30th July 2010
A magnificent weekend at Mallory featured classic and vintage bikes on track, star riders and racers, trials, grasstrack and just zillions of gorgeous old motorcycles. Roy Workman reports...
The Festival of 1000 Bikes takes place over a July weekend at Mallory Park, and has developed into a massive festival of classic motorcycling. This year I had a change and went to the Festival on the Saturday, which is road bike day, as against the Sunday, which is race bike day. The weather was glorious; the previous day had been the hottest of the year so far, and the weekend followed suit.
This well-organised show is run by the Vintage Motor Cycle Club. The club has special riders, like Jim Redman, Freddie Spencer, Carl Fogarty, and loads of other well-known stars taking part on the Sunday race day
The road-going sessions on Saturday, where riders can enter their own machines into track session around the Mallory Park circuit, are proving extremely popular. This year the VMCC provided an extra paddock where the road-going riders can get their machines and riding kit inspected before being allowed out on to the track.
Being interested in sidecars I stopped to talk to a rider parked up by the entrance who was towing an AJS Matchless outfit, which he had owned and raced since 1991. He told me that when his track time came up, his racing leathers would go on at the last minute in an effort to keep cool.
The helmet park is ideally placed at the entrance to the track; this saves you carrying your kit about. Next comes one of the attractions of this meeting, which is the Avenue of Clubs. Normally about 50 clubs have stands here - a great variety of machines on display, from the very slow cycle-motors to Vincents and the like. Of course, the RealClassic Club also has a stand here!
Martin and Stuart were manning the RealClassic stand and reported a steady interest in the magazine. They had a gazebo, which gave them shelter from the sun, and the cooling breeze helped, although this was with a side-effect that it kept turning the pages of the mags over; a little improvisation got over this problem! We had a discussion about Frank's recently-overhauled Norton Commando* and the new Norton 961** on display in the paddock.
The track sessions lasted for fifteen minutes each and ran all day, from 9am to 5pm. Riders in the sessions have to follow the travelling marshals for one lap to get used to the circuit, and then the riders can travel at a speed suitable to them and their machines.
I crossed the bridge to the main paddock area. This was full up with riders and their machines. There was also a display of sprint machines, including a display by Bonhams of Vincent HRD machines that are coming up for auction. Norton Motorcycles also had a display - and very nice they looked too! Bob Holt, who works for Nortons, explained that they buy the best to make the machines the best quality possible. There was a lot of interest in them from all ages of riders.
Crossing the bridge again I stopped for a pie and a pint at one of the many catering outlets. Whilst wandering around amongst lots of machines I spotted a Matchless Typhoon fitted with a G50 engine. The rider of this bike had booked plenty of track time - usually running in the very fast road section, he held his own against faster and more modern bikes.
All in all it was a very good day, helped by the weather. Next year I must try to get to see the Vintage Trials, which are run on Saturday only. The trackside commentator said that it was very busy this year, and the main camping area had filled up early.
It was a great event and if you have not been recently it is well worth a visit.
Full details of the next Festival are at www.vmcc.net Register as early as you can for track sessions, as these sell out in advance
*Appears in RC76, August 2010 issue, and on the website this Friday
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