It’s nearly that time again; the second Saturday in September, the day the VMCC Sprint Section makes its annual pilgrimage to the South Coast (to be precise Madeira Drive, Brighton) for the longest running speed event for both motor cycles and motor cars – the Frosts National Brighton Speed Trials. We the Sprint Section would like to take this opportunity to thank Brighton and Hove Motor Club for their invite to organise the motorcycle entry to this prestigious event.
This year we trust the weather gods will be kind to us, as the past two years have been very grim with grey skies, wind and rain being the order of the day. These conditions may be conquered by the modern production machines and most of the vintage entry, but for the modern race machines it is an unmitigated disaster to turn up, unload, sit in the car or van and watch the rain all day!
Now before I get a flood of complaints let me just say, yes we are the VMCC Sprint Section and yes we must run with modern machines, which are obviously outside of the 25 year rolling rule. If we did not we would not survive on vintage machines alone. We do cater for all at our events, be the bike old, classic, modern or straight out the box, we have classes to suit. The only thing we ask is that it has a wheel at the front, one at the back and for the heroes out there maybe a third on the side!
Brighton is an exceptional event and for that reason we run with a different class structure to that of other events. To be fair to the Vintage entry back in 2000 we changed the Vintage Racing Class to the Vintage Consistency Class, to be awarded the John Rich Memorial Trophy. So as long as the machine is pre 1972, two or three wheeled it can be entered. To win the consistency class it’s not about your best time, but about how close you can make your two timed runs over the quarter mile. Let me tell you it has been amazing to see how competitive this class has become.
Since we introduced the Consistency Class we have attracted back some rare and fine machinery over the years with some brilliant rides. Back in 2009 we had a three way tie for the John Rich Memorial Trophy – Malcolm Herwin on his DT500 Douglas, Chris Illman riding the 500cc V-Twin Norton-JAP “Woden” and John Ralph Landridge riding his 750cc Norton Atlas. All three guys managed to put in two timed runs to within 0.07 seconds! Now who would have thought that would have been possible? Exceptionally good riding by the three of them. Seeing however that the award could only go to one person and that it was a tie break situation, it had to revert to who was the fastest out of the tie breakers. Well the honours went to John Ralph Landridge with his winning time of 13.84 seconds with a terminal speed of 96mph.
We have also seen the return of many specials like the 1928 Bayley-Cole’s 600cc DT Douglas, now ridden by Chris Illman, as well as the 1952 ex-Francis Williams, Basil Keys, 996cc Norton-JAP, better known as the “Saltdean Special”, ridden by Steve Keys. Who is not say that we may see the return of another classic machine at Brighton this year, maybe with three wheels! Rumour has it that Impulse, the three wheeled Imp powered machine of Vic Phillips will be making a welcome return, ridden or is it driven this time around by Andy Forward, the restorer of the machine now owned by Paul Standing. It will great to see this machine back in action; ironically I had the misfortune to stop Impulse from running at Brighton many years ago (whilst undertaking my then scrutineering duties) due to a badly perished rear slick! I believe that is when Paul became the new custodian!
Now I will not go on about the modern machines in this article other than to say that the outright course record is held by a current VMCC member, one Roger Simmons, better known as The Dodger! Roger unfortunately has not been able to better his time from 2009 due to the poor conditions over the last two years, but in 2009 it was just unbelievable. The previous course record holder, Phil Wood, threw the gauntlet down that day with a practice run of 9.04 seconds and a terminal of 156mph to Rodgers 9.22 run, albeit with a faster terminal of 159mph. It was very apparent that things would hot up as the day progressed. Progress they did. On his first timed run The Dodger went out and broke the course record with a fantastic run of 8.85 seconds at 161mph, which was an improvement of 4 hundredths over his best time in 2008. The response from the public was something to be seen, clapping and cheering him on his return to the start line and paddock. Now as if that was not good enough for Roger, he went out for his second timed run and did it all over again. This time Roger stuck in a blistering 8.73 second run at 164mph to smash the course record again, this run was 0.16 seconds faster than in 2008! These times and speeds are normally only seen on fully prepared drag strips, so this really says something about not just Roger but all the riders in this class. Ok, so this was done on a 2004, 1300cc Turbo Charged Suzuki Hayabusa, but remember this will be one of the vintage classics in not too many years.
So if you wish to see quarter mile sprinting at is best and at its oldest venue why not come down to Brighton on Saturday 8th September and join us for the day. Come and see the wide array of motorcycles from 1910 through today’s modern machines all competing for such trophies as The Dolphin Trophy, The Sussex Trophy and The John Rich Memorial Trophy, not forgetting the The Phil Manzano Award.
Entries have now closed for this year’s event, but why not enter our other events throughout the year and try for an invite for next year’s Brighton Speed Trials. Places are limited but you never know unless you try.
Juan V Manzano – VMCC Sprint Section
Entries Secretary and Secretary of the Meeting, Brighton Speed Trials 2012.
PS There are two further VMCC Sprints scheduled for 2012, Wroughton near Swindon Sun 19th August, and Eelmoor near Aldershot, Sun 30th Sept. See Section Notes or website for details www.vmccsprint.co.uk.