Paddock Gos­sip

The in­side line

Classic Racer - - WHAT’S INSIDE - Words: Malc Wheeler Pho­to­graphs: Russ Lee and Malc Wheeler.

Our Mal­colm has been vis­it­ing the pad­docks of the scene to see the what, the why and the who of things go­ing on. He’s also been over to the Is­land to stay abreast of ev­ery­thing on the road scene. It’s been hec­tic. He loves it.

Five years in, the Clas­sic TT and Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor­cy­cling has re­ally come of age. With great rac­ing across all classes, the big­gest and best Jurby Fes­ti­val yet, and run­ning along­side it the best Manx Grand Prix for some time, with some great young tal­ent break­ing lap and race records. Clas­sic Racer’s man on the ground, John Wat­ter­son, brings his usual com­pre­hen­sive report on all the race ac­tion, but here our Isle of Man afi­cionado, Malc Wheeler, shares his per­sonal take on this year’s ac­tion-packed Clas­sic TT.

Hav­ing been in­volved in the Clas­sic TT and ev­ery­thing that sur­rounds it from day one, it was nice to stand back a lit­tle this year, and take a sub­jec­tive look at what I be­lieve to be one of, if not the best clas­sic race gath­er­ings on the cal­en­dar. The Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor­cy­cling has grown be­yond most peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions and the world­wide ex­po­sure it has been given has raised the pro­file and aware­ness of the Manx Grand Prix, some­thing clearly ev­i­dent by the num­ber, and qual­ity, of en­tries and huge growth in vis­i­tor num­bers. The driv­ing force be­hind the event, Paul Phillips, sums it up per­fectly: “The Clas­sic TT has been a re­sound­ing suc­cess through­out its first five years and has grown in­cre­men­tally in eco­nomic, com­mer­cial and me­dia terms in each of those five years. “The Is­land’s econ­omy has ben­e­fited

by over £20 mil­lion of new money dur­ing that five year pe­riod, as a di­rect re­sult of the in­tro­duc­tion of the Clas­sic TT as part of a new Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor­cy­cling and we can boast what is con­sid­ered the big­gest and most im­por­tant clas­sic rac­ing mo­tor­cy­cle event on the planet. “It is a tes­ta­ment to ef­forts and skills of a wide rang­ing team of vol­un­teers and part­ners and there is no doubt in my mind that there is enor­mous po­ten­tial for fur­ther growth into the fu­ture.” As is so of­ten the case, with suc­cess comes prob­lems, not least be­ing the num­ber of ma­chines, both clas­sic and mod­ern, to get through scru­ti­neer­ing ahead of each evening’s qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion. Quite how the ded­i­cated vol­un­teer team got through 403 ma­chines in one ses­sion alone I can’t be­gin to imag­ine. To me, a sea­soned past Manx Grand Prix and TT com­peti­tor my­self, one an­swer seems ob­vi­ous – in­crease the num­ber of prac­tice ses­sions. In the past, rid­ers had the lux­ury of early morn­ing and evening prac­tice, plus a long ses­sion on Thurs­day af­ter­noon which repli­cated cli­matic con­di­tions likely to be en­coun­tered dur­ing a race. Of course it’s not that sim­ple; the make-up of Is­land res­i­dents has changed greatly over the years, with fewer of them be­ing ac­cept­ing of the TT and Manx Grand Prix road clos­ing or­ders. Then there is the ‘orange amy’, the bril­liant band of mar­shals, to con­sider. A min­i­mum of 550 will­ing, ded­i­cated vol­un­teers are needed to al­low any ac­tiv­ity to take place on the TT Moun­tain Cir­cuit – per­haps the an­swer isn’t that ob­vi­ous. One other idea I have heard be­ing thrown around is to re­duce the num­ber of en­tries in each class, both mod­ern and clas­sic. But with the grow­ing in­ter­est from rid­ers, from both sec­tors, that would seem to be a real shame. They say a pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words, so on these pages I’ll share, with im­ages snapped by my­self and Russ Lee, how I saw the 2017 Clas­sic TT and Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor­cy­cling.

Right: Josh Brookes, BSB and for­mer WSB rider, is clearly warm­ing to his clas­sic rac­ing. Not only did he win the Se­nior Clas­sic Race on the Pa­ton, he popped in a 19 minute, stand­ing start, lap on Steve Wheat­man’s ex Sch­wantz Suzuki in the Clas­sic Racer Pa­rade! Could we see one of Steve’s twostroke Suzukis in ac­tion in the races next year?

Olie Lins­dell – The Isle of Man al­waysy throws up highs and lows and this year was no ex­cep­tion.the Lins­dell fam­ily have been staunch Moun­tain Course sup­port­ers, start­ing with dad Steve who rode both the TT and Manx Grand Prix with great suc­cess. Son Olie, a Moun­tain Course win­ner fol­lowed, and this year younger brother David made an im­pres­sive de­but. How mum Ca­role copes I have no idea. De­spite hav­ing to pull out of the 500cc Clas­sic Race, due to a pre­vi­ous shoul­der in­jury, Olie still set what must be a record when he whis­tled the push-rod Royal En­field, which fa­ther Steve has ded­i­cated years to de­vel­op­ing and which is still on its orig­i­nal set of crankcases, through the Sulby Straight speed trap at an amaz­ing 140.4mph.

Michael Rut­ter pro­vided a great trib­ute to his fa­ther’s glit­ter­ing TT Du­cati ca­reer, in replica hel­met and leathers, when he rode the Bel­gium Red Fox Du­cati to run­ner-up spot. Sadly, the po­si­tion was taken away, to the dis­may of my­self and many of the fans around the course, be­cause the fuel tank was over­size, de­spite no ad­van­tage be­ing gained at the pit stop. I re­ally strug­gle with the strict en­force­ment of some tech­ni­cal in­fringe­ments and not oth­ers if I’m hon­est. Michael was very dis­ap­pointed for the team, but philo­soph­i­cal and less con­cerned for him­self. As if to rub salt in to the wounds some­one stole the podium lau­rel wreath from the team’s awning overnight.

TT leg­end John Mcguin­ness, still car­ry­ing his se­ri­ous leg and back in­juries from the North West 200, (most peo­ple have for­got­ten about his bro­ken ver­te­brae), was an in­ter­ested, but frus­trated, spec­ta­tor at the Clas­sic TT.

Tuner, re­storer and all-round great guy Ken Mcintosh, brought the Duke Nor­ton half way round the world for the Clas­sic Racer Pa­rade, so it seemed only right for Cam Don­ald, com­plete with pe­riod hel­met, to give it a spir­ited lap.

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