Clubman Classics is a personal blog inspired by the fearless, amateur road racers who competed in the 1947 - 1956 Isle Of Man Clubman's TT races and their production based machines.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Cadwell Park Classic Track Day

Cadwell park is often called the 'Mini Nurburgring' by it's fans, a fitting accolade for a track with almost every type of corner, gradient change and trackside scenery. Hosted by track day specialists MSV and advertised and sponsored by Mortons Media the Classic Track day at Cadwell in early October was an event I wasn't going to miss. The event was open to three classes, pre '65, pre '75, pre '85 and race bikes, I decided to enter the pre '65 class on Dad's road registered 1957 500 Norton International.

Assembled by Mike Pemberton of Pushrod Performance from a genuine '57 Inter frame and fitted with an Andy Savage built '58 Inter engine (one of the last Norton made), the bike is currently in clubmans specification with Manx seat, flat bars, BSA Goldie silencer, aluminium tank and a Commando TLS front brake plate.

Noise testing at 8am insured any on-site campers were wide awake and following a friendly briefing in the bar, the first group of riders were on track by 9.30, albeit going steady in the Lincolnshire morning mist. Conditions were damp on track most of the morning and it took until lunchtime for the track to become bone dry.

Prepped for track use the Inter wore freshly scrubbed-in Avon Road Riders, with the kick start removed and centre stand wired up. Concerned we might fail the noise test with the BSA Gold Star-style pipe fitted, we had prepared a baffle in the shape of an old stainless VW Beetle taper tip that fitted perfectly up the end of the pipe secured with a bolt drilled through. A road test the previous week proved this system was a far better setup than running a road-spec Norton Inter pipe, the latter totally choking the rev-hungry OHC single. Nevertheless we sailed through the noise test unbaffled, I think some of the cheerful scrutineers might have been a little deaf anyway..

My first on-track experience of Cadwell consisted of completing a lap on my longboard a few years ago, some of the hills providing the prefect surface to carve on. Sat astride a Norton Inter is more fun though- and probably safer, as riding a very fast skateboard topless in short trousers is almost guaranteed to end in tears.

Following my fourth session I was beginning to improve my lines, overtaking some of the less spirited riders and keeping up with a confidently ridden mid-sixties Triumph Bonneville. I was impressed with the predictability of the Avon tyres and even managed to touch a knee slider down on one occasion. Entering the 90 degree Park right hander from Park Straight, I found blipping the throttle on down shifts helped keep the bike settled under braking, the front brake providing impressive levels of feel and power.

In total I completed five sessions and approximately 20 laps of the circuit with Coppice and Mansfield becoming my two favourite corners although swinging right-left into Hall Bends after The Mountain made me grin quite a lot too!

The Inter behaved perfectly all day with only my heavy footing to blame for an accidental stall upon entering the track on one occasion. Both my mechanic and I enjoyed the day thoroughly and hope there will be many more classic-only track days next year. A big thanks goes to MSV and Mortons Media for organising the event.

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