Interview with Marco Belli, founder of Di Traverso School
Mastering Dirt Track long before it was a Trending Topic
Talent in life is a blessing. But once you have it, you also need effort, endurance and stubbornness to make a living out of it. But when you are talented, big-hearted and naturally nice, well, then you're probably close to Marco Belli's explosive personality. He comes from Varese, a town in the North West of Italy and he resembles 100% the kind of motorcycles he rides: genuine, simple, almost primitive. And funny.. extremely funny! He's mastered flat track (or dirt track racing as you prefer) a lot before flat track itself became fashionable. This discipline has recently gained more and more fans around the world since it turned out that MotoGp riders use it as prep to learn how to deal better with curves. Drifting is kind of spectacular on two wheels. More and more people want to learn how to make a motorcycle lose its grip without losing control. It's like a gold rush to ultimate pleasure on the 2-wheels. For his passion Marco Belli got really far from home. After winning 4 National titles he won 2 European and 2 American Titles establishing his legacy as flat track king. Today, after a long career of sacrifice and great satisfactions Marco is universally known as the flat track "Professor", a master in perfect drifting. He founded Di Traverso School to share his expertise, his tricks and his big enthusiasm to make other people live the magic of the deep relationship between rider and bike. We met him in Cadeo, Italy where the bucolic atmosphere recalls carefree times. He welcomes the "pupils" which are ready to turn left and keep it open as fast as they can in a cloud of dust and fun.
Marco, please introduce yourself for the readers.
I'm Marco Belli, I'm 47 years old. For the most of my life I've been racing on tracks, drifting in the ovals all over the world.
You started very young. How did you discover flat track?
I discovered it very soon. My brother, my cousin and I used to go around with mythical "Saltafoss" bikes using the brakes to make it screech.
How did dirt track bikes evolve through time? It seems that the dynamic between bike and rider hasn't changed so much...
The discipline was born in big spaces where the rider could go full speed, curve and then come back always at full speed. They were open fields. Later it evolved in "board track", which were tracks made of wooden tables. Dirt track bikes naturally evolved, especially regarding wheels and suspensions. Fortunately electronics never came in. In drifting all you need is to be one thing with the motorcycle, to be able to read the curves of the circuit inch by inch. You have to "listen to" the ground which tells you how it prefers to be treated.
What's the most important satisfaction you got in your long-time career?
I'll tell you one. When I was a child I had a poster of Freddie Spencer hanging on the walls of my bedroom. He was called "Fast Freddie" at the time winning 3 World Championships in the 1980s. Today I can say that I raced with him on the same track but also that I can call him on the phone whenever I want. We became good friends and the younger me would have gone nuts for that. Another surprising satisfaction was to become a videogame character in VR46 game. My experience on videogames stopped to Donkey Kong and Tetris. Let's say that I had a good excuse to buy my son a Playstation.
You lived for a long time abroad chasing victories in the most important flat track races. Then you came back to Italy. Why?
I raced for a long time in Italy, but to follow my passion I was forced to go abroad, especially in the UK where flat track was a rising star in the motorcycle system and I managed to express myself at my best under the athletic and human point of view. But I've always felt like a "brain drain" so I decided to come back. With sacrifice and endurance I founded Di Traverso School with the aim to share my passion and knowledge to a wider audience. My results abroad created a sort of expectation and when I opened the school I got the confirmation that time was mature enough to make this step and people were finally ready even here in Italy to open up to flat track.
Is it difficult to transform from a self-focused rider to an altruist Professor?
It was not that easy to silent the competitive side of me and step aside. But when I see the smile on the people's face when a good drift kicks in, that's truly satisfying because I know I played a role in that. Apart from the technique we always try to convey the deeper meaning behind all this, which is feeling part of a big family. Many riders today understood the benefits of flat track. Like that additional "bonding" with the bike that they can treasure and put it into their own discipline. That's why I'm now on of the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp experts where I teach to young emerging talents how to control the bike in drifting.
Well, but which kind of dirt track bikes do you suggest to use?
In our Di Traverso School we use the Yamaha SR400 dirt track bike which is perfect to learn. Yamaha is also official partner of the School and the production models have been later customized by Deus Ex Machina for us. Obviously if want to do the course and you already own a bike, you can bring it saving the rent cost.
What was the importance of partners in making the Di Traverso School project real?
Di Traverso School would not be the same without the support of partners. Pakelo was with us from the very start, even if it was a blind bet. We have mutual respect for our own professionalism. We're maniacs in what we do since every detail counts. The passion for the work we do is something pretty unique that will always be with us. In flat track what I use most for the maintenance are Sprays: the brake cleaner and the chain lube spray. Pakelo supplies an offroad-specific version for the chain cleaning that I always felt great.
What does it mean for you to be a "PakeloHero"?
Go fast, turn left. That's the spirit of being a PakeloHero. Who appreciates flat track knows what I mean.
To discover the latest news on flat track courses by Di Traverso School click here.
Here are a few must-have products that never missed in the shopping cart of Di Traverso School for the maintenance of their Yamaha SR400.