OLD NEWSLETTERS 2
Newsletter of The National Hill Climb Association Ltd
Well, we all waited so long for the Year 2000 to come around. Now it’s over and we’re into 2001 already. Unfortunately the rather miserable winter continues. I enjoyed a very sunny fortnight in the Canaries in January (which is why I missed the AGM … did I get voted in again?), but returning to the West Country, it seems to me that the landscape needs to be pressure washed to get rid of the accumulated muck and grime.
Enough of that …
Thank you, correspondents, for rallying around to produce an interesting ‘closed season’ issue of The Hillclimber. In particular, we should thank Jamie Mitchell for his excellent article on the development of the Cornish scene. Kim Catlin responded within 24 hours of my phone call to produce a full resume of the AGM and David Childs has compiled a chart of all the Vintage/PV and Classic hill records.
So what of the forthcoming year? We’ve had to raise subs to £20 a year to help redress the balance between income and expenditure. It’s going to be important to recruit new members, whether as riders, helpers or supporters of the club. So please don’t miss the opportunity to give the club a plug and, if you’re approached by anyone with even the vaguest interest in the sport, please take time out to talk to them. On that note, the idea of having a ‘try out’ day at Curborough next July is truly excellent – see the note from Doug Parnell in this issue.
Dates for ‘The Hillclimber’
Get your diaries out, please. You’re all used to the dates in the events list for sending in entry forms and so on. So this year we’re going to try the same system for The Hillclimber. With your assistance we aim to produce four issues a year. The last date for copy and publication dates for the rest of 2001 are as follows:
Copy to me by 31 May for publication by 15 June
Copy to me by 15 August for publication by 1 September
Copy to me by 31 October for publication by 15 November – to include reports of the late summer events including the All-Bike Wiscombe and the AGM & Dinner notification.
As usual, I will accept ‘copy’ including adverts etc. by post, email or even dictated over the phone.
Subs have risen to the dizzy sum of £20, but the NHCA remains one of the best value organisations in the country. A subscription renewal form should be included with this issue of the Hillclimber. Please pay up pronto and try to recruit a new member or two.
Where there’s a Wills there’s a way….
Members who attended the AGM will already be aware that Dave Wills and family have kindly taken on the role of Events General Secretary (if that’s the correct term).
As usual each event will have its nominated Secretary of the Meeting as shown on the listing enclosed with this Hillclimber. Requests for regs for meetings should go to the nominated person but Dave is in overall charge of things, including distribution of the Hillclimber.
This will involve quite a lot of work, so please give Dave maximum support, get in contact (01392 436880) if you need information or have something useful to impart, but don’t pester him unnecessarily … after all, I expect he’d like to retain some sort of home life.
A reminder that certain helmets are not acceptable post-31.12.2000. Those with a double thick and thin line band around the edge of the ACU stamp are OK. Only some of those with the single, thicker line band are acceptable and only until 31.12.2002. It depends on the material from which they have been made. Please see the information sent out with an earlier Hillclimber and the section at the bottom of page 50 of the 2001 ACU handbook, which should have dropped through your letterbox over the past few days.
A Welcome Offer
Brian Coles (01805 601606) is a member of the NHCA who lives near Hartland Quay and who runs an autojumble at Winford Market near Bristol Airport on the 3rd Thursday of each month. Brian rang to say that there is an open invitation to any NHCA member who would like to try out his/her (reasonably silenced) bike on the perimeter road. The autojumble starts at 9am, but Brian suggests that the ‘peri’ road could be used, with care, from about 12 noon onwards. No cowboy stuff, but useful to check out whether the motor is on song, good publicity for the club and an added attraction for visitors to the autojumble.
From the Chair
Following our AGM everyone should be aware that there are going to be increases in fees to ensure that our events break even wherever possible. Insurance, track fees and so on never seem to decrease. Course certification costs are also a necessary burden. Speaking of which, I had a meeting at Wiscombe a weekend or so ago and negotiated what I felt was the best deal for the club. One aspect of our all bike September meeting that the management like is the effort we make to clear up the course before departing. This saves them a lot of work. Let’s ensure that we maintain this high standard.
The Bugatti Owners’ Club is having a marshals training day on Sunday 11 March. The BOC would very much like two or three bikes to attend with their riders so that the marshals are shown how to deal with two wheel incidents. I don’t think that they want to see any stunt whoopsies, but just for a couple of riders to lay the bikes down to be shut off and picked up by the marshals, I imagine. This is all very encouraging. If you would like to assist, please ring either myself (01278 786377) or Doug Parnell (01454 260679), both are home numbers.
The ACU is holding a Scrutineers Training Day at Rugby on Saturday 24 February. So if you receive your Hillclimber in time and you would like to attend, please ring Dave Wills (01392 436880).
By the time you read this, the club should have had its first representation at a bike show, the Bristol Classic, held at Shepton Mallet. We’re also going to have stands at Stafford and the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics show. Many thanks to those of you who are giving up spare time to run these. But we really need to do something to encourage riders of current machinery as well. The proposed event for potential newcomers at Curborough is a great idea. Other suggestions are welcome, either directly to myself or to Tony to air in the Hillclimber.
Jamie’s Jibberings or A brief history of hillclimbing in the Duchy
Over the winter I’ve been going through Dad’s old hill climb files and trying to put them in some order. Looking through all the old results from the 70s and 80s and seeing the old names I remember has helped get over the winter blues and reminded me of what a little brat I was.
Back then, the BSSA (British Sporting Sidecar Association Cornwall) was one of three Cornish clubs organising hill climbs in the 70s. West Cornwall ran Trengwainton and Camel Vale ran Tregrehan, Wadebridge and St Eval. Dad helped in many ways within the BSSA which organised Predannack on the Lizard, Gars Farm near Truro, RAF Portreath, Saturday Wadebridges Camel Vale ran the Sunday events) and, in its early days, Hartland Quay. The files contained the original track layouts and Certificates for Wadebridge, Predannack and Garras, which I have copied for you all to see. I myself never got to race at these three venues; however I did ride at all of them in the paddock on my Technomoto 50cc, my first ride on a motorbike was at Garras in about ’78.
I think it was Dad who found Garras Farm when on a sidecar trial with Phil Williams. The first meeting was held on 21 April 1973. I can’t recall that meeting being so young of course, but I can remember that the timing was on occasions recorded with a stopwatch and telephones. The starter, usually Eddie Seymour, would start the clock and then wait for the finish marshal to shout down the phone “finish NOW!”, and we are not talking digital stopwatches here. I also remember somebody’s bike caught fire just before the hairpin. Can anyone recall who?
Dad set the 350cc record at the first meeting at 19.60 and lowered it five times to 18.20. He would have been the only rider to hold the 350 record except that, at the last ever meet on 20 June 1981, a certain Paul Jeffery – probably with hair back then – broke the record with his RD, recording a time of 17.99. The hill record finished up in the hands of Paul Spargo (whoever he was!) with 16.90 set in 1974.
Ask anyone who fell off at Predannack and they would say “Ouch”, but not for the usual reasons. Predannack was lined with gorse bushes and it could take a season or two to finally rid your leathers of the spiny thorns. Riders had been known to disappear without a trace until a faint murmur could be heard by the baffled marshals. Eddie Seymour also helped with the timing at Predannack and the same applied with a manual stopwatch. The difference here was that the start line was also the finish line, so the timekeeper could actually see the finish and didn’t have to rely on the phone.
I don’t know if ambulances had to be present at the events in the 70s, but Joe Coad was always there with his estate car, stretcher and First aid kit. I remember marshalling on the first bend when Nigel Smallbone fell off and broke his arm. I’ve even found the insurance claim in Dad’s file twenty-two years on. Dad also held the Predannack 350cc record at 33.10 after Gerald Merchant had first set it at 37.60 in 1970 on a slightly different track. The start and finish line was near the main gate for the first meeting and changed to the illustrated version a year later. The hill record stood at 30.50 when the track closed for good in 1979. Les Burgan from Hayle held it; sadly Les died a few years ago after a road racing accident at Snetterton.
The Camel Vale started running events at Wadebridge in 1978. I think it was Alan Wakeford who began talks with Mr Riddle, the show ground’s chief. That first meeting on 10 September 1978 was a bit special as it was Dad’s last outing on the 500cc Kessell JAP. He started off winning the 350 class and rounded it off with the 500 and FTD in a time of 38.33. That course started way over the other end of the show ground from where we race today. They called it the East to West course and, in 1980, the BSSA began to use the course in the opposite direction for Saturdays. This course is shown on the diagram.
Since 1978 I have kept a record of the tracks used and so far there have been thirteen different variations, a bit of a nightmare for the record keeping.
How many of you remember the blizzard we had sometime in the early 1980s and who was a member of the Alan Wakeford Fan Club?
I had my first fall at Wadebridge whilst having a lift on the tank of John Halstead’s Greeves. He was taking me back to the pits via the wet grass when the wheels just lost all grip. There I was, about 12 years old with no helmet, sliding along my ass. Luckily no visible damage was done and there were no witnesses, so John told me not to tell any one ….so he got away with that one.
When the BSSA course was last used in 1985 that Northern Gladiator Barry Gartside (or was it Barrington Carbide?) on his 500cc CCM held the course record at 37.67, which must have been one hell of a run as the nearest to it was Steve Sherbird’s 1000cc Norton with 39.33. The Camel Vale course finished the very next day with Phil Gregory’s 500cc Jawa holding the course record at 34.58 set in 1982.
The Camel Vale also organised events at St Eval airfield and Tregrehan. St Eval only ran twice back in 1980 with riders doing two laps of a fast, twisty circuit. Pete Browne was the fastest man round the aerodrome, doing a marathon time of 115.07 on his Weslake.
This year (2001) will bee the 21st for motorcycles at Tregrehan. Camel Vale first held a meeting with the cars there on 27th May 1979. Kevin Halstead took FTD on that day with 23.54 on the 380 Greeves, with Dad second on the new 500cc Kessell BSA. It took a couple more meetings before he earned himself an FTD at his local event, having to travel all of 1½ miles to get there.
