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31st July 2009


The 2009 Festival of 1000 Bikes - Part 2
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Norton Model 50 or BSA A65? Mad Mike rode both to the Festival of 1000 Bikes, one on Saturday, the other on Sunday. But which one will he take out on track next year?...

The annual VMCC Festival of 1000 Bikes at Mallory Park in Leicestershire is no ordinary show of classics neatly parked with data cards attached, no concourse competition to get the adrenaline and polish flowing, no competition for the "Best Club Stand" (whatever that is supposed to mean).

No, this is truly a festival to celebrate all that is wonderful, exciting and often outstanding in the classic bike scene. Bikes and riders at a race circuit.

Norton, Vincent, Honda - all of life...

Munch to Matchless, Sunbeam to Scott, BSA to Brough, Norton to Ner-a-Car, road bikes to race bikes. Home made specials from Tritons to Honda CBX 6 cylinder track bikes, from Gold Star clones to bikes with home made engines. All were there in abundance.

The Festival had something for everybody, including track time for the ordinary road bikes of all types and sizes, track time for the racers and of course track time for the exotic. This year was to be no exception.

Saturday did not start well as your correspondent had to don full wet weather riding gear for the "long haul" to Mallory Park in the pouring rain on his A65. Some 8 minutes later I arrived and then had to remove it all.

By the time I got there RealClassic stalwarts Martyn cb750 and RealMart (yes, he of snipper fame) had just finished their track sessions, Martyn on his beautiful Yamaha and RealMart on the official Real Classic "works" Morini (that's his story anyway). Both had grins that were at least 3 inches wider than their faces, a sure sign of the excitement and pleasure of riding the track at Mallory.

What Rossi will be wearing next year. You heard it here first... John-o-Groats to Lands End for Norman and his Velocette LE

Stewart Clensey brought his pretty Triumph and Graham parked his beautiful, bright red Velocette LE with the RealClassic contingent. Graham had even booked track time and he rode with Hacking Jacket, riding boots and a Corker helmet to complete the period feel. He had bought the bike last year having seen it at Founders day, and has subsequently ridden from John-o-Groats to Lands End. He did the journey that way round as it is "downhill all the way".

Saturday was quiet, as usual, with a subsequent availability of spare time to visit the paddock and drool over the sheer number of Honda 4's and 6's, and other exotica. Sammy Miller's Lowboy Norton, Rotary Nortons, works Laverda endurance bikes and much more besides.

What Rossi will be riding next year. You heard it here first... Factory Laverda endurance racer

RealMart had his second track session at around mid-day and came back beaming like a Cheshire cat. He insisted that we all felt his tyres as, he claimed to have made them warm on the track; it was probably just the dark surface of the rubber soaking up the heat from the sun.

Sunday dawned cool and threatening to rain, but the sun shone from mid morning and many of the real classic men at Mallory eventually went home with red heads. Your correspondent included.

Sunday is usually the busier of the two days and this year was no exception. The fine weather brought out the enthusiasts and the public areas, trackside viewing areas and the paddock were busy all day.

Note full bodywork and OE centre-stand plank... Ron Whiteman's Norton Dominator 99 DeLuxe

The RealClassic stand was much busier on Sunday with a bigger selection of bikes than Saturday, including Notts Ian's Velo, and Ron Whiteman's rather pretty Norton Dominator 99 DeLuxe, complete with all of the correct pressed metal bodywork, and RealMart on with his Morini 3 1/2.

Spotless. Well, the bike is anyway.... Mad Mike's 1958 Norton Model 50

Your correspondent rode in on his 1958 Model 50 and we were joined by Martyn cb750 with his Ariel NH, Graham's LE again and a goodly number of Tiger Cubs.

Shiny!... R.K.Icks John Player Norton replica on the Norton Owners' Club stand

The Jaffa Cakes were handed out and much talk of Real Classics took place throughout the day, some subscriptions were renewed and some new ones taken. Regular RCers SteveB and Chiily visited the stand.

We need more Orange bikes... Chilly's Shovelhead Harley Davidson Sportster...

On track such greats as Sammy Miller, Mick Grant and Carl Fogarty did their thing, whilst at one stage a gaggle of 10 Honda fours circulated at high speed in close formation. This was outstanding because in the 60's most races with this type of machinery would have only had 2 or 3 works bikes on track at one time. The noise was absolute music to any enthusiast, and it was probably loud enough to make ones ears bleed if you could have got too close.

More than a little creepy... "Barry Sheene" was on the Suzuki Club stand, signing autographs...

The Festival is most definitely not a show, it is a total experience, with the sight, smell, sound and speed of Real Classics very much in evidence everywhere. A day, or a weekend, that every enthusiast should experience and enjoy.

The ride home was only 6 miles but it was still a fine end to a fine weekend.

Next year? This is one RCer who is already looking forward to the Festival.

Perhaps this time I will book some track time to see if I can get the tyres warmed up. See you all there.

You couldn't make it up...

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The VMCC organise a variety of road-runs, autojumbles and other events throughout the year. See www.vmcc.net or check our events page to find the next outing near you…


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