't use the genuine stuff. DOC members were invited to help sponsor the Sports Motorcycles race effort with a £5 donation, and in return the bikes carried DOC GB stickers at the TT. Over 125 members contributed towards Ian Richards' and Tony Rutter's race efforts.
Desmo no.43 reported the tragic death of Mike the Bike and his daughter Michelle, in March 1981. Although the TT success of 1978 will always associate the great man with Ducati, it is not widely known that Mike was a club member at the time of his death. The club sent a floral tribute and written condolences to Pauline Hailwood, and a donation was made to a charity that Mike was patron of, the Joan Seeley Pain relief Memorial Trust Fund.
The AGM saw Steve Wynne elected as President, and Dave Norris came on board to oversee regalia, and Pauline Hailwood was apointed a lifetime honorary Vice-President of the club. Additional branches had sprung up in Birmingham, Chesterfield, and of course, Manchester, and three or four more were getting off the ground. At this AGM a decision was made to turn the club into a Limited Company from the following January 1st, in a move intended to offer some protection for comittee members by removing any requirement for them to be personally liable for money or assets held, or decisions taken, on the club's behalf. The club accounts indicated we were responsible for some £2,300 in club funds and assets.
In June, Desmo no.44 marked yet another milestone under Jilly's tenure as Editor, as the mag gained a front cover for the first time, in eye-watering bright yellow.
The club's support of the Sports Motorcycles team was richly rewarded at the TT as Tony Rutter took his Pantah-based 600 to a superb F2 win. And we danced in the streets again! Steve Wynne wrote an article about the whole project, printed in Desmo no. 45, and Tony went on to clinch the TT F2 World Championship for the Sports Motorcycles/DOC GB team. A "Ducati Only" race was also held at Colerne in September 1980, with trophies going to J. Fitzgerald, R. Perkins and D. Lee for class wins. Jilly Bennett miraculously transformed into Jilly Penegar in Desmo no.49 after she and Mike tied the knot.
Tony Rutter tries his TT2 bike for size, then goes and wins on it. Note the sponsors!
August 1981 saw the next "Ducati Only" race at Snetterton, won by Ian Griffiths on a 350, and interestingly, the 250 award was won by Tony Ainslie, later a team manager with "Team Bike" in their world endurance championship chasing days. Tony Rutter repeated his TT F2 World Championship. The DOC Tool Hire scheme also eventually got off the ground in September 1981, in the hands of Andy Farrer. Mike Clay (later Editor of Desmo) made his first appearance in print in Desmo no.51, with Spaghetti Bolognese.
January 1982 saw a major attempt to improve the Rare Spares scheme by issuing Loan Stock Certificates to members investing in the DOC's venture, with a view to raising the capital required to manufacture impossible to get hold of parts. The difficult state of the spares market was illustrated when Mick Walker, then the main UK spares importer, went out of business, giving extra credence to the club's actions at the time. John Bowler took on the job of Membership Sec, replacing Brian Henley, who had done the job for three years. Mike Penegar (Chairman) and Jilly represented the DOC at a meeting of European Ducati Clubs in Strasbourg along with reps from Holland, Germany, France and Switzerland. The club made its first appearance at the Bristol Classic Bike Show, and subs were £6.50.
Desmo no.53 reported the terrible news of Sports Motorcycles closure following a High Court case against Coburn & Hughes. The "heated discussions" noted in Desmo the previous year had driven a wedge between some of the biggest businesses involved with Ducatis, and made the clubs spares venture even more important. Steve set up Sports Motorcycles Racing Ltd to continue in business, but concentrating on race preparation, rather than selling new bikes. The '82 "Ducati Only" race had 40 starters, and was won by Dave Railton on a 900 Bevel. Denis Porter (900SS) was second, and Paul Klatiewicz third on a 500 Pantah.
Peter Fisher replaced John Bowler as Membership Sec at the 1983 AGM, and Jilly added another one to the pile of firsts as Desmo Editor as Desmo no.55 became the first fully typeset issue, and the trusty typwriter was consigned to the bin. Mike Penegar resigned as Chairman after four years in the job, and Anna Zee replaced him, but a replacement Secretary could not be found following Ingrid Herscher's resignation. Tony Scothern took over the Rare Spares scheme, and a comittee was set up following Tony Brancato's suggestion, to investigate establishing a business to trade in Ducati parts. The DOC GB bought the stock of singles parts from John Smith Ducati when he ceased trading, and DOC Spares Ltd was formed in November 1983.
N-N-N-N-Nineteen Eighty Four
Desmo no.57 contained an appeal for designs for a new club logo, and membership fees had gone up to £8 a year. Tony Rutter won his third F2 World Title for Ducati, and Peter Fisher announced plans for a Ducati Day at Goodwood for August 1984, our very first Track Day.
The club badge was later redesigned, and the next design was used for many years.
Early 1984 saw good progress being made with the embryo spares company, and Nick Hooper stepped in as Secretary. By the time of the '84 AGM in June, DOC Spares Ltd was trading from a warehouse in Faringdon, Oxon, manned by volunteers from the comittee and ordinary members.
At the AGM, Jilly resigned after 8 years at the helm of the good ship Desmo, passing over the reins to Mike Clay, who had been contributing a series of thoughtful, amusing and sometimes provocative articles in his "Spaghetti Bolognese" column. Subs were raised to the heady heights of £9 a year. Desmo no.63 carried a history of the DOC GB's first ten years, written by....guess who!
The club held its Tenth Anniversary Rally over the weekend of 7-9th September, near Devizes, and was well supported. And so ended the first ten years of the Ducati Owners Club GB, which had seen membership grow from a handfull at launch, to close to 1,000 by 1984, during which time we had run several national rallies, TT meetings, continental tours, sponsored races, and put on a track day. The club now had 12 branches. Things could only get better!
Desmo no.66 (April/May '85) carried the news that the by now bankrupt Ducati had been bought by Cagiva for about tuppence ha'penny (that'll confuse the post-decimalisation kids!) All of the club's fears about shortages of parts and support began to be vindicated as Cagiva basically didn't want to know about supporting anything made before they took over. There was also sad news of the death following an industrial accident of Roger Nicholls, whos performance on the Sports Motorcycles Ducati in 1977 was instumental in persuading Mike Hailwood to make his TT comeback in 1978.
We made our debut at the BMF Rally in 1985, with a marquee measuring about 10ft by 10ft, and two bikes in it. From small beginnings! DOC Spares Ltd moved from Faringdon to Swindon, into smaller but more secure and suitable premises.
The DOC Spares Shop
After several years with a very settled comittee, several changes took place at the 1985 AGM, starting our second decade with some acrimony and upheaval. Pete Fisher stepped down as Membership Sec after a two year stint, passing the job to Lynton Stewart-Ashley, of whom more later. Pete temporarily filled the Editor vacancy created by Mike Clay's resignation, but personal tragedy forced him to give the job back after just a few months. John Divine became Secretary, and Phil
Blades vocally led the call for a Northern Rally so the southern softies would have to ride half way to the Arctic Circle for the privelege of getting frostbitten.
