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A Day At The Races (nearly).

Written by Phil Skinner.

My speedo hasn’t seen much action of late, largely due to the minging weather (dammit! I can’t remember the last day it didn’t rain). Weekend plans were between heading for the Highlands or going to a barbecue with a load of the boys. Looks like the forecast is telling me to take a crate of Brown Ale and an umbrella to my mates’ house and leave the Highlands to damp tourists and midges..

On the left – Gav, rides a Suzuki, thinks he’s fast. On the right, Kevin Schwantz, he actually is fast on a Suzuki.

On the left – Gav, rides a Suzuki, thinks he’s fast. On the right, Kevin Schwantz, he actually is fast on a Suzuki.

Can you have fun in the rain? I did last weekend watching the British Super Bike qualifying rounds at Knockhill (I prefer watching the actual race on TV just so I can see everything). The Saturday is also a little more relaxed but still with plenty of atmosphere (i.e. the reek of high quality two stroke) and action. For those of you familiar with Knockhill the fact that it rained won’t come as a great surprise but this was more like a bucket being emptied than any normal precipitation.

Still, the rain really shows which riders can cut it, it’s quite a thing to watch knee sliders leaving a trail in the wet as the riders scratch round the hairpin and there was still the occasional ‘crrrrrk’ as metal touched down on tarmac.

I was also lucky enough to briefly meet some of the greats of the sport who were making time for a quick word, autograph and ‘photo, though I’m sure Kevin Schwantz must have body doubles as he seemed to be everywhere. Steve Plater deserves a special mention, he was busy with the mechanics setting up for the next qualifying round but still came across for a chat and a few pictures, cheers Steve.
I was also privileged enough to bump into the fastest man round the island, big Dave Jeffries (and believe me he is BIG).

TT supremo Dave Jeffries, and no I am not standing on a box! (Dave’s crouching).

TT supremo Dave Jeffries, and no I am not standing on a box! (Dave’s crouching).

Racing aside, it’s always good to check out the other rides in the carpark (saw an absolutely stunning R1 streetfighter) mingle and bulls**t with your fellow bikers. I was also allowed to play on a Hayabusa (brrrm, brrrm, pity they wouldn’t let me have the keys) while sheltering from the rain in the Suzuki tent – unfortunately Honda weren’t much in evidence.

Top bloke Steve Plater slows down long enough for me to take a snap, oh and that Suzuki bloke again.

Top bloke Steve Plater slows down long enough for me to take a snap, oh and that Suzuki bloke again.

So, for those of you who’ve watched in awe at the skill these guys display, why not wander along to the trackside next time they’re near you? If you’ve never been it’s pretty impressive and if, for whatever reason, you don’t fancy race day why not go for the qualifiers? It’s usually pretty cheap (a race day ticket can be a little pricey), there’s plenty of people to supply the atmosphere, merchandise aplenty, and if you fancy it, opportunities to meet the riders that are unlikely on race day. And while it’s not the race proper the riders are still trying their damnedest to get round the track as quickly as they can. Once you’ve gulped a few mouthfuls of race air (50% carbon monoxide) and had your lugs assaulted by dozens of race cans (stick your fingers in your ears for the strokers) you’ll be hooked, just remember your waterproofs!

Catch you on the flip side,

phil