Trengwainton, near Penzance, was probably Cornwall’s biggest motor sport event, attracting thousands of people to watch the cars and bikes. West Cornwall Club started hillclimbs there before World War 2 and ran until 1976 when the land was sold to the National Trust. Roy Opie held the hill record at 21.71, although I don’t know when it was set. Apparently the records got a lot harder to break as the rubber on the start line made it more slippery than usual.
Trengwainton was an inspiration for not only new hills to be found, but also to a lot of Cornish riders who started to travel and conquer other venues throughout the country. In 1972 every National title was won by a Cornishman – 250cc Neville Tregembo, 350cc Ian Mitchell, 500cc Les Burgan, 750cc and Overall by Paul Spargo, and finally Sidecars by Phil Williams & Alan Martin. All theese riders received an Order of Merit from the Cornwall ACU.
I was only seven when the hill closed, but I do recall running up the hill all day, just to get a ride back down again on the front of Dad’s Velo. West Cornwall organised other hillclimbs in the area, but they were all before the war.
One other venue the BSSA organised was Hartland Quay, which held its first meeting on 9 October 1977. Pete Jeffery Snr found the hill and phoned Dad. That was that. Next Sunday we were off for a family day out in North Devon.. Dad and Pete met in the pub and negotiations were under way. I remember what a windy day it was! It broke my kite. Neil Browne set FTD at the first event with 27.83, and Dad set the 350cc hill record with 28.93 on his Greeves Oulton.
In 1981 the BSSA gave up organising hillclimbs to concentrate on grass track events, and so the NHCA took on Hartland and the BMOC carried on with the Saturday Wadebridges. Then, in 1985, the Camel Vale club withdrew from Tregrehan and Wadebridge to concentrate on trials and enduros and so the BMOC took them on.
In 1985 a new venue appeared on the calendar – Porthkerris – which the Pendennis club promoted. Jeremy Hoskins found the hill on the Lizard peninsular, and once again a phone call to Dad and off we go again, a family day out on the beach. Once we eventually found the place, negotiations were done and dusted. The first meeting on 15 June was dominated by Jeremy, setting a hill record of 30.63 on his 250cc Yamaha – after all it was his practice track. Now, this bit gives me pleasure … with the future looking bleak for Porthkerris, the hill record stands at 27.82 set by me in 1999 on the 500cc Kawasaki.
The day after the first Porthkerris, the BMOC held a twisty sprint at RAF Portreath. This venue was getting a little like Wadebridge with four different courses being used between 1981 and 1984. Sadly, airfield tracks never appealed to many hillclimbers, so this venue will probably never be revisited.
The NHCA ventured into the country for the first time in 1989, to Holamoor Farm, near Kilkhampton. The Burrows family found this hill, which only ran twice. Chris Chapman’s 350cc KTM set the hill record at 21.91 in ’89. My favourite memory of the place was Barry Gartside’s 40th birthday party held in the local pub. Everyone paid for a stripagram, little knowing it was going to be Jerry Burton, absolutely stark b*ll*ck naked straddling Barry over the pool table, little doubt where the female eyes were looking.
My last instalment in the final chapter of Dad’s quest to find new venues takes us to just outside Liskeard. The two farm lanes were literally just next door to each other and, in 1990, Higher Coombe held the first meeting with Nigel Kimpton setting FTD at 27.74. When the hill closed in 1992, Grenville Northam had lowered the record to 26.47.
Lodge Farm started in 1991 with John Airey getting a rare FTD at 21.40 and, by its end in 1994 due to environmental problems, Nigel had lowered it to 20.72. The Liskeard weekends may have only lasted for five years, but we sure enjoyed not only the racing, but especially the odd night out on the town, the odd police visit and stripping thrown in for good measure.
If anyone has got any information or results of Cornish hillclimbs from the 70s and 80s, or meetings where Dad competed from 1969, I would be very grateful if I could take copies to complete Dad’s files. I already have about 60 various results from that era, but they are mainly south-western ones.
Curborough Track Day
As you will see from this year’s events list there is an event at Curborough on the Saturday before our regular Championship round. The aim of the event is to attract people in to the sport of hill climbing and, while it could be argued that Curborough is not a typical hill climb, it has the advantage of relative safety and easy marshalling.
It will not be Curborough as we know it, as we have restrictions placed on us, the main one being that we cannot use the regular start line as we also do not want it to be considered as extra practice for the following day. The way the meeting will run is as follows –
Bikes will join the track at the point where the ambulance normally parks, each “competitor” will do a warm up lap of the circuit part of the track as he crosses the start/finish line by the timing hut he will start a flying lap which will be timed. On completion of the flying lap he will pull off through the paddock gate and return to the back of the queue for his next go.
We will have as many runs as time permits. The event will start at 2pm and finish at 5.30 pm.
We will be promoting the track day by advertising etc. and hope to fill our quota which is 35 bikes. The cost will be about £30. The problem with all this is that it is speculative, we may have too many bikes or we could have too few. What we need is help from YOU. Please put the word around. If you are the member of a bike club that has members with suitable machinery put a note in the newsletter. If your mates always told you how good he is tell him to come along and show you. NHCA members can enter but what we are asking is that you come along prepared to give up your ride and help run the event if the meeting fills up with non-members as they will have priority. This may seem a lot to ask but a lot of riders turn up at Curborough on the Saturday before the championship meeting anyway and also bear in mind that the whole idea is to benefit hill climbing which, if successful, will benefit everybody.
At the time of writing this there are still quite a lot of details to thrash out, as we agreed at the AGM we need to ensure the club does not take unnecessary risks by putting on such an event. However the track is booked and the event is 90% certain, you will be kept up to date when everything is finalised.
Classic Prescott 2001
There is an unfortunate clash of dates with a Championship round at Gurston so we may be short on entries, as this meeting normally accepts a few modern bikes which will probably go to Gurston this time. So, please put the word around to other clubs that have an interest in sporting classic and vintage machines such as Velo or Norton owners clubs and get some new “old” blood in the vintage and classic classes.
Vintage/Post Vintage and Classic Records
I have listed the records set during the Vintage/PV and Classic championship rounds from the start of these championships in 1986 up to the present day. I have included the open run times from these meetings except for those at Baitings Dam between 1988 and 1994 inclusive, as I do not currently have the open run times for these particular meetings.
For sale – The ex-Arnold Gimblett Cheney/BSA. B44 engine in Cheney M/X frame.
Very tidy and goes well. £700 or £750 with single bike trailer.
Phone Dave Jupe on 01454 633213 (near Bristol)
For sale – Black one-piece La Trek leathers for 6-foot rider with 42 inch plus chest.
Unmarked, as new condition. £100.
Phone Dave Jupe on 01454 633213 (near Bristol)
For sale – KTM 250, overbored to 256cc so runs in 350 class. 1985. WP upside down forks, disc brakes. Third in 350 class 1997, little use since due to discovery of CR500s (ouch!!).
Properly set up for hillclimbing. Ready to race, with tons of spares. £450.
Phone Ian Fry 0121 243 7779 (Birmingham)
Don’t forget – the copy date for the next Hillclimber is 31 May.
The Usual Stuff
I’m starting to write this on 26 May, five days short of the 31 May deadline for Hillclimber contributions. Peter Isaac rang the other evening to ask about the forthcoming issue and, at present there is only one item in the editorial files.
So, what to do? Well, with Foot & Mouth the early events were cancelled and it’s good news to hear that some are still scheduled to go ahead. It is inevitable that there will be little in the way of reports for this issue, but with few events on, all the more reason to give you something to read. Get the PC warmed up and email everyone for whom I have an e-address asking for items for the Hillclimber. (Thanks to Jo Lumley for sending me more addresses.) The result? A tremendous response. Many thanks everyone, you dun good. There is even an article to hold over until the next issue. Now, that must be a ‘first’.
The electronic mail facility has been really useful on a couple of occasions this year. Anyone who would like to be put on the Editor’s e-address book, please email me. This doesn’t mean that we will provide a second class service to those without e-mail access, but it’s useful to know what proportion of the membership are contactable in this way.
Perhaps the committee could give some thought to making regs for event available on the club web site. They could be released on the same date as they are available from the Secretary of the meeting. All the entrant would have to do is to print it off, complete it and post it. We’re some way off from entering events on line, but it could well happen.
From the Chair
Some news about events – the classic Prescott is on as far as we know and hopefully by the time you read this it should have happened, but there are still concerns as the return road is also a bridleway and we may not be able to use it.
Unfortunately Barbon on 28 July has had to be cancelled due to foot and mouth problems. Also, as an indirect consequence of the crisis we have lost the second Prescott invitation on 23/24 June. The Bugatti Owners’ Club’s first Prescott had to be cancelled, so they need to squeeze in some car classes that are championship rounds into the late June meeting.
We don’t yet know what the position is likely to be as regards to the late season events in the south west – Wiscombe, Fairoak, Manor Farm and so on.
Don’t forget that we have a special test day for newcomers at Curborough on Saturday 28 July, the day before our regular Championship round. The aim of the event is to attract people in to the sport of hill climbing. Although Curborough is not a typical hill climb, it has the advantage of relative safety and easy marshalling. Doug Parnell and Robin Sims are organising this.
I recently inspected Bryn Bach Park and was treated like royalty by the local lads. The first event has already taken place, but don’t forget that there is a second one on 5 August. Please try to attend as it may be that last for a year or so because there are major roadworks planned for 2002. The park road which forms part of the course is to be widened and re-surfaced to act as a long-term temporary highway while the ‘proper’ road is being improved. The immediate consequence is that we may lose this event for a year, but the upshot may be a better course from 2003 onwards when the park road is returned to the local authority.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE RIDERS GONE?
Scarborough and Bryn Bach have passed,
The hill climb season's here at last.
But some have not yet entered one
So they'll be missing all the fun.
Gurston 1 has come and gone,
Riders spectating, looked all wrong.
Paul and Jamie scrapping madly
And Wills the senior didn't do badly.
So come on all you erstwhile riders
Forget the beer and various ciders.
Let's be having you on the track
We'll be ever so pleased to see you back.'
