Thursday, 12 June 2008

Turn Left For Adventure



Last weekend I immersed myself in the awe-inspiring world of flat track racing. Having seen some racing on 1/4 mile speedway tracks it seemed wise to slope off to South Wales and enjoy the spectacle laid out on a full 1/2 mile oval. This facility was purpose built for the equally hairy sport of trotting, is blessed with fancy new floodlighting and enables us to witness full ton-up dirt racing as has been keeping our friends in The States on the edge of their seats for years. Interestingly enough, the track layout used on Saturday left a little to be desired because as darkness fell it became apparent that chucking the bikes sideways at 90-odd miles an hour into turn one would have to be done blind - didn't seem to put anybody off much. Having spent the day in the pits and pointing inquisitively at patches of oil and broken bits of motor cycle I came away with the fuse lit - this has to be what motor sport is about. Quite apart from anything else, flat track bikes really do epitomise bike style, this is what proper motorbikes ought to look like - the Dutch Brothers' Harley XR pictured here says it all really.
I was particularly struck by the way a bunch of the most approachable interesting and friendly people you could wish to meet hurl themselves, at the drop of a flag, into five minutes of the most violent, bone shaking, grit chewing, spleen wrenching and down-right terrifying maelstrom - as would a quiet infantryman going "over the top" at the Somme. This adrenalin fueled frenzy is followed by a few minutes recuperation in the pits, an opportunity to evacuate the mud and grit from mouth, nose, & ears, rip through a Marlboro or two and, in the case of our pit neighbour, bandage a swollen knee and fettle a new footrest from a lump of wood and some gaffer tape.
I include the pic of the blood waggon in honour of poor Johnners who spent most of the night in a Swansea hospital, he's now had steel-work installed in his knee and is off games until further notice. MORE SPEED.

12 comments:

A F-A said...

Totally brilliant Diplo! I have seen flat-track on film - never in the flesh, so to speak. I do hope the tracks weren't excessively taken up with Moto-Xers, and that there were plenty of 'proper' V-twins....I just love that XR, although I bet you and I would have paid gold to see King Kenny whip a TZ750 around!

Was there a proper smell of 'R' in the air?

Jon Dudley said...

Love it! Nearest we get to US style flat track is long track grass track racing, but it ain't so flat. The sight, smell and sound must be terrific - a big twin like the Harley must be a right handful but v.impressive. Do they grab hold of a fork leg as they enter the straight like the Yanks used to? Was it right, Alois that the powers that be eventually got the TZ banned...? Ooh, must dig out my Stanley Schofield sound stories.

Toby Savage said...

I just think it remarkable that the NHS give you the facility to upload Blog material from you hospital bed. Do you get a pretty nurse to help you, as it must be tricky with all that Plaster of Paris?

Camilla Jessop said...

Wonderful photos Mr Diplomat! My friend Jay has raced those XRs with some distinction! As to Kenny's TZ (originally a 700 I think?), yes Mr Dudley, those foolish men at the AMA did ban it. The lovely Gary Nixon (to whom I was introduced by Grandad at the Transatlantics) also raced an Kawasaki H2 Triple-based flat-tracker but, personally, I've never been one for screamers. I don't think there is anything that beats getting astride a good big thumper.

Diplomat said...

Re Kenny's TZ - for further reading check out the brilliant article on Kenny in Classic Bike a few months ago - penned, I think, by the afore-mentioned Johnners with the poorly knee.
JD & Camilla - check out the shortrack link on the blog.I would also strongly recommend you shell out a fiver or so for Sideburn magazine .......

Peter Ashley said...

Oh blimey. I wonder how long this is going on for. Oh I'm so sorry. What a lovely interesting way to break every bone in your body. You take care Mr.Sideways Diplo.

A F-A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary Inman and Ben Part said...

I would strongly recommend every cough up for Sideburn too.
It was Mat Oxley who wrote the KR thing for Classic Bike.
And it was Kenny himself who made it clear they should ban the TZ, he knew riders would be killed.
Gary
www.sideburnmagazine.com

Diplomat said...

That's what we need - a bit of authoritive correction - thganks for that Gary

Fred Fibonacci said...

'strewth. Such passion. What a bike. Thank you Diplo.

Peter Ashley said...

Are you absolutely sure you haven't been tied up with a timing chain and as we write you're being force-fed Castrol like a French goose with a rusty green jug?

Peter Ashley said...

He's definitely been tied up somewhere.