The Green Grass of 2010.
The grass began to grow in April this year, a whole
month later than normal, and what a unique smell it is when you cut your
grass for the first time in the spring
That same sweet smell of cut grass covers many farmers meadows as the
UK grass track season gets underway.
My Grass Track season was due to start on the Mayday Sunday – but lo
and behold, after 6 months of staying at home (well, ok – down the pub
then!) on Sundays there was a fixture clash, the traditional Dunmow Club
Scramble at Stebbing (a rare Scramble that still includes a mud hole)
clashed with the first grass track meeting at Wainfleet.
travelled up and supported the Wainfleet meeting as Marshalls (and froze their vital parts off in a bitterly east wind) I was duty bound (as Clerk of the Course) to supervise vehicles being towed on and off of a muddy Scramble field in Essex. The sight of giant camper vans with trailers, being towed at the front by a tractor whilst the back (and the trailer) was sliding sideways down a steep bank toward a deep ditch provided excellent entertainment as it got dark and long after most spectators had left!
The spectators had good entertainment earlier as at least 2 sidecars missed the gateway and ended up in the ditch, and the only casualty of the day, a broken leg, was a slow motion accident with the rider landing almost at my feet.
“Are you alright” I asked, expecting him to get up once he removed the bike from his legs.
“No” he replied “I think I have broken my leg “
“Are you sure? I asked as I started to unfurl the red flag.
He didn’t answer as his face was contorted with pain at that point,
and so I guessed the answer and the race was stopped.
The next day we journeyed down to Collier Street for the reopening of that famous venue, now leased by the Maidstone Aces Club, it is no longer a circuit wholly surrounded by white boards, but the magic of the vanue was reflected in a high quality rider entry
Two weeks later it was off to the Midlands for the Master of Midshires as deputy to Clerk of the Course Matt Wear, it was a good days racing, even though the track markers would not stay in, as fast as they were replaced the riders took them out again, alkathine pipe is the solution, but it must be inserted into a deep tight hole to stay there.
A week later it was down to Frittenden in Kent, for
the Master Qualifier. How soon the weather changes in the UK, it was
now scorching hot and regular watering was needed to maintain visibility.
The day had already been marred as shocking news leaked from Germany that local Kent rider Vince Kinchin had been killed in a track racing incident earlier that afternoon.
A week later and it was back to Wainfleet for their second
meeting of the season, plenty of action on the track including a 3 solo
rider pile up that ended up in the first row of ropes, the ropes did their
job and amazingly all 3 riders walked away uninjured !
Next meeting was a home fixture, the Under 21 Championships at Ugley, near Stansted Airport (Is it the home of the Ugley Womens Institute ?)
Plenty of drama here when leading contender for the Championship,
Rob Mear, ground to a halt whilst leading the final when his frame snapped
– how unlucky was that?
later and it was off to Aylesbury for the Jon Underwood Memorial meeting
in aid of the Headway charity
The following week there was a clash of dates with both Maidstone and Fenland clubs running, everyone wondered if there were enough riders around to ensure that both meetings ran with sufficient entries . Fortunately everyone who is anyone chose the meeting closest to them and both meetings ran ok.
The day after the Speedway GP at Cardiff the 500cc sidecar association held their first meeting at High Easter in Essex, a small entry provided plenty of entertainment, especially when
Sam Radley Smith couldn’t avoid a fallen machine and catapulted himself into the ropes, he walked away uninjured, tough boys these grass track riders! What was good to see at this meeting was young Josh Goodwin competing in the 500cc sidecar and looking every bit as sharp as his father was before he lost his life in a racing accident on the very same track just a few years ago.
Good luck to them both, its so good that having lost a member of the larger Grass Track family, that the family themselves are still able to stay within the sport that robbed them of their loved one.Grass Track racing then went European for two weeks, firstly in Cornwall for the solo UEM semi final (its quicker for me to get to France than to Cornwall by road!) Sadly Ryanair had withdrawn their cheap 1 hour flights from Stansted to Newquay, so it was a 6 hour road trip with a caravan for a weekend away at Bodmin–in–the-Field !
Technical Inspection was the duty this time, under the watchful eye of Dick Sullivan, the Chief Technical Steward. Bikes were weighed, fuel was tested and other technical aspects of the bike recorded.
It was a good day for the Brits as 3 English rider progressed to the Final in La Reole in France, Paul Hurry, Paul Cooper and Lewis Denham. Only thing that spoiled the day was Daren Wilce’s injury and helicopter airlift after his 1,000cc sidecar found an enormous amount of grip some 30 yards after leaving the start gate, reaching V1 and then rotating and going skywards at the same angle that you used to see Concorde take off.
The cornish pasties were nice, the “Tribute” variety of beer was like amber nectar, the only problem s we hit were trying to get Bert to buy 3 ice creams (They cost him £9 last year, so his money stayed firmly in his wallet) and my deviation down a grass bank during a Padstow to Wadebridge bike ride, the grass looked so green I couldn’t resist going down and pulling up the rear brake, but alas, the broadsider was a little more broadside than I anticipated and I slid off, putting a lovely green stain on my new England football shirt ! (A fat lot of good the England shirt was after the world cup anyway – speaking of which – where have all those England flags that were on every other car disappeared to ? !)
Part 2 of the European events was at Tallington near
Stamford and the Youth Gold Trophy, the Clerk of the Course, Rob Smith,
had a sweat on at this one when the water bowser broke down on Sunday
morning as the ground was bone dry, but fortunately the club managed
to fix it (else we would have seen very little for dust)
Cornwall for the UEM semi final.
We left at 04.30, which was not good for me as I had only got
in from a good night out with some mates at 02.15 ! The early departure
was worth it though as we hit no traffic at all on the 6 hour journey.
“Aint no grass track racing field down here boys” he said.
“You have come down the wrong lane, you want the other lane” he chortled
“But the sat nav says the postcode is down this lane “ argued Steve Brace
“ Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr but the post codes are all wrong down here “ said Jethro with a wry smile and then added “you are going to have fun backing that caravan all the way back up the lane cos there aint nowhere to turn round down here!!!!”.
We looked around and yes – he was right – no turning circle – not even for tourists that were hopelessly lost !
“I guess I could open the meadow gate for you” said Jethro gleefully at the thought of providing a solution “But the grass is wet – you may get stuck with that there caravan”
“We will take our chances on that one” we said as Will powered into the meadow in 4 wheel drive mode and did a quick U turn with the caravan lurching behind the vehicle.
As we sped back up the narrow lane Steve Brace quietly disconnected the sat nav and hid it in the glove box, but his post as navigator was untenable – he was going to have to sit in the rear seat on the way home!