The '85 TT was also memorable for the DOC TT Rally being moved back to Glen Maye after a couple of years at firstly, Glen Helen, and then Dalby, after the cafe burnt down in '82. Christmas '85, and two issues of Desmo, no's 69 and 70, were again combined into one. Re-number your subsequent Desmo's one more time (are you following this?). There were now 10 branches nationwide, and subs went up to £12, with the club having around £2,400 in assets.
The last DOC event of the year was the first Northern rally, which featured huge quantities of alchohol, Desmo-Burgers and a three legged race, with predictable messy results. A brilliant first rally for Chairman Blades.
1986 was the first year that several (most) of the Italian one-make clubs, plus the IMOC, got together to put on an "Italian Festival", combining a rally, track day and other entertainment for the benefit of all their combined membership. Originally planned for Mallory Park, it was moved to Donington because of an enforcement notice being served on Mallory, and cancellation of our booking.
By May of 1986, the Membership Sec job was proving too much for Lynton Stewart-Ashley, and as an emergency measure it was taken on by Pete Thomas. And just as well too. The membership records were in a real mess, with subs unbanked, lapsed members still on the list, and a massive backlog to clear. Unfortunately, the scale of the problem was to have serious repercussions for the club financially, and led to more than a couple of resignations at the 1986 AGM.
Up stepped Phil Blades as Chairman, Alan Yardley as Membership Sec, John Divine in the Secretary's hat, and Pete Thomas as Treasurer. Mike Clay stayed on as Editor in a virtually new comittee, which resulted in Dave Ross leaving the Treasurer's job in somewhat acrimonious circumstances after 10 years in the post. It would probably be fair to say that by "falling on his sword" and resigning, Dave prevented even more rancour and illwill being generated. The post of Foreign Events Co-Ordinator was created at this AGM, and first into the post was Paul Weston. Regrettably, the problems caused by the Membership Sec, the lack of funds not noticed by the Treasurer, and the cash drain imposed by the support for DOC Spares caused a schism that took years to heal. One upshot of this was the first "break-away" club, in the "900SS and Pantah Riders Club", which enjoyed (?) a brief flurry of popularity for a year or two before fading away.
The new DOC GB Comittee refused further support for DOC Spares, thus condemming the venture to an inevitable end.
The Italian Festival, however, was a roaring success, with over 1000 turning up, and those who paid their £10 for the Track Day getting an hour on the circuit. Overall, though, the event cost over £6,000 to put on (in 1986 remember) and lost about £250 overall, with costs shared between the clubs. It was decided to repeat the excercise in 1987.
1987 revealed that membership had taken a drastic dive, with membership having fallen to just over 400. As we had been producing enough magazines etc the previous year to cater for around 700, the state of the club's finances was predictably grim, but recovering.
By May of '87, Mike Clay had once again wriggled out of the Editor's post, being replaced by John Anderson, but in a short term cost cutting measure, Desmo reverted to a typewritten format, with consequent loss of quality. Martin Heather made his appearance as Advertising/PRO bloke, and Dave Holmes continued to run the Regalia scheme.
Desmo no.76 contained a picture of an immaculate NCR race bike in my posession.
This prompted many to ask where I'd got it, how long I'd had it, what happened to the old 750GT, and general surprise that I would even be able to acquire such a masterpiece of exotica. Well, it is mine, bought and paid for some months earlier as a box of bits, at great expense, and lovingly assembled over several weeks. It is substantially lighter than normal, at about 3 oz all up, and has a much shorter wheelbase than standard, at around eight inches. Yes, Tamiya make a really nice NCR replica.
The real machinery was present in abundance at the 1987 BMF Rally when Sgt Blades military planning resulted in a DOC GB stand to knock your socks off. With much help from umpteen members, we really made our mark at the BMF, taking best club stand award by a country mile, and getting huge publicity from it.
As well as running our own track day in the pouring rain at Pembrey, the DOC GB again joined forces with the other Italian clubs to repeat the Italian Festival at Donington on July 11/12th. This, however, proved to be the last one, as umpteen attempts to get Donington to give us a booking the next two years met with delays and obstruction, meaning we never got the chance to build on two brilliant events in '86 and '87.
Desmo no.77 carried a two-page "Obituary" for DOC Spares Ltd, which was reluctantly wound up after 4 years of effort by the directors, with the premises and stock being sold off. A sorry end to what could have been a tremendous success.
The year ended on a senseless and tragic note at the Northern Rally, when Kevin and Janet Hurrell were involved in an accident whilst on the ride-out. A 19 year old driver, out of control in a fast car, on the wrong side of the road, hit the couple at speed and they never stood a chance. Kevin was killed instantly, and Janet died in hospital. Three other riders were involved and also injured, one permanently, and the '87 Northern Rally was instantly over for all who were there.
The car driver later received a sentence of four months imprisonment and a five year driving ban.
Autumn '87 also witnessed the debut of the eight-valve "850" to be used by Marco Luccinelli in the new World Superbike Championship in '88, with a limited homologation only run of 200 expected. Well, you know how Italians are for exagerating a little!
The club now had 11 branches, we had a Technical Literature library of around 25 publications, and the tool hire scheme had extended the range to cater for the Pantah range as well as the singles and bevel twins. David Harvey eased his way on to the committee as Advertising Manager, Colin Cadden took over the tool hire, and Martin Heather had shifted over to the Secretary's chair while John Divine wasn't looking.
In the final Desmo of 1987 (no. 80) Socrates made his debut as a contributer of many thought-provoking (if not downright contentious) articles. At the Bristol Classic Bike show Dave Holmes sold £300 worth of regalia, and we signed up 18 new members. Ducati were expanding their importer network in the UK, with Cinelli, Sports, Three Cross and Moto Vecchia all bringing bikes in.
At the 1988 BMF Rally, we had Mike the Bike's TT winner on the club stand, thanks to Steve Wynne, and once again Chairman Blades conjured up a prize-winning effort with the "Circus Ducati" theme, recreating a virtual Big Top in an imaginitive display that knocked any competition dead.
The '88 AGM resulted in no changes to the committee, but the subs went up to £14. We had Gerhardt Klein's stunning 950 Niko Bakker 950SS bevel as part of a superb display of bikes, and Mick White turned up for the first time.
At the AGM, a decision was made to give the club logo a total redesign, and it emerged in the form we have used until
recent years. It was not revealed to the general masses in the next two Desmos though, because.......
Fifteen years, 85 issues (give or take - hope you've been paying attention), and six Editors after the first issue, Desmo went colour!!!
Yes, the long awaited advance to a colour cover was finally acheived with Desmo no.86, and the new club logo made its debut on the front cover, which was signed (every one individually - yeah, really!) by Marco Lucchinelli.
The branch network had increased to 14, and the announcement was made that the club Track Day was to be moved to Cadwell on July 31st, and was to be organised for the first time by Mick White.
Desmo no.87 continued the trend towards improvement and refinement by being the first to feature glossy pages, and we've never looked back since.
