2017 Australian Historic Road Racing Championships
Part One – With Colin Rosewarne
Sunny days and cool nights was the atmosphere for the 2017 Australian Historic Road Racing Championships.
This year the event was staged at Wakefield Park Raceway, a few kilometres east of Goulburn, New South Wales.
There was quite a few genuine upsets to the traditional favorites that were expected to retain their silverware.
The Post Classic Racing Association of NSW numbers say that there were approximately 350 entries for this year’s event which is a great reflection of the strength of burgeoning classic and post classic racing in this country.
Practice Day on the Friday saw lots of testing, tuning, breaking and mending from the racers that were able to skip work to get there early.
The smell of the Dencorub lathered, aging muscles filled the air reminiscent of the change rooms at a game of post senior’s football.
The machinery also had a few highs and lows as is the norm at any historic event with legs being stepped out of bed, lifted barrels, blown crankcases and knocking big ends but fortunately minimal damage from accidents.
Saturday bought glorious sunshine and cool breezes and delivered ideal racing conditions.
Large fields of historic and post classic period machinery took to the track to test their boundaries and put a few laps on the board.
The big entry numbers and married classes saw lots of tussling and maneuvering in each race with some peculiar marriages such as Period 3 500’s being coupled with the Period 6 – 250 production racing bikes. Quite a few of the P3 racers commented during the day that they were feeling quite intimidated by the speed difference between the two classes on corners and cited instances of being overtaken by racers that to them, were seemingly doing double their speed.
Apart from a fairly nasty high-side on the second of the two right handers at the top of the track the day was fairly incident free and produced some lively, posturing competition that set the scene for a great day of racing on race day.
The weather Gods had their say and clobbered the track about an hour after racing had finished and cleansed both the track and the air with a substantial amount of thunder and lightning followed by hail and heavy rain.
The platypus’ of the historic racing world saw this as a plus and were salivating at the thought of a wet track but that was not to be.
Saturday night rains cleared and what ensued was a glorious Sunday. Bright sun, warm temperatures and a nice warm track heralded some top class racing.
Period 2 Unlimited and Hard Shifter brigade had their usual ball with Victorian Stan Mucha on his 1926 Indian Altoona 998 taking the trophy ahead of fellow Victorian Peter Birthisel, also on an Indian Altoona.
A hard finishing Mick Cheguidden on a 750 Indian Scout did very well to finish not only with his hand shift gears but also lost the use of his left foot peg to boot (no pun intended) – great stuff.
The P3 500 class was an action packed affair with the normally super clean racing and fault free machinery of multiple Periods 3 and 4 Champion Keith Campbell abandoning him. Broken gear boxes, followed by broken rocker arms (on two separate occasions), saw Campbell biting the dust twice in two different classes.
All of this not surprisingly turned Campbell’s weekend on its ear taking him out of contention in pretty much all classes culminating with him eventually jump on to Mick Neason’s Manx Norton to try and salvage a win in the P3 500 class final.
The class was eventually won by Brendon Roberts on another borrowed bike, this time the Rosenthal G50 Matchless after the South Australian smashed his G50 Matchless in a nasty start line crash that saw Victorian Ryan Francis airlifted out to Canberra Hospital.
Reigning Period 3 Unlimited Champion Garth Francis on his 750 Norton Atlas, and South Australians Darren Trotter on his 650 Manx G50 Matchless and David Trotter on his fire breathing 1000 JAP, had some ding-dong battles throughout the day, with both nearly coming to grief entering the main straight in one of the races.
This year’s championship was set for a great race with Francis and David Trotter streeting the competition.
The P3 Final set off to be a ripper with Garth’s Francis and David Trotter going head to head.
With the warm up lap completed and on to the starter’s signal the race full of promise until Francis’ Norton seized the engine at turn one throwing him off and unable to restart handing an easy but deserved win to Trotter. As you say it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.
The Period 3 Class is hotly contested in all divisions and saw many sterling performances. Amongst those was Peter O’Neill returning to the sport from a nasty shoulder injury taking out the 250 Class championship.