After several weeks of sunshine and very warm weather since Round 3 the weather forecast was set to dampen our spirits as well as the track again on a race weekend. However we only had two rain showers at Shakey on Saturday to spoil qualifying. The first stopped shortly after midday which allowed the track crew to prep. the racing surface for a start around 2 o’clock. After about 3 pairs of street cars ran down the track a strange and very dark cloud formation appeared which delivered the second shower of the day and turned the pits into a river and curtailed any further racing activity. Then we were treated to clear blue skies and soaring temperatures for the evening!
For Round 4 Joe was again joined in Gas by Robbie and although Terry had entered he was missing due to pressure of work. Kieran and Brett had the pleasure of Clampy’s company in ET and it was now Pete’s turn to be absent but no sick note this time as an important celebration at home demanded his attention (and wallet). Tim who was also on the entry list was a no show and yet again the Twins were down in both classes for a variety of reasons. We did have an extra racer in the Twins pits but Cary was still recovering from a shoulder operation and had been advised (told) to leave the ‘bike at home and spectate. I think he may have experienced more water than he is used to even though he lives on the South coast. Nice to see he is on the mend but a frustrating day for all.
SCR is also the venue for ‘The Global Gathering’ in July and the airfield was now contained within a high fence and marquees, performance stages etc. were being assembled by a huge team who were also hampered by the weather. We were kept entertained by a partially assembled tent that had been turned into a very large paddling pool and the efforts to raise/lower and raise it several times in an effort to lose the extra weight of this water.
Beer o’clock came early with entertainment provided from Clampy’s mobile disco and the chin-wagging and supping continued until well past a sensible time as we were expecting an early start on eliminations day.
With a one-shot qualifier for all competitors first thing, in order to work out the pairings, and RWYB drivers/riders filling the pairing lanes it was to be a frustrating start to the day. Eventually qualifying was completed with a few unexpected placings due to machine or rider problems (over indulgence for some maybe!) leaving Joe top qualifier in Gas and Kieran no. 1 in ET. Although there was several rounds in 8.50 and 9.50 ‘bike before the finals NAST decided to run in each early round to ensure our eliminations were completed in the event of a change in the weather or the almost obligatory major oil-down from one of the four-wheeled contingent. We were joined by Chris and Yvonne for race day and the good news is Chris’ new Harley should be on the strip for the August Bank Holiday meeting, NAST Round 5.
For first round of eliminations in Gas Joe stormed off on the Buell with an excellent reaction time with Robbie day-dreaming in the other lane on the Honda with too much to do despite Joe’s unusual 10.1 second run. Kieran, with a bye, faced and beat the Harley of Clampy in the second round who had previously seen off Brett on his Suzuki. The strategy had paid off as we had completed our finals and the remaining competitors had to wait an awful long time as yet again there was a major oil-down in the right lane (the offending Volvo estate was last seen in the layby opposite the airfield entrance obviously waiting for the services of the AA/RAC).
With hurricane Bertha safely out of the way we are looking forward to probably 4 ‘bikes in Gas and maybe eight in ET for August – roll on Round 5 and some late Summer sunshine.
Yet again the weather seemed to be against us as the forecast consisted of ‘Humid with more frequent thunderstorms and locally intense downpours, perhaps with hail for a time’ but it would be warm! So after an early dry start on Saturday I was surprised as it became much darker as the morning progressed and on reaching the M42 at the Toll road junction the heavens opened and for ten minutes we were subjected to a thunderstorm and rain that even cats and dogs refused to go out in. However this band of weather had arrived at Long Marston some time previously and approaching Shakey the day looked far more promising for our dry weather pursuits.
For Round 3 Robbie was joined in Gas by Joe with Kieran, Pete and Brett in ET. Tim was absent as it was his turn to eat hospital food after a minor operation and again the Twins were down in both classes for a number of reasons. The track was eventually ready after much activity to move water from the braking area and we prepared for our first qualifier. Meanwhile the pits were filling up with quite a few NSA sprinters and the NAST marquee was surrounded by FWD cars, a group of whom had erected a rather large and new pop-up garage next to our pits and entertained us with reggae music and a strange smell (probably some magic brew used to produce some stunning times on track?).
