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.
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.
HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!
"The calendar is magnificent!"
"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"
We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!
Next HU Events
- Germany Autumn: Oct 23-26
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! USA Virginia: Apr 9-12, 2015
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
- Canada West: Aug 20-23, 2015
- USA California: Sep 24-27, 2015
- Aus Queensland: Sep 24-27, 2015
- USA North Carolina: Oct 8-11, 2015
- Aus Perth: Oct 9-11, 2015
Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!
Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).
"Inspiring and hilarious!"
"I loved watching this DVD!"
"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."
Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
Membership - help keep us going!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!