August 18, 2013 GMT
A Day At The Races

This weekend was the Bemsee-MRO Championships at Brands Hatch.
(Click to open the PDF if you're asked).
And fellow ex-Wimbledon Club member Pete had a spare ticket that he kindly slipped into my pocket.

Pete's a volunteer at the Brooklands Museum where he helps to keep the vintage and veteran bikes in running order, sufficient for them to take a gallop around the GP circuit at Brands Hatch during the lunchtime parade laps.
So yesterday, off we went.
A group of museum volunteers brought along a batch of old bikes to ride in the parades over the two days of racing.

After unloading in the paddock, the next task was scrutineering (or 'tech inspection' as they seem to call it now, but we'll stick to the good-old English name).
So here's Pete on the Brooklands Rudge, finished in the scrutineering bay and being given a gentle shove towards the noise-testing section.


Where he's surrounded by operating theatre staff, who are checking that they can still see the noise meter through the smoke, and hear each other, while Pete revs the engine.

And he's away, back to the paddock.

A few of the museum bikes, ready for the parade laps.

A magnificent Grindlay Peerless is slotted back into line after scrutineering.

To be carefully inspected by a passer-by.

New Imperial and Velocette.

Vintage AJS fitted with contemporary minimalist ironing board seat (sprung at rear). Shiny OK Supreme being readied behind .

The OK Supreme again, behind a majestic pair of Norton Internationals .

The Norton Inters from the other side, nice BSA behind .

The BSA again .

Being as these bikes are pretty old, part of the tender-loving-care involves repairing their elastic bands.
But yesterday a more unusual repair was needed.

Replacing the broken string on the recoil starter of the petrol-engined roller-starter used to start the bikes in the paddock, ready for the start of the parade laps.

That's enough starting for now I think - on with the photos.
A collection of Nortons brought along by the Norton Owners Club.



A neat and shiny line of (mostly) BSA Gold Stars from the Goldstar Club.



And a smaller BSA cousin with the advantage of added open-air sidecar.



Moving on to the day's programme on the circuit - well, unfortunately and sadly, Saturday's lunchtime parade laps never took place.
Towards the end of the morning practice sessions for the race riders, one of those quiet and eerie hushes descended on the paddock and the circuit, that when you've heard it once, you never forget. A sombre atmosphere pervades all the proceedings.
There'd been a crash on the hill after Druids Hairpin going down to Graham Hill Bend.
One of the race riders, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, died in the crash.

With the rest of the day's timetable subsequently re-arranged, the parade laps were cancelled.

The first time I experienced such a happening was when Fritz Scheidegger was killed at Mallory Park in March 1967, in the 'Sidecar Race of the Year'.
You never forget the quietness that envelops the noisy racetrack. I still remember fondly the little Honda CB160 bike that I'd ridden there, and the sober 120-mile ride home, during which bike and rider in a strange way grew closer and closer together. A pity that bike was stolen about a year later - it was meant to be, I suppose.

Back at a somewhat subdued Brands Hatch, the programme of races got under way later than scheduled.
Some photos from various places around the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
Firstly, descending Paddock Hill Bend (a pretty steep hill for those who don't know it):









Bursting forth from under the bridge at the top of Hawthorne Hill.



Out in the countryside I found myself on the rally-racing track. Hope it's not in use....


It leads to Dingle Dell and then the exit of Sheene Curve.



A couple of pics at the entrance to Stirlings.



And out of the exit.




There's a slight rise in the track which provides lift for take-off on the fast straight section to Clearways. In a hundred shots trying to pan the bikes, I managed at last to catch one with air under the front wheel.


And finally, a first-lap traffic jam at Surtees. The pits and garages beyond.


Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:46 AM GMT
A Day At The Airfield

I hope things have been better today at Brands Hatch than yesterday. And Pete has had some proper fun on the Rudge in the parade laps.
I've not been there today because I've been here.



On or close to this date each year there's usually a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly-past over the airfield.
And sure enough, despite all the cloud, these two appeared early afternoon.




Weaving side-to-side southwards following the Eastbourne Road, after a couple of circuits above us on Kenley Airfield.

For an hour before, the cloud had drifted in and out, white and black. As ever, the gliders were flying. Cloud is usually good for gliding, plenty of thermals.
They stayed in the sky until shortly before the Spitfire and Hurricane were due, so I got a bit of practice in with my camera.




No gliders here, just a strange funnel of cloud stretching across the airfield to the north.

The Spitfire and Hurricane appeared as dots way over to the right of this lot, the direction of Biggin Hill, five and a half miles away, where they took off.

I hope the parades were going OK at Brands as well.

- Update 1 - The Brooklands bikes got 4 laps in during the parade session at Brands on Sunday.
- Update 2 - Yes, I'll have to learn how to slow down the shutter speed on this camera of mine. Those WWII fighter planes look like they're stationary in the air with motionless propellers. Not a problem with the gliders of course.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 07:30 PM GMT

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