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7th August 2006


Summer Fun 1

RC Reporters turn up everywhere - and in the last few weeks they've been to North Weald, Cassington, Swaton's vintage day and even glimpsed behind the scenes at glorious Goodwood...

North Weald Classic Sprint Show And Go

In July, North Weald Aerodrome just outside Harlow in Essex and close to the M11 and A414 played host once again to a fantastic selection of classic motorcycles in a 'run what you brought along provided it's a classic' sprint contest. This is a fab venue that normally houses an autojumble in Hanger One, but for the sprint all the action is happens out on the airfield runway.

Mildly modified RD...

A very nice man, Tony Huck, organises these events and details of future North Weald jumbles and shows can be found at www.northwealdmotorsport.co.uk (and dates are normally on the RC Events calendar, too).

The Sprint is laid out as a fairly large jumble mixed with club displays and catering marquees. The beer tent is conveniently located just beside the drag strip. This was a blistering hot day and the atmosphere was electric, filled with the waft of Castrol R and the sonic resonance of race-tuned motorcycles. The age of the motorcycles entered into the sprint varied from 1920s to 1980s and indeed quite often the left and right lanes of the sprint track would offer two seemingly completely different classes of motorcycles. An interesting David and Goliath sprint of a tuned Bantam versus a 1300cc Kawasaki ended with the Kawasaki in tears as the little Bantam crossed the line first! This showed only too clearly that the unexpected could happen if mechanical problems turned up to haunt you on the day.

There was some outstanding riding from some of the lady riders putting a fair number of the men to shame with a fearless show of speed and courage. It does seem to me that sprinting must be one of the safest and lowest cost forms of motorcycle sport to take part in, and it's very exciting to watch for the spectators.

If I had to have a Harley...

In between sprints they organised racing parades where we were treated to some glorious sounds and action from historic racing motorcycles.

The commentators were first class and did a marvellous job providing accurate facts and entertainment to keep the day moving along speedily. A Suzuki crossing the centre line of the track broke the right hand time clock mechanism, but the support team soon fixed what was a hefty bit of damage to the wiring and no time was lost as it was skilfully carried out whilst the parades were in progress.

Smell the fear, Smell the 2-stroke...

Highlights for me? Well I was gob-smacked watching the H2 Kawasakis fighting it out with each other and I kept kicking myself for recently selling my RD400C as that bike would have been perfect for racing at a few of these sprint events. One of the best sounding bikes was a heavily tuned Moto Guzzi Le Mans, a local lad, and it bellowed up the airfield at a fast rate of knots.

There seemed to be something for everyone at the show. Families enjoyed the sunshine and picnicked on the grass, bargain hunters trawled the rusty scrap for unobtanium, the hungry filled their bellies and the rest supped cold ale in the beer tent. I enjoyed the show far more than I expected and it will definitely be on my must go to list in next years calendar.

RC Reporter: Anarchyz

******

Cassington Cracker

I took a cross-country route to Cassington this year, which involved going over the toll bridge at Eynsham. Normally I regard toll booths as a way of getting back at caravans - you can hold them up for ages while you fumble for money - but this time I was prepared with a one pound and a 50p coin in an outside pocket. Imagine my delight when I saw that the toll was 5p, and my even greater pleasure when I was waved through free. Life can be good at times.

This isn't the queue for the toll bridge.

Cassington is fun. Held on the last Monday in June, in the little Cotswold village a few miles west of Oxford, it's simply an informal gathering to make money for local causes. There is a bike show for old Brits, but it's pretty laid back, and there are prizes, which is nice. There are also lots of interesting bikes in the various temporary bike parks around the village. Hinckley Triumphs were much in evidence here, and at one point a trio of 'Kettles' boiled in. It was fun to see a new Triumph Rocket 3 and a Honda Valkyrie parked close enough to make comparisons. Not that size matters, of course.

There is a pub and a temporary bar, and stalls selling grub. I can highly recommend the Women's Institute sandwiches. Entertainment was provided by the group 'East 42nd St' who play the sort of music I like. Most enjoyable.

In case no one knows what a pub looks like....

Cruising home I was passed by something old, as in girder forked, and loudly single cylindered. It also had no lights. It shot past me in the twilight, the rider having left his departure until the last possible minute. I hope he made it home. The kebab van just north-west of Basingstoke was still there in its lay-by. I was very tempted to stop, and did. Best night out I've had for ages.

RC Reporter: Jim Peace

*******

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Wow! I just overtook Sir Jackie Stewart! OK… it was in a golf buggy… but I shall explain all. Lord March has a passion for all things motor sport. 14 years ago he launched the Goodwood Festival of Speed at his West Sussex estate. 16 years ago, I lived about seven miles from the showground, which would have negated all the challenges thrown before me, when, a couple of weeks ago I was organising my flight south. An old school friend has worked there as a buggy driver to the stars for a couple of years at festival time, and you know how it is if you know the right people - well for once, I did.

