Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Enfield customs

Saw these on Pipeburn and the yellow cafe is on 8Negro too. Lovely bikes. The cafe was built by Rajputana Customs in Jaipur while the red bobber is called Himalayan Outlaw and is the work of Serge  Egorov in Nepal.....

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Speedway mini-tour Part2

Somerset, Wednesday, September 7

Day three of my speedway mini road trip took me to Oaktree Arena, home of the Somerset Rebels, my first time at the venue at Highbridge, just on the outskirts of Burnham on Sea.

Burnham wasn’t so inspiring on a damp day but the Rebels’ race track is lovely little venue and if I lived closer, I’d make it my regular haunt. Even after a lot of rain, which mean the track cut up quite quickly, there was still plenty of great racing to savour – although persistent black clouds and occasional showers continued to threaten the evening.

Shame speedway like this doesn't attract bigger support. I reckon there was 500 people there - tops, which is a huge shame. Even on the gate the staff were saying they didn't expect many to turn up, given the iffy conditions. And while it did rain on and off, it didn't detract from the entertainment too much - well not from my perspective.

But I'm not a regular speedway fan. I don't support any team in particular and just enjoy the racing. Even when the racing's not great, it's still fascinating watching the riders working the bike, trying grip or recovering when they find to much. There was plenty of that with the conditions tonight and I couldn't help marvel at the lightening reactions of some riders, saving what looked like sure disaster each time their bikes dug in and found gobfufl's of drive. 

High spot in racing terms was James Wright’s win in Heat 7. After languishing at the back for two laps he suddenly switched to the outside line and won the race with a brilliant charge that set the tone for the rest of the evening with more riders running up close to the fence for a faster way around the 300 metre oval.

Low spot of the evening was a terrible-looking crash when Matthew Wethers went down in the middle of the final corner and was nailed by his Edinburgh team-mate Kyle Howarth. The whole place fell silent, everyone fearing the worst, but both riders eventually got to their feet and hobbled back to the pits, though Wethers needed attention for some time after.

Rebels won the meeting 57-38 but there was some good speedway throughout the evening which, from personal point of view, made the trip worthwhile.   

Speedway mini road trip

My chance visit to the Haynes Motor Museum recently rekindled an old love for speedway.
Since then I’ve been to a couple of local Peterborough meetings and one at Scunthopre and, to be honest, while the racing’s been less than top drawer speedway, my enthusiasm is undiminished.
So when I got four days off from work, and my partner was away on business, I decided to take myself on a mini speedway road trip.

It’s years since I was a speedway regular but one of my favourite tracks was always Poole so I decided that was the starting point and then worked in three other nights into the schedule around that. The plan was hatched: Poole, followed by Isle of Wight, Somerset and Swindon on successive evenings.

At the risk of sounding like Jeff Scott (the man behind the quite brilliant, but very quirky collection of annual speedway road trip books (check out Mehanol Press for details), I thought I’d offer some observations.

Poole, Monday, September 5
Like I said it’s years since I was at Poole and I’ve got to say I’m really impressed with the facility. In fact, it seems to me that the entire promotion is top class, the whole stadium is pretty tidy, the track shop is okay if a little spares on gear (it is the end of season), the food is, well passable, but the meeting programme was top value.

I think it’s a real shame that the pits at speedway tracks are not better laid out for the fans. I noticed this at Peterborough and Scunthorpe - you just can see enough of what’s going on it there.

I remember the old days at my local track Swindon where you could stand and see all the riders and mechanics working. And all the fights! And the riders rushing to the phone to berate the referee! At least you can see the Poole pits but the opposition are hidden out of sight. Surely it could do with a re-think?
This was a crucial meeting for both top of the table Poole and Belle Vue and the racing was, at times, sensational – totally restoring my faith in the sport.

Darcy Ward’s charge in heat two was breathtaking – it was just a shame it ended in tears just when it looked like he was going to win from the 50m penalty line for touching the tapes.

Heavy rain at the start of Heat 7 threatened the meeting but there were some good calls by the referee to delay race starts to let each sharp shower subside and, actually the sloppy track improved the action – though it probably was hell for the riders.

Bele Vue looked to have the upper hand with a 31-17 lead after Heat 8 but then Poole fought back with a brilliant tactical ride by Davey Watt in Heat 9 to make it 32-25 reduce the deficit to seven points.
But it was Heat 13 and the final race that really we worth the admission price alone.

Chris Holder and Darcy Ward managed to 5-1 the race after Rory Schlein split them early on. That made it 41-40 to Poole, the first time they had led all night  but Bomber Harris chose the final race of the night to score his first race win and with Schlein third, the 4-2 was enough to give victory to Belle Vue 48-45.
I thought it a shame the commentator waited until the final heat to really whoop the crowd up. The atmosphere was electric going into the last race, thanks largely to the reaction he precipitated - but why not wind them up earlier? The match had been buzzing since the ninth heat so there’s really no excuse.
Otherwise, a totally brilliant example of top class speedway racing.

Isle of Wight, Tuesday, September 6
Disaster. Peed with rain most of the day so there was never any chance of the meeting happening. Too late for me though, I’d booked the ferry in advance so I spent the day on the Island, just cruising around. Took a look at the speedway track – my first time there. Shame it was spoiled by the weather.

Sammy Miller Museum, Wednesday, September 7
I stayed just down the road from Sammy Miller’s Museum so it would have been rude not to have visited. Dropped in first thing Thursday morning on my to Somerset Speedway.

Absolute gold mine of a place.  Loved the Pierce and Henderson four-cylinder bikes – and the early boardtrackers (I’ll post pics some time later).

Bit thin on speedway/longtrack bikes though. There’s a really nice Erskine JAP, four-valve JAP and Jawa machines, the late, great Simon Wigg’s longtracker, and an old Douglas. Sublime.

But apart from that tiny gripe, it’s well worth going to soak up some really motorcycling history – but give yourself plenty of time. I rushed around in an hour, I could have spent two, three or more hours there. Nice tea rooms on site.

Oh, and found myself a right little bargain: Triple Crown Plus by Ivan Mauger for 12 quid. Fantastic!


Sunday, 4 September 2011

Kustom Kool in Spalding, Lincs!

Great time at the Kustom Kulture Blastoff 2 in the Springfields Centre, Spalding, Lincs today. More a pinstriping and tattoo convention than a custom bike/hotrod show but plenty of cool stuff.  Picked up an old Bronx-style leather jacket for £25. Lining is a bit tatty but the jacket has good patina! How cool is that? Loved the Wall of Death Indians. Lots of inspiration from Ty Lawler's Pageant Paintwork 25th anniversary stand!