Despite 2 separate big oil-downs, again more transmission fluid in the left lane for more than half the track and a major engine blow-up leaving a mess in the right Shakey crew worked hard and we got our 3 qualifiers and the large number of NSA sprinters had 5 runs each! No real problems for NAST members except Robbie’s air-shifter decided to retire resorting to old-fashioned foot shifting on the final run. This left Kieran and Joe as fastest qualifiers for Sunday’s eliminations. Dave the Hat was also fastest qualifier with some wild rides in 8.50 ‘bike to carry on his fairy tale introduction to this class. After some activity to completely re-plumb Robbie’s air-shifter, thanks to Nigel’s treasure trove of spares, the heavens opened once more with the rain blowing sideways through the marquee forcing everyone to shelter. Rumour has it that Noah’s Arc is buried under one of the hills near the track and following this shower it was time to bring it back in use.
A more promising summer’s day but with a sting in its tail had us all geared up for a good days racing. Due to the size of entry in all the ‘bike classes the finals would be much later in the day but despite only a handful of NAST competitors we elected to race in the first round – 2 ‘bikes in gas so this was the final with Joe the clear winner but semi-finals for ET where Kieran got a bye and Pete put Brett on the trailer. The rest of the day saw some hectic action on the strip but Dave’s luck in 8.50 bike ran out despite some hair-raising riding. By late afternoon we had reached the finals but the weather had turned nasty and a dark cloud had appeared reducing the light levels so dramatically that it was time to switch on the rear lights as a new requirement in the ACU rule book. Unfortunately as Kieran and Pete staged (the amber lights resembling spotlights it had become so dark) we were all treated to a bath with another torrential downpour and the wind blowing ferociously sideways. We all returned to the NAST marquee to find an orange popup garage trying to mate with it and its owners losing the battle to calm it down. With Chris attempting to hold down the marquee with his pole-dancing skills it eventually stopped raining, obviously racing was now done for the day, and time to pack away all the rain-soaked gear. On leaving the track the pits resembled Glastonbury the day after the end of the festival with a large number of abandoned tents/gazebos littering the airfield. Next round 4 ‘Ladies That Launch’ in July where we hope for a better turnout and less rain.
For Round 2 we had been promised a weekend of mixed weather by the Met. Office but unfortunately as it was a Bank Holiday we expected, and got, a variety of wet weather for most of the first day of ‘racing’ which allowed Tim to do his impersonation of ‘Uncle Ernie’ from the rock opera ‘Tommy’. Due to a lack of Gas entries Robbie had to move into the ET class for his first taste of watching the lights and estimating the time taken to boil an egg. The experts at this task on this occasion being Tim, Pete and Kieran. Carey was missing still recovering from his recent operation and amusing himself, apparently, by throwing himself down the stairs! Kieran had arrived at Shakey on the Friday and was concerned with his concentration and reaction times so was consuming vast quantities of Aldi’s equivalent of Red Bull but this only guaranteed that no-one else could relax.The rain refused to stop so it was decided to abandon racing about 2.00 as even if it ceased immediately the braking area would not dry in time to beat the curfew. So imagine our surprise when it stopped raining within minutes of this announcement! However it was the right call as it was cold with little breeze to help in the drying process.
With a very crowded pit, and more arriving for the rwyb, we finally had a dry track to play on. Twins, 8.50 and 9.50 ‘bikes all went down for their first run early in the morning. The pairing lanes reached almost to the Sunday Market fence at the top end of the pits (this is no exaggeration) and this queue was not helped by the inevitable delays caused by two oil downs, one being transmission fluid (again – thought this stuff was expensive?) being deposited almost the length of the strip. Shakey staff pulled out all the stops and we had our 3 qualifying sessions. Tim was a surprising number 1 qualifier followed by Pete, Robbie and Kieran. Dave and Nigel had been spannering on his new 8.50 ‘bike after an observed run had shown up that the air-shifter didn’t work. All the hard work paid off with Dave finishing the day with a 8.7s run on his 3rd ride on the Suzuki.
Race day began with some very light rain but this did not hold up the eliminations and despite only having 4 ‘bikes in eliminations ET semi-finals went out with the first round of 9.50 & 8.50 ‘bike. Tim faced Kieran but the CX computer took over on the start-line and required rebooting before the engine would run correctly by which time Kieran had all but finished his run to the final. We were joined by Chris and Yvonne and Chris elected to hold Robbie’s e.t. board but would have been more useful holding the twist grip open as Robbie stalled on the line allowing Pete an easy win (a good kicking rather than a reboot in this case). It was a long wait to the final but we were kept entertained by Dave the hat in his first attempt in 8.50 ‘bike running a string of 8.7s runs to win the final – well done. Not in competition Andy had taken the ‘Poppy’ ‘bike to the track after a rebuild following Dawn’s unfortunate accident and ran a 9.7 pass.