Curborough Track Day
28 July 2001
Well, not really a track day more like an afternoon in reality (2pm and finish at 5.30pm), but slowly we are getting organised. By the time you read this we will have started promoting the event. Kirsty is using her contacts in the bike press to get some promotion and Tigger is putting the details on the web site: www.nhca.co.uk just in case anyone doesn’t already know it. Ian Southerton will be trawling round some of the bike shops in the Midlands getting some of them to put up posters.
Now it’s your turn to get some of your friends, family or whatever to have a go. The price will be a measly £30 so no excuses there.
There’s little doubt that 2001 will be a difficult year for Hill Climbing largely thanks to Foot & Mouth, but also because the last two years has seen quite a few people move into other types of bike sport, so an event like the track day is an opportunity to introduce some new people to the sport.
The way that the event will run is that people from outside the regular Hill Climb fraternity will be given preferential treatment over regular riders. Any machine/rider of any age (over 16) will be allowed to enter so long as they hold a full bike licence and their bike is in sound condition and reasonably silenced. We hope to get people to book their ride rather than turn up on the day. If we cannot get enough entries then we will make it open to regular NHCA members who want a ride.
Entry forms are available now from me and I hope over the Internet once Tigger has performed his magic. As previously described riders will join the track at the middle of the Finish straight. From a standing start by the timing hut they will do a warm up lap followed by a flying lap which will be timed. The times will be made available for comparison purposes, but as this is not a competitive event no “results” will be published.
The maximum number of machines we are permitted is 35, so there should be plenty of runs for everybody. All we need to do is to fill the places and have a few volunteers on the day to help out with marshalling. If all the offers of assistance I have had come good that should not be too much of a problem especially now that Barbon has fallen victim of F&M.
Manor Farm - News
I have tonight driven down to Manor Farm (Charmouth) to have a chat to the farmer regarding September's event, and this is definitely on. I can foresee a even bigger problem with straw bales this year, as the Foot and Mouth has affected the very area in East Devon where we source our bales. We used to collect between 80 & 90 for this event, but by being very careful with placement have managed with 70ish for the last two events.
For this course we use six bales for the two electric poles and 4 at the finish for the lights and water trough. Has anyone got any clever ideas for a suitable replacement for the 60 bales needed under the bridge.? We have considered old tyres covered with a Tarpaulin, plastic sacks filled with foam, old mattresses ? Any comments much appreciated, in good time before the event so that we can clear with our Safety Officer.
You can give me a ring on 01460 30724, if no answer leave a message on 01460 30997. This is a real problem so get your thinking caps on. We have used about 10 different farmers over the years but many have either finished farming or gone over to big bales. One spring meeting we had to source from 3 different farms, to get enough. And another time Curly had to bring them from Bridgwater!
Please support this event in September as last year it made a loss. We know the course is not brilliant but it does offer, flushing loos and hot shower's, and is only 10 minutes walk from the beach.
AGM /Dinner Dance 2001
On 20th January, sixty-one people attended the annual Dinner Dance, the one social event we hold every year, an opportunity to applaud the people who have won awards through hard riding or untiring efforts to help the club put on events throughout the season. The Prince of Wales is a good location with a good ambience which is not over the top as some felt about The Grand Atlantic a few years ago. The food is good and there is a disco afterwards for those who want it, Geoff Sims videos and the bar for those who don’t, and you can stay overnight for a very reasonable price. So unless you decide to drink the bar dry, it needn’t cost much more than a two-day meeting.
Sixty-one might not sound like a bad turnout for a club with approximately one hundred and seventy five members, most of who are competitors. But having organised it for the first time this year, I have on my computer a list of who was there and by my reckoning there were just thirty-three competitors, the remainder being wives girlfriends guests etc. Some who turned up for the evening were not at the AGM where there were approximately sixty people mostly competitors. It’s not unreasonable to assume that overall approximately seventy NHCA members made the trip to the hotel but the majority did not go to the Dinner.
So what do you one hundred and seventy five members want us to do differently to get you to be sociable? Should we change the date back to before Christmas as it used to be? Would you prefer a more basic hotel, a louder disco or no disco at all or some other form of entertainment… my imagination starts to wander here. How about getting that group of cross dressers who appeared in Performance Bikes a while back to do a turn!
Seriously, Ladies and Gentlemen it’s a poor show if you can’t be bothered. It’s your club it is what you put into it. The last twelve months have not been good for a multitude of reasons most of which are tangible and can be addressed, but apathy is a serious problem which can ultimately affect a club to the point where it will impact on the clubs ability to run meetings. The turnout at the Dinner Dance was an unhealthy indicator. Your suggestions on how to make next year’s event better attended will be welcome.
From the Honey Jar
Well, since being elected as a committee member, I’ve not been able to do much. As we all know the F&M has curtailed a lot of events, (of which Robin & I have been trying to keep the latest info on the web site) and as of this moment I’ve not actually raced at all this year. Still, as they say “Every cloud has a silver lining” (Yeah, right, in cloud cuckoo land possibly). In this case, Hedgehog and I have been slogging our guts out working on our house. I’ve been told that it will be finished by Christmas. ‘Told’ being the operative word here! So the time and money has come in extremely useful!
Classic Prescott is going to be my first of the year, so the old Tricati has been drug out of it’s hidey hole (The back of a scrap van down the bottom of the field), washed, drained, charged and will hopefully be checked over and serviced. The other two, Hedgehog’s Slapper, and the YZ490 that continues to try to kill me, both had new engines last winter, finished off in a big rush for the start of the season… which didn’t. So they’ve been relegated to the Pontins Holiday Chalet until needed. As usual, most of the preparation work has been on the van, this year took nearly a week to prepare it, and I’m still not sure that it’ll pass it MoT!
The new bike is slowly taking shape, it was going to be a Rocati, it’s now a DuDa (pron: Doo-Daa) as it’s now got a Honda engine in it, an FT500 to be precise (for which I still owe Richard!). Hedgehog located a pair of Astralite wheels, complete with front end, slab yokes and massive alloy swingarm, the origin of which I have no idea as yet. As the DuDa is going to be road legal (if not eligible for the road legal class), a rather natty little nose fairing with headlight was acquired at the Bristol Classic Show (some people got paid for sitting on their bottoms at that show – not mentioning any names Mrs). There’s still a way to go, but the frame’s been altered to suit the engine, and will acquire a log book soon – that is unless Doug has the original one? Doug ?
The web site has been quite busy this year as more people come on line. I have put the membership application forms online, and we’ll think about the regs etc. (I just said think there – nothing else ! J ) I’ll be trying to update the look of the site as well. The technology and software for web site design is progressing exponentially, and I don’t have the time to keep up with it. Hopefully I’ll be putting a couple of flash movies on the site soon - that is if I can get a handle on the software of course.
I see that we had a little piece in MCN (well I didn’t see actually, but I heard from various sources, including several phone calls beginning “Hi, I got your number from MCN…”, so I actually bought a copy. It seems to have generated some interest, which is good. For those of you who were wondering what the hell http:\\www.kirel.fsnet.co.uk was, and why it wasn’t http:\\www.nhca.co.uk – I don’t know either. The kirel address is the actual server the pages sit on, and so works OK, but God knows how they got that address. Well, actually I do know how they probably did, but we can use this as an opportunity to push the track day whilst pushing the correct address too!
Well enough burbling from me. See you all at a hill somewhere!
P.S. I know Hedgehog is going to complain vociferously to me about the English grammar in this chunter, but I just wrote it and sent it off to Tony – as you should have all done!
French Hill Climb Adventure of ’97 (previously printed in the Gilera OC magazine)
Most exasperating hill climb experience of the year award for 1997 must go to the event held at Ger in France over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The NHCA had been invited to take part in this meeting as long ago as September ’96, and at first it sounded like a really good opportunity - special rates for the ferry crossing etc. The hassle began when the NHCA checked with the ACU about licences. In 1983 I did the Limonest-Mont Verdun hill climb near Lyons in company with three other British competitors. In those days you could get a one-day international licence at a reasonable cost but now you have to hold an annual European A or B licence according to the type of event. After much confusion it was decided that we must all be issued with new ‘B’ licences and Robin Sims the Secretary of the Meeting for the NHCA had the task of co-ordinating all the entries and licence applications - thanks Robin! The total cost of the entry including the licence looked, even at that stage, like making the seconds/pound on the bike rate pretty high even allowing for the fact that the course is 2.2 kms.
Once it was certain that we were definitely going I booked us a 5-day return crossing from Portsmouth to Cherbourg which compared reasonably with the Magic Holidays Ramsey 5000 package as fortunately Robin’s trailer, which we had elected to take, was just eligible for the 3 metre rate. After a comfortable night crossing in a cabin we were soon on our way down through Normandy when we spotted a small band of other NHCA riders pulled in at a cafe. We joined them for coffee and then tagged on to the end of the convoy. On first arriving at the venue things looked good as we drove down the course to the paddock. The hill was being prepared to a high standard with loads of straw bales being deployed to protect the ‘Armco’ which lined some of the bends. Our first impressions were that it was going to be a very fast course. British hill-climbers are used to fairly basic paddocks and can cope without much in the way of facilities given the usually small entries. When we learned that there would be no drinking water and two fairly crude loos to cater for 130 riders and their ‘equipes’ plus the potential for loud rock music until the early hours we decided to camp elsewhere! First port of call was the home of the organiser Remy who had invited us to camp in a field next to his home, but on enquiring where we could use the loo he told us we could walk into the village. At this point several of us decided that we would rather go to the nearest proper campsite with showers etc.! Our little convoy eventually found a municipal site not too far away and though even that proved a little basic and ‘foreign’ for some of the more sensitive souls amongst us I have stayed on worse sites during my travels in France.
Remy had greeted us with a very pleasant aperitif and then proceeded to inform us that virtually none of our bikes would pass scrutineering! This meeting was to be the final round of the French National Hill Climb Championship and was being run to FIM regulations which required machines to be prepared to the same standards as international road races. This was OK for many of the French competitors as we had already noted the number of vans in the paddock run by participants in world endurance racing. One of our best prospects for prize money spent the whole day drilling and wiring all his brake line unions and a few of us with road bikes were faced with totally removing the lights. Having experienced scrutineering at a French event before I suspected that in common with the usual European approach to rules and regulations these strict requirements would be more honoured in the breach than observance. We considered mounting an en-masse blockade of the hill if necessary on the lines of - ‘if we don’t ride - nobody does’: just the kind of direct action they understand in France! As it turned out my predictions were correct and the paperwork took longer than the machine examination with not one machine being failed after a cursory effort which would not have passed muster at the most grass roots of events this side of the Channel.