At the '89 AGM, Paul Weston moved into the Secretary's post, combining the job with the Foreign Events Co-Ordinator post he had already held for a couple of years, while Mick White took over as Treasurer when the committee bade farewell to Pete Thomas after three years of Sterling work. Alan's missus Sue Yardley replaced Dave Holmes in the regalia position, with Steve Hope taking on the tool hire, and the committee started to take a slightly different shape to that which had begun the resurrection of the DOC GB at the '86 AGM. We reportedly now had some £6,000 in the bank and a membership figure that had grown to 716. We held our first "Annual" DOC GB dinner at the De Montfort Hotel, Kenilworth, but unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be a hardy perennial.
Desmo no.89 (the last of '89 as a co-incidence) contained a contribution from Socrates that was considered offensive by some, and led to some "enthusiastic" editing involving the physical removal of the actual printed page. This did not go down well in some quarters. By Desmo no.91 (Spring of 1990) John Anderson had well and truly spat the dummy, and resigned after three years as Editor, passing the editorial typewriter to Alexis Mayans, while Alan & Sue Yardley swapped jobs, and Socrates wrote his final article for Desmo. RIP. Anderson, however, continued to write his "Bevel Headed" column in Desmo for some time after.
During the lengthy wait for Desmo no.92, attributed to the new Ed's change of employment status, Sue Yardley metamorphosed into Sue Purdy, and the club started to transfer its membership records to a newly acquired PC. 21st Century stuff!
During early 1990 the Waterfall Cafe burnt down, and so the TT meeting was moved to Glen Helen. It poured with rain and it was a job to find the Dukes in the car park full of Nip iron.
1990's AGM ushered in a new Chairman in the shape of Paul Weston, with Phil Blades stepping down after four hugely successful years. Tony Bird took over the seat vacated by Paul, labelled "Foreign Events". The bloodless coup staged by the southerners also got David Harvey a fresh job as Secretary. Alexis was doing his best to resign, but finding a new Editor was proving problematic, but Richard Chambers became the new Editor at the end of the year. Pete Ward presented a new trophy to be awarded annually to the person who has made the most significant contribution to the DOC GB over the previous year, and the first winners were Phil and Janice Blades jointly. A major change to the club's status was also effected this year as we became a Limited Company. Membership stood at around 750.
Raymond Roche won the World Superbike title for the first time for Ducati on an 888, and once again, the streets saw some serious dancing as Ducatisti celebrated worldwide. Desmo no.93 heralded a new cover, as Mark Forsyth's wheelie filled the space occupied by Marco Lucchinelli since no 86.
The DOC ran TWO track days in 1991, in May and July, with around 90 DOC members enjoying the two. The TT gathering for 1991 was moved to the Ballacallin Hotel at Dalby on the Thursday of race week, its third venue in as many years. I penned a letter for inclusion in Desmo, criticising the organisation (or what I saw as lack of it) which had the result of, unfortunately, Derrick Williams resigning from the DOC and the organising being placed in my hands for 1992. (Gulp!) 1991 also saw the first of Doug Polen's World Superbike titles for Ducati.
At the annual AGM bunfight, Alan Yardley was "promoted" to Chairman, Brian Silver came in as Advertising Manager, and Terry Neighbour continued with the PRO job he had held for two previous years. Mo Williams made an entrance in the Foreign Events post. Membership was on the up, climbing to 866 by the time of the AGM, but subs had remained static since 1988. To raise a little extra revenue, a £2 joining fee for first time mebers was introduced, a system we keep to this day, but the renewal cost was unchanged at £14. The Pete Ward Trophy was presented jointly to Alan Yardley and Sue Purdy.
Tricolore GB Ltd became the clubs Ltd Co entity on 9th March 1992, and the DOC GB also started laying plans for a group trip to the factory in September of 1992, the first "official" trip since 1979.
In 1992 the TT Rally was re-instated in its rightful home at Glen Maye, and was a huge success, despite being organised by Spaggy, and the Cadwell Track Day later in the year cost partygoers a whole £40. The London Branch had virtually ceased to exist, but sterling work by Graeme Ritchie during the year got the population of the capital out on the roads again to resurrect the branch.
The Centenary issue of Desmo, in the summer of '92, was the second to feature a new cover (the third of the colour designs) and the picture was robbed (with permission) from Motorcycle International. Desmo has remained in production for longer than them!
In September of '92 a factory visit organised by David Harvey and Gel Smart had a total of 18 Dukes and 2 Elefants riding through the gates at Bologna, and the story of the trip was covered in an article spread over two issues of Desmo. By the winter of '92, we needed a new Editor again. Any co-incidence here? Replacing Richard, David Fost saw his chance to grab Editorial control from Desmo no.102, and was duly elected (no-one else wanted it).
In the summer of 1993, there were the first moves towards a "Rare Spares Register", and Steve Wynne serialised the Sports Motorcycles Story accross two issues of Desmo, giving an exclusive insight into the Hailwood story to the DOC GB. The TT Rally was agin very well attended, and the "Best Special" award went to an Elefant with 851 wheels, WP forks, floating discs off a ROC Yamaha GP bike and home made exhaust system. Truly special.
At the '93 AGM, Sue Purdy finally retired after 6 years on the Comittee in one post or another, and the job was passed on to a returning to the fold Jilly Penegar. Technical Literature fell into the hands of Chris Pleasance, who contributed many a cartoon to Desmo. Martin Littlebury took on the Tool Hire, and yours truly got lumbered with the Regalia Secretary position. Served me right for complaining about it previously. We had around £22,000 in the bank, but we still put the subs up anyway, this time to £16. The Peter Ward Trophy was awarded to Richard Chambers and Pip Hope for their improvement in the quality of Desmo. Plans for a 20th Anniversary Track Day were announced.
Into our 20th year
Early in 1994, as the club ended its second decade, Desmo no.107 was published with a Chairman "In Absentia", heralding the departure of "Yobbo" Yardley later in the year. A collection of the last 20 years of technical articles, tips, tricks and tweaks was collected together, and published early in 1994 as "Ducati Ownership", an invaluable source of reference for many a Duke owner since. Desmo no.108 became the first one to be published with it's own unique colour cover, as all previous Desmos since no.86 had run the same design over many issues.
The 1994 TT became the first to feature the midweek Barbeque at Laxey, thanks to Tony Brancato's organisation, and it has since become a TT fixture. Foggy was by this time well on his way to his foirst WSB title on the 916's debut year (more dancing in the streets), and the DOC GB celebrated 20 years with a Track Day, Rally, Party and Knees-Up at Cadwell. We had the Steve Gibbons band to entertain us, and I bought him a drink!
By the time of the AGM, Foggy had wrapped it all up. David Fost took over the advertising, as Martin Marriott moved into the Editorial hotseat. Martin Littlebury took over as Membership Sec, combining it with the Tool Hire, while Jilly moved up the seniority ladder by sliding smoothly into the vacant Chairman's (?) post. (From memory, by now the PC brigade had struck at us old fogies and simply called the post Chair, so technically Jilly didn't really need that sex change after all) (Ducks to avoid flying gavel) Technical Literature under Chris Pleasance now had the floorboards groaning under the weight of over 50 publications amassed since the scheme started.
