2015 Barry Sheene Festival of Speed
Now in its 10th year, the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed had something special for everyone with a love of the golden years of racing. With 51 races and in generally obliging weather, competitors had plenty of track time on the winding Sydney Motorsport Park circuit.
Right through the event, spectators had near-unlimited access to the pits and an opportunity to meet several racing legends as well as the chance to ride the course during Sunday’s lunch break. Trade stands, a bike swap area and a show and shine kept punters entertained, while GP legend ‘Fast’ Freddie Spencer was on hand for the whole weekend signing autographs and sharing selfies.
Both Freddie and fellow guest, Maria Costello, the fastest woman around the Isle of Man Mountain Circuit, enthralled guests at a gathering on Saturday night. Freddie’s Q&A session kept guests equally as enthralled for 90 minutes as he described, with pin-sharp recollections of pivotal races, winning the 500 and 250 world championships 30 years ago.
Our own legend, Malcolm ‘Wally’ Campbell, on the Wolfenden T-Rex Racing 1200 Honda, took out the three-race Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy. He was hounded all weekend by his son, Scott, on a second T-Rex Honda, Dean Oughtred on the Dynoverks Suzuki 1200 and John Allen on a screaming TZ750 Yamaha.
Much of the luster went off the racing when three of the main contenders were sidelined in the first of the Sheene Memorial races. Shawn Giles had an engine seizure at the apex of turn two on the first lap while Robbie Phillis and Steve Martin had a coming together not long after. Phillis broke a scaphoid while Martin’s bike was extensively damaged. Also missing from the timing monitors was Costello, who experienced mechanical woes with her Suzuki.
The meeting hosted the first round of the Trans Tasman Challenge whereby nominated Aussie riders were pitted against Kiwi rivals in a contest that went convincingly to the locals. Leader of the visitors Vince Sharp brought his immaculate and amusingly named ‘Vince and Hyde’ Honda Bol D’Or and scored some decent results. Reverse-singles action will see the Kiwis with a hometown advantage in October at Hampton Downs, near Hamilton.
While the Vince and Hyde Honda stole a lot of the limelight among the bikes racing, there were machines all along pit lane that were a visual and acoustic delight.
Cam Donald was racing an immaculate-looking Egli Vincent in the Period 4 500cc events and was at the pointy end of the results. Meanwhile, the sound and smell of RD Yamahas and rumbling Nortons brought back good memories.
A highlight of the weekend was the unveiling of Warren Willing’s Kawasaki Mach IV from the old Chesterfield Series, beautifully restored by youngest brother Glen. It was an emotional outing for the Willing family with Warren getting around with walking sticks due to ill health.
Squeezing into a pair of Warren’s original leathers, Glen took the smoking, stuttering two-stroke out on a parade lap while Warren circulated in an open sportscar to the cheers of fans and marshals around the track.
Many riders from the time who were on hand to celebrate with Warren included Dennis Neill, Murray and Jeffrey Sayle, Iain Pero and Len Atlee. Guests swapped stories into the afternoon with spectators lining up for autographs and a yarn.
The Post Classic Racing Association has guided the Barry Sheene Festival to more than a non-stop bike racing event. The inclusive atmosphere is a throwback to times past and is a great opportunity to experience machinery lovingly restored and ridden passionately. It’s the biggest such event in NSW and is only surpassed by the Island Classic in the historic racing calendar.