Once scrutineering was out of the way we still had plenty of time to walk the hill. This amazed the local riders who took advantage of the public road still being open to buzz up and down the course on a variety of scooters or by the car-full. The impression still was of a very fast course, with much talk of Isle of Man gearing. The road surface looked nice and grippy but it seemed pretty ripply to me, particularly towards the edges on the inside of some bends. The first (un-timed) practice) runs eventually got under way and we were impressed with the start-line system of lights which seemed to get riders off on their way in very quick succession. As I had suspected the Nordie’s poor front damping did not like the bumps and the bike was shaking its head and trying to stand up on nearly every bend. The bumpiness tended to limit the power you could get down and so everyone reported that in fact maximum speed attained was nothing like as high as on the ‘short’ ( 2.2 Km ) Isle of Man hill.
During the first timed practice things started to go wrong. It appeared that even the most minor of incidents resulted in long delays even if there was no injury to the unfortunate rider. The arrangements for recovering machines were non-existent and communication between the officials confused so much time was spent waiting at the start line or after the finish in the baking heat. The day ended particularly badly for one of our number driving his own designed and built three-wheeler car. As a result of an incident just before his first run he did not get a proper attempt at the sharpest corner towards the top of the hill. On his next climb he went into this right-hand hairpin too fast and stuffed the car into the bank thus trashing the front suspension. He was the last machine up the hill and so we all assisted him to recover the car using his own trailer. Another pleasant evening was spent around the barbecues on the campsite without consuming too much red wine in view of an early start the next day.
Sunday morning dawned very misty and on arriving back at the paddock it was clear that the start of racing would have to be delayed due to poor visibility. By the time the final practice could start a lot of time had been lost and then the French road-racers began pressing on too hard and falling off so leading to even more delays. To be fair, there were some very fast riders competing on top class machines and it was the final of the championship with everything to go for. Even our quickest competitors were way off the pace except for a rider from Jersey on a very quick 250. The capacity classes meant that I was in the over 600 class (by all of 4cc!) and therefore on the smallest bike in the class by far with half the engine capacity of several of the leaders and the only single. At least I managed to keep ahead of an 851 Ducati, and I was also quicker than a TL1000 Suzuki in what seemed to be a ‘not serious racers class’. I bet that was a handful on the bumps !
Despite being so behind schedule the traditional French two-hour lunch was enjoyed so that the official timed runs were very late in starting. Once again people started to fall off and then a sidecar crashed at the hairpin and set fire to the straw bales. A few of us were left waiting at the top of the hill for over an hour whilst the local fire brigade were sent for. I have to say that very few fire extinguishers were in evidence.
To cap it all there then came an announcement asking for Dick, our grounded three-wheeler pilot, to unload his car so that his trailer could be used to recover the outfit! Given the effort it had required to load it he understandably declined and the machine was eventually retrieved with the aid of a farm tractor. By the time the over-600s were called for their second timed run it was nearly 5 o’clock. As I joined the queue another incident stopped the proceedings and deciding that I had had enough I returned to the paddock and climbed out of my leathers. About 30 minutes later the meeting was abandoned as the unfortunate rider who had fallen was taken to hospital with a broken leg. The doctor had accompanied him and as the road had to be opened again the meeting was abandoned. So I ended up getting only four runs with a best time of just over 90 seconds and Robin had got the Husky up 5 or 6 seconds quicker at the cost of cracking a couple of welds on the exhaust system as result of the bumps.
All in all not a totally satisfactory event organisationally. The hill was challenging but I still think I prefer Lerghy Frissel. We now hear that it is unlikely to be used again. There was the consolation however of all being presented with a bottle of wine and a locally made vase, so we all took a pot home!
Dos & Don’ts of Marshalling
Herman gave me some good tips when I volunteered for this duty many years ago.
Any hill is divided up into blocks. The marshal is responsible for the block from where he is standing to the next marshal position down the hill. All marshals need to stand so that they can see the flag before them (or start) and the flag that follows them (or finish). The most important people are the starter (timekeeper) and the person at the finish as they control the hill. Therefore we put the novice marshals in the middle. They should be told to watch the competitors through their 'block' and until they exit and pass the next flag. They should then keep their eye on that flag until they hear the next machine coming, this is vital especially if more than one machine is on the hill at any one time. If they are looking down the hill they will not know if anyone has gone off higher up the course. This is when the whistle comes in handy.
Here's a little bit for the Hillclimber which may be of use.
Item one -
The Science Museum at RAF Wroughton near Swindon is having an open day on Sunday 24 June. As part of the event the 'VMCC Sprint Section' are running a 1/4 mile twin-lane sprint to which entries are invited. Should any NHCA members feel like giving the sidewalls a rest a bit, day entries will be available (£27.50) as well as day membership to the VMCC (£5). The day membership fee for the VMCC is controlled by the 'VMCC' and not the 'VMCC Sprint Section'. Your ACU licence covers sprints too and the scrutineering is basically the same. Hopefully the only thing you'll need to do is add a racing number for the day. Scrutineering is scheduled to be from 08:00 to 10:00am. Please note that there is no access before 08:00.
The Museum holds many 'large' items belonging to the Science Museum including vehicles, which I'm told makes very interesting viewing.
Diary date: VMCC Sprint Section Double Header of 1/8 straight then separate
twisty at Eelmoor near Aldershot Sunday 19 August.
Item two -
Rockingham Motor Speedway near Corby Northants had its official opening on
Saturday 26 May. Rockingham is the first purpose built race track in the UK since Brooklands, and what's more, it's a banked 'oval' that will be running the American Indy cars later in the year. Within the oval is there's the 'Historic' flat twisty circuit which is used for events like the Coys Historic Festival. Nigel Mansell demo'd an Indy car at an average of over 160 mph on unraced tarmac that is fantastically smooth (I got to do some parade laps and smooth ain't the word!), the corners being banked to maximum 7.9 degrees with minimum banking being 3.1 degrees, then proceeded to entertain by doing huge donuts and burn outs!!
The circuit is an all-seater with massive grandstands allowing viewing of just about all of the 1.5 mile oval. The race featuring the V8 Anglo-American Stock Cars (ASCAR similar to NASCAR) had the cars duelling two abreast lap after lap, somewhat untypical to racing (car racing I mean, we all know about the bikes) in Europe. Channel 5 and Eurosport are, I think going to cover some events during the
Item three -
Fed up with Top Gear not showing enough bikes? Well, according to a BBC Top Gear cameraman who rides a bike, it's all down to the lady who runs the programme being, how shall I say this, not ‘bike friendly’. It seems that many of the team including a female presenter ride bikes, but alas not much coverage. It would seem the best way, according to our biker camera dude, to try and get some two wheel coverage is to drop a letter to the good ol' beeb and voice your opinion. Well it's an idea isn't it ?!!
At the age of 51 I felt after giving up sidecar racing 20 odd years ago the urge to compete again. Hillclimbing looks safe and easy I thought, I'll show all those lads on crossers a thing or two, and anyway Keith said it would be fun.(never trust a man who wants to hillclimb a V-Max).
Gurston 26 May, 1st practice. Off I go on my crosser beating Monster, 34 seconds piece of p..s. Safe, easy b------s a very untidy and slow 44 seconds later a slightly frightened and humbled silly bugger arrived at the top of the hill.
It’s funny how things look easy from behind a fence.
Just thought I'd drop you a note to let you know what's going on with me. The Raptor is rebuilt after the big spill. I got most of it sorted before Christmas then had a few parts that took ages to turn up (brake fluid reservoirs). Well, once finished in February I rode it home from the workshop and fell off on a roundabout... could have cried. Two new tyres, cold weather and a salty road were enough to have a two-wheel wash out at 30mph. No matter how I justify it, I still feel a bit of a fool, it was bad enough falling off at the meeting but at least I had inexperience on my side on that occasion.
Anyway, I bit the bullet and purchased some more new parts and again had a long wait. It’s a lesson to learn for me that most new bikes are a bit of a parts bin creation, only the 'styling' bits are actually Cagiva bits, the rest can be found on other bikes. So this time quick as a shot (after two months of waiting) I decided to check out other bikes for the fluid reservoirs (obviously they got damaged when I fell off.... the most difficult parts to get hold of!), and yes the back one is also seen on nearly every Ducati and the front one is on several Triumphs, so three days later I got the parts I needed. There was a time when the dealer would have known this! Finally now the bike is roadworthy, and is again pressed into service as my trusty commuter. Don't seem to have quite the confidence as I had, but its getting better!
At last I have got to the bottom of the clutch problem. The central hub inner has a floating part that unloads the clutch on overrun, from the wear marks on it there was a problem occurring during high loads, this was causing it to snatch when leaving the line. Things are much improved now I have fitted a 'drag racing' clutch mod kit intended for the Hyabusa, the clutch is basically the same.
I'm moving house in early July (hopefully) so things are in a bit of a panic here, boxes and disorganisation, as well as that Amanda is now pregnant, we are expecting our first child in late November.
Doesn't rain till it pours! ... still I'm not a jaffa!, after all these years and no near misses I was starting to wonder.
I need to get my leathers fixed properly and get a new helmet (I guess the bits stuck on mine now contravene the regs.) Other than that I am still very keen, and would like this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and assistance with my spill (and not making me feel too stupid), and generally for everyone’s welcome and encouragement towards us new kids.
Hope to see you all soon. Regards,
Bryn Bach Park – 20 May 2001
I still don’t know why I volunteered for this, but never mind!
Bryn Bach was the first hill climb that several others and I have competed in this year. In fact, apart from a Supermoto I did in March (which I won’t go in to as I finished about 60th out of approximately 90!) this is the second time I’ve ridden my bike since September last year!
