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28th July 2008

Festival Of 1000 Bikes
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The VMCC's annual classic bike bash at Mallory Park attracted a record crowd this year. Several RC reporters were milling among the masses...

The last time I attended this meeting it was held at Brands Hatch. Apparently, according to the commentator, Brands got too expensive for the Vintage Motor Cycle Club and they were unable to hold the show for several years until, with the help of their sponsors, the show was resurrected at Mallory Park. This year was the third show at this venue.

The Federation of Sidecar Clubs was one of fifty clubs featuring in the Avenue of Clubs. Our position was right behind a bar - yippee - and also alongside a burger bar! The downside was that there were three industrial-sized waste bins between us and the bars…

On Saturday there had been a few heavy, sharp showers, so on Sunday morning the full wet-weather riding kit went on. Needless to say I then had a nice dry ride to the event. Sunday stayed a nice day, with just a few clouds - better for everyone. Apparently the wind had blown hard on Saturday and a couple of tents had blown down, with one tent, complete with frame, heading perilously towards a display of motorcycles until it was stopped by a group of spectators.

Gazebo not shown... It didn't agre with the wind on Saturday... Some of the bikes on the RealClassic stand.

The guys manning the RealClassic stand said that the better weather on Sunday had brought in a larger crowd. The RC stand was nicely situated opposite the main straight, with a good view of the proceedings on the track. I collected my chocolate Hobnob whilst I was there. The Scott Club stand was nearby and some poor rider lost a couple of pounds in weight whilst trying to start his newish machine; it nearly burst into life and this raised a bit of a cheer. When it eventually started the rider was awarded with a round of applause.

Sunday was the day that the mayflies came out and there were lots of them around. I was wearing a yellow tee-shirt and they must have thought I was a giant sunflower - I was covered in them! A change to a darker tee-shirt solved this problem.

We need more bikes with white exhaust pipes... Terrot Racer

There were several interesting bikes on display in the Avenue of Club; these included a 1928 Warren-Villiers with a Villiers 344cc in-line two-stroke twin. I had not seen one of these before and at first it had me guessing what it was. There was also an old Terrot Racer, which was parked outside the Harley-Davison Club stand. There were bikes ranging from Brough Superiors to auto cycles and mopeds and all sizes in between -- a really great display by the clubs.

There were over 30 outfits taking part in the sidecar parades. The two oldest were 1938 Nortons. It was interesting to see girder forks and solid rear ends mixed in with much more modern machinery. Quite often the marshals would follow the slower machines around the circuit. One of the riders had been racing outfits for 27 years and once came second in the TT.

The Excelsior Club, yesterday...

This event gives enthusiasts the chance to ride their own machines in track sessions over the weekend. These cater for all classes of machines, from the very earliest to the machines of the superbike era. The parade sessions were grouped into four speed classes - slow, medium, fast and very fast. On Saturday the parades were restricted to road machines whilst on Sunday the noise level was lifted to allow the racing machines on to the track.

In the paddock area was the Past Masters tent, where you could see the riders and their bikes. Bonhams the auctioneers had a few machines on display to whet your appetite for their next auction. The commentator stated that if anyone had been lucky enough to have been left a few bob they might like to have a look... The MZ Riders' Club got into the spirit of things and put some 'For Sale' signs on a couple of the bikes on their stand. The top price asked was £24,000 for a 350cc machine bought 'as seen' with no trial ride!

There was also a small autojumble in the paddock area, although some folks felt that as it was mainly new stuff perhaps 'autojumble' was not the right word for it. The Wall of Death was there too, and seemed to be doing a brisk trade.

Pick a line, any line... Shaw's Hairpin, Mallory Park

Having ridden my outfit around the Mallory race track on a previous occasion, I knew that Shaw's Hairpin comes up very quickly and you need all the brakes you have. One rider, on a classic Triumph outfit, got it slightly wrong, but managed to correct it; the handlebars were flapping from lock to lock. Fair play to him - he made it through the hairpin OK.

Chris Vincent, the TT sidecar winner, appeared to be enjoying himself on a Norton rotary outfit - there were sparks coming out of the exhausts as he was slowing down. There were many different styles of tackling the Shaw's Hairpin. This is always a good place from which to spectate. An Ariel Arrow was able to take a tight line through there and was able to hold his own. I later spotted an Arrow with four cylinders; this could have explained the extra performance if this was the machine that I saw on the track. Titch Allen, the man who originally formed the Vintage Motor Cycle Club, lapped the circuit several times as passenger in a Morgan three wheeler.

The Past Masters included the likes of Giacomo Agostini on the MV he was riding with John Cooper on a works BSA Rocket 3. These guys did several high speed laps and the lead changed several times, recreating their epic 1971 race. One of these machines was letting out a puff of smoke on gear changes. Ago and John got a lot of waves as they pulled into the pit lane.

Phil Read and his son were out there together and were giving it some - again both enjoyed a period in the lead. This reminded me of the early 1960s, when close racing between Fred Neville and Phil Read at Brands Hatch would often mean that there was only a tyre's width between them at the finish line.

After a few laps the rest of the group of riders were let out. One rider caught up with Phil and his son, but Phil increased the pace. Courtesy of the National Motorcycle Museum there were several ex-works Norton rotaries with their original star riders lapping the course. Brian Crighton, the man behind the Norton rotaries, said over the tannoy that he hoped to have the new Norton race machine on the track in a few weeks. All in all about 35 Past Masters took part in these parades.

