Penrite Broadford Bike Bonanza 2014
READY TO RIDE!
Now entering its sixth year, the Broadford Bike Bonanza is firmly established on the motorcycle calendar as one of the best events of its type in the world. This is partly a result of its location. It’s held at Victoria’s State Motorcycle Sports Complex near Broadford. The complex is unique in that it has a road race circuit, an enduro circuit, a motocross circuit and a speedway circuit all on the same block of land.
Motorcycling Australia initiated the event in 2009 to support its Museum and Heritage division. The event was initially designed to get motorcycles out of sheds and to provide a place where owners could ride their pre-1985 bikes again in a semi-sporting environment without the pressure of competition.
The result last year was around 4000 spectators and participants who were able to both watch and experience the motorcycle sport of their choice.
At the road race circuit, you could ride your pre-’85 road bike in either the novice, intermediate or expert class for four, 15-minute sessions each day.
The novice class catered for bikes as humble as Honda’s Stepthru to period superbikes but the pace suited the lack of experience of the riders. There was no stress but lots of fun and, for many, it was a chance to find out first-hand what it’s like to ride on a real race circuit.
This experience is duplicated for dirt riders and the motocross circuit is busy all day. A highlight last year to be repeated this year is the speedway exhibition which takes place on Saturday afternoon. Many road riders have never seen speedway bikes in action before and, while it’s called an exhibition, you will witness some very experienced riding.
IN THE PITS
The pit areas of all circuits are completely open for spectators and participants to wander through and every one of the hundreds of bikes has its own story. The bikes are just as interesting in the parking area and extensive campground where you can pitch your tent (or, in Spannerman’s case, park his Kombi) for the entire weekend.
2014 will have lots of special guests due to the Castrol 6-Hour feature but if you ambled through the pits last year you would have met Kevin Magee, Bob Brown, Rod Tingate, our very own Cam Donald, Bob Rosenthal, Mick Hone, Kiwi Richard Scott (Bathurst Australian GP and Castrol 6-Hour winner), Barry Smith (forever IoM 50cc champion) and a host of other jewels from the crown of motorcycling royalty. It can take an hour to walk 80 metres but every step is worth it.
SIX HOURS OF HELL
Each year the BBB features a different theme and, for 2014, there are two: the Castrol Six-Hour production races and the BP Desert Rally. The Six-Hour was the country’s leading bike race from 1970 to 1987 and featured Australia’s best riders on genuine (or slightly cheating) production bikes.
The BP Desert Rally had pro-motocrossers and weekend trail riders competing against dune buggies in Australia’s biggest ever desert race.
The Six-Hour, run by the Willoughby District Motorcycle Club, sat alongside the Bathurst Easter meeting as a must-do destination for riders from the period. Initially, there were three classes for production bikes: unlimited, 500cc and 250cc. It’s hard to imagine now but there was a Le Mans start where riders had to sprint across the track, start their bikes and attempt to start racing without crashing into the other competitors.
Just about every marque was represented in the race and we got to see real-world bikes being thrashed for six hours straight. Some made it and some didn’t. The Six-Hour sank any hope of the Yamaha TX750 ever selling in volume but also produced some genuine surprises.
Joe Eastmure, a regular at BBB, actually won the race outright on a tiny Suzuki 305cc until he was disqualified for having removed the horn and, perhaps, for having a little irregular porting done on the two-stroke engine. He shared an unlikely victory in 1977 alongside ken Blake on a BMW R100S beating the rampant Kawasaki 900 of Jim Budd and Neil Chivas.
Here are some of the Six-Hour riders whose names you may recognise: Len Atlee, Kenny Blake, Warren Willing, Greg Hansford, Murray Sale, Andrew Johnson, Wayne Gardner, Malcolm Campbell, Rob Phillis, Kevin Magee, Robert Holden and Aaron Slight. Yes, it was a who’s who of Australasian racing greats and many of them, along with the bikes they rode, will be at the BBB this year.
The best stories are the attempts to cheat. Ducatis were disqualified for blatant over-boring but MT’s favourite was BMW attempting to get a performance advantage for its seriously uncompetitive R80s in the early ‘80s. The engines of the race bikes were scrutineered before the race and then ‘sealed’ so that, if they won, they wouldn’t have to be inspected again. Gossip is that the BMW team allowed the camshaft to be measured by the scrutineers, put it in a bucket of dirty kero to clean it before reassembly and exchanged it while under liquid for a sports cam. It looked the same as it was installed in the engine.
If you want to get up close and personal, and hear the serious dirt, buy a $95 ticket for the Gala Dinner on Saturday night but numbers are limited to 140 so be quick. MT’s occasional tester, Alan Cathcart, will be the MC and will interview Six-Hour riders on stage during the proceedings.
WHAT TO DO
Entry forms are now available to download from the MA website (ma.org.au). You can either go simply as a camper and spectator for $30 per day or $50 for the weekend. If you want to ride (and you should if you have a suitable bike) it’s $100 plus $30 for a one-event licence from MA for the weekend. If you turn up on the day and want to have a gallop on any of the circuits, the fee jumps to $120. MT likes this event so much we’re the official media partner. We’ll be there in force and we’ll be riding as well as talking. It will be a bit of reunion for old editors so look out for Greg Leech, Guy Allen and Rob Blackbourn. I’ll be there as well and so will be deputy editor Chris Harris along with road test editor Cam Donald and others among our list of valued contributors. Spannerman will be wandering around, as usual – look for the beard and the glass of red and make sure you say hello. MT will have a trade stand where you can enter the competition for our next major give-away – you won’t believe it when you see it!
For further information and entry forms, go to ma.org.au