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 4 July 2012

Bikers’ Classic Spa Francorchamps 2012

Visiting Spa for the second time round is just as special as the first time. The track at Spa is a real rollercoaster ride, with changing cambers, uphill and downhill sections plus the added mix of unpredictable weather.

Featuring one of the worlds most famous corners, Eau Rouge, Spa is steeped in history. The Bikers’ Classic celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012, and in addition to the annual public track sessions and GP demonstrations, the 2012 event hosted the return of the early 90s Superbikes, plus the 4 Hours of Spa endurance race – held at night!

If that wasn’t enough, the trade stands, live concert and electric atmosphere provided the ideal distraction.

We entered two bikes this year, myself riding the 1956 Norton Domiracer 500 and Bob astride the Norton Model 50 440, aka ‘The Green Meanie’.

 We also set up camp alongside Mike Pemberton of PushrodPerformance, and his wife June. Mike was riding his highly-developed red-framed Norton ES2 500.

Friday kicked-off with a dry session, a chance for track newbies Mike and Bob to learn the track while I settled in to riding the newly rebuilt Domiracer on track for only the second time. Mike recently rebuilt the Domi’s top end so I was under strict instructions to keep it under 5,000-5,500rpm, allowing the motor to bed-in.

Later in the day, humidity levels were very high and the two wet sessions provided a real test for our nerves. Several nasty looking accidents confirmed the low grip levels but we all came home safely. The day ended with a very dry warm evening, only heightening the excitement for the predicted dry weather on Saturday.

Saturday morning was glorious. Dry, fresh and much less humid, we were set for a great day of riding.

Three fantastic track sessions, plus a free t-shirt and a Belgian hamburger later, we also discovered that we were to be the first vehicles to circulate the original Spa Franchorchamps road circuit since it was last used in anger in 1978. Over 500 machines took to the closed public roads in a parade following the exact route of the very fast old track, passing through the infamous Masta Kink. The old track was eventually banned due to safety concerns from the drivers and riders. Despite not being born when it was last used, it was an emotional moment for us, the riders, as well as the countless local spectators who waved us round.

By 8pm, we were claiming our seats to watch the start of the 4 Hours of Spa night endurance race.

All entrants were dated pre-1980 with around 1000cc (or thereabouts), most machines sporting dual headlights in the style of the fantastic Bol d’or bikes.

Our three Nortons performed faultlessly throughout weekend, while the mix of dry and wet conditions served up a fantastic test of rider skill.

Despite the increasing amount of ear-piercing two-strokes and 2012’s Superbike theme, the Bikers’ Classic continues to serve up a brilliant celebration of classic and post-classic machines. Let’s hope the organisers target a 50s and 60s singles theme next year!

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