David MacLennan visited the International Festival of Speed in Sydney Australia. Vintage machinery on two wheels here on CineCars today.
Historic festivals have a relaxed and welcoming air to them and the International Festival of Speed is no exception. This historic motorcycle racing event is being held at Sydney Motorsport Park and the weather, while a little wet, still allows for some great action out on the track. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the World Superbike Championship. To celebrate this fact, special quests of the festival include Troy Bayliss and Troy Corser, both multiple Superbike World Champions. Troy Bayliss also has his Ducati Panigale Final Edition on hand, which he will race in the 2018 Australian Superbike Championship at the age of 48. Other notable attendees include Pierfrancesco Chili (Superbike, 250cc & 500cc MotoGP Rider), Jeremy McWilliams (250cc GP winner and MotoGP rider), Kevin Magee (500cc GP winner) and Chris Vermeulen (2003 World Supersport Champion and MotoGP rider).
Historic motorcycle meetings such as this are designed to showcase machinery from vastly different eras and to accommodate this, the racing is separated into six main categories:
Period 1 – ‘Veteran’ bikes built prior to 31 December 1929.
Period 2 – ‘Vintage’ bikes from January 1930 – December 1945.
Period 3 – ‘Classic’ bikes from January 1946 – December 1962.
Period 4 – ‘Post Classic’ bikes from January 1963 – December 1972.
Period 5 – ‘Forgotten Era’ bikes from January 1973 – December 1982.
Period 6 – ‘New Era’ bikes from January 1983 – December 1990.
Regardless of your preference for bikes or a certain era, nearly all of the bikes present have been built to a very high standard and are a sight to behold. These bikes aren’t trailer queens however, and there is definitely an air of ‘Getting down to business’ in the garages.
As the festival runs over four days, I deliberately picked a day when I knew the attendance numbers would be low. A good decision, as it turns out, for I am rewarded with easy access to both riders and bikes, and can move about the garages with ease. It is almost as if there is an unwritten agreement between spectator and participant, and as long as one respects the wishes of the other, everyone benefitts. Try that in a modern day GP paddock. Although the riders are not competing for MotoGP victories today, the structured races still bring out the competitive spirit regardless of the age of rider or machine. Even when the riders aren’t on track, they can be seen feverishly working on their bikes in readiness for the next heat.
The weather ensures that the track remains damp in certain areas, which means the on track action is a little more subdued than it could have been. I don’t think this bothers the spectators too much however, and is actually quite in keeping with the atmosphere of the festival. Overall, the festival is an excellent showcase of the wonderful historic machinery that resides down under, and has definitely made my list of go-to events. I strongly encourage you to add it to yours as well, because maybe this is serious business after all.