On walking the hill, there were no new surprises. In fact all the fencing at the end of the fast uphill straight had been removed (luckily for Dave ‘Tubby’ Baker who had a close inspection on his first practice run!). No problem I thought until I saw that a steel gate post had been erected on the inside of the final left hand bend to pen in animals due to the foot and mouth breakout. I hope this is removed for the next round.
Anyway, Bryn Bach turned out dry and sunny so it looked like we would have a good day and racing. Got off to a flying start. (well it started just after 12 o’clock!). Practice was uneventful (apart from Tubby’s off-road excursion) and it was nice to do the timed runs before lunch. Paul Jeffery got first and second places and I managed third. Strangely, all the times were slower than normal by nearly a second. Paul seemed to think the steel post was putting people off, but I think it may be down to lack of time on the bikes. .It will be interesting to see how other people fair throughout the year.
The top ten, sorry twelve!! run off ended again with Paul first, Gerald second and myself third.
Nick Beale did himself proud and won the quad bike class. Good tactics actually because he was the only one in the class!!
After lunch we had two open runs. As I was about to put the bike on the trailer another run was announced… and then another….. So we had four opens in total. In retrospect it was a fun day and that’s what it’s all about.
As a final few notes, it was nice to see Rolty racing again, let’s hope we see him again soon. Also don’t try to race an RD350 and a CR500. They are so totally different that riding one messes up your riding the other! (well, that’s my excuse anyway!)
And finally it was good to see several new faces including Paul Barker on a CBR600 who did a 31.55. Second run-watch out Dave Wills!!
Don’t forget Bryn Bach’s championship round is on the 5 August 2001. Regs are available from Russ Evans.
Gurston Down – 26/27 May 2001
A passenger returns!
I got Tony’s e-mail begging for pieces for The Hillclimber so I thought I'd jot down a few things about Gurston.
Last summer I heard rumours that Terry Alderslade was looking for a passenger as he had decided to compete in the most exciting class - trikes! This set my brain ticking and I thought it might be fun to start racing again after a six-year break. Terry had a couple of other interested parties including Hedgehog, so back in February we all met up at Westonzoyland for a short trial run. We all had a quick go, decided that we would be game and would split the meetings up between us. I said I would do Gurston and before I knew it was May and I was at Gurston.
1st practice and Terry said he would be testing the braking down the hill as he had had a few problems at Scarborough which he hoped he had sorted out (so did I!). Coming up to the line the course looked quite short and I wasn't worried. The lights changed and off we went. All I could think was - Oh my god, stop I want to get off! That down hill stretch seemed to go on for ever and I was absolutely terrified. We got round Karousel and hit Deer's leap, pulled a wheelie and I landed on Terry's back, managed to scrabble back and get out for Ashes, back in and on to the finish. We managed a stunning (not) time of 41.75 seconds! - it felt a lot faster! I thought what have I let myself in for, do I really want to do this, I must be mad. The trike was very twitchy but luckily Bill Chaplin was about to tell Terry how to adjust the trail.
2nd practice - Terry said he wouldn't be braking down the hill and I thought I don't want to do this! But there we were on the line and off we went. It was great, brilliant and I knew I was going to enjoy it. I have a theory that Terry scared me so much on the first run anything after that would seem like a piece of cake!
By 3rd practice we got down to a time of 39.94 seconds, the record is 33.81 seconds so a long way to go but at least we were improving. Terry had adjusted the trail again and was happier with it and had also let some air out the tyres on Bill’s advice. I found my seating position very different to Curly’s old trike (the green one - that's how long ago it was). My feet are much higher up and I found I was pivoting round the hand grip hence landing twice on Terry's back at Deer's leap. I had a chat with Livvy and Sandra and got some much-needed advice about passengering on an airplane wing (that's what it feels like!).
Sunday - we hoped to knock a second a run off our time to get down to 36 seconds but things never go to plan and we only managed 37.81 seconds by the end of the day, but it’s a good starting point for the next Gurston. On the final run Terry told me to hang on as he was going to warm the tyres up on the start line. Fine I thought, first time great - no problem, second time Terry dumps the clutch and up comes the front wheel, back down it goes and up go I, pivoting over that hand grip again and smacking Terry's helmet with mine before landing back in my seat – very embarrassing. Obviously everyone thought it very funny (well, it was) and when we came back down the hill all the start line marshals were 'pulling wheelies' - how long before we live that down!
So what was everyone else doing - well I'm afraid I don't know I was too interested in what we were doing! Jamie Mitchell dropped it at Karousel (so he should be writing a report too) but he was okay. Grant and Pam were very pleased with their times in the Buckland, dropping over a second on their previous times at Gurston. I have spoken to Sandra Wills and the winning times were:
250cc – Mark Short 37.55; 350cc – Robin Sims 35.25; 500cc – Paul Jeffery 33.32; 750cc – Dave Wills 34.69, 1300cc – Doug Parnell 35.73; 2-wheel drive – Terry Alderslade & Kim Ursell 37.81; 1-wheel drive – Harry & Carol Foster 40.96.
Odds & Ends
Mike Shorter emailed to point out that there was a piece about a prospective classic Supermoto series in Old Bike Mart (page 10 of the June issue). He thinks that many of the bikes we ride would probably be suitable.
Also, it was nice to see a mention for hillclimbing in Motor Cycle News. Let’s see if this generates some interest from newcomers.
Andrew Bennett’s new acquisition both got a mention in Old Bike Mart in a report on the Thundersprint at Southport in May. The device is a Norton fame fitted with an early 1950s 1100cc V twin JAP engine, normally to be found in the rear-engined Cooper hillclimb cars. Are we likely to see this beast on the hills, Andrew? Having written this Jamie Mitchell’s report of Gurston (which arrived too late for inclusion and will be held over to next Hillclimber) notes that Andrew had the big JAP in action. Well done.
Newsletter of The National Hill Climb Association Ltd
Editor: Tony Quinn, 3 Chard Close, Nailsea, Bristol, BS48 4QA
Tel. 01275 854789 (7pm-10pm weekdays, any time weekends)
Club Web Site: www.nhca.co.uk
Results Web Site: www.sims703.freeserve.co.uk
Here’s your May Hillclimber. I’m afraid it’s a bit thin, but that’s because there’s been very little by way of contributions. Maybe it’s too early in the season. Many thanks to Jamie Mitchell in particular who is not only a very active rider, but who has also taken the trouble to write two articles for this issue. Thanks too to Pete Fisher for both acting as entry secretary for the April Loton and doing the necessary as report writer.
I hear of a number of folk falling off, but not many of them seem to be writing reports. Some of them may well be pulling their weight in organising events etc., speaking of which I heard that Doug Parnell did a nasty at the 500OC Wiscombe on 1 May. But there are a few of you out there who could usefully put pen to paper occasionally. So, IF YOU FALL OFF OR DO SOMETHING DAFT, YOU WRITE THE REPORT. If two of you fall off, one can write the report and the other can write something else, ‘My favourite hill’ or maybe a limerick… now, there’s an idea. If you have never written anything before and need a template report (a bit like Jasper Carrot’s all-purpose country song), I will be happy to provide an outline report. All you have to do is fill in the blanks.
From the Chair
Doug Parnell has been up to Harewood scouting the course to see what it’s like from a two-wheeler point of view. The course is currently awaiting ACU inspection, but hopefully this will be completed well in time for our meeting on 25 August. Harewood is a lovely course, 1500 yards long at least and we are very grateful for the invitation.
Also, for those either living in Northern parts or those who fancy some ’climbing in Yorkshire, the Auto 66 Club organises an excellent series of twisty sprints and hillclimbs which are well supported. For details, please write to Auto 66 Club, The Circuit Office, Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough, N Yorks, YO11 2YW.
However, we don’t seem to be doing too well for entries in the early part of this season. We have some excellent events coming up including an additional Shelsley Walsh with a larger entry on 7 July as well as the traditional invitation meeting in August.
There’s always something unexpected on the administrative side. The ACU have requested that we have an up to date certified Clerk of the Course at each of our meetings. This must be a person who (a) is not competing, (b) has completed the one-day ACU course and (c) has sent off notification to the ACU that they have recently acted so as to keep their certification valid. We have some members who have completed the ACU training day, but as the ACU hasn’t been made aware of their ‘currency’, there is a suggestion that their qualification may have lapsed. At the moment I am negotiating furiously with the ACU so that we can hold all the scheduled events.
I was invited recently to the Channel Islands to carry out track inspections on a number of hillclimb and twisty sprint courses. This took me not only to Jersey and Guernsey, but also to Alderney. I have promised Tony an article for the next Hillclimber.
Nothing much to report on the bike front. I took the magneto off and asked Henry Body to look it over. We’ll see how it goes at the 500 OC Wiscombe which will be over by the time you read this.
Please do not telephone Event Secretaries at the last moment for an entry.
Remember to look at the events list. Opening and closing dates are clearly stated.
If you have lost your events list, a phone call to me or Tony will produce one by return of post.
Don’t forget to send stamped addressed envelopes with your request for entry forms and also with your completed entry form if you want to be sent the results.
Any queries about events, please ring us on 01392 436880.
Dave and Sandra Wills
Harewood – Event Secretary
Mrs M Woods
168 Huddersfield Road
Loton Park – 1 April 2002
It has been a few years since bikes were last at an Easter Loton meeting and Easter was particularly early this year. This combination of circumstances seems to caught several people unprepared, so many thanks to those who contacted me in time to get in an entry, in view of the Hagley Club phoning to ask for a firm number of machines before I had even received the first completed entry form other than my own. Particular thanks are due to the classic/vintage contingent who made up the majority of the entry. Also, to Robin, Geoff, Ian and Doug for scrutineering, stewarding and general advice.
The one day format helped to keep the waiting time down, but kept me fit walking up and down the paddock road keeping tabs on when it was time for our next run. We hope to improve communication with the start line marshals next time and/or set up base closer to the start.
