BMW Motorrad Spezial

Ducati flat track racer

Every now and then, I get an email from a gentleman called Seth Dorfler, who is well known in US motorcycling circles. Dorfler presides over a seemingly inexhaustible archive of vintage motorcycle photographs, plus Ducati and Moto Guzzi memorabilia. (Much of this material was gathered from his days working for the Berliner Motor Corporation, one of the leading US motorcycle importers from the 1950s to the 1970s.) Seth invariably includes an unusual photo or two with his notes; after our recent feature on Don Castro’s Triumph, this Ducati dirt tracker landed in my inbox. The provenance of the round-case bike has been obscured by history. “I first saw the bike at a Motorcycle show in the 70s,” Dorfler recalls. “The bike was part of the Berliner/Premier Motor Corp. display at the Texas show—one of Berliner’s dealers arranged for it to be on the booth.” After a couple of days digging around, it looks like this lovely machine was built by Eddie Wilbanks—the “Wizard of Odds”—and campaigned in late 70s GNC-Dirt Track Nationals by Kenny McDonald (as #26) and then Steve Freeman (as #68). It looks just as cool today as it did then; is anyone out there inspired to make a streetable replica, perhaps using Ducati’s current 803 cc, 81 bhp Hypermotard motor?

  • A couple of pics taken of this bike in 2005 at the Mid Ohio meeting.

  • i’ll take it!!!!

  • Coolest Flat Tracker ever? I’m thinking it’s very close. If a great rider had won something big on it we would have seen a lot more of these awesome bikes.

  • I reckon it’s a toss-up between this one and a more recent Duke, Larry Pegram’s “Red Menace”:

  • kim scholer

    Good looking tracker, but I’m wondering how this one got around the AMA rules favoring the Harleys. Anyone out there knows?

  • Love the bike but I’d still opt for the Norton Flat Tracker

  • Rusty McFarland

    Hey Guys. I’m the current keeper of the Freeman/McDonald Ducati dirt tracker that Eddie Wilbanks built back in 1977. I’m planning on doing a full restoration this year. I’m very close to Eddie and we’re in contact on a weekly basis. If anyone has any questions about the old Duc or Wilbanks, feel free to contact me at [email protected] or 615 430 6252. Rusty…

  • glen

    The coolest flat tracker of all time is by far Kenny Robert’s incredible tz750 v4 two stroke miler. Also,the rules have not always favored HD in ft,the single crank pin hd v twin turns out to be almost perfect for flat track. That Duck is super cool.

  • I raced this bike before Steve for several years and have some pretty good pictures. I would like to have more pics if anyone has any. The bike had plenty of power we just had a hard time transfering it to the dirt at the right times. It was an interesting experiment and experience. Eddie Wilbanks was way ahead of the times in his ideas and design of the chasis and suspension. The rear shock was made from an aircraft steering damper and custom diaphram that he designed best that I can remember.

  • I was trying to post a picture or 2 but can’t find a way to do it so here is a link to some of my pictures if anyone wants to see the Ducati in action. You will probably have to look through some others to get to them. ; )

  • Unsub

    Love the bike an absolute beauty and probably competitive. There is actually a modern flat track Ducati with what I believe is a Multistrada engine being raced. I have a pic if I can figure out how to post it. It goes up against modern liquid cooled 450 singles and aircooled Harley XR750’s and does quite well. It would make the sweetest streettracker. The old ones classier and looks etter but the new one would be practical as well as pretty and unique.