Once again though, the year ended on a sad note, as Gary Walker, son of club stalwart and arch-Ducatisti Mick Walker, lost his life in a crash at the Supercup meeting at Brands Hatch. The club could only offer its condolences to Mick and Sue.
During the winter of '94, Kev Pipes was successful in getting a branch off the ground in Burton-on-Trent, and it was my pleasure to be at the first few meetings. At the opener, we had along an up and coming young racer starting to make a name for himself in the British Championship, but not yet well supported, and who brought his bikes along to put on show. His name was Neil Hodgson, and he was really chatty to anyone who wanted to talk to him.
Early in 1995 Dave Chambers took over the task of following in 10 years worth of Phil Blades' footsteps in organising the Northern Rally, and following the conversion of the DOC GB to a Limited Company some time before, we finally got round to publishing the Articles of Association on Desmo no.109. Mark Trayford found himself dragged on to the committee as PRO (our first), and one of his first major successes was to get an interview with Foggy, published in Desmo no.111. Plans were announced for a Gary Walker Memorial Race at Mallory in September, and a certain Keith Fothergill filled the pages of several Desmo's with articles on how to build a Spondon Duke. His spelling was no better then, and neither was his haircut.
The club now numbered 18 branches, and Regalia was proving something of a success, with over £2,000 worth sold in one day at the BMF Rally, providing much satisfaction to me. Rob Holden won the Singles TT on a Sports Motorcycles Supermono, continuing Sports outstanding history in the Isle of Man. At the Manx GP, the DOC GB ran its first event there, with a BBQ at Laxey.
September 1995, at the Race of the Year meeting, the DOC GB was proud to help Mick Walker make the Gary Walker Memorial Race a memorable event. The club put on a display of over 30 bikes, ranging from Diana scooters, through singles and bevel twins, to Monsters, belt drive SS's and eight valvers of various types. A Ducati 250cc race was won by Nigel Lacey, with Francis Taylor a close second. Mick was also involved in the Cagiva 125 Cup series, for young racers on Mito's, for which there was also a round at Mallory.
Mick has supported the DOC GB through thick and thin over it's entire history, and it was the least we could do to make the sad event as much of a celebration as we possibly could.
The AGM of 1995 saw few changes, but Keith Harland took over Technical Literature, marking his entry to comittee circles, and Malcolm Wallace became the clubs first BMF Liaison Officer, and Brian Silver took over the Tool Hire. The Pete Ward Trophy was won by Martin Marriott, and the Editors Cup went to Keith Fothergill as a reward for his Spondon Special articles. Shortly after, Desmo no.115 broke the news of TPG buying a 50% stake in Ducati.
During the early part of 1996, the DOC GB was involved in a minor way with "Forza Italia" at Donington Park, a celebration of all things Italian, and including races, club displays and many trade stalls selling everything from cheese to wine to clothing. A great day out. We started to formalise the structure of the "Rare Spares" project, and enlisted help from Les Emery, owner of Fair Spares, a business which sprang from the spares scheme operated by the Norton Owners Club, and which is now the biggest supplier of Norton spares in the UK. Les's guidance was valuable, and alerted us to many pitfalls, and problems to avoid if we were to make this attempt at a spares scheme a success.
Desmo no.116 carried a paragraph about a new phenomenon starting to make inroads into the communications medium, as Ducati Corse became one of the first race teams to have a stab at using this "Internet" thing. It'll never catch on!
Activity at the 1996 TT was overshadowed by the death in practice of Robert Holden, riding a Sports Motorcycles 916. Once again, the club had to express condolensces to friends and relatives, and had lost a truly nice guy.
The year was made even worse when Graeme Ritchie died following an accident at the WSB round at Brands Hatch. Graeme had been an active and enthusiastic DOC GB member for many years, was instrumental in resurrecting the London Branch, been one of the Club's Technical Help panel, written many articles for Desmo, and was an accomplished racer at National and International level. His widow, Claire, should know that we were honoured to have Graeme as a member, and he is still missed.
Later in 1996, back in the Isle of Man, Frances Taylor lapped at 96.98 mph on a Nigel Lacey built 450 Desmo, the fastest ever IOM lap on a classic Ducati single. Well done that man.
Desmo no.119 contained part 1 of Ken Thomas's account of his travels through Russia to Moscow on a 900SS.
The Editors seat was swapped again at the AGM, this time with Mike Tearle getting to grips with the word processor. Trevor Good took over Foreign Events, and David Fost exited advertising to let in David Blumstein. The Regalia scheme was now valued at about £8,000, Martin Marriott took the Pete Ward Trophy again, and the Editors Cup went to John Hirst. Within a month, however, David Blumstein had been replaced by Fiona Fox.
Desmo 121 carried the news that club member Derek Templeton had taken the Internet Bull by the horns, and set up a website for the DOC GB. What we were going to do with it was another matter. It'll never catch on, you know! Of much more interest was that "Ducati Ownership" volume 2 had been compiled and published, and could be obtained for just £10. We now had 21 branches nationwide.
At the AGM of 1997, Peter Cooper was welcomed onto the comittee as Technical Literature keeper of the Holy scriptures, releasing Keith Harland to travel as far as the Treasurers chair, vacated by Mick White after 8 years up to his armpits in used tenners. Meanwhile, Linda Palmer picked up the Membership Sec's hat.
In Desmo no.124, Ainslie Casson got his name in print for the first time.
Desmo no.125 reported that the North Yorkshire branch had fallen into the hands of Mike Dean, and Ken Thomas's epic account of his trip across Russia was concluded with part 7 in this issue. For the first time, deadline dates for copy for future Desmos was included, and the editor became contactable by email for the very first time, with a setup through demon.co.uk that also included the Chairman, Secretary, and Membership Sec. Luddite me never even had a PC back then, never mind email!
Desmo no.126 became the first to publish the DOC GB's website address on the contacts page,
(at http://homepages.enterprise.net/dtempleton) but this link no longer works, which is not a real surprise as it was hosred on Derek Templeton's personal web-space. Tricolore Rare Spares
(henceforth known as TRS) started compiling its database of sources, and Ducati announced that to celebrate its 50th birthday, there would be a World Ducati Weekend on 11-14 June 1998, and DOC GB Comittee members were asked to provide input to the organisation of this inaugural event. In March '98, David Harvey launched V-Mail, an electronic newsletter for members posessing the required technology. The club now had 23 branches nationally.
Desmo no.128 announced plans that the DOC GB would be putting on a Gran Festa (Big Party) in October as part of Ducatis 50th anniversary celebrations, and we were going to make this a biggie. In the same issue, Jilly reported on the inaugural WDW.
The '98 AGM was held on the same day as the Gran Festa, both events taking place at the National Motorcycle Museum. After two years in the post, Mike Tearle gave the editors job to Brian Cornford, with Gel Smart as assistant. After five years as regalia sec, I had achieved everything I had set out to do, and with the aim of getting to more events on the bike rather than in the car, I passed the clubs burgeoning stock of regalia over to Mike Woodford and disappeared quickly before he could change his mind. It was decided to offer life membership for a subscription of £160, but if all 1700 members had taken us up on it, we'd have closed down by now. Technical Literature now numbered over 70 publications.