In the solo sessions at one time there were four 500cc single cylinder machines as a close group. The noise from these machines took me back a year or two…

Although I was only there on Sunday, this is a three day event. Friday is set-up day, and camping is available and on Friday and Saturday nights. Bands were playing on the Ace Café Rock 'N' Roll Stage in the paddock area. Also on Saturday evening there was a 'Stars on Stage' item with some of the Past Masters talking about their careers.

Mallory Park has its own off-road course and the Taverners section of the VMCC organised a pre-65 trial on both days. There was also a new grasstrack area with a session organised on Sunday. Just before the Past Masters track parade a sprint demonstration took place on the start straight.

Sidecar stuff on eBay

This is a really great event. Mallory Park circuit is being improved all the time and there is plenty to see and do. At this meeting there is something for everybody. Perfect weather (on the Sunday), superb riding and good marshalling - the Vintage Motor Cycle Club has made this a very well-organised event and it is well worth keeping it in mind for a visit next year.

RC Reporter: Roy Workman


Early Starter

To bring my Kawasaki A7 into the display area I needed to reach Mallory before 9am, so was up at 4.15 and on the road at 5am to give myself plenty of time to cover the 120 miles to Mallory Park on a 40 year old motorcycle. The roads were clear and dry all the way and, with careful judgement of the numerous traffic lights and roundabouts, I barely put my feet down.

I arrived at Mallory before 8am to find it a hive of activity. The previous day's rain turned the original site for the Avenue of Clubs into a bog so it had to be moved onto the roadways. I pitched my tent and returned to the RC stand to help Mike and Mike contend with putting up a gazebo -- unfortunately the windy condition got the better of it and we soon took it down again.

One owner since 1973... 1967 / 68 Kawasaki A7 Avenger

I was made very welcome by all the chaps manning the RC stand and one of the Mikes took me under his wing showing me around. The weather on the Saturday was very un-summer like with a chill wind and some heavy showers, however it did not stop the action for long.

I bumped into Doug Perkins of the VJMC (an A1 Samurai owner) and we had a chat. No other A7 Avenger at the show; come to that, not many Kawasakis! My bike attracted a steady stream of interest with the usual comment of; 'now that's a rare machine.' Although it's not quite as rare as the Triumph Bandit which was parked nearby. Speaking to the owner he told me it was the only one of its type - which must mean that it's the same machine that I took a picture of back in January 1974, at the Bike Show in London! My means of transport that day, 34 years ago, was also my trusty A7. Strange how paths cross…

As owned by our very own Phil Speakman... 1972 MZ ES250

I had a good wander around the pits taking lots of photos of the static bikes as well as the machines on the track. So there was lots to do and see and lots of people to talk about bikes with, and I'm tempted to enter my bike for a track session next year. Sunday saw summer sun and a good crowd of people to watch the classic machines and their riders. I found the sidecars, three-wheelers and trikes the most interesting to watch.

Many thanks again and thanks to the guys on the RC stand who made me very welcome.

RC Reporter: Mike England


The Official Review

Thousands of enthusiasts descended on Mallory Park for the weekend of July 11th to 13th 2008 to see and hear the stars perform. Many of the enthusiasts were performers in their own right having signed up for appearances on the 1.35 mile track. The VMCC also offered its own musical element this year in the big entertainment marquee, which included DJs and live bands each night.

Rain on Friday seemed reluctant to give way, but Saturday dawned dry. It remained so throughout most the day for the continuous succession of road machine track sessions that saw almost 1000 machines take to the track.

Martin G; not falling off, not blowing up, grinning like an idiot 1982 Moto Morini 3 1/2 Sport

The superb sunny day on Sunday brought record crowds through the gates who witnessed another 1000 machines out for track sessions for road and (mostly) racing machinery. Indeed, roads around Mallory came to a standstill as traffic queued for more than an hour to get into the public car park. If Saturday was members' day, then 'sunny Sunday' was the day for the stars -- both man and machine.

The Past Masters demonstrated that they have lost none of their style and their élan. Some iconic machines from the past wafted stylishly around the circuit piloted by some iconic names, including Phil Read, Mick Grant, Sammy Miller and Charlie Williams. An electrifying display of speed and skill came from the National Motorcycle Museum team of Norton Rotaries under the watchful eye of their creator Brian Crighton. The crowd watched in silence as the four machines howled around the circuit in a tribute to the late Roy Richards, founder of the Museum.

The reuslt of the painting by numbers competition was impossible to call... Giacomo Agostini (left) and John Cooper (right)

The highlight for many was when Giacomo Agostini and John Cooper took to the track in a recreation of their 1971 Race of the year battle. With Ago and Cooper turning back the clock, the sight and sound of the MV and BSA triple bought the crowds to their feet. To show their appreciation for this display, the VMCC presented Ago and Cooper with framed pictures of the event.

The Festival of 1000 Bikes gives three awards for the Best Post War Machine, Best Pre War Machine and Best Club Stand. The 2008 winners were:

  • Best Pre War: Mike Griffith, 1939 Rudge Ulster.
  • Best Post War: Don Richards 1957 Norton Dominator.
  • Best Club Stand: The Historic Police Motorcycle Group.

    The entire event was filmed for a VMCC 2008 DVD, which will also feature the Club's Vintage Training Day and the 60th anniversary Banbury Run, and will be available in the autumn. Info about this and more images from the Festival can be found at

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