Meanwhile the final of Supertwins ET was between Pete and Kieran. Would the ‘Red Bull equivalent’ help Kieran win his second final in a row or would age and experience as well as an early night prove more reliable. Pete’s proven strategy won through with the slight help of a missed gear by Kieran. So one win each as we go into Round 3 at the ‘Midsummer Showdown’ meeting at SCR.
Scraping the frost off the van windscreen it was off to Shakey for Round I of the NAST championship. Three days of racing with no extra charge for electricity (bring your own if you need it) and sunshine included. After an uneventful journey and scrutineering completed for most the pairing lanes were filling up at 9.45 for the first round of qualifying to begin at 10.00. Unfortunately Kieran had failed scrutineering due to a broken pinch bolt in the front forks. Was this to be a sad end to his trip from the South coast, of course not because we had the man from the North, Mr. fixit himself Pete Harrison. With his usual prowess of on-site engineering Pete ensured Kieran was able to race but unfortunately this selfless act would lead to Pete’s downfall in eliminations. Terry had arrived by now towing a very nice box trailer supplied by his main sponsor and with the huge van of Yvonne and Chris unfortunately containing only his tow ‘bike we now had 7 SET racers and 3 Gas ‘bikes.
In SET Kieran stole the show on his first run as number 1 qualifier with a 0.03 reaction with the ever improving Carey on the Suzuki, ‘Turbo’ Tim riding a much slimmed- down CX, Pete on the all-conquering Ducati, Brett moving up from juniors on a very pretty Suzuki that he didn’t dwarf and the mother and daughter team of Fiona and Giselle. Gas was dominated by Terry’s Harley with a string of 9.2s quarters closely followed by Joe on the Buell in and Robbie on the Honda (Dave the Hat dropped his Gas entry and went to play in 9.50 ‘bike). Shakey staff worked hard to get in a 4th qualifying round before the curfew at 6.00 which saw Pete take no.1 spot in SET and Terry in Gas with a worried Joe having gear change problems after changing the ram. Qualifying came to a close a little earlier than expected due to a freak accident in the pairing lanes when the marshal there was run over and had to be air-lifted to hospital with some broken bones.
After a quiet, apart from a noisy generator which Shakey staff had switched off around midnight, and cold night Virgin called me at 7.20 to remind me to top up my phone! Another sunny day with no wind greeted us and after a short trip around the Sunday market the track reopened with more problems for Joe and a broken head steady for Terry. Nigel spent the day prepping one of his many Buells for its new owner and eventually delivered it to the beaming Giselle. Qualifying, unfortunately, was limited to 2 runs after Dave Thomas parted with his ‘bike on launch in the right lane (he is OK but very badly bruised) and transmission fluid from a car being deposited the whole length of the left lane.
At the Saturday night meeting Giselle announced that she would not be attending many race meetings due to an opportunity to see the world and attend Glastonbury (cannot see the appeal of a weekend camping in a field surrounded by loud sounds?). Bev made a request for volunteers to fill several vacant committee posts but as all present stepped back in unison no change there. Kieran announced that he is to become a father in the very near future so this may have an impact on his lightning reaction times after a few sleepless nights. As the temperature dropped several of us made good use of Terry’s new box trailer and fan heater in which to enjoy a cold beer or two.
Again we had a sunny day with hardly any wind for eliminations. SET saw 2 family matches with Carey against Kieran and Giselle racing Fiona. Giselle beat her mother who we believe phoned for a taxi to take Giselle to the airport to begin her trip early and Kieran side-lined Carey who was not himself despite having an early night due to a shoulder injury necessitating some pain-killers (we won’t mention the reaction when mixed with alcohol). Second round Pete red-lit in an effort to overcome Kieran’s reaction time and in the final Kieran defeated Giselle who broke out. In Gas Joe had an easy win against Robbie but Terry lost fire twice without breaking the beams on his bye run which handed Joe the win in a solo final. Terry’s cruel luck was a loose connector and to add insult to injury what should have been a close final, if it had happened, saw Joe have shifter problems again culminating in an 18sec run for the trophy.