Mike Pero Southern Classic
Mike Pero Southern Classic
1-3 December, 2017 – Levels Raceway, Timaru, New Zealand
This meeting has to be one of the New Zealand Motorsport success stories of 2017; a combination of 350 bikes, a long list of and gorgeous, if hot weather. This year’s theme was ‘superbikes of the 1980s and ‘90s’, with two very special guests Wes Cooley and Graeme Crosby – amongst the list of ‘legends’, the majority of whom would ride in the ‘Parade of Champions’. Wes’s affable nature and generosity in making himself available for pictures and a chat, and Graeme ‘Spyda’ Staples’ informed commentary, left everyone with deserved respect for his quite remarkable racing pedigree. The fact that Croz was also present created an almost perfect ‘superbike’ synergy; in the late 70’s and early 80’s when both were at their peak, there were remarkable parallels in their riding styles. The fact that Croz also built up a superb replica Yoshimura Suzuki GS1000R for Wes to ride, was also a nice touch in the sense that both rode in Pops’ team at Daytona and Suzuka. The best way to get a sense of the diversity of both machinery and ‘legends’ in terms of racing expertise is to simply list the riders and their machines: Aaron Slight (Honda RC 45, NR 750); Andrew Stroud (Britten V1000); Gary Goodfellow (Britten Aero D Zero); Graeme Crosby (Moriwaki Kawasaki 1100); Wes Cooley (Yoshimura Suzuki GS1000R); John Hepburn (Suzuki GSXR 750 EFI); Robbie Phillis (Suzuki Katana 1170); Hugh Anderson (Yamaha FZ750); Dennis Charlett (McIntosh Suzuki 1130); John Boote (Honda RC30, Yamaha TZ750); Jock Woodley (Yamaha TZ350); Paul McLachlan (YamahaTZ350) and Jake Lewis (Plastic Fantastic 1075). Earlier in the year, Hugh Anderson indicated to the CAMS committee that he wanted to donate a cup (‘The BikeTranz N v. S Trophy’) to be competed for by North and South Island teams at NZCMRR Spring Trophy meeting at Manfield (October) and then at the MPSC (Levels). The decision subsequently reached that for 2018 onwards, the competition would be rotated annually between the two circuits. For 2017 at Levels, riders representing each island were selected on lap times so that as broad a representation across the classes was achieved. The final result was close (South Island 106; North island 109). Roll on 2018!
In a conversation between Dave Reesby, Wes Cooley and his wife Melody on Saturday morning, Dave asked Melody if she would like to go out on the track on his chair later in the afternoon? “She said she would like to, so I took her out for a tootle and she loved it; Wes was shocked!” It’s these little vignettes that make classic meetings such a success. For the benefit of those spectating from the bank between the club rooms and the track; Dennis Charlett, after exiting Castrol Bend at the eastern end of the circuit and entering the main straight, repeatedly wound the throttle lifting the front wheel of the McIntosh 1130cc ‘Freeth’ Suzuki and holding that attitude for at least 50 metres. Saturday evening’s barbeque provided an opportunity to mix and mingle, quench a dry-as thirst and then feed the engine. For the after-match social held in the car-club lounge, Swannie and Spyda presented a ‘Motorcycle Trivia Challenge’; two teams made up of the ‘Legends’ (‘The Specials’) and the remainder, known as ‘The Commons’, the teams allocated 30 questions each. The final score was close; ‘The Commons’ 137; ‘The Legends’ 135.
The fact that just under one third of the bikes registered to race were from North Island, is confirmation of the fact that the ‘Mike Pero Southern Classic’ is increasingly being recognised as an important event on both National and International motorsport calendars; that also guarantees full grids (40+ bikes not unusual) and more importantly, a diversity of machinery in the pits large enough to promote interest and conversations. Significantly, late on Sunday as attendees packed up tents, gear and bikes, a number of the North island contingent gave clear indication of their intentions to promote the Levels meeting and encourage as many of riders as they can to make the trip in 2018. Congratulations to the CAMS team and a big thank you to the over 50 volunteers, without whom such meetings could not happen, not forgetting that many of the latter are allotted tasks that often require long hours of occupation often in the least protected parts of the track. The meeting will be remembered for its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and for a full racing programme run effectively for the benefit of all riders and spectators – a true motorsport festival.
The Yoshimura Suzuki replica built by Graeme Crosby for Wes Cooley to ride.
Dennis Charlett punishes the rear tyre of the McIntosh Suzuki. (John Cosgrove photo).
Gary Goodfellow on the Britten Aero D Zero.
Wes Cooley helps his wife Melody gear-up for her ride on Dave Reesby’s sidecar. She returned beaming from ear to ear.
Sponsor of the meeting Mike Pero was busy on and off the track.
ABOVE North versus South participants with Hugh Anderson presenting the trophy. LEFT Legends: Wes Cooley and Graeme Crosby. RIGHT Young Tyler Lincoln was a standout on Dave Kenah’s Manx Norton. (John Cosgrove photo).