A cheap flight with a certain well known airline made things look easy until that particular route on their jet was cancelled with about a week to go. Originally I planned to fly from Aberdeen to Luton, then either get a lift, or one of those new fangled train things to Sandra's abode in Bognor. Those plans were scuppered when the new airline I selected would only fly from Edinburgh to Heathrow. I tried reasoning with them but they wouldn't divert, so a lift for the three-hour jaunt to Edinburgh was also required. Two days before my flight, someone from the Goodwood office telephoned to enquire whether or not I had received my security pass, and had I attended the briefing last night? The fact that I hadn't wasn't as big a problem as it might seem, as there was another briefing specifically for buggy drivers on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, a few hundred cars on the M25 had other ideas, so I missed that one as well.

A quick call to one of the organisers revealed that I could be briefed in the morning before work commenced, and also collect my official uniform. Then she happened to mention the only T-shirts left were sizes 8 or 18, neither of which would have been too flattering. So, with all that to look forward to, the alarm rang at 5.45am on Friday, and a couple of Weetabix later, I was being instructed in the fine art of golf buggy manoeuvring.

A Lambretta, yesterday.

You may well be wondering what the connection is between the Festival and a few golf buggies, but how do you think all the famous faces get around without constantly being mobbed? They arrive at the VIP reception, usually via the hotel or heli-shuttle, then they hail a buggy and we drive them to the drivers' club. Simple really, and it enables them to get around more easily.

The first pick up was quite scary because I didn't have much of an idea which way to go, but luckily my passenger had been to Goodwood many times and pointed me in the right direction. With so much happening I can't, and wouldn't want to, relate to you every detail from each of the three twelve hour shifts, so I'll just pick out a few memorable moments in no particular order. Being new to the job, I reckon it was a special honour to be given the slowest buggy in the west, but it was a talking point and gave plenty of time to strike up some banter with famous people.

I collected Sir Jack Brabham from the drivers' club and ferried him safely to his destination, despite the large number of fans stuffing autograph books in my face as I was trying to drive. I can't believe one guy had the nerve to not only ask for the signature, but to request that Sir Jack penned it in an exact location on a small model car. An ex-formula one team manager from the 1970s hopped on board at one point although I didn't catch his name, followed by an American who although is more into four wheeled racing, had great things to say about motorcycles (Triumph Cubs in particular) and owns a Trophy.

A very pleasant lady hitched a lift with me and I think the slow buggy was more to her liking. She said he husband was racing some ridiculously fast car that day, despite only having one leg due to a bad accident many years ago. Just can't keep some people down.

Occasionally a trip to the motor home park was called for if team mechanics had to fetch and carry tools or equipment. One such journey turned out to be mildly amusing when, being slightly overloaded, the distinct lack of power led to the buggy leaning over just a little too far on uneven ground! A couple of guys from the Jaguar team were having a busy day rushing back and forth for supplies, and after I dropped them at their truck they kindly offered refreshments in the form of ice cool fresh orange.

Returning my buggy to the Buggy Master at the end of the day I complained bitterly about its performance. Unfortunately, he said, the only other one available has been tinkered with to allow a little more power and wasn't really supposed to be used. However, if mine was actually getting slower as I claimed, and I went back at lunchtime the following day, I could use it...

A quick glimpse in the paddocks revealed John Bentley's 1927 Scott TT, Peter Crew's 1948 Velo KTT and the Kawasaki KR750 ridden by Mick Grant in 1975, when he broke Mike Hailwood's TT lap record. This weekend, Chris Walker was due to run it up the hill.

And just for balance, a Vespa. They're bigger than you think.
Random Vespa GS Stuff on eBay.co.uk

Saturday was a good day all round really, with my new supercharged vehicle I was no longer the laughing stock. A chap called Barry Lee was a regular passenger and regaled me with stories from his racing career and friendship with Barry Sheene, while Russ (or it could have been Ross) chatted away about the making of Ewan McGregor's Long Way Round, with which he was heavily involved.

As you might imagine, all security staff on the premises were issued with radios, as were the buggy drivers so that we could be called to various jobs. Just as I was driving past the back of Goodwood House a request came over for a buggy to pick up some luggage. Seeing as I was free I toddled over, only to find out it was Sir Jackie Stewart's helmet and bags. The walk up the red carpet to the drivers' club was amazing - some autograph hunters obviously mistook me for Jodie Kidd as they waved their little notepads at me. I'm all for people acquiring autographs, and Goodwood is an ideal place to do it, but these particular people looked like professionals. The expensive cameras and mega expensive long lenses enable them to capture the moment, then they nip home and print off a dozen copies. On day two they return to get them signed and pop them on Ebay. To coin a phrase, that's taking the Michael!

