The PS bud­get drag bike and pi­lot Alan See­ley faced Speed Tri­als on Madeira Drive un­der the gaze of a throng­ing crowd and the blaze of a late sum­mer sun. And this is how it went down

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents - Words: Alan See­ley Pic­tures: John Good­man, Kevin White & Justin Hayzelden

It’s Alan ‘straight up’ See­ley on Big G’s bud­get drag bike in Brighton. And it doesn’t ex­plode

A balmy late sum­mer evening in Brighton. It’s the first of Septem­ber and with the van loaded af­ter the Brighton Speed Tri­als, me and Big G are on our way home and stopped at the traf­fic lights on the A23 Lon­don Road. The Pavil­ion can still be seen in our door mir­rors.

We have two ad­di­tional pas­sen­gers. Fer­ret of the epony­mous Elec­trick­ery mo­tor­cy­cle wiring ser­vices in­stalled in the back of the van, while Tom Gill­son is seated up front. Tom is a PS reader who has gen­er­ously sac­ri­ficed his day to help­ing the cause of get­ting the most from Project £1000 Drag Bike at the Speed Tri­als. We are drop­ping th­ese last two at a pub near Brighton train sta­tion. It is worth not­ing that at this point both are quite re­freshed, hav­ing spent the af­ter­noon im­bib­ing lager from plas­tic pint pots. The un­sea­son­able heat has only pre­cip­i­tated their in­so­bri­ety.

There’s a guy on a well-used 2004 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade along­side us. He’s wear­ing a jet lid with a ban­dana over his mouth in the style of many a south­ern English rider. He looks over at the open driver’s win­dow on the van, recog­nises me and G and pulls down his scarf. “I’ve been read­ing about you guys and your bike in the mag,” he says. “How did it go?”

At this point – in an act that would have been im­pos­si­ble to script, es­pe­cially given that Fer­ret had no idea what was go­ing on be­yond the con­fines of his her­metic van-back cell – he fires up the drag bike on the fuel re­main­ing in the carbs. The racket is enough to terrify any­one within 100 yards and our Fireblade man at less than six feet away is un­der­stand­ably shocked. I try in vain to ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion above the row and ex­haust fumes leak­ing past the bulk­head and into the cab but the lights have changed and we’re off left to­wards the sta­tion. Mean­while our Fireblade friend car­ries straight on, doubt­less won­der­ing what he’s just wit­nessed.

It’s a bonkers end to a bonkers day. Against all


the odds Project £1000 Drag Bike has not only ac­quit­ted it­self but ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions. Not that any of this was eas­ily won. We were up at 6am to va­cate our dodgy ho­tel on Brighton’s Lon­don Road. Even ris­ing at this unso­cia­ble hour does not guar­an­tee us bag­ging a premium place in the Madeira Drive pad­dock. We stop just shy of the first al­lot­ted car spa­ces. Not for long how­ever. Well, an hour any­way, dur­ing which time Gary and I have walked the quar­ter-mile course pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the bumpy

area just past the fin­ish line that pre­vi­ous com­peti­tors have warned me about. On our re­turn an apolo­getic mar­shal ap­proaches to tell us we have to move. Ap­par­ently some Ru­fus or Ptolemy Hyphen-hyphen from the car brigade has com­plained that we were ‘en­croach­ing on their space’. On be­half of us mo­tor­cy­cling oiks, I apol­o­gise, ‘chaps’. Though we’re not sorry for hav­ing far faster ve­hi­cles that cost a frac­tion of the price of your fright­fully ex­cit­ing sports cars.

Still, no need to be bit­ter. We’ve got our bikes and our bud­dies and the sun is out and then some. The sky is bluer than Bernard Man­ning com­per­ing a Con­ser­va­tive con­fer­ence in the nearby Grand Ho­tel. To our right, as you look up the strip, the sea is a rich lapis blue. Saul Tow­ers from Fl­itwick Mo­tor­cy­cles has joined our happy gang and our old PS buddy Kevin White has rid­den down to the sea­side too.

For me the morn­ing slips away queu­ing up to sign on, then an­other line for kit in­spec­tion and fi­nally noise test­ing. Then we’re in the long pro­ces­sion snaking to­wards the start line for the prac­tice run. At this point it’s hard to imag­ine

Mas­sive, al­most glad­i­a­to­rial crowd have come to see Alan ex­plode in a ball of fire

Gary al­ways wears a bracelet to match the colour of the bike he’s work­ing on. This one’s a good match

De­spite the op­ti­mistic thumbs up, pi­lot Alan has no idea what’s to come

Our Alan ready to rum­ble, fire ex­tin­guish­ers primed and set for ac­tion, this is the mo­ment of truth

Far Left: “Is that oil on my boot? Yes, it is” Above: men in white coats (say no more) Left: last minute idle chit-chat

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