BRIGHTON SPEED TRIALS
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
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
“FERRET HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON. HE FIRES UP THE DRAG BIKE IN THE BACK OF THE VAN. THE RACKET IS ENOUGH TO TERRIFY ANYONE WITHIN A 100 YARDS ”
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