Beau Beaton talks Goodwood Revival with Ride Rage Radio
RRR: A man that’s just come back from having a very busy weekend at the Goodwood Revival is Beau Beaton, welcome to Ride Rage Beau and congratulations for the unbeatable performance from you and your teammate Craig McMartin at the Goodwood Revival on that magnificent bike that’s been prepared by Ken and Barry Horner.
Beau: “Yeah, thanks for having me, Phil. Yeah, it was a great weekend, finish off a little holiday in Europe and had the opportunity to ride the Vincent for Ken and Barry. Been riding it for a few years now, but this one was a totally different one than I’m used to, as you’ve seen. It was a good weekend.”
RRR: A lot of people have probably heard of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but this is a completely different event and really just is all about getting right back into the spirit and back into the period of the 50s and 60s, isn’t?
Beau: “Yeah, it’s amazing, it is taking a step back in time when you walk into the event. The effort that goes into transforming the whole circuit into more of the 50s, the 60s, everyone’s in period costume and even aviation planes from the era, it’s a spectacle in itself just to go and see the event, there are about 150,000 people per day, sold out months in advance. It’s nothing like we would get at a motorsport event here, it’s obscene.”
RRR: The event too for the motorcycles was two races over the Saturday and the Sunday, with two riders having to take to the track on the bike as well and I suppose that’s one thing, but tell us about the bike that you were riding, because it’s a completely different story and I’m sure a lot of people have not seen anything like this thing before.
Beau: “No, it was a shock to the system, it was nothing like we race in the Australian Historics. It’s actually a genuine 1948 Vincent Rapide with the original four speed gearbox, girder front forks, original chassis. Ken and Barry have more or less redesigned the geometry, made the bike fresher, internal it’s got a lot more horsepower out of it from what the original one was.”
RRR: What was it three times the amount of horsepower?
Beau: “About double from out of the factory, which is just an achievement in itself before we even took to the tracks. The shock to the system in a way that we had to get used to riding with the right hand gear shift and braking on the left foot. I was lucky enough to have dad’s Norton up here and ride around on the streets a little bit, so that was a little bit of cheating for me. But Craig didn’t even have the opportunity to ride or even see the motorbike before it left Australia, so for him to show up in England not even seeing the bike, never seen the track before, right hand gear shift, it was a real shock to his system. But he did amazing, he was always fast, as he always is.”
RRR: Well, it’s a V-twin motorcycle, Craig McMartin would know how to ride it after I imagine a very short acclimatization period, because he is the multiple Australian Pro Twin Champion.
Beau: “Yeah, it’s right, it didn’t take him long at all. But the other thing, I warned him about it before we got there, but the brakes, they’re near nonexistent. On the original drum brakes, you’re relying a lot on the engine downshift, so for him to be getting used to tapping the shift for brakes and on his right foot, and myself as well, you know you’ve got to make sure it’s in the gear, because sometimes they like to pop into neutral, there is a box load of neutrals in there somewhere.”
RRR: But you were also saying too Beau that the Goodwood track is actually essentially a lap around the outside of the airfield and is an incredibly fast track, which will probably help, because you didn’t have to use the brakes all that much.
Beau: “Yeah, that’s right. I mean we tested the bike at Broadford, which is nothing like Goodwood, Broadford is quite tight, so trying to get a set-up there, it was more going there just to give the bike a shakedown. We knew Goodwood was fast, it’s very open, there’s only a couple of left handers, very open, flat out, 130mph stuff, on old bikes, so that was our biggest advantage, we didn’t have as good a brakes or cornering as probably the Manx we had a lot of top end power, which we were able to use and that played in our hands very well.”
RRR: Now you did dominate the two races it’s fair to say, both you and Craig, but you were up against some pretty stiff competition, some bloke called McWilliams that’s a pretty handy punter I’ve heard.
Beau: “Yeah, I’ve had the opportunity to race against Jeremy a fair few times, many years he has come out to Australia. Yeah, Jeremy, you don’t forget how to go slow. Even though he’s so called retired, I think he’s only barely retired.”
RRR: Yeah, he’s about as retired as Gilesy is.
RRR: Retired, didn’t he ride Moto 2 last week or two weeks ago?