The guest list for the Gran Festa included many racers and ex-racers of Ducatis (Giancarlo Falappa, Phil Read, John Reynolds, Sean Emmmet, Tony Rutter, Peter Graves) race team luminaries and tuners (Ben Atkins, Roger Marshal, Pat Slinn, John Hackett) factory personel (Marco Montemagi) and many of the people who have long supported the DOC GB, like Mick Walker. (The list of stars who couldn't be there was just as long, so we're saving them for later). A brilliant night was had by all, and I will forever remember sitting up until 3 am at the hotel, drinking camomile tea with Giancarlo, whilst telling him how fast I used to be. I don't think he was impressed.
1999 - Into our 25th year
David Harvey wrote a 25 year history of the DOC for Desmo no.129, and Troy Corser crashed in warm-up for the Japanese round of the WSB championship, enabling Foggy to wrap up his third title. More reason to dance!
As we moved into 1999, the first TRS Directory was published, at a cost of £2, and offered around a dozen specialist tools for sale.
In Desmo no.133 an open letter from Chris Bushell (Kent Branch Rep) was published, which was severely critical of the DOC GB, and quite hostile to the comittee. This stirred up a bit of a hornets nest, that led on to a quite acrimoious AGM later in the year.
In August, however, we were pleased to be once again involved in the Gary Walker Memorial Race, this time at Brands Hatch, the circuit where he lost his life. The race featured 21 starters, all on Ducati singles, and was won by Doug Snow, with Jan Rademaker and Bill Swallow completing the podium. We were also pleased to award Mick a special DOC GBLifetime Achievement award during the meeting.
The 25th anniversary AGM provided some major ructions. Most comittee posts were unopposed formalities, and saw the election of a Northern oik with designs on world domination to the Northern Rally Organiser position. Step forward one Gary Brook. Once all the other positions were sorted except for BMF Liaison (vacant), there was a "leadership contest" for the Chairman's job which would do justice to any political party. Chris Bushell opposed Jilly Penegar for the post, and both gave speeches in support of their position, and their views of the future of the DOC GB. They then left the room as votes were cast (the only time I can ever remember such an occurance) whereupon Jilly won the vote, and was duly re-elected. Chris Bushell accepted the post of Events Officer, where it was thought that some of his ideas could be put into practice effectively, and giving him the chance to "prove himself". At this though, a couple of other comittee members chucked their teddies out of the pram and resigned from the posts they had only just been elected into, and left to the sound of stamping of tiny feet! The upshot of all this was that we had to elect a new Secretary and Membership Sec (again). When the smoke cleared we had Keith Ringle in the Secretary's job, and Tanya Chambers took on Membership Secretary. One of Keith's first actions was to set up an email address for himself as firstname.lastname@example.org, the first use of the DOC GB's eventual URL. Keith also set up
the DOC List, replacing V-Mail, and which did sterling service for many years until mega-spam problems did for it and we re-located to docgb.net email addresses.
After all this, the job of getting Giancarlo Falappa, Micaela & Julia (from the newly launched, factory sponsored, Ducati (factory) DOC) Steve Wynne and Mick Walker to be guests at our 25th Anniversary Dinner (November 1999) was a positive piece of cake. 1999 also saw the launch of Ducati UK, and at the end of the year, Mike Dean's considered and thoughtful response to Chris Bushell's earlier open letter was published in Desmo no.133. By the publication of Desmo no.136 early in 2000, Chris had resigned as Events bloke, apparently due to "work comitments". As the new millenium dawned, we had 27 branches, 1700 members, and a turnover of some £40,000. And according to some people, this is a crappy club!
Unfortunately, the schism at the end of 1999 turned out to be the launch pad for another entry into the galaxy of Ducati clubs, as those with a sporting bent set up a new club apparently only interested in the newer bikes, which, of course, we are too.
Entering the new millenium
Following the depature of Mr. Bushell early in 2000, we gained a new Events Officer in the genial shape of all round good egg Keith Grotherfill (the well known spelling mistake).
The first Merlin Rally took place in darkest Welsh Wales over the weekend of 14-16 April, and had an excellent response. Tony James & co had a terrific turnout to instantly establish the event as the DOC's third rally.
Meanwhile, at the BMF Rally, Spaggy was asked to parade the DOC GB flag in the cavalcade, and had to get RAC Recovered from a very public centre of the arena when the 906 ground to a halt. And some bugger took some pics! The problem was a build up of shale around the front sprocket, that just stopped the wheel from turning forwards or backwards. Half an hour with a pressure washer got about half a hundredweight of shale out and restored mobility to the long-suffering Paso. It gets treated badly enough without this!!
At the end of May (the 23rd to be precise) Foggy binned it big-style in Oz, and effectively ended his race career there, although it would be some time before the eventual decision to retire was made.
Desmo no.139 included reports from Mike Woodford on WDW 2000, and there was a competition to win tickets for the World Superbike round at Brands. Brian Cornford also used this issue to announce his impending retirement from the editorship at the forthcoming AGM, having done a two year stint.
Desmo no.140 greeted a new Editor, as Rob Leslie jumped onto Brian's saddle. One of several changes at the 2000 AGM, which also ushered in Rich (Luigi) Llewellyn as PRO, taking over from Mark Trayford. Keith Harland was acting Treasurer as he did his best to resign, and we had the news that Keith Fothergill had been hospitalised with a serious viral infection, thus affecting the Events Ocifer position. Subs had been raised to £18, the first increase since 1993, and which is testament to the club's sound financial management. A revival of the MotoGiro was announced, and plans were also announced for a Hailwood Memorial Run for March 2001. Several people represented the DOC GB at the event, and full details can be found here.
Desmo no.141 announced a new PRO, in the shape of me again. There was also an interview with up and coming racer James Toseland by ed Rob Leslie, and the branch list had been rationalised a bit with a few inoperative branches renoved, but still leaving 22 in place.
Desmo no.142 marked another step forward in the evolution of the club magazine, as colour pages were included for the first time. We had used colour on the inside covers, but not previously on the editorial pages.
Inside was a competition to win tickets for the WSB at Donington 2001, subs had been raised again (to £20) so ignore the comment related to the 2000 AGM above, and a UK Monster Club had been launched by G. Carr.
After two issues in charge, and following a disagreement with the rest of the comittee, Rob Leslie resigned as editor, being replaced by Victoria Marrone in the short term. Colin Darlow took over from Keith Harland as Treasurer.
The last surviving Ducati brother, Bruno Cavalieri Ducati, died on the 14th May 2001 at the age of 96. Once again, clan Ducati mourned the death of one of the most influential people in the history of the marque.
The last surviving Ducati brother, Bruno Cavalieri Ducati, died on the 14th May 2001 at the age of 96. Once again, clan Ducati mourned the death of one of the most influential people in the history of the marque.
2001 became a truly sad year for Ducati, and the masses faithful to the One True Way, when the DOC GB's honorary Life President passed away on the 18th of July. Inginiri Fabio Taglioni (above) was one of the most legendary figures in the history and tradition of Ducati, and had been the designer of virtually every succesful Duke from the 125 GP racers of the fifties, to the classic OHC and Desmo singles, through to the 750, 860 and 900 engined bevel twins of the 70's and 80's. He made the desmo engine his greatest bequest to Ducati, and we all owe him a debt of thanks. He was 80.
