Classic Racer - - WHAT’S INSIDE - Words: Phil Wain Pho­tographs: White Lion Pub­lish­ing

In a large tome just ripe for this time of year, CR con­trib­u­tor Philip Wain has launched his GP book. Here’s a taste of what’s in­side.

In his new book: MOTO GP a pho­to­graphic cel­e­bra­tion, Phil Wain looks at what makes the sport we love tick at the high­est level. From ri­val­ries that de­fine a gen­er­a­tion, bike fac­to­ries to cir­cuits, it’s an im­por­tant pic­to­rial col­lec­tion from across the years.

With a nod to some of the great tracks, here’s Phil’s take on five of the best (at cer­tain times). Fill up on your pub facts with this one...


One of the founder mem­bers of the Grand Prix World Cham­pi­onship, Great Bri­tain is one of only three coun­tries to have hosted a Grand Prix ev­ery year since 1949, (the other two coun­tries be­ing the Nether­lands and Italy)

with the first 28 years see­ing the Moun­tain Course on the Isle of Man as the venue. At 60.8km (37¾ miles) long, the Moun­tain Course re­mains, ar­guably, the most fa­mous race cir­cuit in the world and is the longestever cir­cuit used in Grand Prix his­tory. With racing hav­ing first taken place in 1907, the is­land in the mid­dle of the Ir­ish Sea has wit­nessed all the greats of racing in­clud­ing Ge­off Duke, John Sur­tees, Mike Hail­wood and Gi­a­como Agostini. The 1957 500cc race, which saw Bob Mcin­tyre win, and set the first-ever 100mph (160.9kph) lap, re­mains the long­est-ever race in GP racing, at a stag­ger­ing 485.8km (301.84 miles). How­ever, safety con­cerns led to the event be­ing boy­cotted by the lead­ing rid­ers in the early 1970s, with the Isle of Man last host­ing a Grand Prix in 1976. For 1977, the Bri­tish GP moved to the main­land and Sil­ver­stone, with Amer­i­can Pat Hen­nen tak­ing the vic­tory. A for­mer site of a Sec­ond World War RAF bomber sta­tion, Sil­ver­stone had been run­ning a top-flight in­ter­na­tional meet­ing for a num­ber of years and it was one of the fastest on the cal­en­dar, with Kenny Roberts’ lap record in 1983 close to an av­er­age of 193kph (120mph). The racing was of the high­est or­der with the 250cc and 350cc GP races of­ten see­ing up to 10 rid­ers dis­put­ing the win. For 1987, the GP moved to a new home at Don­ing­ton Park, which had been cre­ated as a racing cir­cuit for both cars and mo­tor­bikes dur­ing the pre­war pe­riod. Hav­ing fallen into dis­re­pair, it re­opened in 1977 and held its first GP 10 years later hav­ing been in­creased in length to 4km (2.5 miles), with the sweep­ing Craner Curves one of the most fa­mous sec­tions of track in racing. Bor­der­ing East Mid­lands Air­port, the venue had a rep­u­ta­tion for a slip­pery sur­face, ap­par­ently due to fuel seep­ing from the over­head air­craft, but it hosted the GP un­til 2010, when its fail­ure to keep up with modern stan­dards saw the race re­turn to Sil­ver­stone.

Valentino Rossi and Jeremy Mcwil­liams battle it out at Don­ing­ton 2002

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