Words: Bruce Cox Photograph: Roger Cooper
The Brackley Festival of Motorcycling is a genuinely unique event in that it is the only town on the British mainland that is closed off to allow racing motorcycles run at speed along its streets. Back in 2008, organiser Roger Charlesworth and his team somehow persuaded the good burghers of Brackley that it would be a good idea to close off the High Street and a parallel service road to make a short ‘race track’ on which motorcycles could parade at reasonable speeds to the delight of the public and the eventual benefit of the local Air Ambulance service and other deserving local charities. Entrance to the event is free but the fans willingly dig deep into their pockets and tens of thousands of pounds are annually raised for the good causes. The festival has grown year on year, both in terms of spectators and the size and quality of entry. This year the paddock area right in front of the town hall included a great selection of racing machinery ranging from a 21st century Ducati Motogp contender to Manx Nortons from the Fifties. In between, there was a trio of Formula 750 JPS Nortons from the Peter Williams era in their white, red and blue livery along with one of the black and gold JPS Norton rotary engine racers. Plus, four-cylinder Honda, Benelli and MV Agusta GP machines from the 1960s and 70s; Triumph triples including F750 racers and the TT Production racing legend, Slippery Sam; and for the two-stroke fans, ex-barry Sheene Suzuki square fours. This unique event, which evokes memories of classic Continental Circus genuine road races, takes place in mid-august each year. Watch out for the announcement of the dates for 2017.