The first runs prompted a little over enthusiastic throttle operation by a couple of competitors including Jason Reeve managing to spit his passenger out on the approach to Museum. Fortunately Robin Sims' mate Benny arrived to spectate just in time to lend a replacement helmet so that subsequent runs could be completed without complicated logistics. The early dampness dried up nicely by the first timed run and respectable times were put in by most. Newcomers Paul Jarrett and Gavin Lloyd had already showed that their supermoto experience forms an excellent introduction to hillclimbing by getting under 70 seconds on their first ever attempts at their first ever hill climb course.
By the last run the expected rain had arrived and so not surprisingly nobody improved their times any further and Tony Madgwick's thumb unfortunately protested at the treatment meted out by his earlier fall too much for him to take his. Several car competitors opted not to take their second runs so allowing time for a top six run off for bikes. Paul Jarrett not being content with solo FTD proceeded to also take maximum overall championship points on a thoroughly wet track as Jason lost too much time off the start line to press home his lead going in to the run off.
A warning – I go on holiday to France for three weeks the day after entries close for the August meeting so there will be no point at all in trying to get hold of me to be squeezed in late.
Wadebridge – 13/14 April 2002
First Wadebridge weekend of the year, only 25 bikes on Saturday. The weather bright but with a little nip in the air, and plenty of rides for everyone. Paul Jeffery won the 250s, Martin Short the 350s and I managed to beat Paul again in the 500s, this can't go on forever ? Geoff won a closely fought battle in the 750s with Alan Jolly Hockey Sticks 2nd and Jon "all right maaaate" Staden 3rd. Only one sidecar entry, the Keates, but then Stu turned up and asked me to passenger for him. I did one practice and then Suzie his old passenger with the dodgy kneecap, said she would like a go to see if her knee was up to Road Racing. All the official bits done she jumped in and felt OK for the rest of the day. I was a bit relieved as Stu had finally got the thing to run right and it was actually quite scary in there.
The meeting was all finished by 3 pm, so we set off to Rock for a couple of pints. Bill took us to the Upper Deck which had a top storey balcony overlooking the Camel estuary and Padstow. It was a beautiful afternoon and the view was stunning. We then drove over to Polzeath and walked up to the Atlantic Hotel, which overlooks Polzeath Beach and the Atlantic, obviously. (Cornish Tourism bit here, I won't mention the Eden Project, nothing but plants and traffic jams).
We had our year 2000 awards down in the Caravan park in the evening, the one we got banned from 5 years ago. Local bike author Jeremy Jackson done the honours and the Devon Cornwall rivalry was left all square on the Pool table. Judge who lives there got that pissed in the afternoon, he forgot all about us over in the club, I had to go and drag him out at about 10.30. I must thank Judge and Doreen for all their help in supplying Caravans. Everyone who wanted to stay had a big mobile home for a tenner.
After a freezing night in our caravan (forgot to put the heating on) we woke up to wet roads. After a very slippery practice session, the sun made an appearance, so it was decided to have a long dinner break, to see if the track would dry out. The gamble paid off and battle commenced.
Paul again won the 250s but this time had the Shorts to beat, Martin again showed he's going to give absentee Robin some grief this year, and my luck finally ran out, with Paul pipping me on the 2nd run to take the 500ss. Geoff took the 750s which looks like being the class to be in this year, with Jon 2nd and Pete 3rd on his "for sale VOR". The Keates had it all their own way on Sunday as Stu saw the rain and kept the outfit in the van, just like he did at Tregrehan, he must have turned into a southern wuss, living down here for so long now.
That just leaves the Top 10. No dramas here, Paul put in a blinder to set FTD with me 2nd and Geoff 3rd, must have been the beard trimming that did it. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Plenty of rides and weather not to bad, Judge just about tolerable, hope to see you all in September.
1 P Jeffery 38.76
2 P Jenkins 39.56
3 G Webber 40.65
4 B Hallett 52.05
5 C Keates 54.82
1 M Palmer 38.97
2 D Whitney 42.16
3 P Jenkins 42.39
4 D Harris 45.80
1 J Mitchell 38.00
2 P Jeffery 38.41
3 M Palmer 39.20
4 G Hodges 41.12
5 A Jolly 41.54
1 G Hodges 39.40
2 A Jolly 39.89
3 J Staden 40.19
4 D Whitney 41.67
5 R Bowker 44.38
1 P Keates 41.58
2 S Stobbart 43.45
1 P Jeffery 43.49
2 P Short 45.20
3 G Webber 45.98
4 P Jenkins 46.26
5 M Short 46.42
1 M Palmer 44.12
2 D Whitney 47.21
3 P Jenkins 47.31
4 D Harris 51.71
1 P Jeffery 42.53
2 J Mitchell 42.77
3 M Palmer 44.55
4 G Hodges 45.81
5 S Hill 47.87
1 G Hodges 43.86
2 J Staden 44.31
3 P Short 45.08
4 A Jolly 45.86
5 G Emery 47.08
1 P Keates 46.39
1 P Jeffery 42.44
2 J Mitchell 42.65
3 G Hodges 43.46
4 J Staden 43.94
5 M Palmer 44.32
6 A Jolly 44.48
Tregrehan – 31 March 2002
Easter Tregrehan was up to its usual standard this year, two glorious days leading up to the event and then midnight tolls on Saturday night and the heavens open. The paddock was damp and soft and the track damp and muddy.
20 bikes braved the scramble-like conditions, luckily the rain stayed away most of the day. 60 cars had to negotiate the paddock trials section before reaching the sanctuary of the tarmac and this is where the meeting was ruined. A mixture of mud and straw all over the start line. Rumour has it that Dingle had Judge picking it all up to take home and start building a Cob wall bungalow overlooking Polzeath beach. When it's finished he'll flog it to some geezer from London for half a million, bargain Mr Staden.
Anyway Pete Short took FTD on his little tiddler 2-stroke with a time of 23.01. He did this time on the 2nd practice run but all the riders agreed beforehand that Pete's a wan???, sorry, agreed beforehand that, with the car club only having 3 runs to avoid more damage to the grounds, that we would only have 1 practice run and 2 timed runs.
Paul Jeffery followed in 2nd place with a 3 year old Michelin on the back, with Mark Short third. In the 350s, Paul Jenkins took his bored-out Kawasaki to the class win ahead of Dave Harris and Tregrehan Virgin Les Wilson. I managed to pip Paul for the 500s and just missed FTD by .09 of a second, Mr Jolly Hockey Sticks was third with another virgin Kevin James 4th. The shock of the day was in the biggest supported class the 750s. Jon Staden who had got up at 2am in the morning to get to Tregrehan took his new KTM to a surprise win after binning the Dunlop, it was sporting at Hartland and replacing it with a Michelin. Pete Short came in 2nd on his (for sale) VOR and Gerald Spiers 3rd on his (sold my VOR) Chutney Velo Yamaha. Gerald was able to play with himself in the 1300s on that 916 again, brave boy, fancy playing with yourself on a 916 in front of that big crowd (honest the car park was surprisingly busy).
See you at Wadebridge or wherever,
PS. I'm looking for some old results to try and trace where my dad had ridden and if anybody has any from the list below I would appreciate copies, I'll pay for any postage.
Tregrehans 1980 - 1985
Wadebridge 13 Sept. 1980
Tredegar July 1993 2 days (for me)
Loton Park 21 Aug. 1983
1 P Short 23.01
2 P Jeffery 24.28
3 M Short 24.83
4 P Jenkins 25.28
5 G Webber 25.88
1 P Jenkins 26.08
2 D Harris 28.36
3 L Wilson 30.53
1 J Mitchell 23.10
2 P Jeffery 23.58
3 A Jolly Hockey Sticks 25.24
4 K James 29.71
1 J Staden 23.58
2 P Short 23.74 Fell off on last run Should be writing this !!
3 G Spiers 23.93
4 A Jolly Hockey Sticks 24.21
5 M Short 25.39
6 P Barker 27.49
7 R Bowker 28.04
1 G Spiers 26.27
£25 Special Offer for first timers
Don’t forget that this offer is available for 2002 to any rider wishing to enjoy their first competitive meeting with the NHCA. It includes entry to the event, ACU day licence, day membership to NHCA (if not already joined) and a free Hillclimber as a follow-up. It is available for the following events –
¨ Manor Farm
¨ September Wiscombe
¨ End of Season Hartland
Any new competitor may take advantage only once. When returning the entry form, mark it ‘£25 Offer’ and be prepared to complete the one-day licence form on the day.
Copy by 10 July for publication by 20 July.
Newsletter of The National Hill Climb Association Ltd
Editor: Tony Quinn, 3 Chard Close, Nailsea, Bristol, BS48 4QA
Tel. 01275 854789 (7pm-10pm weekdays, any time weekends)
Club Web Site: www.nhca.co.uk
Results Web Site: www.sims703.freeserve.co.uk
Please note the change of email address above. The old address is no longer any good.
Everyone must be too busy riding to write, but I hear that there have been some well-supported events. Having competed in non-NHCA events (cries of ‘shame!’) at Loton, Oulton and Cadwell, we entered the July Shelsley, but with Cathy holding the steering wheel and me trying to hold my bottle.
Shelsley is host annually to a select few invited to the August meeting, so it was very generous of the Midland Auto Club to offer us a second invitation this year. The bike entry of 25 was well over-subscribed at this superb and well-run venue. Spectator interest in the bikes was very apparent, both on the hill and in the paddock, as was the admiration of the two wheeler brigade expressed by a couple of car entrant/drivers we chatted to whilst observing at the start.
Many thanks to Andy Briggs for doing all the organising and giving us a serious pep talk prior to the first, and very slippery, practice run to ensure that we all behaved ourselves. Thankfully the weather improved very quickly and the sun shone on the righteous. Jason Reeve smashed the 2-wd 3 wheeler record and it was wonderful to see Ewan Cameron piloting the ex-Cyril Hale Halec-JAP, on which Harry Voice occasionally rode shotgun – see David Childs’ appreciation of Harry.
It’s good to learn of other hill climbing events across the Channel. As you’ll see from reading Doug Parnell’s article, he and Andrew Bennett had an unforgettable time in Italy when they competed (on Italian bikes of course) recently at Nalles in Northern Italy. Many thanks for the article.
