Photo: Paul France
The DTRA circus rolled into the MCN Festival at Peterborough Showground with a spring in its step. Everyone was itching to go after Round 1 was scrubbed because of a waterlogged track: the weather forecast was good, being part of a bigger event adds to the occasion, but principally we had heard that Frank Chatokhine had arranged for The Legend That Is DAVE ALDANA #13 to come and ride the Aldana replica Trackmaster BSA A65 that Frank recently built for Olivier LeQuellec #49 . Not just a demo, the rumour was that he would join in with the Sideburn-sponsored Vintage races.
Photo: Bram De Roeck
There was a terrific entry for the Peterborough round. I counted 5 genuine Trackmaster framed machines (3 Triumphs, 2 BSAs); Martin Huening's Hells Race winning Panther XR750, and two more US-built and raced Triumph framers. Along with Mike Fisher's Champion-framed Bultaco and Darren Legg's Ossa that makes ten bikes that have in-period racing history in the USA. I make that over half the bikes on the grid that had real competitive US racing stories to tell.
Regrettably there were some no shows and break downs. It was heart breaking to witness two of our Continental Competitors, Andeas Steinhofer #599 and French Sideburn Ambassador Hubert Bastie #2 sidelined by breakages. But such is racing, especially with old machinery.
With Hubert out & Ross Jackson #130 sadly unable to attend, the two-stroke class was down to just three machines, the #80 Bultaco and #124 Ossa being supplemented by #20 Mike Herman's sublime Kawasaki.
On Saturday Mr Aldana showed us what to expect when he rode some demonstration laps on the Trackmaster BSA alongside the ever inspiring AFT pro rider Johnny Lewis #10 aboard the only Indian FTR750 in Europe. WOWSER, watching those two circulate was worth the trip alone.
Photo: Ross Sharp
Sunday dawned bright and sunny, the track was prepped to consistent perfection and racing got underway. The heats seemed to be dominated by foreign riders, with Messrs Chatokhine #5, Coste#87, Van Zele #55, Aldana #13 and Huening #93 filling the top spots in most of the heats, troubled only by the always fast charging David J Webb #140 on his BSA Hornet Spitfire, and Guy Sutherland on his Trackmaster Triumph.
The track conditions were really suited to the bigger engined machines, the nimble two stokes seemingly running out of breath on the straights.
I can't tell you what a thrill it was to line up on the front row in my second heat, turn round and see the skeleton suit of TLTI DAVE ALDANA over my shoulder on row 2. I just couldn't stop grinning inside my helmet at the thought of being in a proper bar to bar race with a real life Hero and Legend. Of course, I knew what would happen and for the first time in a race it was a pleasure to be overtaken. On the back straight on the second lap he went up the inside smooth as silk and looking and sounding like he was taking it easy. I was in the company of gods, hanging on to his shirt tails for a couple of corners, then he was gone.
What a privilege to be able to watch Flat Track perfection and history at such close quarters.
I lined up on the grid with DA again in my third heat, this time starting from the back row whilst he formed up on the front. I made a good start & was trailing Aldana and Angelo when the BSA slowed. I rode round the outside of Dave Aldana through turns 3 and 4 while, dejected, he looked down at the engine now running on one cylinder, his racing over for the day, sadly.The final was a terrific race, albeit without our star guest. Frank Chatokhine won on his Metisse Triumph ahead of Angelo Van Zele on his Trackmaster with David Webb ensuring the podium wasn't an all Triumph affair, by bringing his BSA home third ahead of Guy Sutherland (Trackmaster Triumph), Mike Fisher (Champion Bultaco) and Dimitri Coste (Trackmaster Triumph) who fought back from a fall on lap two.
I had a fun, two-lap tussle with my fellow Triumph mucker Rick Bearcroft #39 and got the better of him for once.
The awards were presented by Dave Aldana and Angelo deservedly won the Sideburn Vintage Rider of Day. Man, he and that bike have bonded well.
In one glorious, sunny day in the British Midlands in 2018, at nearly 59 years old, all my lifelong held On Any Sunday fantasies really did come true.
I have to thank Sideburn, the DTRA, Frank, Olivier, Mr Aldana and the track prep guy for that.