« Hello, nobody really knows us in the race track world but we are a bunch of five or six scatterbrains who want to organise a demonstration weekend on a race track for Italian bikes only! »
« You’ve got the Ducati days for that, mate! »
« Well, yes… but we would like something with a lot of clubs, that would be great. »
This is roughly how it all started in March 2001. Let’s admit it: at first the project didn’t really look special.
Nevertheless, we enquired about a couple of possible racetracks, requested some estimates, built up a sketch of a budget … and it turned out that it could be viable only with a minimum of 200 entrants paying 350 Francs each. Clearly, we needed to rely on various clubs.
So we got in touch and suggested a meeting at the 2001 edition of Moto Légende and … were surprised when they practically all turned up. We explained and the idea seemed to appeal to everyone. Two issues remained though: firstly, who would be in charge of organising, and secondly to book a circuit, we had to put a check down on the table so we needed some dough.
We decided to create an independent association shortly. In the days after Moto Légende, clubs that could afford it lent a total amount of 17 thousand Francs to JI. We produced statutes and filed the Journées Italiennes in June 2001; I’m the president because I’m the one who put his oar in most often during the inter-club meetings! Bernard Mailly is secretary (but most of all he’d manage registrations) and Renaud Maire treasurer.
From then on, it all geared up during the 2001 summer: on the one hand we built the Internet site with Jean-Marc Maurin (the guy who owns the Ghezzi Brian). Our team being scattered all over France, this site was to be a tool for external communication but also for internal management together with an e-mail working group.
On the other hand, together with Francis Semence we booked a racetrack and chose a date: 6th & 7th July 2002 at Lurcy Lévis based on the following criteria: geographical location well centred in France, security easy to implement and most of all affordable cost. Everything goes well until Lurcy’s management changes its mind about dates (not possible in July anymore, postponed to end of August) and sets new terms, unacceptable in view of the spirit we wanted to give the event as well as for its financial balance. In short, we had just lost at least three months!
We got back to Le Vigeant and from then on everything went smoothly: for Christmas 2001, we had concluded the agreement and set a date. It was not to be changed again. Le Vigeant is better suited to accommodate a lot of people; it is a technically interesting track but security is trickier to implement there. Price is twice as high as Lurcy! Well, we don’t have any choice, we’ll have to gather 250 entrants instead of 200 and they’ll have to pay 500 Francs. It was not really in the bag yet, and all this weaknesses were discussed in the November DCF meeting, where we picked up some precious advice.
Still during this transitional period at the end of 2001, Francis Chartier designed a poster for us to show at the Moto-Salon exhibition held in December. The idea was to introduce ourselves and get some feedback: we got a good feel.
So January 2002 found us more relaxed: we had a date, a venue and people liked the idea. We just had to materialize now. We produced all the necessary paperwork over the next couple of months (rules, registration forms for pilots and track marshals, outline of series, schedules, …). We also packed up the prefecture and insurance files, … found a couple of doctors, set up a medical team and defined the equipment they needed.
At the beginning of March 2002, we started press releases and processing registrations of all those who had expressed their interest or had pre-registered over the Internet or via club bulletins regularly informed over the last six months. Bernard Mailly fulfilled is role brilliantly with the big headache of registration tracking, people who forgot to sign their check, those who sent the wrong amount, cancelled their registration, special requests we had not foreseen, … with his legendary calm and natural kindness. Registrations poured in during April (already 50% filled up) and then practically nothing until June! ! ! Is this due to successive bank holidays, elections, the football World Cup ? Whatever happens from now on, it is too late to back up. We worry about a possible financial tumble and we broadcast everywhere a « come and register » message. As a result, we’re full up mid-July and even had to turn down a few people.
Let’s look back on the March to June period: Florence & Francis Semence together with Patrick Le Dantec gathered equipment and people needed for tasks such as reception, inspection, track, …. Olivier Vermillet and Bernard Moudurier helped to set up the bar, live music, a retail village, food catering, a lottery (brightened up by a spirited Anne Maire)… Some of these tasks seen to at the last minute were a bit screwed up so we know how to get it right next time.
During that same period, we tried to raise some interest with the press with the help of Renaud Maire, but this was a tough one: you’d better be well connected to speed up the process. However nobody is interested to comment the event three months before it actually occurs (but we are, in order to get registrations) : news is an immediate matter, isn’t it! Our determination finally pays off a little and we get some short articles in the modern and classic bike magazines and during the event reporters from La Vie de la Moto and Café Racer actually come over. Out of politeness, we also informed every Italian bike importer of the event. A sales supervisor from Guzzi France visited as a private onlooker. May be this could help getting a bike from their museum in the future?
Here we are, so you can learn more about this event, we shall prepare a digest of different stories collected in the days that followed the TR. The main comment we heard from entrants and onlookers alike was «well done for a first shot»
In figures, we had 256 registrations (that is to say 277 bikes and 302 participants), 12 people on the medic team, 150 voluntary track marshals working shifts, 25 voluntary people on the organising team, about 400 onlookers on Saturday and 600 on Sunday, three different insurance contracts to cover the event, 700 bottles of mineral water distributed (in French people distorted the name Trofeo Rosso into « Trofeo trop chaud », meaning Trofeo too hot) ...
No accident occurred, only a few minor falls, participants respecting each other (this must be mentioned) and praise from the Mayor of Le Vigeant and the track management.
However work did not stop on Sunday evening. On Monday, about ten people remained to clean up the spot (thanks to the participants and the audience for using the bins). Then we sent a press release, paid the bills, checked the accounts, debriefed internally and with the prefecture, paid off the loans extended by the clubs, prepared the general meeting and outlined the 2003 TR.
In all, this is getting quite absorbing but it’s so satisfying to see your smiling faces and to have gathered so many Italian makes.
Here is a foretaste of the next TR: the venue remains Le Vigeant 26th & 27th July 2003.
Registrations are opened from 1st April to 30th June (it’s quite some time away but don’t wait too long as we’ll have to turn down late comers).
Packages are « Integrale » (six 20 minutes access to the track) and « Battesimo » (twice 20’) at a similar cost as last year (approximately 80€ or 30€ inclusive of insurance). On the other hand, series shall be slightly modified (for example, we wish to create a real series for 50cc, and why not a special one for touring Italian side-cars : calling all enthusiasts).
To improve everyone’s comfort, we’ll use a lot more the centre space of the racetrack (concert with hotter groups, extra toilet blocks, ...). Local food offering shall also be bettered.
And entrance shall remain free of charge for onlookers!
Association Loi 1901 "Les Journées Italiennes" (c) 2002, tous droits réservés
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