Finally, I think your Hillclimber should have a new editor. I’ve been doing this for about four years and reckon I’m getting a bit stale. The Hillclimber needs someone a bit younger and certainly more mainstream than someone with an old three-wheeler. Please give it some thought before the AGM in late November. If you’d like some idea of what’s involved, please give me a call or button-hole me at Wiscombe.
Odds and Sods
· Tigger has received some information about the possibility of participating in a twisty sprint at Dunkeswell on the Somerset/Devon borders. Maybe for 2003?
· It would be appreciated if riders unable to complete their runs for any reason could inform the secretary of the meeting or some other official. This is especially important where there is a paying public and a commentator, e.g. Prescott and Gurston.
· Geoff Sims kindly provided this extract from ‘Shell Successes 1953 – The Hill Climb Season’ by Ken Wharton…. “Hill climbs offer one of the few chances of comparing the performance of a motorcycle with that of a car, since a special motorcycle class has become a feature of certain meetings. How evenly they are matched is remarkable. Yes, there is plenty to see both in action and in the paddock – so come along and watch us some time.”
Ken Wharton put up the fastest time at Prescott in May, at Shelsley Walsh in June and August, driving a Cooper. He also did 2nd fastest time of the day at these meetings driving an ERA. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the actual times. Geoff Sims asks ‘Does anyone ever enter two cars these days?’ The above is interesting due to the fact that, at the Prescott Hill Climb on 8 June, Jason Reeve and Steve Hoole recorded the fastest time for cars and bikes, and on 9 June John Woods did likewise.
· Some of you may remember Matt Isaac, Peter’s nephew, who ran a 600 Honda in road trim at some events a while ago. Peter reports that Mat is currently working for the McLaren Formula 1 Team’s test team and enjoying it greatly.
· As this is being written, negotiations are continuing for the Harewood event in August. The organisers are being extremely helpful but as it is not a regular bike course there are one or two safety issues to be resolved with the ACU. Let’s hope they get sorted and that our members enjoy a good day with no ‘nasties’ so that we get invited again in due course.
· Doug Parnell advises that there was a good article about the NHCA in a recent issue of Performance Bike. Let’s hope it acts as an incentive for newcomers to join in the fun.
· It’s now possible to download some entry forms from the club web site – www.nhca.co.uk
· More articles, snippets, needed always. Nothing, well hardly anything, turned away.
· Doug’s tailpiece to his article reminds one that the Italian car manufacturers have a knack for choosing unfortunate names for their models. Does anyone remember the Lancia ‘Dedra’ or the unhappily titled Fiat ‘Argenta’ (introduced at about the time of the Falklands conflict)?
My Experience at Shelsley Walsh- Sunday 7 July 2002
Many of you may be surprised that I was allowed to drive at Shelsley Walsh but at the beginning of the year a deal was struck. This stated that Dad (TQ) would compete in the Morgan Motor Company Challenge Series and I would mainly compete in NHCA (National Hill Climb Association) events, particularly Shelsley as it had instantly become a favourite two years ago when we raced there. I agreed to this because Dad had a chance of going for the pump fuel trophy whilst the NHCA have a range of interesting and varied hills that provide a range of valuable experiences. The meetings are also fairly relaxed with friendly people, great for first-timers wanting to have a little go.
As the majority of you know Dad’s preparations tend to be fairly limited. The main exception to this rule is ‘Gearing’. This takes hours using ‘Excel’ to create various charts using lots of numbers which are then translated into the actual chains and sprockets, which apparently are the basis for my two gears. The tickover was set higher in an attempt to stop me stalling the car in the paddock. I feel this was actually psychological rather than practical. The clutch was also changed for this event, as the other one was ‘not the best’. I do know this was called a diaphragm clutch and was very springy but maybe even less effective at the end of the day. The clutch is an ongoing problem so feel free to suggest any ideas (just not too expensive – remember this is TQ). There were probably other alterations I’m not aware of as the driver rather than mechanic although still quick to criticise if I feel the car is at fault and if not then it is still best to try and blame the car!
Meanwhile I had my own preparations. There was no time for extensive polishing because I had reading to do. As it turned out it was a short article (the best kind) by Ken Wharton who was famous as hillclimbing champion in the 1950s. This particular article was about his experiences at Shelsley in his Cooper. It was interesting and gave an insight into the various corners and the speed in which to take them. We also pulled a map of Shelsley off the Internet and discussed at what points the gear changes and braking should take place. This is only my third hillclimb and I still have an enormous amount to learn and try to benefit for Dad’s and anyone else's experiences. Mike Sythes, a friend of Dad’s advised me about my start at the Morgan club sprint about raising the revs gradually and releasing the clutch at the highest point to give a start that tends not to bog down.
When we first arrived the weather was terrible consisting of fine rain, which made the surface of the hill very slippery. It is always important when driving a hill for the first time to walk the course. Due to the steepness of Shelsley and limited time we only walked up to the entrance of the esses. This was extremely valuable because I could plan lines to take through the corners finalise gear change and braking points. This is all good theory but actually I just tried to get up the hill and the majority of everything else was forgotten. I describe it as learning to drive again. You have to concentrate on one aspect at a time and gradually bring everything together to create the best possible time.
Time in between runs at hill climbs can often be an extremely valuable opportunity to make minor and sometimes major adjustments. Luckily the car was running well and there was no need for any of this. The meant that the breaks between runs could be used to discuss the previous run and suggested improvements for the next run. My aim was to improve one aspect on each run, which would hopefully lead to a slightly improved time. I feel it is best to make small steady improvements rather than do anything drastic that could cause an accident.
Practice Run One: ~ this run is always the most nerve-wracking particularly at a new venue. I definitely felt more confident having walked the majority of the course beforehand. This run was in the wet so the tyre pressures were let down to give more grip. Jason Reeve, a fellow triker had also warned me that the start line had been resurfaced for extra grip but the rest of the hill would be exactly like an ‘ice rink’ due to the rain. This meant I needed to make a careful start and drive slowly to avoid losing control. I managed to arrive at the start without stalling the Morgan, which is a major plus as it needs to be bump started! I made a good start off the line but by this time I was unable to see hardly anything because my visor misted up apart from a very thin line where my eyes were. This meant I had to keep moving my head to see the relevant part of the track. As you may expect my loss of vision made me drive even slower to ensure safety. I think it was best, Dad didn't know this at the time he just thought I was being extra careful! I expect he thought the same of my extreme braking when arriving at the esses when in actual fact I hadn’t realised they were quite so steep and I have to say this was reaction to my slight panicking. The time was 69 seconds. However I couldn’t wait for my next run now because I had a better feel for the course.
Practice Run Two: ~ luckily by this time the course had dried out significantly although I was warned to be careful as patches of the track could still be wet and therefore slippery. To avoid the mist problem with my helmet I made sure the leave a thumb sized gap at the bottom of my visor and I reapplied some anti mist stuff called Rain-X. I had previously applied this to both Dad’s helmet and mine at home to help the mist problem, which had occurred previously. It seemed to have worked at the time when we were both walking round the house in our helmets to see if they would mist up! However, we came to the conclusion that the solution had to be applied on the day of use, which was the case because my helmet did not mist for the rest of the day.
This run was much improved on the last with a good start, a steady drive through Kennel and the Crossing, braking still way to early when approaching the esses and a faster sprint across the finishing line. I could not wait to find out my new time as I knew it was much improved on the last, so at the top of the hill Dad ran over to the timing hut to look on the sophisticated computer system but the time had not yet been registered. When we arrived back at the paddock we rushed to look at the other sophisticated computer equipment to find out they had a slight problem with the timekeeping apparatus. Yes, you guessed, it was possible that this could have been the driest run of the day and had no idea of the time. Could this mean I get another go? Apparently not! As you can imagine I was not impressed with this and therefore prayed all through lunch for it not to rain because I was going to have better dry run with a time!
Timed Run One: ~ luck was definitely on my side because it stayed dry and a lengthly lunchtime discussion gave me an idea of what aspects I would work on for this run. Kennel and the Crossing could be taken with more accelerator and a better line could be taken through the esses. I was able to use this theory and everything definitely seemed faster but the truth was in the time, which in this case was a 51. Dad was really pleased and so was I. I knew I had completed a good run and would be happy if this was my best. There was a problem still with the clutch, it was slipping and burning at the start (not my fault!) which was definitely losing me time.
Timed Run Two: ~ this has to be labelled the scariest run for both of us with mixed blame. First I managed to stall the Morgan before I arrived at the line which meant quickly finding willing volunteers to give a push. We or should I say Dad managed to get it started again so I didn’t miss my run. I made a good start but still the clutch was burning as I moved off the line so I did what I had been told which was to ease off the accelerator and then ease back on. This improved the situation although I still lost a small amount of time as a result. I was considerably faster and I think I had better line through Kennel and Crossing. I decided I would try and leave my braking a little later coming into the esses because the steepness of the hill also acts as a brake. However it was at this point that I could not get into first gear, which immediately resulted in lots of four letter words. This was good, as there was no time for any longer ones! By now I was in the corner of the first esse in neutral and heading straight for the sand bags so I pulled sharply on the steering wheel, revved the accelerator and jammed the lever into first. I drove quickly through the rest of the esses getting into second on the exit and putting my foot to the floor until I was across the finishing line. I was determined not to lose all too much time, as it had been such an excellent run. Indeed it still was I had achieved a 49-second time and a terminal speed of 62mph.
As with any hill what goes up must come down. I really enjoyed coming back down Shelsley because it allows you to realise just how steep it actually is. Also because you descend slowly it is another chance to look carefully at each corner for next time. I was told by Dad to go slower because braking distances are longer but I think it was nearly as much fun as going up.
Currently our Morgan is the only one that races with the NHCA, and they only give a first place in the three wheeler class. This includes lots of ‘trikey’ things, which go much faster than our Morgan ever will. However I was definitely the fastest Morgan on the day! During our lunch break I had admired the Shelsley Walsh mugs and Dad promised if both the car and myself were in one piece by the end of the day then he would buy me a mug. Therefore I was not only had a fun day, achieved a good time but also got myself a cup!