At the 2001 AGM, it was announced that the DOC GB website had a new home at (wait for it.....) www.docgb.org. Hosted on Keith Ringle's servers, and designed and created by Mandy Oliver, this was the first proper, independent, website created for the DOC, and as such, must go down in Keith's CV as his crowning achievement during his year as DOC GB Secretary. After Mandy's job later took her abroad, Andy Tunstall took over as Webmaster. Officially, the site went live on 17th November 2001. Fanfare of trumpets maestro please! This is what it looked like.
Continuing the rather quick turnover of personel of late, Desmo no.143 announced the departure at the very same 2001 AGM of Keith Ringle from the Secretary's job, due to pressure of work, and an appeal for a new one, which was filled in short order by Karyn Jackson. Still in Desmo no.143, Luigi Llewellyn interviewed James Toseland at Mick Walker's celebration dinner, and Panigale Parts carried an ad for Foggy's own (signed) 600 Monster Dark. An apology was printed for the state of the seriously out of date website, and the address disappeared from the Club Contacts page, while promises were made that a new Webmaster was in the pipeline.
Back in the Desmo sweatshop, after just two issues in charge, Victoria resigned, and one Jilly Penegar once again stepped back into the breach as "Interim Editor" from no.144. We all wondered if she, too, would last more than two issues! PR was now the joint responsibility fo Bob and Fiona Fox after I had to give up the post I had only just started due to redundancy and the urgent need to find another way to pay the mortgage. Colin Darlow gave an interesting breakdown of where the subs go. From a £40,000 turnover, we generated some £23k from subs, £4k from ads, and £8k from the Track Day. Against this we spent about £15k on Desmo (5 issues at £3k eack), £7k on the Track Day, and £4k on shows. The rest went on rally expenses, auditors fees, replacement computers and similar equipment, Tech Lit and Tool stocks, insurance and BMF subs, to name but a few things.
Desmo no.145 carried a tribute to the late Fabio Taglioni, written by Livio Lodi, Assistant Curator of the Ducati Museum., and in March 2002, the Hailwood Memorial Run attracted some 130 riders to repeat last year's event. The DOC GB announced a deal with Tangent Insurance (backers of the Ducati UK scheme) to allow DOC GB members to deal with them direct. There was a competition to win tickets to the World Superbikes at Silverstone in May, and first pics of the new Desmosedici to be raced in MotoGP next year. A slighlty older bike was for sale in Panigale Parts - Mike Hailwood's 250 Desmo twin racer no less. Yours for £125,000. Still on the sporting theme, the DOC GB announced its first foreign track day, to be held at Croix-en-Ternois in August, and there was a report of the Classic Bike show in Bristol, and the dinner following, attended by Steve Wynne and Giancarlo Falappa.
Continuing on the special guest theme, future World Superbike Champion and all round good guy James Toseland turned up at the club stand at the BMF Rally.
In Desmo no.148 the MotoGiro 2002 team (Brian Silver, James Binnie, Mike Woodford, Morris and Lynton Stewart-Ashley) accounted for its exploits in the week following WDW 2002. There were also reports on WDW 2002, and the launch of the new 999. Bob Fox had lost Fiona, and was now the solo PRO. This heralded the start of a significant number of changes on the comittee, so pay attention, 'cos there will be a test later!
The 2002 AGM witnessed an influx of several new faces as Fiona Fox replced Karyn Jackson as "Interim Secretary", Debbie Morrey took on the Regalia, Gary Brook became Events Co-Ordinator, and a new position of "Branch Co-Ordinator" was introduced, filled by Karen Whitesmith. For service over and above the call of duty, Jilly Penegar was awarded the Peter Ward Trophy. Keith Fothergill announced plans for a "Taglioni Rally" in June, and Andy Mountford wrote an excellent account of how to shoehorn a belt 900SS motor into a Darmah.
Desmo no.150 broke the news that Graham Stopanni had made his comittee debut as Secretary and Membership Secretary combined. Talk about jumping in at the deep end! The responsibilty for tool hire went to Steve Wynne (rumour has it he had lost the key to the padlock on his own toolbox). Thanks here should go to Brian Silver, who had done this job without a break for 11 years (rumour has it he had finally finished his rebuild!). DOC members were invited to partake of MonsterMob's hospitality package at BSB rounds. Andy Mountford finished his article on the 900SS/Darmah hybrid.
Desmo no. 151 reported Andy Mountford's 900SS/Darmah hybrid had been stolen! Arse!
Mid-year, Colin Darlow took over the advertising, and Jonathon Gillett stepped in as PRO. Ducati UK offered a package to DOC members for the MotoGP, the MultiStada was launched, and the subs went up to £22 a year, which is where they still are today. Desmo no.152 announced a change in the advertising (again) as Fiona Fox took over, and Gaz Brook combined Events and Branch Co-Ordinator jobs in one small (but he says perfectly formed) package. Loris Capirossi won the Catalunya GP, which caused yet more congestion in the streets as we danced again.
On a more serious note, Gel Smart, a regular contributor to Desmo over the years, and seriously enthusiastic member, suffered a stroke. He had emigrated to France a couple of years before, but was moved back to the Royal Middlesex Hospital, where he recovered well. On 30th July 2003 we heard the tragic news that honorary DOC GB member and racing legend Steve Hislop had died in a helicopter accident. Steve was one of my heroes, and I well remember how approachable he was, and easy to talk to when he had the time. He will be sadly missed.
2003 marked a watershed for the Northern Rally, as we didn't have one! To fill the gap, Keith Fothergill organised the Taglioni Rally, held in Market Bosworth in June. The event was well supported, not only by the DOC GB, but also several other Italian one make clubs, and raised over £450 for charity. The rally report appeared in Desmo no.153, which also reported Hodg winning the WSB title on the 999. As we moved towards the AGM in November, the club had 18 established branches and another 3 getting going. Mick White contributed yet another excellent article for Desmo, with an account of his participation in the ACU National Rally, which involves covering 540 miles in 20 hours, visiting numerous checkpoints en route.
The top table at the 2003 AGM needed a revolving door as Gaz Brook took over the Chair from Jilly, I myself took on the Treasurer post, vacated by Colin Darlow, who in turn took over Technical Literature from Peter Cooper. A special mention here for Pete, as he had done the job extremely well for six years. Paul Johnstone took on the job of reviving our flagging regalia operation, which had taken a downhill turn over the previous year, and Steve Smith moved into the Northern rally hotseat. Jon Gillett became PRO but had to vacate the post shortly afterwards. The Pete Ward Trophy went to Jilly for the second year running. Now, about that test we promised earlier..........
There was also some concern expressed from some quarters about the sorry state of our "new" website, which was already well out of date, and was not being updated as we had hoped. Being one of the most vocal critics, guess who got the gig when it came to sorting it out? Well, yes, the old "If you think you can do better..." line resulted in yours truly being obliged to do something about it, and the current website is the eventual result, although it took some time in arriving!
