Walter Villa (born August 13, 1943 in Castelnuovo Rangone - June 18, 2002) was a four-time Grand Prix motorcycle road racing World Champion. He was known for his quiet, unassuming nature off the bike who became a ruthless competitor once the races began.
Villa was born in Castelnuovo Rangone in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, between Maranello and Modena, the heart of Italian motor sport country. Villa began racing at 13, on a 175cc Moto Morini. In his first race, he finished third, beating Giacomo Agostini, who went on to become Italy's greatest-ever bike racer.
In the early 1970s, Harley-Davidson bought the ailing Aermacchi factory near Milan, with the aim of selling a range of bikes from 125cc machines to the traditional big V-twins. First, they marketed Aermacchi's horizontal single cylinder four-strokes, and then began to develop their own two-strokes. They hired Villa for their racing effort in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing circuit. The Italians developed winning machines that took Villa to victory in the 1974, 1975 and 1976 250cc world championship, and the 350cc in 1976.
In addition to the world championships, he won eight Italian championships. When he finally quit racing, Villa became a key player in the grand prix nostalgia circuit, riding in high speed demonstrations and becoming his country's top trainer.