Summer always signals the start of the barbeque season, swimming, fishing and motorcycling. Well only if the weather is fine, and fine it hasn’t been. Ask any Kiwi what they think of the weather up to now and echoes of Monty Pythons ”Rubbishhh” abound. So looking forward to the New Zealand Classic Racing Registers Classic Racing Festival held annually at the Pukekohe Park Raceway I wasn’t holding out much hope of fine weather. Well it didn’t rain, only slightly overcast with a cold breeze was present but mostly warm, and for people who know how changeable Pukekohe weather can be this can only be good.
A pleasing start to the weekend would have to be the 184 rider entries with 268 machines entered, a sign that the 3 day event is still proving to be one of the most popular classic motorcycle racing events held in the southern hemisphere. Riders from Japan, Australia and the UK attended as well as local entries from as far away as Christchurch and Invercargill. The $30.00 entry for a 3 day weekend pass has to be good value at $10 per day, with a family pass for $60.00 (2 adults and 2 children).
The theme for this years event was the overhead camshaft motorcycle. The display tent was supported well with a good selection of overhead cam examples, and with classic racing most people are familiar with Manx Nortons, AJS 7Rs and Velocette KSS KTT examples, but what about Humber, Pre War Ariel Square 4s and AJSs M10R
Checking out the race programme to see whats the same and whats new or different was interesting. Whats the same would have had to have been the sea of Manx Nortons, the list growing longer every year, even Velocettes seem to be growing more popular, and different well that would have to be the 1950 Douglas 350 MK5 clubmans racer and the 1962 Kalishnikov Planeta that was entered into the Regularity Parade (regretably the Kalishnikov did not make it to the Festival, perhaps next year?).
Next is to amble through the pits/camping area and just observe, you know the scene where people are too busy setting up camp, testing, playing and fiddling etc to notice my presense. And what did I discover, well there seems to be noticeably more engine starting rollers appearing. Are we getting more older where pushing is tiresome? Or do we just want to make life easier? Would have been frowned on in my day!
Listening to some of the grumblings throughout the pits (something that happens every year) it was quite clear that something was amiss with noise, or more accurately mufflers and the lack of (muffling). Evidently there was a new system in use and riders were getting ‘pinged’ at an alarming rate. The goss was that there were 37 infringements during practice on Friday and this was to continue throughout the weekend. Riders were scurring around looking for anything that they could use to try to quieten down their machines. Chicken mesh (which doesn’t work unless you stick a whole roll up the exhaust pipe) fibreglass batts, woven fibreglass tape were all suggestions being offered. I even saw one enterprising rider with the bottom of a spin-on oil filter (the threaded end with the eight holes) taped to the outlet of his megaphone. Some were successful, some were not.
Wandering threw the car park is always worthwhile as there are lots of new (and older) things to see. Here are just a few that we managed to capture with the trusty Box Bownie.
Excelsior normally associated with racing this is just the ‘dogs nuts’ for the road (Knobsta’s saying).
1929 BSA Sloper seemed to be capturing a lot of interest.
Ariel 600cc Side Valve.
Entries this year for the Pre War and Vintage classes were up on last year with 8 vintage (pre 1931) and 21 pre war entries. Machines campaigned as ‘work in progress’ mixed it with the best of the restored which goes to show that they don’t have to be ‘flash’, just functional. Sometimes a machines character is determined by the assembly factor bolted together yesterday, raced today, and painted tomorrow (perhaps). As long as it is oil tight and pre 1931 for the handchange or vintage class, or girder for the Pre War class. It is 12 months before the next festival so now is the time to sort those parts out and be ready for February 2013. If you are thinking about it but am unsure contact us as we may be able to help. As they say Go on give it a go. You know you want to really. Remember riding and racing are just inches apart and what safer place to ride a vintage or pre-war bike than on a race track (at least all the bikes are going in the same direction, and there are no cars or dogs).
Special mention should be made of one vintage racer in particular, Scout Fletcher. Scout has been racing a 1929 Ariel in South Island events and doing very well, so when offered a chance to race at Pukekohe on Linda Maddocks 1926 Big Port AJS jumped at the chance. Nothing that great some may say, except that Scout is just 16 years old and has proven that she is very capable of mixing it with the best. Her on-line bio lists her as racing a RG150 and also likes to box. Click here to see her in action at the Wyndham Street Racing in 2011 on the Ariel.
In The Pits (My Favourites) –
I just need a little rest.
Who said ‘Work in Progress’ and racing don’t mix.
The best for me would have to be this 1950 Douglas MK5 350. Although a stripped down road bike it is clear that the rider was here for some fun. The competition models were the 80 Plus and the 90 Plus (guarranteed for 90mph or more). There was a Douglas factory report on the testing of their race bike in the I.O.M in the early 1950s and that the engines were being tested to 11000 rpm. The owner assures me that this machine does not fall into that performance category and that they were just happy to finish a race. A bouncy ride from the original non dampened torsion bar rear suspension was performance limiting so to increase the chance of better lap times the big front mudguard was removed for Sundays events. A great bike that has been in the same family for 45 years. It sounds really nice and I hope to see it out again soon.
Vintage and Pre War riders leaving the dummy grid for the start of their next race.
1968 Harley Davidson KRTT
I know that it is not a girder and is stretching the Pre 45 Barnstormers classification but hey it’s still a flat head. When everybody else was well into performance tuning OHV machines Harley Davidson were doing the same but with the trusty old side valve engine and with success. This would have to be one of the last and as a recent import will hopefully see it out on the track next season after a thorough check over. A very rare machine indeed.
So as the weekend progressed the racing got better, but did the lap times improve? Results for each of the races were recorded and printouts made available to racers and anybody else who was interested outside the race control building. These are also available online courtesy of Mark-Time. Click on the following links to see how the Vintage and PreWar races finished Saturday – Race 12, Race 19, Sunday Race 44, Race 52.
If you are interested in what the other racers lap times were (sidecars, clubmans, etc) click here.
When Old Meets New
Spotted this on the way out, it was parked up in the public area and it just goes to show that old machinery and modern styling do go together. What better way to display this than with this ‘Chout 84’. Appears to be a mix of Indian Scout parts with upgraded electrics and tyres, modern stylised mudgaurds and finished with an alluring paint job. The tyres suggest that it is well ridden and the 84 on the tank would indicate that it is 84 cubic inch capacity, or 1300cc.
While prize giving and the evening meal were being served up at the track I was at home reflecting on the weekends events over a diet beverage, and honestly it was one of the best. Hopefully next weekend will be just as good. Cheers Register.
Part 2 of the racing is to be continued this coming weekend at Hampton Downs Raceway with the 2nd round of racing on both Saturday and Sunday. Might just have to go and have a peek.