Beau: “That’s right, it’s the same when Gilesy said he’s retired, it’s not really retired, is it? But yeah, when Jeremy comes out to Australia, they bring the XR 69s and they’re ultra-fast machines and they pass us down the straight, so it was really nice to be able to repay the favour, I was nearly trapping him on his leg down the straight, just passing him about 20-30mph faster, which is sort of something similar when he comes to Australia.”
RRR: Now you’re also saying that you’re instructed in no uncertain circumstances that you don’t just disappear out in the distance, you’ve got to put on a spectacle for the crowd.
Beau: “That’s right. It is about the show, the whole event is about the show, from the moment you walk in the gate, and they want the racing to be a show, otherwise the people aren’t going to show up, they don’t want to show up and just see someone disappear into the distance, they want to see not swapping paint, you want it to be safe racing, but you also want to put on a good show for the crowd. I mean that’s what it’s all about at every race, too, you want there to be parity and there to be a good spectacle. And I think Jeremy and I did that, in the first race we were doing that, until he had a small technical problem and that threw him down the road, so my lap board suddenly went from +1 to +8. I’m looking around my shoulder and going, ‘What’s going on?’ So yeah, and then the Sunday, he wasn’t on the same motorbike, but we were told to do the same thing, ‘We need to put on a show,’ and that’s what we did.”
RRR: The bike that Jeremy rode on the Sunday was probably much more of a match for your bike in terms of speed and probably out-did it a little bit in the handling department as well.
Beau: “Yeah, it was a lot closer match, it wasn’t strictly eligible for the class, but they wanted Jeremy on the grid, as it’s Jeremy McWilliams, and they wanted something that would make it a bit more fun for us I guess. On the Saturday race he was the only one sort of giving us a hurry up and making a show of it, his bike was the only one that could match our speed and then on the Sunday they wanted him back on the grid and the bike was a lot more, our lap times again from the Saturday, just chasing each other around and it really was fun, I don’t think we were pushing each other to the limit or gonna push each other off the track, but it was a fun race, yeah.”
RRR: And the combination of you and Craig, you used pretty similar settings I think a lot of the time as well, so that would have made it a little bit easier for Ken and Barry to get the bike set up, and the fact also too that Craig’s got confidence in your judgement and your setup ability of the motorcycle, as you said, he hadn’t ridden it before the event.
Beau: “Yeah, I think that comes down to, I put it down to a lot when I started road racing, I knew nothing about set-up, it was just a motorbike and I rode it around and Craig sort of put me in the way of set-up and I think he put me in his setup, and I just rode around that, and then I’ve got a feel for things and now I understand setup a little bit more. So yeah, I think that’s kind of why we have similar riding setups, even though our weight difference, we always seem to end up at a very similar suspension setting.”
RRR: And I guess it’s probably another buzz for you to have the guy that was essentially your mentor in your infancy of road racing to be your teammate in an event like this which is really a massive spectacle.
Beau: “Yeah, for sure, and Craig was the one that got me on the Irving Vincent and he was the one that suggested it to Ken and Barry and it sort of spurred out of control from there. He was the original development rider with the P5 that we now race at the Island Classic and got it to the stage, not far from where I have it now, he was far from where it is now, and that’s how I got to know Ken and Barry, it was through Craig. So it was a fitting thing for me and him to ride a bike finally together.”
RRR: And also getting to see the bike down at the Winton round of the Australasian Superbike Championship was also a treat and the fact that you were out there on the Friday in the pouring rain riding the bike around and putting a lot of riders on much more, let’s say, capable machinery pretty much to disgrace really.
Beau: “Yeah, Ken and Barry were shocked that I was going up the inside, I’ve been overtaking people and I said, ‘I didn’t have a choice, it didn’t stop.’ I’ve kind of got to pass as the brakes don’t work and the wet didn’t help that either. So that again was just a shakedown, we just did a few laps there to make sure that the problems we had at Broadford were fixed.”
RRR: Well it certainly is an absolutely magnificent looking motorcycle Beau and hopefully people will get a chance to see it. But I guess probably the other big thing that we look forward to now, it is September, we’re only about five months away from the biggest classic motorcycle racing event in this country, the International Island Classic, where I’ve got to say you and Irving Vincent have been a star of the show over the last couple of years. How are the preparations for that event going?
