Vintage Racing

Brands Hatch - 22nd July 1979

It was a completely normal British summer day, (ie overcast, but not too cold), when the recently-formed 'Surrey Section of the Yamaha Owners Club', (we had yet to decide on the name change to 'Mitsui Diehards'), decided to trek out to Brands Hatch to see some distinctly more prestigious bike marques than our own battle it out on the tarmac. As there were no prizes involved, this would nowadays equate more to a track day than a race meet. When we parked up, on the grass parking area, some of us were amused when Frank, our oldest member, on a MINT RD400, got two squares of oiled wood out of his canvas bag, which he then placed carefully under the prop stand, before wiping the machine down after the run from Surrey. This is how you keep a machine in that condition, obviously. Needless to say, the rest of us were not quite so fastidious.

The machines involved in the racing were, as you might expect, numerous Douglas, Royal Enfield, Matchless, Vincent, AJS, Morgan, Norton, Rudge, Panther, Velocette, BSA machines and probably others, but those are all I have photos of.

There were also two particular German machines there, which were not in it to break any speed records. One was a quite normal combo, with a machine gun mounted on the chair. I assume it was a BMW or Zundapp, but my memory did not retain that information, and neither did my camera. The other was what I can only describe as a half-track. It may have been armoured but, as the rear end was open to the air, there probably wasn't much of a point to that. Probably the slowest machine there, but it must have been fun to ride. When it roared its way around the track, it was lapped by everyone else, but I don't think he cared.

Some of the support vehicles were nearly as exotic, with classic Italian scooters and Moto Guzzis, and a rotary combo that resembled a DKW/Hercules, but had slight differences to standard. There was also an unfortunately unidentified large bike that was being used to carry a small paddock bike on the rear carrier. The day went on, not too hot but dry, and we made good use of one of the food vans, (except Frank, who had pretty much all he needed in that bag of his).

When we left, Frank carefully wrapped up his precious pieces of wood before placing them in his bag, and we all set off. The ride home seemed to be little bit quicker than the trip there. Some of us, being on four-stroke XS250s, or mint condition RD400s may not have been that much quicker, but that's the way it seemed.

Phil Drackley - Phil the Spill