Last weekend we hosted one of our favourite annual events – the Dirt Track Riders Association flat track season launch party. A chance for the riders to get pumped for the forthcoming rounds and to catch up with mates and adversaries, as well as providing a well needed line in the sand to make sure their winter projects are ready to do battle.
Sideburn brought their merch and mag pop-up store and women’s training school Days in the Dirt launched their academy based at the UK’s premiere flat track facility, Greenfield Dirt Track. Greenfield founder George Pickering filled the corner of Arch 3 with a supply of the regulation control tyre, Dunlop’s DT3 – order from George here – and exhibited a pair of Kawasakis, one belonging to Pro Class runner up Gerard Bailo.
Indian Motorcycles UK have returned as title sponsor for 2019 with their Hooligan Class ‘wrecking crew’ of Leah Tokelove and Lee Kirk-Patrick who’ll be running their trusty Scouts from 2018 prepared by Krazy Horse The eagle-eyed will have noticed a seemingly innocuous upgrade – a chain drive conversion. The Indian team’s achilles heel last season was the lack of gearing options on the stock belt drive system, the riders often having to choose between popping off the limiter at the end of the straight, or shifting and then ending up with way too much torque for the rest of the corner.
At the lighter end of the grid Mike Hill from Survivor Customs unveiled his eagerly anticipated 450 framer, which weighs a sniff over 90kgs, wet! Powered by a CRF450 motor and piloted by the multi-time champion this is going to be a formidable challenge to the 2019 Pro title.
A firm favourite was this 1200cc Harley Sportster built by James Smith. He’s been campaigning this faithful brute for a few seasons now and every year it changes guise. For 2019 he’s had carbon fibre tank and seat moulds made to his own design, albeit based on the traditional Woods style. the whole bike looks the business. There are a few trick parts that James has developed too, in his tiny Richmond based workshop. The clear points cover is just visible at the bottom of this pic, as is the sturdy, knob-ended lever (bottom left) that actuates the starter. The graphics are James’ work also. Finding a more committed DTRA rider and fan would be a tough job! Wait til you see his outfit and new steel shoe from Japan!!
Another favourite was this mini-framer belonging to one of the coolest kids in the paddock, Wilbur Skipp, son of vintage class racer Jeremy Skipp (Rock Oil’s UK distributor for the SE). The frame is a Lazer from the US and power is courtesy of hopped-up XL125 – check here for the lowdown.
Pro class championship runner-up and Greenfield team rider Garard Bailo flew in from Barcelona especially to collect his reward for just missing out to Toby Hales for the 2018 title. The prize money will go someway towards Bailo’s airfares this season as the Spanish national travels over for each round. Hopefully the trophy was too tall for the overhead locker and had to sit on his lap for the other passengers to see.
We haven’t got full shots of flat track stalwart Jason Cursley’s pair of vintage beauties he’s entering this year, but trust me, they’re lovely. A super rare Harley XLR900 (pic far right) and a lovely Norton – details to follow on this, it was so hectic I didn’t have time to chat for long.
One of our heroes from last season was this guy, Hooligan champ and BSMC rider Gary Birtwistle. Find out how he won the title last year here. Gary also managed 3rd overall in the Pro Class and will be riding this brand new 2019 CRF450 for the Evolve team. Let’s see if Gary’s Survivor Customs prepared Ducati Scrambler 800 can take him to back-to-back titles this year.
And finally, that aforementioned line in the sand, which was enough motivation to focus myself and Viv Cowley from V-Moto to put in the hours and motorway miles to get my Wasp framed Yamaha XSR700 project ready – nearly. A stack more info on that in due course.
Entries for the 2019 season are now closed but spectating is free at all rounds apart from the MCN Festival, but it’s worth the show entry fee for the racing alone.
See you at the races!!
Images by Tom Bing