Fashion-forward, image-conscious Ducati has a thing for Hollywood. Its bikes have been in enough movies to earn Screen Actors Guild union cards for every model in the lineup. Slick and trick Ducatis have made cameos in recent films like “Tron Legacy,” “Wall Street 2,” “The Expendables,” “Inception,” and “Ninja Assassin,” just to name
a few (for a complete list, check out the Internet Movie Cars Database). No surprise, then, that following its worldwide unveiling at EICMA in Milan, Italy, the U.S. premiere of the Ducati 1199 Panigale took place in Hollywood. The sidewalk outside the W Hotel had spotlights, red carpet and velvet ropes, and the rooftop Drai’s Nightclub was full of spandex-clad models, celebrities and cheapskate moto-journalists angling for free booze and food.
After glass of Italian red wine and a steaming bowl of homemade spaghetti Bolognese—‘natch—at the home of my riding buddy and Ducati Mulistrada 1100 owner Eric Randolph, we made our way through L.A. traffic to the event, seized two glasses of bubbly from the bar, and quickly found ourselves a good spot to stand around and wait…outside, in the foggy cold. Like dorks, we showed up to a Hollywood event on time. After an hour or so, during which the servers milling around with hors d’oeuvres consistently ran out of food just before they got to us, Ducati kicked off the event with a fashion show.
Tall, spindly females and too-buff dudes strolled up and down a makeshift catwalk perched over the rooftop pool. You could tell the guys don’t ride motorcycles because they ambled like stiff-legged automatons showing off the latest in robot fashion rather than nonchalant guys who feel naturally comfortable in leather riding gear. Word of advice, Ducati: most motorcyclists are guys, and none will make the decision to your gear because they saw it worn by some bare-chested, I’m-too-sexy-for-this-jacket male diva strutting his stuff on the catwalk. When was the last time you saw umbrella GUYS at a MotoGP race?
Enough about fashion. Where’s the bike?
Tim Collins, Public Relations Manager for Ducati North America, took the stage to introduce his boss, General Manager Dominique Cheraki, and Ducati factory MotoGP racer Nicky Hayden, who rocked the slacker chic look with a flannel shirt, droopy jeans and tweed flat cap. What, no Ducati Corse cast for that banged-up right wrist? In his characteristic Kentucky drawl, Hayden praised the new 1199 Panigale as a “trick” machine. Well, it did win the “Most Beautiful Bike” award at the EICMA show, its highly oversquare Superquadro V-twin is said to be good for 195 horsepower, and it’s equipped with DTC, DQS, EBC, ABS and Power Mode.
Cheraki and Hayden had the honor of pulling off the black drape, revealing the red scream machine to the crowd. iPhones recorded the moment and immediately beamed images and videos to fans, readers and gearheads around the globe. I posted a photo on Rider’s Facebook page, quickly grabbed a Kobe beef slider off a tray before the locusts swarmed and escaped into the cold, dark night, but not before a Chickenmobile sighting in the valet parking area.
For more on the Ducati 1199 Panigale, go here: www.1199panigale.ducati.com/en/
(photos courtesy of Ducati North America)