Giacomo Agostini's Sala Trofei: Ago's Artefacts
Bike SA|September 2020
I make no apologies for publishing this long story about the man who is arguably the greatest rider of all time. Whether your vote goes instead to Hailwood or Rossi or even Marquez, there can be no doubt that Giacomo Agostini stands shoulder to shoulder with them. Here, Alan Cathcart visits Agostini’s new Sala Dei Trofeo and hears some wonderful reminiscences from the man himself.
Cathcart
Giacomo Agostini is motorcycling royalty, so being granted an audience with the 15-times World Champion at his hilltop home in the historic Northern Italian city of Bergamo, is a bit like having tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle. But the most successful Grand Prix road racer of all time, with 122 GP race wins (plus one World F750 victory) and 159 podiums from 186 starts, with 117 fastest laps, has now teamed up with his daughter Vittoria to offer a half-day visit to his newly-opened Sala dei Trofei (trophy room) - “It’s not a Museum, not while I’m still alive!” insists Ago. This contains a vast array of memorabilia acquired during his stellar 15-year racing career, including as many of the 364 race trophies he won on two wheels as he could squeeze in. The Visitors Package includes this visit, followed by dinner with Ago, and overnight at the family’s elegant nearby Villa Vittoria B&B [see sidebar].

“I had all my trophies piled up in a small room in the house, and didn’t even know how many I had – I thought around 250 or so, but it turned out to be almost one for every day of the year!” says Ago. “My wife Maria and I had decided to downsize our house now that the children had left home, so we bought a very pretty smaller villa nearby, and prepared to move there. But then we couldn’t get the price we wanted for our present house, so in mid-2019 I decided to turn the new one into a B&B which Vittoria could run, while making a Sala Trofei on the site of a garage we had at the bottom of our current driveway. That way I could finally start to enjoy all the memories and mementoes I have.”

The display incorporates just six bikes, one a ’74 Yamaha offroader given him for keeping fit after he signed for the Japanese company. Alongside it are another Yamaha – the 1974 350cc twin he won his first World title for them on in his debut season on a twostroke, plus a pair of MV Agusta triples, a 1972 disc-braked 350 and 1967 drum-braked 500, each boasting the no.1 plate it earned at World level. Off to one side on a simulated stretch of Florida banking, is the actual TZ750 OW31 factory Yamaha with first-series 698cc motor on which he won the 1974 Daytona 200. “Daytona is a very nice memory,” says Ago with a satisfied smile. “Here you see photos when I’m leading the race, another when I stopped to refuel, and this one here after the finish when I am so dehydrated they must give me an injection, so I can go to the prize-giving to receive this huge trophy here by the wall. But there I meet the trophy girl, and she gives me encouragement to recover quickly!”

It must have been a huge decision leaving MV Agusta after so many years, and 13 World championships, to go to Yamaha. “It was difficult, of course. I started in GPs with MV Agusta, and I won a lot of races, and MV Agusta is my second family. But also with Yamaha I had a very nice bike, and a very nice team, with very good people. The only problem is that I am Italian, and the people are Japanese, and we talk English! So we made a lot of mistakes, but eventually we understand each other, especially once the Japanese Yamaha people began to move their hands like Italians! They were like Italians but with Japanese faces, because they were passionate about going racing, whereas maybe for Honda, it was more business. I think a lot before I change from MV to Yamaha, because I had to go to Japan, and everything was different food, chopsticks, sleeping on the floor, and taking off your shoes when you go to the restaurant.

But after two weeks I understood it was my third family, because I met very nice people, and when I asked to change something, they did it very quickly, no discussion. Everything that I asked for got done, and that’s how we won the World Championships together – first with this 350 in our very first year, the second one with 500.” But to make the switch from four-stroke to two-stroke so successfully surely didn’t happen overnight. “No, it’s true. I spent two weeks in Japan to test the 700, 500, and 350. Every day, at 9am, a car came to pick me up and I went to Yamaha’s private track, where I spent all day, every day, just riding. Every day to test this, to explain that, to change this, to make that – they were very patient, and did everything I asked immediately. First I prepared the 700 for Daytona, because it was my first race of the season. And then after that was OK I tested the 500, and then only the last day I rode the 350. Only the last day, because it was more important for Yamaha to win Daytona, and the 500 GPs. So I tried the bike, and I said, “Yes, it’s good, but not perfect.” I told them everything that needed to be done - I said, “You must change this, that” – and then I left. So they modified everything, and the test rider went 1.5 seconds quicker next time! So when I received the bike for my first race on it at the French GP in Charade, I was 1.5 seconds faster than everybody, so I won the race. Another nice first-time win – first GP with Yamaha, first GP with two-stroke and first race for this new 350.”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BIKE SAView All

Hi-Tech Mag Repairs Keeping The Wheels Turning

Way back in 1987, Grandpa Louis Botha and his wife (Ouma) Gertie, added wheel repairs to their panel beating business, and before long, it became their mainstay of operations.

2 mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

Suzuki Hayabusa 2021

Local Launch Test

5 mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

A Brief History Of The Harley Sportster

The arrival of an all-new liquid-cooled Harley-Davidson Sportster this year is a truly significant event.

4 mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

Michael Scott PIT LANE MARQUEZ AND THE DANGER FACTOR

It seems I am not the only one who is getting scared by Marc Marquez. The wounded genius, according to British road-racing legend John McGuinness, is currently a danger to himself and to other riders, and liability to Honda.

3 mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

CHARLEY'S CHAT

ANOTHER STORY OF CHARLEY AND FRIENDS’ MADCAP ADVENTURES...

6 mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

Michael Scott MotoGP PIT LANE

Michael Scott - a regular in the MotoGP paddock since 1984 and familiar to motorcycle racing fans worldwide through his best-selling books on the likes of Wayne Rainey and Barry Sheene has been covering MotoGP since long before it was MotoGP. Remember two-strokes? Scott does.

4 mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

Matt Capri AND HIS TRIUMPH STREET DRAGSTER RACING HIS WAY THROUGH COLLEGE

Full inside story of the illegal Street Drags on uncompleted Interstate freeways in 1960s America, countenanced by the police as safer than doing it on active highways!

10+ mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

BARN OWL Tour

NICK YELL TOUR

10+ mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

BAJAJ CT125 COMMUTER, LEARNER OR COMMERCIAL?

The life of a motorcycling journalist is perceived as all glitz and glamour.

3 mins read
Bike SA
October 2021

1974 KAWASAKI W3 650-KLONE WITH AK

Hands-on riding impression in Pennsylvania USA of Kawasaki’s first big-engined bike, the British-style pushrod W3 of which 26,289 examples were built from 1965 to 1974

10+ mins read
Bike SA
October 2021