Jays Jottings

 

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.

Gone is the smell of the Castrol R and the heavy raw sound of the unsilenced JAP engines, but that is deemed “progress” in our ever changing world. Why cant someone create an artificial additive that smells like Castrol R when it burns ?

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.

Whilst my colleagues, Steve Brace and Bert Turner

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


Collier Street

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.

All went well until after the interval when a left handed sidecar accident left passenger Steve North with multiple fractures and a few races later passenger Andy Wood suffered a serious injury in the right hand sidecar final, the whole of the grass track community sends best wishes to both the riders for speedy and complete recoveries.

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 !

The Wainfleet promoter is as safety conscious as anyone in the Grass Track world and even goes the extra mile in getting some large hay bales loosely packed and shrink wrapped as marshal protection, a normal tonne bale would give plenty of protection for the marshal but  would not do the rider (or his bike) ........ much good if he hit it

 

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?

The Ugley track is now 30 years old and the racing has taken its toll on the surface, so watch this space for an announcement as regards a new venue for the Dunmow Club to race at.

 A week later and it was off to Aylesbury for the Jon Underwood Memorial meeting in aid of the Headway charity
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Many top riders continue to support this meeting and it was almost like a preview of what we have to come in the Masters in August. Fortunately we didn’t get a downpour half way through the meeting this year.

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.


We also saw young Ronnie Kinchin compete in the junior class, hardly looking big enough to sit astride the machine, but wanting to emulate his fathers success in Grass Track Racing. 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.

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)

We managed to get one English rider on the podium at this one, Oliver Greenwood, who had just come back after injury, he is one to watch for the future. Six engines were measured after the event, and although the beer tent formed part of the technical tent we didn’t touch a drop (well not until we had finished measuring anyway !)

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.

Only problem was that Steve Brace insisted his Sat Nav was correct when we turned off the main road into a single track road when we was nearing the track. The other 3 of us thought the signs were pointing to the first of the two very narrow single track lanes. Steve was insistent that his Sat Nav would not tell a lie, and the signs were wrong. Yeh right! So down the narrow lane we went, with the caravan scraping the undergrowth on both sides. The lane went on for a mile or so and became more and more remote, then the tarmac stopped, and it got even narrower ! Steve’s confidence that his sat nav was right seemed to be waning, Will Stock, our driver started to worry as to where he may be able to turn around if this was the wrong lane – there was no chance of backing up ! Then we saw signs of human life, well almost, the chap was a Cornishman - Jethro !

“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!



And so to the premier event of the season, The British Masters Grass Track at the picturesque Rhodes Minnis track in Kent, but you will have to wait till the next time to hear what happened there!


Rhodes Minnis

Jay


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