Latus Goes Ducati

Paul Carruthers | February 9, 2010

There’s no denying that Portland, Oregon Harley-Davidson dealer George Latus is a fan of motorcycle racing. After running a Buell 1125 in last year’s AMA series, Latus had a choice to make when Harley-Davidson announced that Buell was no more: He could either throw in the towel on his road-racing program, or he could race another brand.The choice was an easy one: He would race another brand.So Latus went out and bought a Ducati 848, signed up Steve Rapp, and the team will go racing again this year in the AMA Daytona SportBike class.”We raced the Buell last year because, of course, we had the product and we were looking forward to doing it again and then we got the rug pulled out from under us at the last minute,” Latus said at last week’s AMA test at Auto Club Speedway. “We still wanted to go racing and we wanted to do it with some kind of a twin – and even last year we wondered, ‘Gee, I wonder why no one has done it with a Ducati 848?’ It looked like it would be a pretty good tool. We got hold of the local dealer in Portland, a very good dealer, Moto Corsa, and they got us pointed in the right direction and helped us out. We picked up a few other small sponsors and here we are again.”Road racing isn’t Latus’ first rodeo in motorcycle racing. He’s been a long-time sponsor of dirt tracker Joe Kopp and his team’s effort in drag racing resulted in an AHDRA Top Fuel Championship in 2009.”We’re kind of a dealership that in the Harley world was built around performance stuff,” Latus said. “We’ve been involved in dirt track for years and years and years and we sponsor Joe Kopp. We’ve been involved in AHDRA drag racing and we won the Top Fuel Championship this year. We’d always dabbled in road racing but before the 1125 we really didn’t have a very good product to go racing with. We had the team and the infrastructure in place and we had some fun last year, and I really believe in the program. I think it’s ultimately going to go somewhere so we didn’t want to stop the progress that we made last year.”Latus, meanwhile, will continue in his other endeavors – including the Kopp program.”We’re still working with Joe. Everyone has cut back and Harley discontinued the Wrecking Crew program, which hurt us a lot. Joe has an interesting deal this year and will ride a Ducati for Lloyd Brothers in the mile events and will still do the Harley in the half miles.”Latus also proved to be a savior to Rapp.”I really had nothing until these guys came along,” Rapp said. “It’s a good bunch of guys and the bike is good.”

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.