Not everyone I chatted to was a celebrity. During a quiet spell, a couple of estate employees stopped to say hello and we got talking about bikes. One of them owns a Vincent Comet and his daughter doesn't live that far away from me - and she rides old Brit bikes too. I'll have to see about getting her to join our local club…

On Sunday I found out the Buggy Master has a real name, Rod, and is quite keen on classic bikes too, so we bored Sandra silly chatting about sprung hubs and the like. I'm sure I gave a 'superbiker' a lift, unfortunately I haven't got a clue who he was but I could tell he was famous by the crowds that flocked around him. Peter Greenwood thumbed a lift, as did NASCAR whiz, 'King' Richard Petty, dressed in cowboy gear from head to toe. Other notable drivers and riders included Nigel Mansell, Ron Haslam and John McGuinness, and did I mention I chauffeured Sir Stirling Moss a couple of times? Sandra had the privilege of transporting Sir Jackie Stewart, but I had some of his entourage on board, and that was when my buggy just happened to go ever so slightly faster than her buggy…

RC Reporter: BikerBabe

*******

Swaton Vintage Day

I attended the 11th annual Swaton Vintage Day and Country Fayre at The Park, Thorpe Latimer, Swaton, near Sleaford in Lincolnshire. I contacted Jonathan, the motorcycle organiser, explaining that whilst my sidecar was 27 years old the bike was somewhat newer, and I wondered if the outfit would be deemed too new for the show…?

Eventually I received my acceptance, including free entry for two people, and the request to be there and in position by 10am. The show opens to the general public at 10.30am. I left home at 8.30am and had only ridden a few hundred yards when it started to rain; luckily it did not last too long, and it was the only rain of the day.

Arriving at the site I was met by Jonathan (a 1978 Bonneville owner, and he was quick to point out that it is not the correct colour!). He was very well organised and I was shown to my allotted space -- he and a helper had spent the best part of Saturday pegging the area out. I was given a welcome pack containing a free copy of RealClassic, a copy of a new freebie magazine called Motorcycle Monthly, and a programme of the day's events. I was in place by 9am, and with more bikes arriving it was getting busier. Jonathan was ably assisted by his parents in giving out the welcome packs and directing people to the recently-purchased gazebo for motorcyclists to leave their riding gear in.

Not a Lambretta. Or a Vespa.

Stuart Sixsmith, of the Federation of Sidecar Clubs, turned up with his family and dog and parked his outfit along-side mine. Stuart has recently become manager of Unit Sidecars, who are famous for their Hedingham sidecar.

The first part of the show was the Classic Tractor Road Run. There were a few comments over the microphone, telling the participants not to stop at the pub too long! Next came a Shire Horse Display; the gentleman with the horses stated that if you ploughed one acre you would have walked approximately 15 miles, depending on the width of the furrows .

The Motorcycle Parade came next, with the commentator asking the riders various questions about their machines. Approximately 40 machines took part in this. Stuart was on the next outfit behind me. I told the commentator that sidecars are fun…

The Terrier Racing was hilarious; some of the dogs got lost, and on one occasion the man pulling the fake rabbit did not pull quickly enough and four dogs jumped on the rabbit. The owners had quite a job getting their dogs to release it. There were also parades for cars and tractors and commercial vehicles, together with a stationary engine display. Something totally different was the Egg Throwing Competition - this certainly got a little messy!

Some BSAs.
Random BSA Stuff on eBay.co.uk

There were trade stands, children's games, a craft tent, a bar and a hog roast. The bar owners had a good idea - the England football team was playing that afternoon, so they set up a wide screen television; this guaranteed them customers. I met Andy M, who was also wearing his RealClassic baseball cap, and we had quite a nice chat.

I also met Bob Sleigh, of the British Two-Stroke Club (LINC), who told me that he is going to take his wife and Fanny Barnet to Ireland. Bob, who has been retired for a few years, said that this was his first trip there and was looking forward to it, although he thought that the ferry crossing was a bit expensive. He felt that he wanted to get to Ireland whilst he could still enjoy the ride. His machine is a 250cc Villiers twin which cruises nicely at 55mph. The bike looked very impressive, equipped with panniers and a top-box.

A total of seven outfits turned up - the last two were a Guzzi with Busmar Astral and the other was a 1954 BSA with a sidecar that had started life as a packing case. The number of outfits surprised me as this was a local show; the outfits were also boosted by several trikes, some of which had excellent paint jobs. Some of the regulars at the show reckoned that this was the best display of motorcycles yet. Jonathan, the motorcycle organiser, is hoping for an even better turn out next year.

Scott and Enfield. Modern and ancient. In many ways.

This was a very well organised show, and a lot of hard work had been put in by the 8 committee members and their helpers. The next show is on Sunday 24th June 2007 - the last Sunday in June. You could put this show in your dairy in for next year. As an exhibitor I obtained a free pass for two people and a commemorative mug to remember the day by.

Jonathan does not worry about the age of the motorcycle that you bring; he feels that the more participants there are the more there is for people to look at. All proceeds from the show are donated to local charities and worthy causes. The show was very well-attended by locals and it was a fun day out for everyone. For contact details take look in the RC Events calendar to confirm details of next year's show nearer the time.

RC Reporter: Roy Workman


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