I loved Hells Race in 2017, helped by good weather and a fun road trip with Anthony and Anna from the DTRA. Just about everyone who went last year loved it, word spread and twice as many people entered for 2018, riders coming from Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and the UK (including Sideburn ambassador, John Harrison, above). And the weather was even better this year.
The owners of Dirt Track Lelystad had changed the make-up of the track, adding, I think, more clay to the mix and were concerned the track would hold up with an unprecedented amount of riders. There was a practice afternoon on Saturday, but it was a free-for-all with a lot of downtime for track prep, so it wasn't ideal. I got just five 8-lap sessions in the afternoon, others willing to queue non-stop under the heat got lots more. Here are a few bikes that caught my attention.
Arne Toonen is something else. He has tattoos depicting some of our favourite moto art (from Lenny Schuurmans and Menze Kwint) and this on his Yamaha 500 race bike.
Saturday morning was laidback. No riding till midday. This couple from Berlin took the opportunity to tweak their KR.
Stephanie, from Single & Twin in Hamburg, taking her new BSA 250 for tech inspection.
Interesting Euro haulers were dotted around.
It looked like someone had bought (or was selling) this super-rare Lambretta three-wheeler. I'm a bit of a Lambretta nerd and I've never seen one before.
Chas brought his TriBSA from the UK and it was looking great, even with its dinged tank.
Wes from London was having a bit of bother with his neat KTM based Thunderbike, but he was out on it later.
Two of the women racers at the event, one from Germany, one from France.
Kevin (@el_fontanero), from Hells Race, spent most of the time organising, but got a couple of training sessions in to test some changes on his Suzuki 600 Thunderbike.
Another Brit - James Smith, whose race kit is featured in SB32, on his newly modified Survivor Customs CCM Rotax Thunderbike.
Hells Race had a feel of the early Short Track UK races, from eight or more years ago. There aren't enough flat track races in region for riders to feel confident to spend a lot on a specific race bike, so they're modifying stuff they can get their hands on. The UK was the same, then it developed, now there are very few bike that look like they've been cobbled together to test the water. I love the variety of bikes and solutions that the local riders came up with.
Modified Honda 650s were popular.
As were Yamaha 500. XT500s are regularly raced in vintage race classes in the USA, but good XTs fetch so much in the UK that we hardly see any racing in the DTRA.
Max Funk, a book editor, journalist and author from Berlin, turned up with this great looking Honda 650.
The stock Yamaha 500 engine was too slow for this guy, so he slung in a water-cooled WR450. It was quick too.
Anthony, Mr DTRA, was a Jerkyl for the day and won the minibike class in the morning, racing his Co-Built in the PM.
Lenny Schuurmans and his Suzuki GR650 Townsmoker. Graham from Ireland in the background at his first flat track race on a newly finished XS650.
Mick from the Dutch Brothers appeared on his J&M Rotax
The hooligan class featured a new bike, 2017 DTRA Vintage champ, Gary Birtwistle on the Survivor-modified BSMC Scrambler. More on hooligans in a later post.
All the way from Switzerland! Aermacchi/Harley.
The German KR750 got a good thrashing for two days.
I grabbed snaps when I could. Sorry they're not better. It was hectic. This is our mate Fiete, from Germany, on his Metisse ESO (Eso being what Jawa speedway bikes were originally called. Eso being Czech for Ace, I think).
Fiete's 18-year-old son, Hannes, was on the family Triumph. This bike is a SnowQuake veteran.
Jorg, from Single & Twin Hamburg, attends races all over Europe and beyond.
Our French ambassador, Hubert Bastie, was flying on his rebuilt Huskie and disappointed to only come third in the Vintage class final.
Martin, our doctor friend from Berlin, won the class on his Panther framed XR750. Such a nice guy, so it was great to see his persistence pay off.
It's always good to see Sideburn logos at the races.
Quick visit to the Hooligan podium, then...
A crazy non-stop 250 mile (400km) dash to try get the last Eurotunnel train of the day. If we missed it, we've had a four-hour wait.
We made it.
Big thanks to the Hells Race crew and all at Dirt Track Lelystad. See you next year, I hope.