Pad­dock Gos­sip

Classic Racer - - NEWS - Words: Hamish Cooper Pics: Glenn Keat­ing

Cor­ners of the pad­dock and global events scoured and re­ported on by our Mal­colm as he con­tin­ues to de­liver the news that mat­ters about the peo­ple who live mo­tor­cy­cles.

Two leg­ends of GP racing stole the lime­light at the In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Speed at Syd­ney Motorsport Park, Aus­tralia. One was the most win­ning racer in GP his­tory and the other the most win­ning crew chief. Ev­ery­one ex­pected to see Gi­a­como Agostini and his out­ra­geously loud MV but few ex­pected to see Jeremy Burgess span­ner­ing all week­end on a col­lec­tion of RG500 Suzukis. ‘Ago’ has 15 world ti­tles while Burgess is the brains be­hind 14 world ti­tles. This con­trast summed up a spe­cial week­end at Syd­ney Motorsport Park. It also un­der­lined how this an­nual event has been trans­formed from just clas­sic racing into a clas­sic spec­ta­cle that salutes great eras of en­deav­our. Last year, the fo­cus was two-strokes, this year it was a week­end of Ital­ian four-stroke ex­ot­ica from the 1960s and 70s, mixed in with a cou­ple of spicy Ca­giva two-strokes from the fol­low­ing decades. There were plenty of RG500 Suzukis for the racing leg­ends pro­vided by Steve Wheat­man, Stu Avant, Tom Der­mody and Paul Ed­wards. Ago was joined by a squadron of rid­ers and their old bikes: Pier­francesco Chili, ex-barry Sheene GP team-mate Steve Par­rish and Jeremy Mcwil­liams were backed up by lo­cal heroes Graeme Crosby, Kevin Magee and Troy Bayliss.

Or­gan­is­ers pulled off a coup by bring­ing over Piero Laverda and his fam­ily com­pany’s amaz­ing V6 en­durance racer. This weirdo de­sign blew its ri­vals into the weeds at prac­tice for the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1978. Top speed was 174mph, nearly 18.6mph ahead of the pack. Al­though it failed in the ac­tual race, the V6 de­sign was di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for au­thor­i­ties ban­ning more than four-cylin­ders in en­durance racing. Piero Laverda was only too happy to demon­strate the V6 at speed with sev­eral mag­nif­i­cently rau­cous runs each day. But the back­bone of this meet­ing still re­mains the clas­sic racing, with 54 events cov­er­ing classes from 1920 to 1990. Most grids were 40 plus. Main event or­gan­iser Peter Macmil­lan ex­plained how racer in­volve­ment has stayed stead­fast, de­spite the fo­cus mov­ing to the his­toric pa­rades. “As far as the num­ber of en­tries and races go we are maxed out, which is why we have turned it into a four-day meet­ing,” he said.

Macmil­lan put his hand up in 2011 to co-ordinate the event for the Post Clas­sic Racing As­so­ci­a­tion of NSW. He worked with Kiwi Peter Lodge to get the Trans-tas­man Chal­lenge up and run­ning. Since then big name spon­sors, such as QBE In­sur­ance, have joined the party to pro­vide a se­cure plat­form for fu­ture growth. What’s on the agenda for next year? A cel­e­bra­tion of

World Su­per­bikes... Lodge, a big part of the Kiwi team which won the first event in 2011, praised the ef­forts of Macmil­lan and his team of or­gan­is­ers. “To get peo­ple through the gate you have to pro­vide more than just a mo­tor­cy­cle race, it has to be entertainment,” he said. “This event is a per­fect ex­am­ple of that.”

Kevin Magee Beau Beaton The man in the or­ange shirt is Piero Laverda, son of the founder of Laverda.

Left: Mcwil­liams (34) and Chili (7) on their ‘demo lap’.

Far left: Steve Wheat­man warms up Sch­wantz’s #34.

Be­low left: Ago’s jump start. Be­low: Croz (left) hard at work.

Bot­tom: Jerry Burgess warms up an RG500 for Steve Par­rish.

Jeremy Mcwil­liams Peter Lodge

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