In the meantime, and being very pro-active, Regalia man Jonno got us going with our first forays into selling over the net by launching the DOC GBs own online shop on Ebay. The end of November 2003 marked another milestone, as the first item was sold through the Ebay shop, and it continued to grow and flourish until Paul's sudden and sad passing away in 2010. Paul Johnstone deserved huge credit for not only getting us into online sales well before we were capable of doing it independently, but also to expanding the sales potential from hundreds of people to thousands almost overnight. The eBay shop became a well established part of the DOC GB's merchandising operation until Paul's death, and was our first foray into electronic trading.
The fourth decade dawns
The first Desmo of 2004 (No.155) contained a list of the DOC GB's Honorary Members, as we entered our thirtieth year. Paul Smart joined the likes of Troy Bayliss, Neil Hodgson, Sean Emmett, James Toseland and David Hailwood who have all been pleased to be associated with the DOC GB. The Northern Rally was to be resurected on a new site at Brotherswater, and Paul Johnstone launched the first items in his new range of regalia.The club website was updated pretty much in the same format as it had been since being introduced in 2001. After much discussion, a fair bit of research, and some consideration, the comittee came to the conclusion, though, that it would not be sophisticated enough to handle what we had planned. We agreed to a budget of £1,000 for a completely revised website, incorporating a number of features that could not be included on the old site.
The first step in this redesign was previewed at the BMF Show in May 2004, and was a stepping stone towards what was eventually planned. However, as it proved to be rather better than the existing site, it was launcehd in June, albeit incomplete and missing some functionality. Email addresses
@docgb.org were introduced for all COM positions, branches, and the newly created Focus Groups. Using Paypal, we incorporated options to join or renew by paying by credit card, which was an important stepping stone to integrating our own online payment system accepting all major cards.
It was also early in 2004 that the DOC GB took a long overdue step forward into the age of plastic cash by setting up a credit card payment facility. Driven by the need to incorporate such payment methods into the website, we took advantage of the paper-based option to launch the facility at the 2004 BMF Show, where Guy Gagen became the first member to pay his subs by credit card, and launch a new era for the club. Then, on the 9th of June, at precisely 1:32 am, one Jason Goodwin became the first member to pay subs electronically using the Paypal account. One more milestone down! If there is one thing I can say I achieved during my year as Treasurer, the introduction of credit card payments was it.
With our massive changes made during 2003/4, we also took the opportunity to update our logo, simplifying it somewhat in the process, and introducing it via the website and on DOC GB regalia.
Desmo no.157 carried reports of the club's involvement in WDW2004 and the MotoGiro. In the MotoGiro, the DOC GB team of Brian Silver, Mike Woodford, Ross James, James and Colin Binnie, Andrew and Claudia Hunt, and Mick White were well rewarded by Ross James taking a trophy for second in class, and 9th overall, riding a (ahem!) Parilla. (Oh well!)
At the WSB round at Brands, the club held a dinner to celebrate it's 30th year, hosted in the Ducati Corse marquee. Paul Smart and Giancarlo Falappa were joined by Lorenzo Lanzi, Regis Laconi and James Toseland in celebrating with the club members gathered together.
The AGM normally held at the end of the year was postponed to early 2005, fitting in better with the club's accounting year, and also promising better weather and larger attendences. We waited with bated breathe. Meanwhile, Ian Kerr flew the DOC GB flag in the Centopassi, riding a MultiStrada, and writing an account of the trip in Desmo no.158.
Towards the end of the year, the website was updated to pretty much it's current form, and needed only one or two bells and whistles to be all it was intended to be a couple of years before. The club once again put on a fine display of 18 bikes at the Classic Bike Show at Stafford, and the revived Northern Rally in the Lake District was enjoyed by all who got there.
Two people so desperate to work for the DOC GB that they couldn't even wait for the AGM in April were Ainslie Casson, who stepped into the Events Co-ordinator's shoes, and Martyn Edwards, who became PRO in early 2005.
At the AGM proper, in April, Graham Stoppani collected the club cheque book as new Treasurer, as I (Spaggy) stepped down in order to concentrate on the website, as Webmaster became a proper comittee position for the first time. Taking on the Membership Sec position, Steve Gooch joined the COM for the first time, Ains and Martyn's co-opted places were formalised, while Andrew Jones made his debut as Secretary. Jilly took on the advertising role on a temporary basis (she thought!) while we searched for a permanent occupant. And here is most of us.
I had the honour of recieving the Peter Ward Trophy for service during the year, and a lifetime membership, for being a pain in the *rs* to most for thirty years plus. For both I am deeply grateful and honoured. Jilly Penegar was also given a lifetime membership, and she presented the Editors Cup to Mick White for a series of excellent articles published in Desmo. Subs remain at £22 a year, which is a sound endorsement of the DOC GB Comittee's (oh all right then, just this once - Council of Management's) excellent management of the club over the last few years, as there has been no rise since 2003, and only a £4 increase since 2000.
2005 continued with the club's traditionally good display at the BMF Show, despite the customary attendant Saturday deluge that left half the marquee a mudbath. Several campers were seen floating away in the general direction of Norwch, but those who survived were able to deal with the floods of visitors (awful pun entirely intended!). At the TT both events were reasonably well supported, while the DOC GB put it's charitable hat on and adopted Bobby (a retired heavy horse) at the Douglas Home for Heavy Horses, on behalf of the club membership.
Members once again had the opportunity to join the works GP and WSB teams for an evening meal and a chance to meet the riders at Brands, Silverstone and Donington.
Dave Whittall volunteered himself mid-year for the thankless task of liaising between the 25 branches and the COM. Not wishing to turn down any enthusiastic offer, Chairman Gaz forthwith handed him the keys to the company limo and ran away laughing.
The Merlin Rally continued to grow and had a superb tournout again. The Northern Rally returned to Cartmell for some August sunshine, and was followed two weeks later by the Southern Rally providing it's own brand of Dorset sunburn. With three now well-established rallies spread around the country, the DOC offers plenty to keep the road riding fraternity happy all year round. As the year drew to a close, we once again had a stand at the Classic Bike Show in Stafford, displaying everything from 1940's 65cc utility bikes to a new millenium MHE900.
We acquired the Ducatiownersclubgb.com URL during 2005, with the aim of using it to develop some of the more sophisticated web-based applications we had in mind for the near future. This opened the door to two new and important developments.
On 22nd Sept 2005, the DOC GB added a further upgrade to it's virtual presence with the launch of the DOC GB Forum, an online message board available for all members to communicate through, using the newly acquired URL to host it. By early 2006 we had over 150 users and a flourishing network of contributors. You will find a direct link to the DOC GB Forum in the Memberzone.
This was followed on 10th December with the final integration of the prototype DOC GB shop with our electronic credit card payment facility, and the proper launch of the DOC GB shop. Also hosted on the same servers, we now had a seamless method for members to pay for DOC GB memberships, rallies, track days etc etc within one all-encompassing shopfront. This was one of the major advantages we had identified as being an absolute neccessity when starting to redesign the website in 2004. It took a while to put it all together, but we're pretty much there now. The link on the DOC GB shop page accessible from the navigation panel (top left) takes you to the new URL and full range of DOC GB shop options.