Beau: “Yeah, it’s not really sure at the moment. The sad fact of the matter is at this stage we may not be on the grid, preparations aren’t really in the plan. We’re not 100 per cent sure of the rules or what’s happening with that, and Ken’s sort of up in the air. He would like to see engine parity, like world superbikes. Correct me if I’m wrong, I think we were the only V-twin sitting on the grid last year at the Island Classic.”
RRR: Yes. I think the other V-twin may have been a two-stroke.
Beau: “Oh, okay. Well, I mean every other class in the world has the engine parity and Ken would like to see that, he’d like to see a 1600 on the grid and he wants to see a show, the same as Goodwood would put on, which to do that and to be at the front, we’re losing 30km/h down the straight to a lot of bikes. So that’s where we’re at at this stage with the 1600. That pairs it up with the big four-cylinder 1300.”
RRR: And that’s not also to the Pro Twin bike, which is the 1600 CC four valve, I think he’s probably pushing for the 1600 CC two valve to be the one that gets raced, isn’t he?
Beau: “Yeah, I think he… I’m not into what he’s pushing for, I just know he wants as a close to parity. I guess you could call them one of the premier Australian historic teams and they put in a lot of effort in that and they want to see it closer to the front. Yeah, parity should bring that.”
RRR: Well, I think the other thing that’s been rectified that caused a lot of historic competitors some consternation at the beginning of this year is the tyre rule that are now pretty much back to as long as you can fit it on the rim size, that’s as per the regulations, you can run whatever tyre you want, which was something that was bugging a lot of competitors after the International Island Classic.
Beau: “Yeah, it was a bit silly to bring it in before the Island Classic, because you had the local Period 5 Class running on the rules of the 180 tyre and whatnot, and then after the International Challenge, because the British and all that want to run the bigger tyre, so everyone could run the bigger tyre, so there was no opportunity for cross entry or anything like that. So I’m not sure who’s idea it was to bring that in, but that was another thing that yeah, it really got a few people offside.”
RRR: Well, hopefully Ken’s got his finger on the pulse and he’ll be speaking to the powers that be and we’ll be able to see that magnificent motorcycle. And in all honesty Beau, it wouldn’t be the International Island Classic without you and the Horner brothers there and of course the Irving Vincent, which as you said is one of the stars of the show.
Beau: “Yeah, I mean it sounds great, I’ve watched some video footage and it definitely stands out with the noise. I think the crowd likes the noise of it.”
RRR: I think you’ve got the best seat in the house to judge the noise of it though.
Beau: “Barry doesn’t like to wear earplugs when he’s riding it, I don’t know how he does it.”
RRR: I’ve rode it without earplugs down at the Broadford Bonanza and I likened actually sitting on top of a thunderstorm and just motoring around the track on it.
Beau: “Yeah, it definitely gets the ring in your years after a few laps. But the next focus is really on the FX, we’re going to be at Eastern Creek at this stage in the Pro Twin on the modern bike.”
RRR: Yeah, on the 1600 CC four valve.
Beau: “Yeah, so when Ken and Barry get back from overseas, I think their attention will focus on the Eastern Creek round.”
Beau: “Yeah, it should be fun.”
RRR: Can’t wait to see that. Do you know if they’re going to have just one bike or is there going to be two bikes there?
Beau: “That’s to be confirmed, I think. Watch this space, see how many parts we have got I guess.”
RRR: Well, I’d love to see you and Craig battling it out on a pair of those Irving Vincent Black Lightning Pro Twin machines, that would be a real treat for all Pro Twin fans and the words of Alan Cathcart of course ringing in my ears that when he got off the 1600 CC bike at the Broadford Bonanza and he said, ‘Anyone that’s racing a Ducati Panigale in Pro Twin should be very, very worried.’
Beau: “Well, you could see me and Craig battling, but I think Craig might be on a Panigale.”
RRR: Well, that will be even more fun.
Beau: “Yeah, I’m not sure what the plan is yet, but I know that’s their aim, to try and focus and get the bike there for Eastern Creek and it’ll be fun if they can.”
RRR: Well Beau, I’m sure you’ve enjoyed Goodwood, hopefully we’ll see you on track in two classes at the Eastern Creek finale of the ASC and thanks for joining us on Ride Rage.
Beau: “Thanks for having me!”
Goodwood Revival 2014 Video Highlights Part One
Goodwood Revival 2014 Video Highlights Part Two