2016 Hawkstone Park Festival Of Legends Report & Photo Collection….. Take one world famous motocross track with a history that stretches way back to almost the beginning of the sport, add a large spoonful of famous riders from the past, add a pinch of relaxed atmosphere & then leave to bake under a hot September sun. This was the delicious recipe served up by the Cumbria Twinshock Club & one that already has riders & enthusiastic fans saying “Please sir can we have some more”. Geoff Shuttleworth, Darren Hudson & the rest of the crew may have had a few sleepless nights leading up to the first of what is going to be an annual event but any worries proved to be unfounded, even the heavy rain that swept through the area on the Friday seemed to work out ok in the end, for the track got better & better as the weekend progressed with start of play on Sunday morning seeing perfect conditions, although the famous hill had to be cut out yet again. I don`t know if the tracks most well known feature is slowly wearing out beyond repair but the weather for several weeks leading up to any event being held at Hawkstone has to be just right if you want to include this section on race day, this time round the hill was ok but the area of ground as you rode over the crest was way too boggy so I am told. Perhaps the old man has decided to become a little aloof these days so that when you do get to ride up that famous slope it seems even more of a momentous occasion.
The plan was a simple one, hire the awesome Hawkstone Park circuit for a weekend, on the Saturday stage a series of none stop races for any Twinshock, Evo or modern rider who wanted to sign up & have a spin around the famous track then slow things down on Sunday with racing interrupted by a long lunch break to give the crowd a chance to see & hear a host of MX heroes from the past being interviewed. A fantastic mix of past masters assembled under the midday sun, there were ex World & British champions, top 35 riders, works riders plus ACU & AMCA champions, the air was soon filled with stories of race meetings held at Hawkstone as far back as the 1950s. As well as all the chat a few interesting items popped up in the classic bike display including a pristine & Broc Glover autographed YZ490 Yamaha, a one off Rickman 400cc Husaqvarna specially built for a very young Graham Noyce to race, a rare Cagiva WMX 500 & an original Georges Jobe 1986 KX “SR500″ factory bike up for sale at a rumoured £15,000. That man Shuttleworth had also put together a rather neat, mobile motocross museum / hospitality unit / special invited guests viewing area, this was situated right along side the track & is quite a clever thing to have should future events suffer from inclement weather, a big bonus when trying to persuade famous faces from the 50s, 60s, 70s & 80s to come along & make an appearance, even if they don`t wish to ride it certainly provides a dry place to sit & watch the racing from. All in all the club put on a very interesting race meeting & have given themselves a good bases to build future events on, Darren Hudson`s microphone parting shot was “Thanks for coming & we will be back next year with a bigger & better event” & I`m pretty sure they will.
From one end of the motocross spectrum to the other……
The Sunday interview session….. With Geoff Shuttleworth on the race commentary duty in the control tower & Darren Hudson firing riders out of the start gate Tim Britton, editor of Classic Dirtbike magazine, took on the task of asking the questions at the half time interview session. There were many stories told & funny comments made but the common thread that ran through all the talking was that Hawkstone is one hell of a though track to race & even if you didn’t have a major off you still felt like you had been ran over by a truck for several days afterwards but just like the gravitational pull of a black hole this momentous place just kept pulling you back year after year.
Pete Mathia & Bill Brown.. Pete announced that he was aiming for 50 years of racing but still has another two years to go but to be honest I can`t imagine he will stop then, no doubt the target will be reset to 55 then 60 years of racing. Tim asked Bill about his early visits to Hawkstone, Bill replied “Well I soon came to the conclusion that the motocross meetings I competed in back home & racing in the deep sand here at Hawkstone Park were , as far as I was concerned, two completely different sports” Tim went on to say “You & Pete are both racing 1981 Maico 490 machines today, which ones the fastest bike ?” with a smile on his face Bill replied “Which ever one Pete is riding at the time”
Roger Garrett, top 35 rider for Maico, 1977-1980…… “Tell us about your early visits to Hawkstone Roger” “Well Tim I remember one time when my pit crew told me that Graham Noyce wasn’t slowing for the big bomb hole, he was just jumping straight in & blasting out, so maybe I should do the same in a bid to make up time. So out I went to give it go, unfortunately on landing the engine just bogged, I flew straight over the bars & face planted into the deep sand, no body bothered to tell me that Noyce was knocking it down a cog in mid-air !” “And the best bit about racing here Roger ?” “Going home afterwards Tim”
Mike Jackson, works Greeves rider & star of those famous black n white TV scrambles….. Pipe in one hand, leaning on his walking stick with the other, in a clear, precise & unhurried manner, a natural-born orator it would seem (sadly a talent that some extremely well paid TV presenters & so called celebrities could only ever dream of possessing) Mr Jackson set forth & told the assembled crowd about a memorial scramble held at Hawkstone Park soon after the tragic & untimely death in 1959 of Greeves rider Brian Stonebridge. He mentioned what a fitting tribute to Stonbridge it was that although Hawkstone at the time was a favourite BSA test track the day was won by an AMC machine. It was hard to image as we stood there in the sunshine listening to Mr Jackson that according to the gate receipts, on Sunday 20th March 1960 a huge crowd of over 40,000 people attended the meeting although event sponsor the Daily mail newspaper insisted on printing a sensationalising headline attendance figure of 80,000.
The Parade Laps…. After the interviews were over the invited guests assembled at the start gate on whatever machine they could beg steal or borrow, the course had been shortened a bit so that the riders could complete several laps for the crowd.