Rider: Paul Ritter
Then: Computer programmer and struggling club roadracer
Now: Retired software engineer and two-time AMA Superbike race winner
“It was time to replace my Honda CB450. When I saw photos of the 1974 Ducati 350 Desmo, I wanted one, bad. It was the prettiest bike I’d ever seen! Sadly, it was not available in the U.S., so I considered the 750 Sport. It was also beautiful, designed by Leopoldo Tartarini, with the same bright-ochre color. I wasn’t sure about the engine. It gave the bike a long, gangly look. However, the Ducatis had gotten great reviews and some of the Cycle magazine staff had bought them. There had to be something special about these bikes, so I got the Sport in spite of my reservations.
“I picked it up on a rainy day in February 1975. I had to ride the bike on busy streets to the freeway to get home; I needed to manage a more powerful motor, racer ergonomics, right-foot shift with down for up, traffic and wet pavement. I was nervous!
“The turn onto the freeway was nasty. The summer heat and cars accelerating up the on-ramp had wrinkled the pavement. It always upset my Honda something fierce. I was worried about the wet ripples as I leaned the Sport into the corner. Amazingly, the bike floated through, keeping exactly to the line I had started it on. I remember thinking, “Oh, so that’s what all the excitement is about!”
“After that one turn, I knew I had the right motorcycle. I was racing it by year's end.”