The Forum gets a completely different look while the DOCshop is more like the website.
The Website, the Forum, the DOC GB shop and the Ebay Regalia shop now make up a quartet of services to our members that the DOC GB can be justifiably proud of, and set us apart from any other Ducati club in the UK. Are we good to you or what?
The first club supported event of 2006 was the Bristol Classic Bike Show, one traditional to the DOC GB in a relatively small way, and ably organised by Mick White.
During January, Roz Darlow announced she was to step down as BMF Rep at the forthcoming AGM, and Guy Gagen stepped in immediately to volunteer for the job. Before he had time to back out again, we co-opted him there and then in March, so he has the job now.
Guy's position was confirmed at the 2006 AGM, when, for the first time ever (I believe) there was not one single solitary change to the composition of the Committee. Everyone who served for 2005/6 was re-elected uncontested for 2006/7. Yep, against all the odds, we got away with it! The AGM saw the presentation of the Editor's Cup to Steve and Ness Robins (in absentia) for a series of entertainingly written articles covering the rebuild of Bertie, the 250 Desmo.
Jilly herself was awarded the Pete Ward Trophy for services to the club over the previous year, and also got a big hug for her efforts.
The Chairman's Shield (a new award) was presented to Regalia chief Paul Johnstone, in recognition for sterling work not just during the last year, but the two previous ones too.
Whilst we were at it, we also voted to increase the subs for the forthcoming year by £1, taking single membership to £23 a time. Considering that this is just £3 up on the 2001 rate, that's a pretty modest increase over the last five years.
Chris Marshall Long term club member, BMF Show organiser, and original organiser of the Cagiva Era Focus Group, Chris Marshall, sadly died after a long battle against cancer on 18th April. It was decided to honour his memory by awarding a trophy in his name to the best bike on display at the BMF Show each year.
2006 events started as usual with the Merlin Rally, then shortly after, the BMF show. The Chris Marshall Trophy was awarded to Colin Darlow for his beautiful Hailwood Rep. We also unveiled the new club badge at Peterborough. This is what it looks like, but of course you know that now!
Adding to the DOC GB's technology platform, we had the use for the first time of a chip'n'pin credit card machine, which was a valuable tool on the day. The DOC GB stand took second place in the "Best Club Stand" award from the BMF, beaten only by some unmentionable Niponese crew.
Summer events included the Northern and Southern Rallies, which were both well attended and enjoyed by all comers. We made a change to the Track Day venue, relocating to Mallory Park in the MIdlands. The club stand at the Classic Bike Show at Stafford was well stocked with a variety of bikes, and was once again organised by Steve rose. Less welcome was an inexplicable crash of the Forum program, resulting in the loss of a couple of months worth of posts.
The year ended on a sad note when we learned that the DOC had once again lost one of its most enthusiastic members, in Andy Danzleman, who passed away following a heart attack on October 12th.
Andy and Rose got the excellent selection of bikes together for the DOC GB stand at Beaulieu this year. He also took part in MotoGiro, and was one of the key members of the Surrey / Sussex branch of the club. He will be greatly missed.
As the year drew to an end, we started planning for WDW2007, and arrangements were made for a support van to be provided for DOC GB members making the trip, carrying the luggage so they could enjoy an unencumbered ride down. However, during the course of the year Steve Gooch had to step down as Membership Sec, with Graham Stoppani stepping back into his old position on a temporary basis (he thought!). Some people are suckers for punishment.
The 2007 AGM returned a virtually intact Committee, with the only change being to the Membership Sec post, which was filled by Frank Nolan. Graham went back to wearing just the Treasurers hat, but gave notice that he would wish to vacate the post at the next AGM (fat chance!). The Editor's Cup went to Paul Stinchcombe, The Chairman's Shield to the late Andy Danzleman, and the Peter Ward Trophy to Gary Brook for all the work he has put in to the club over the last year. Excellent men one and all.
At the Stafford Classic Bike Show we moved from our traditional (but slightly cramped) spot on the balcony to a new position in one of the outlying halls, where we were even more cramped! It didn't matter, we still had a superb collection of bikes, as we also did for the BMF Show, where we carried off the trophy for the best club stand, presented to Martyn by ex-Chair of the DOC GB and BMF Big Wheel Anna Zee.
As the year progressed, Casey Stoner stormed to win after win in MotoGP on the new 800cc Desmoseidici . Surely it couldn't last? We all held our breathe towards the end of the season but the boy done good and annihilated the opposition to wrap up Ducati's first ever GP World Title with three rounds to spare. Cue some seriously paralytic Ducati owners keeping their whole streets awake with dancing and partying. Troy Bayliss had his WSB season hampered by a finger injury suffered at Donington, but seeing as Ducati couldn't win it, it was at least pleasing to see Ducati old boy JT do the business to get his second title.
Late in 2007 we were approved by the DVLA as the recognised body for accurate dating of old Ducatis in the UK. That means we are the only approved authority for issuing certificates enabling an age-related number plate to be obtained, a service which we offer to members and non-members alike.
The October Stafford Show saw us move again, but this time to a much bigger corner plot. This was welcomed by the vast majority and looks like a permanent move now. On 1st January 2008 we updated the DOC GB Forum to the latest spec with improved functionality and new log-in procedures, making it more difficult for the dreaded spambots to raid.
The Website Hit Counter clicked on to 100,000 on 29th Feb 2008, and the man who took the honour was Bob Hartmann. The website is viewed around 3,000 times per month (and not all by Bob).
With the exception of the late resignation of Ains Casson as Events Officer, the COM remained unchanged at the 2008 AGM, moved forward to March. The Editors Cup went to Ian Rumbellow and Ian Kerr, The Pete Ward Cup to Bob Hartmann, and the Nepotti award (a new trophy for the racing fraternity) went to Roger Smith, of Team Never Prepared.
The DOC GB had a strong presence at the 2008TT, which was heavily supported by Ducati on the 30th anniversary of Mike the Bike's F1 win. The prize for winning the best Hailwood Rep award at the TT Rally was a superb trophy and a closed roads lap of the circuit by the winner prior to the Classic TT on Friday. We also supported our usual clutch of shows and events, and added a couple of new ones along the way, like the Horsham Piazza.
Regrettably, we had a couple of resignations from the Committee during the year, when Gaz stepped down as Chairman mid-year, swiftly followed by Andrew Jones from the Secretary post and Fiona Fox (who had taken over from Jilly) from Advertising. Bob Hartmann was co-opted into the Secretary spot, joined by wife Laura to replace Fi. We managed to survive a little longer until Fred Ellis volunteered for the Events job, and was also co-opted immediately, but we made do with a variety of people covering the vacant Chair role until the AGM, when Gaz's resignation was accepted with a large vote of thanks for all the hard work he had done in previous years. At the AGM, Martyn was mugged with a proposal for the post and voted in before he even knew he was up for it. That's democracy for you.
As of 2008 there are now 24 branches and some 1250 members enjoying the benefit of Ducati Owners Club GB membership. You can be one too..
To be continued.........for another 30 years