Land of the brave, home of the free
Brands Hatch, October 5: an object lesson for anybody who’s ever whinged about a bit of understeer
There are no pampered egos here, just cheerful banter between the mostly ageing vans that serve as race transport. Motorcycle paddocks have a particular atmosphere, shorn of the insularity that percolates any four-wheeled series harbouring professional aspirations.
The British Motorcycle Racing Club had a fairly typical timetable arranged for its 2013 finale on Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit: 43 races over two days, most of them 10-lappers but one stretching to 14, plus obligatory practice sessions and warm-ups. In our world, some organisations struggle to accommodate seven or eight in an afternoon.
I had contemplated a day watching the MG Car Club at Snetterton, but sections of the A11 were closed so I opted for a more convenient alternative. I love watching bike racing, but appreciate that it is very much a job for others (although I was once press-ganged into entering a MiniMoto race in the Silverstone paddock – I’d been promised it was “a bit like karting”, but a sizeable first-lap shunt preceded quiet withdrawal and the end of my competitive career on two wheels).
The racing is vigorous – and scrupulously fair, but then you don’t defend like Pastor Maldonado without the benefit of a carbon cocoon. It’s terrific to watch, but the ambience is equally engaging. At one point, the commentator welcomed Honda rider Francesco Cavalli to his box to monitor a race in which he should have competed. He didn’t, though, because beer had allegedly been spilt over his engine the previous evening.
And it was humbling to discover that the chap with one arm and an artificial lower right leg – Danny Campion (above) – wasn’t just preparing the bike on which he worked, but racing it. Not so much a breed apart, bike racers, as a breed unique.