H A (Harry) Voice – An Appreciation
I had known Harry had been unwell for some time but it came as a shock to read, in Classic Racer, of his death at the age of 89 on (I believe) 6thMarch. Universally known as Harry or Les, it was only after I had known him many years that one of his former workmates told me the initials stood for Hereward Albert.
Harry will be unknown to younger members but in the late 1950’s and 1960’s he was one of the ‘stars’ of the hillclimb and sprint world and in the early and mid 1950’s he was a well known road racer.
He was tall with a fairly large nose set in a longish, slightly weatherbeaten and craggy face which didn’t seem to change much over the 30 plus years I knew him. On a bike he always looked very serious but off it he was a very down to earth, gentle, kind and modest man with a strong sense of humour and (when you knew him well) a strong Christian faith.
A life long motorcycle enthusiast he was fascinated by engines of all sorts (not just motorcycle) particularly racing and unusual types. He treated everyone (from expert to newest novice) as equals, was interested in how other riders were doing and had the ability to talk to much younger riders as if there was no age difference. He was always a pleasure to meet, always interesting to talk to and never lost his obvious enthusiasm.
Harry was born in the USA but grew up in Bodmin and considered himself a Cornishman. On leaving school he got a job in the Midlands but was laid off (with millions of others) in the depression. He then had a number of temporary jobs before obtaining a job building church organs for a Clevedon firm and stayed with them for most of the remainder of his working life.
The war years were spent in the Navy on fast motor boats. During this period two events occurred which changed the course of his life. Most importantly he met and married Vi but he also bought an elderly 350cc KTT Mk 4 Velocette racer with a view to ‘having a go’ when the war ended, having previously only owned road bikes. Years later when talking to me about this machine and the late 40’s he said “I thought I was in heaven and I just was!”
After the war Harry and Vi set up home in Clevedon and the Velo was entered in a few grass track meetings without much success, also (it is believed) in one or two sprints and possibly a hillclimb or two. Then in (I believe) 1949 Harry entered it for a road race meeting held on the sea front at Weston-Super-Mare and came 2nd in a 350cc heat and won the reserve race.
Following this success Harry started road racing at local meetings such as Blandford, Warminster, Thruxton, Castle Coombe etc and quickly acquired two more machines, a 350 KTT Mk 8 Velocette and a pre-war rigid framed 500 Excelsior-JAP. In the late 40’s and early 50’s many race meetings allowed dope fuel but some were restricted to petrol. The KTT Mk 4 and Excelsior ran on dope and the more modern Mk 8 KTT on petrol, giving competitive mounts for both.
The KTT Mk 8 was replaced after a few years by an AJS 7R and this, in turn, was followed, for a short period, by a 500 Manx Norton. He also bought a new 350cc plunger framed BSA Gold Star for the 1952 Clubman’s TT, sold it after the race and bought a 350 swing arm Goldie the following year which was kept for a couple of years.
Like most racers of the period Harry was attracted to the Isle of Man mountain circuit and competed in the following races:
1952 350 Clubman’s TT – BSA (plunger)
1953 350 Clubman’s TT – BSA (swing arm)
1953 350 & 500 Manx G.P. – 350 BSA & 500 Gilera
1954 350 & 500 Manx G.P. – 350 & 500 BSA’s
1955 350 & 500 Manx G.P. – AJS 7R
1957 350 & 500 Manx G.P. – AJS 7R
1958 500 TT – Manx Norton
The highlights of his I.O.M. racing were the 1953 Clubman’s TT when he finished 8th after stopping to fix a front brake cable adjuster which had slackened off. Later that year he was sponsored by Geoff Duke in the Manx G.P. on a 350 Gold Star (almost certainly a ‘works’ bike) and a 500cc DOHC single cylinder ‘works’ Gilera. Harry finished 7th on the BSA but the Gilera was delayed by oiling problems and then ran out of fuel on the last lap. Harry told me one of the problems with the Gilera was that the Italian mechanics had very little English and he had no Italian! The following year he finished 13th in the Senior MGP on his Goldie with a 500cc motor loaned by BSA.
1958 was Harry’s last year of modern road racing but old habits die hard and a few years later he took up vintage road racing using the Excelsior and continued until he was 71.
The first record I can find of Harry hillclimbing is in 1957 but the club’s records are incomplete and he probably started earlier. He then hillclimbed fairly regularly until 1974 although he did fewer meetings in later years and (I believe) never did any northern meetings in those pre-motorway days. Initially he used the KTT Mk 4 and the Excelsior but from 1962 an early AJS 7R fitted with a 350 JAP motor replaced the KTT which then seems to have been used mainly for vintage grass track races. After 1967 only the Excelsior was used.
Harry had many class wins and places in both 350 and 500 classes plus a number of FTD’s. The three I know of are the Tregwainton August meetings in 1957 and 58 and Dyrham Park in 1965, but there may be more. He also took ‘second FTD’ (George Brown was quickest) at Shelsley in 1959.
Harry was an extremely quick rider in both wet and dry conditions and was one of the ‘iron men’ who could get the best out of rigid framed, girder forked machines on bumpy tracks with tyres which had little grip by modern standards and, in the case of the Excelsior, handling and brakes which left something to be desired.
Besides solos he passengered the Halec on a number of occasions. This machine looked something like a single seat 500 Cooper with three wheels. The passenger sat on top of the streamlined bodywork! Harry said it was a bit hairy (understatement!) as there was not much to hang on to!
Most of the older riders will have their memories of Harry. Mine are of him sitting very upright on the girder forked, rigid, Excelsior with pudding basin helmet, Mk 8 goggles and (sometimes) a dewdrop on the end of his nose. On one occasion at Wiscombe I was watching him take Martini. When he reached the apex of the corner he opened the throttle a bit too quickly and the front wheel came up a foot or so. Harry was completely unfazed, easing the throttle just enough to allow the wheel to slowly descend while still accelerating hard toward the finish line.
Jack Difazio was one of the riders Harry raced against in the 1950’s and when recalling him recently Jack said “Harry was a real gentleman.” I think that sums him up really well.
Our sympathies go out to Vi and his family and many friends.
1 David Carter – 12pts
1 Reg Davis – 12pts
3 Roy Venard – 10pts
4 Ken Edwards – 8pts
5 Dave Massam – 6pts
1 David Childs – 21pts
2 Nigel Glover – 11pts
3 Will Wells – 7pts
4 Doug Parnell – 6pts
5 Tony Madgwick – 5pts
Please note that the first Baitings was not a round of the Vintage/PVT and Classic championships, but the second Baitings on 8 September is a round of those championships.
The Italian Job (the two-wheeled version)
Just imagine a Hill Climb with an entry of about two hundred & fifty bikes, where the paddock is one side of the village and the course starts from the centre about a mile away. You ride your bike to the start on public roads watched by the local plod who turn up on their Moto Guzzi patrol bikes and head straight to the bar for a quick beer. The local Fire Brigade are marshals and most of the village seem to come out to watch. Not a NIMBY in sight.
The course is about four miles long with hairpin after hairpin, just like Baitings Dam just about fifty times longer, and to cap it all when you get to the top there’s another bar.
The Event is at Nalles, which is in Northern Italy in the foothills of the Dolomites. It’s a Hill Climb but not as we know it. To give it its full title it is the Nalles - Sirmian Consistency Race. It takes place over three days with signing on and Scrutineering on the Friday afternoon, that is when you get the first indication of the way they do things there. The event is sponsored by a local apple grower so you get a tray of apples and a bottle of red wine just for signing on. In the paddock is a bar and stage. In a barn on the Friday night there is a social occasion. On Saturday morning you get your first practice in the afternoon you have your first timed run. Saturday there is a gala dinner attended by the World Champions at the event. Then on Sunday morning you get your second timed run. As the name implies you get prizes for consistency over the two timed runs, that is what attracts such a large entry but amongst that entry there were two distinct agendas – the consistency people on pretty ordinary classic bikes and the speed freaks on well sorted Manx Nortons, G50 Matchless and trick Guzzi singles, all out to be the fastest and stuff the consistency.
Where were the Brits? In the second group, where else? There were just the two of us Andrew Bennett and myself. Andrew was riding brother Ian’s superb four cylinder 250 Benelli which is an exact replica of the 1969 World Championship winning machine, open meggas included. You can imagine the interest that created. On the Friday evening Andrew was invited to bring the bike on stage and start it up. The Italians loved it, so did the Germans Austrians and Swiss who were at the event. We spent the rest of the evening on the VIP table with the likes of Tarquino Provini and Luigi Taveri, something to savour! There were no airs and graces, they were there to enjoy themselves as well.
How did we do? Pretty good but we’re not sure exactly what our placings are yet. Having told you about the good aspects of Italian run meetings there is a down side which is that things happen when they happen, so we haven’t had copies of the results yet. We did look at the print-outs before we left. By our reckoning Andrew was third overall and the fastest 250 by a long way and I was about tenth and the fastest 350, definitely the fastest Ducati single which was a good feeling for a Brit in Italy, especially as I was nursing a multi coloured bruised leg at the time.
Would I do it again? Yep, it was a great experience, thanks to Andrew and Ian Bennett for getting me involved and to their friend Graham who allowed his week old Golf Estate to be thrashed mercilessly across the continent with a box trailer on the back. I did it the easy way and flew to Milan with Alyson we had a short holiday in the Italian Lakes before going off to the Sued Tirol to meet up with the lads and bike. Just one last thing which gives you an insight to the way Italians are. My hire car was a model you won’t see in the UK. I wonder why, it was a Lancia Dodo complete with a little bird emblem on the door pillar, when the Italians get it wrong they really cock it up, but when they do it right it’s pretty good.
£25 Special Offer for first timers
Don’t forget to tell your friends that this offer is available for 2002 to any rider wishing to enjoy their first competitive meeting with the NHCA. It includes entry to the event, ACU day licence, day membership to NHCA (if not already joined) and a free Hillclimber as a follow-up. It is available for the following events –
¨ Manor Farm
¨ September Wiscombe
¨ End of Season Hartland
Any new competitor may take advantage only once. When returning the entry form, mark it ‘£25 Offer’ and be prepared to complete the one-day licence form on the day.
Copy by Copy by 10 October for publication by 20 October.