August meant Redcar, the most northerly track the DTRA visits. A lovely 300m speedway track with wide, long, banked turns and decent trackside facilities.
We had an added incentive to make the long journey up country with a Friday evening show of 'sickle & surf film shorts put on by DTRA photographer and film maker Tom Bing and his pro surfer partner Sally, in a fine old Victorian Lifeguard museum on the coast at Tynemouth (see the blog post).
On Saturday evening we were treated to some thrilling races from the Pro, Inter and Thunderbike classes. The standard and speed of the racing in these top echelon classes illustrating why the DTRA is the premier flat track championship outside the USA.
The Vintage entry was smaller than usual, but we welcomed a new rider and bike to the class in the shape of Gareth Howes #131 and his DT 360 Yamaha. Gareth has been itching to join the Vintage 2 stroke fun for a couple of years, and finally had a bike ready. A seasoned competitor in multiple other classes, Gareth was sure to be a threat to the regulars.
The unknown factor was that Dimitri Coste (using #8) had borrowed Adam Brinkworth's lovely A65 BSA framer for the event. Brink was unable to enter, and a plane ticket was a better option for Dimitri than driving across France and the length of England in a van with his Trackmaster Triumph in tow.
Brink #8 bought the BSA in 2014 from SoCal racer Merlin Stoner #50, who was hanging up his helmet at the age of 75. Brink gave himself the Cyclelogic framer as a 50th birthday present, which fitted with Stoner's #50 plate; the deal was struck when Brink agreed to race it until he was 75 as well. The fine machine underwent a freshen up at Atelier Chatokhine last winter, Fast Frank working his magic on motor and suspension.
After practice Dimitri reported that it was very different to his usual Triumph, both in handling and power delivery. That didn't prevent him from setting fastest lap though, something he continued to do every time he was on track throughout the day. Sean Kelly #33 was the only rider to get near Coste's roost throughout the heat races, but even the young gun on his Suzuki couldn't hang on to the flying Frenchie's shirt tails over a full race distance.
In an extraordinary turnaround, DTRA stalwart and pro class veteran Vince Hurst #95, won his first heat race on his hitherto less than reliable Ariel. Vince's riding skill was demonstrated to the full as he powered past Ed Lonergan's 750 Triumph framer #151 and then pulled clear of second placed #101 Jon Dyer on his BSA single.
Unfortunately Vince's glory wasn't to last past his second heat, in which the cleverly designed rear wheel steer geometry appeared to become a little more pronounced, before the motor lost fire on the grid of heat 3 and refused to react to Vince's exhortations to get going again. I do hope Vince will be able to persuade his machine to race again next month.
Gareth Howes was evidently getting on with his new steed, finishing in third place in one of his heats.
In the final Dimitri continued as he had in all his heats and dominated the race, carving beautifully controlled lines through the turns and finishing a stylish and emphatic half lap clear of second placed Sean Kelly, himself a corner ahead of the tightly bunched and battling next three. It was Carl Swateridge #257 on his stock framed OIF Triumph (still sporting horn and licence plate) who crossed the line third just ahead of hard charging Jon Dyer and Rick Bearcroft #39.
So it was all about the Parisian Playboy in his lovely Romero tribute, white leathers who was the unbeaten, stylish hero of the day, adding to his tally of 4 stroke class wins.
Sean Kelly stood on the top step of the 2 stroke class podium again, joined by Gareth Howes in second and the Ossa mounted, Sideburn
32 cover star Lucia Aucott # 209 in third spot.
Sideburn Rider of the Day deservedly went to The Housewive's Favourite, Jon Dyer #101, who was on fire all day, never finishing lower than second in his heats and fourth on track in the final.
Only two riders have finished ahead of Sean Kelly on track so far this year; wildcard Welshman Guto Llewellin at round 4 and now Dimitri Coste, riding a borrowed bike for the first time.
The final round at the Greenfield Oval next month is also the final round of the inaugural DTRA European Championship. We'll be enjoying a bumper grid with some of the Continent's best joining us. With Martin Huenning #93 and DTRA supremo Anthony Brown #47 on one win each in the Euro and Dimitri and myself #72 on equal points in the National, the stage is set for a thrilling climax in both championships
Photos: Nathalie Legrand/ Mechanikers