Whilst it may not have happened before, it will surely take place again, for it was quite a sight as 30 of the finest 2 stroke screamers took to the starting grid at the 74th Members Meeting of 2016. Goodwood circuit has never featured a post 1966 race for motorcycles and certainly not a field of 70’s oil burners. The Members Meeting is mainly a car event organised by the Goodwood Road Racing Club exclusively for their membership, keeping the crowds manageable but making admission difficult if you aren’t in the club. All race entrants are invited and the choice of 250-350cc two strokes to race for the Hailwood Trophy may well have raised a few eyebrows with the establishment but certainly thrilled on the day.
The machines were dated from 1970-1984 and checking the entry details it was mainly Yamaha TZ’s, the privateers choice of the era. The race wouldn’t be entirely contested by machines from the land of the rising sun for in the mix was a magnificent 1984 Harley-Davidson RR250 (Aermacchi) and the very pretty plus very quick Bimota Ringhini from 1981. Frame manufactures from Spondon, Harris and Maxton all fitted with TZ power could also be seen being prepared in the bike paddock where final checks were being made when I visited Saturday before qualifying.
Although a pair of Ringhini’s had originally been entered, one had travelled along the Cadwell Park tarmac without using its tyres just a week prior and the team told that the remaining machine had suffered gearbox failure on the same day; that was however ready to go, minus anytime to test. Further along the paddock it had been a similar story for the immaculate Harley with a massive 8 ½ hours on the rolling road ironing out carburation issues; finally resolved by installing lighter floats into the bowls.
As qualifying arrived everyone was reminded that they were witnessing something unique, not just TZ’s running on the 2.4 miles Goodwood track for the first time; the fact it was not much above freezing would be a new experience for many. The original Members Meetings were always run early in the year but on a bitterly cold March day getting heat into the tyres would give a few riders some moments. Back in the day these machines would race across Europe from the TT to the GP circus and Yamaha’s TZ made that possible; at about £1500 to buy new in 1976 it was affordable. So, whilst the main factory effort went on the 500cc machines, space was available for small privateers to compete and win the 250/350 classes, apart from the years Harley, Kawasaki and Morbidelli took the crown.
After gaining a few laps confidence the qualifying times came down and it was Michael Russell on the Harris Yamaha posting a very impressive 1.30.384, that’s an average of just under 95mph; not bad for a 35 year old machine. Ian Simpson on his TZ 350E was 1.5 behind and Dean Stimpson also on a Harris completed the front row. Gordon Russell (TZG) failed to post a time; cold tyres gave him little warning as he offered my Nikon the perfect moment on his out lap, this error he would put right during the race on Sunday. Clive Ling on the Ringhini would start 14th with some issues, Mark Linton on the Harley began 26th.
The race itself lived up to all it promised with a first lap battle between Stimpson and Simpson giving the commentators a challenge until Michael Russell got into the mix. Glen English on a TZ G appeared from nowhere to steal the lead away riding Chas Mortimer’s bike from 1981. First lap finished and English led Simpson, Parker (Spondon) and Stimpson but just a few yards later English retired with a mechanical and the order behind remained unchanged; as the Avon tyres offered increased grip battles throughout the field increased. Pole man Russell held 4th position but dropped off the leaders and Ian Simpson made a break as behind Richard Parker battled with Dean Stimpson and after 14 laps that’s how it finished. Parker doing well to hold position on his Marlboro liveried Spondon as Stimpson chasing would post fastest time of the race on the last lap with an amazing 1.26.04 a 99.5mph average. Russell took fourth and Nigel Palmer enjoyed 5th place on his 1984 TZ250L and whilst 16 finished the race it was a great shame when the Harley pulled off early.
An even bigger disappointment for the Bimota Ringhini that looked to be performing well before it retired; eleven machines were unable to finish. Gordon Russell who failed to post a qualifying time stormed through the field, minus a screen and determined to make up for the previous day, he finished an impressive 8th. The riders were clapped off the track by the appreciative crowd after being entertained over the 20 minute Hailwood Trophy; the members approved as the blue haze of 2 stroke drifted away from Goodwood, at least till next year.
Grant Ford for classic-motorbikes.net