Throwback Thursday: Before Zanetti, There Was Gramigni

Gramigni in 1996 on the way to victory at Road America aboard his Fast by Ferracci Ducati Superbike. Photo by Henny Ray Abrams.

With Ducati Corse test rider Lorenzo Zanetti set to compete aboard a Celtic HSBK Racing Ducati in HONOS Superbike next weekend at the Ridge Motorsports Park, we are struck by a strong feeling of déjà vu, especially as it relates to Celtic HSBK team advisor Eraldo Ferracci.

In 1996, midway through the AMA Superbike season, the Fast by Ferracci team owner signed 1992 125cc Grand Prix World Champion (as well as future 500cc Grand Prix World Championship and World Superbike contender) Alessandro Gramigni to race as a teammate to then-Superbike-rookies Larry Pegram and Shawn Higbee.

Ferracci and Gramigni debrief in front of the Fast by Ferracci garage at Mid-Ohio. Photo by Henny Ray Abrams.

In his first-ever AMA Superbike race, at Mid-Ohio, the Italian capitalized on his wet-riding skills and finished fifth in the rain. Then, just one week later at Road America, which was also held in the rain, Gramigni took over the lead from Tom Kipp on lap four of the 16-lap race and held on to beat that season’s eventual Superbike Champion Doug Chandler by three seconds. The top ten finishers that day were Gramigni, Chandler, Kipp, Mat Mladin, Miguel Duhamel, Aaron Yates, Pegram, Tripp Nobles, Pascal Picotte, and Higbee.

After the race, Ferracci said, “Our bike is good enough to be up front, so I had to put it there. I don’t know if I did the right thing, but I had to do something. I spend all the money, and I was getting sick of losing.”

Gramigni celebrates his Superbike victory at Brainerd, with Miguel Duhamel (left) in second and Tom Kipp (right) in third. Photo by Henny Ray Abrams.

A couple of weeks later, at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, Gramigni finished ninth, but then, a month later at the next round at Brainerd International Speedway, Gramigni won again and concluded his brief stint in the U.S. with two Superbike victories and four top-ten finishes in just four starts.

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