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9th June 2010

Classic Grasstrack Action in August
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Classic off-road action is on the programme with memories and masters at Minnis in Kent...

The Astra Motor Cycle Club would like to invite all fans of classic motorcycle sport along to their British Masters grasstrack meeting on August 1st 2010. An important element of this event will include interviews, presentations and events for past masters of grasstrack in both solo and sidecar categories. The weekend also features a range of trackside entertainment including 'colourful' start-line girls and the Somerset Pitbox Babes, beer tent showing live coverage of the World Speedway Final, bootfair, fish and chip suppers, camping and more.

Many weeks ahead of the meeting, those who have already accepted include John Britcher, Stan Luck, Alf Hagon, Tony Black, Joe Hughes and Reg Luckhurst. Sidecar past masters include Charlie Coleman, Mick Humberstone, Ron Young and Mick Webster.

Even the grass was sepia-tinted in those days... Clash of the champions as John Britcher leads Chris Baybutt at Rhodes Minnis some years ago

The venue is Rhodes Minnis, near Folkestone, Kent. Rather than a flat, speedway-style oval, the course is laid out along a valley, following the undulations of the land and resulting in a unique, spectacular course, where fast and thrilling racing is guaranteed with excellent visibility for spectators. The track has produced some epic racing over the years, including hard-fought battles for national championships.

The circuit was first used in 1954, when the Folkestone MCC promoted events. In a far-sighted move, the club put on meetings offering big prize money, many years before other promoters. As a result, races for the Grand Slam or the Battle of Britain Trophies were keenly fought as they attracted top level grass track and speedway riders. Rhodes Minnis was also used occasionally to hold the British Grass Track Championships.

After 1970, a change in land ownership meant the track was unavailable until a revival meeting was held in 2002. As the track and the surrounding spectator and car park areas occupy a lot of valuable farm land, the club is under a lot of financial pressure to offset the loss to the farmer.

Grasstrack stuff on now......

The 2010 race is being dedicated to the memory of 'Monty' Banks who passed away last year. Monty was chairman of the Astra Club, a former racer and a regular competitor at Rhodes Minnis. All the trophies to be awarded at the meeting will be engraved accordingly.

Known as 'Monty' since the war, Alfred Banks was involved in road racing and grass track soon after the conflict and was also a talented stunt rider. He ran a motorcycle business in Deal, Kent, but also gained a reputation for his performances in racing grass track on the Continent. He retired from active sport in 1968, but went on to support his two sons, Graham and Trevor, who both had successful track racing careers. Graham lost his life in a racing accident in 1978, but Trevor went on to national championships using motors prepared by his father.

One of the true 'larger-than-life' characters of motorcycling, Monty maintained his sense of humour and sharp wit right up until he passed away in June 2009 when he was 87.

The National Championship for grass track racing was re-organised in 1982. By restricting the competition to 500cc solos and 1000cc right-hand sidecars, the intention was to create a prestigious, truly top-level competition. With qualifying and final meetings held at various tracks around the country the system has worked successfully and winning a Masters title earns a rider international respect. As well as the Masters events, for solo and sidecar competitors there will also be a programme of supporting races.

Has this outfit been in a bad accident, or is that what it's supposed to look like?...

A long-established ACU South-East Centre club, Astra MCC was guided by chairman Bill Chesson for many years, promoting grass track, then road races at Lydden circuit. In recent years, the club is one of the few still organising grass track but has secured the use of some first class tracks that have been used for major meetings.

Organiser of the Masters meeting is Graham Hurry, former national grass track champion and father of current track-racing ace Paul Hurry.

Practice will start at 11am on August 1st 2010, and the first race takes place at 1pm.

Rhodes Minnis track is located at CT4 6XR and will be signposted from J11 on the M20 or the B2068 Canterbury Road.

Further updates will appear on


Speedway bikes (probably) on Right Now...


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