The 8th annual running of the Broadford Bike Bonanza turned out to be the perfect storm. With the weather sitting in the mid 20s for the entire event, and barely a cloud in the sky to darken the lenses of the multitude of cameras going off constantly both trackside and within the pits, including a huge number of trade displays.
M.A. claim a record number of over 3500 people attended the event, up on the previous record in 2015 and judging by the amount of people, bikes, campers and vehicles on the Sunday, there is no reason to doubt these figures. The place was packed.
With the Dirt track, Vinduro loop, Motocross track and road race circuit all operating almost constantly throughout the weekend, credit must be given to the organisers and most especially to Peter Drakeford and all the volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the whole event.
A feature of the 2016 was a huge celebration of the Moto Guzzi marque. Both racebikes, roadbikes, the interesting and even the bizarre.
Peter Drakeford – Event Organiser
“I didn’t know there were that many Moto Guzzis in Australia! I reckon the entire Australian population of ‘Moto Guzzisti’ were there on the weekend! The car park at the road course was just packed. We had to push the boundary of the car park further and further out. It was terrific.”
The event was not short on famous stars from all racing disciplines either, with former Australian champions and world championship riders of the calibre of former Australian Superbike champion and World Superbike rider, Robbie Phillis. Robbie claimed the event was ‘Horn’, apart from injuring his shoulder doing some hard work in the pits for another rider that was. Phillis rode some of his old superbikes from the Mick Hone Katana days.
Former Australian Superbike Champion, World Superbike and GP500 rider Peter (God) Goddard, a very illusive former GP500 racer Kevin Magee (I tried all day to catch Kevin for a chat, but he was like the Phantom, disappearing after each ride and appearing out of the crowd as the renowned Bob Brown 860 Ducati which Kevin raced in the early 80’s, taking it up to the then 750cc two stroke GP bikes at circuits like Oran Park.)
The Horsham Hurricane as he was once known, still posed a diminutive figure aboard the immaculately prepared Bob Brown Ducati. The bike was simply stunning to look at. You could eat your dinner off the crankcases it was that clean and sounded as impressive as it did when new.
Cameron Donald also took to not only the road circuit, but the Dirt track as well on Peter Hern’s (Yes, Chas Hern’s father) highly modified XT500 dirt track monster. Former multiple Australian champion Chris Watson, also took to the dirt track for some demonstration laps.
Industry stalwart and former racer Clive Carter was also there with Phill Harris’ unique Suzuki TR750 replica. Clive was riding in his period race attire, including his old boots which I remember hanging on the wall of his Ferntree Gully shop circa 1994.
The owner Phill Harris filled me in on some of the history of the bike.
“The Bike is a replica of a late model TR750 and uses many reproduced parts sourced from all over the world. The various components come from New Zealand, UK, USA, Belgium, Canada and Australia with lots of parts made by myself and assembled and developed over the past 3 years. Fibreglass and paint is by Clive Carter who is also our development test rider.
“In 1975 I was a young bloke back then just starting out in racing and put my hand up to be a corner marshal at the Laverton races. I like many others witnessed a battle between Greg Hansford aboard the new KR 750 Kawasaki and the American Pat Hennen aboard the Coleman’s TR 750 Suzuki.
“For me and the TR It was love at first sight, I just had to have one but this wouldn’t happen until 40 years latter, when one day my wife Jane suggested I needed a hobby, so this triggered the TR build. I have a very supportive and understanding wife.
“First an engine. All TR 750’s are based on the GT 750 water bottle so an engine was located in my mate Clive’s shed for the sum of $500. Then all the information and parts to transform the engine into a powerhouse were either hunted down on the net or made in house. There are many TR enthusiasts across the world to thank for their generous information but most of all Mick DeWith from DeWith Motorsport who also has a passion for big two strokes and spent lots of time discussing and checking my work. Mick has a history of quietly achieving huge and reliable horsepower from many racers here and on the world stage.
“Hundreds of hours went into the engine build with my own take on port timing and head design. We run three 38mm Mikuni carbs and Swarbrick pipes. A digital CDI and a Nova five speed close ratio gearbox coupled to a dry clutch. We will be fitting a six speed box this year.
“Lots of people ask me who made the frame? Frame is a CMR design made of chrome molly by Denis Curtis in Canada. CMR also make a lot of TZ 750 frames some you will see holding everything together on the growing list of TZ’s appearing on tracks here in Australia. Wheels are 17” Dymag classic CH3 stopped with Brembo F08’s on the front and P32 on the rear. Suspension is a pair of reworked FJ1100 forks and Gazi shocks in the layed forward position typical of RG500’s of the period. When it comes to engine internals, that’s something of a guarded secret but I can say that nothing is stock or available over the counter. We have had our teething problems with engine, transmission and clutch but we now have a reliable package that performs, handles and stops. Our best result so far was at the BSFS where Danny Carter scored a third outright in the P5 750 class. We have more development to come but for now my real job as a TV producer will put the bike back into storage for the next six months.”
Phil is the producer of River to Reef which most fishing enthusiasts will be familiar with.
There was also some exotica in the pits of the road circuit, including a stunning MV Agusta. I was lucky enough to hear it being fired up and run on track and can tell you the sound is still one ofthe most unique and beautiful engine notes in any paddock to date. There was also a pair of four-cylinder Honda GP bikes which also had everyone in the paddock gathering around each time they were fired up.
Ian Drysdale’s V8 was also in attendance, although I am unsure if it was ever fired up over the course of the weekend or was just for display. Either way, it was fantastic to see what is a marvel of Australian home grown engineering.
The road circuit wasn’t the only hive of activity either, with the Vinduro, MX and Dirt track circuits all operating for the majority of the weekend. Although I missed the MX and Vinduro circuits due to time constraints, I did manage to spend some time at the dirt track and was rewarded with some talented riding by some of the old guard and also a few younger riders.
Chris Watson did some demonstration laps on a slider bike. What he demonstrated was that he has lost none of his speed or smooth riding style, making it look not only easy, but like he had never stopped racing. It was a pleasure to see.
In addition to Chris, Cameron Donald former Isle Of Man TT winner took to the dirt track on Peter Hern’s very capable and well put together XT500 Yamaha dirt track bike.
Peter filled us in about the machine.
“The bike is 1979 XT 500 and over the last 5 years has won a number of Australian Classic dirt track titles with Ray Stevens riding it. My son Chas Hern won the Victorian Pre 90s Championship on it late last year at Albury, and was also 1st in the Victorian over 450 Championship and 2nd in NSW in the mid 2000s on it.”
Perhaps the highlight for me though, was seeing a young guy Jesse Davies ride the same bike. He’s been racing dirt track from his early teens, with a break for a few years while he played football at a fairly high level. Davies came back to the sport a few years ago and certainly enjoys going fast and has a relaxed style on the bike. He would’ve had quite a few titles by now except for lack of finances. He was super smooth and had it all hanging out. Not even the difficult ruts on the final turn would phase him, with the front and back swapping ends, but in a very controlled, almost nonchalant way, keeping it all together, throttle pinned to the stop the entire way. I was on the fence giggling my head off, he looked as though he was having a great time.
Jesse also later got out and had a go at both steering and swinging off the side of a GSX-R1100 powered sidecar and looked just as comfortable.
Overall the Broadford Bike Bonanza was another well run and well prepared event. In no small part to the huge efforts of Peter Drakeford who with his crew managed to make the event what it is…a fun, engaging and interesting display of all things motorcycle sport related. Bring on 2017.
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