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If you’ve ever seen the Mike Leigh film ‘Nuts in May’ you’ll have an idea of the scene that greeted team Davida at our campsite outside King’s Lynn, the conventions and bucolic order had been brutally perverted by the arrival of tens of amped up, race-hungry bikers from France, Spain, Germany et al. We would not go quietly into that good tent, the next day promised dirt track racing without convention nor unnecessary rules and regulations. Last year’s Dirtquake provoked an interest that belied it’s scale, I was confident that this year’s would prove to be interesting to say the least.
The track was thronged with people, the weather drab and yet the atmosphere charged. There was a sense of camaraderie, an aberrant solidarity that was as warm as I can recall from years of bike events. Team Davida this year featured Fiddy on his knobbly tyred 1980ish BMW GS, which turned out to be a fine tool for the job. He’d learnt his lesson last year and put the word out for some decent dirt rubber, Sideburner Dave Arnold came up trumps with a proper dirt track front tyre.
On a rather delectable Rickman Matisse Triumph was long-time Davida cohort Frank Grassi, he’s mild-mannered and modest by nature yet a formidable opponent on the track which didn’t surprise me greatly as he’s frankly full of surprises. This year on another of his custom Ducatis was Simon Mills who more than redeemed himself after last year. With a CCM donated by Simon, long time Associate Editor, Christopher Gaime from MotoRevue Classic came from Paris to join the Davida Team. And then there was me on my trusty Gran Canyon, still shod this year with road/off-road compromises. I should have persevered in finding knobblies but I’d gotten on well last year with similar tyres so left ‘em be. The track last year was pretty sodden and yet I’d gotten on fine with it, I figured a dry track would be a breeze. Ha. So apart from lowering the bike, shedding unnecessary accoutrements and having as little fuel as possible I trusted it would be faithful.
There were three classes racing:street trackers in two groups, fast; Inappropriate/Irrational Road Bikes in two groups, bonkers, and one group of choppers, bonkers, highly competitive, yet strangely graceful on the track compared with the IRB’s. I found myself being distracted from racing by sights such as Evel Kneivel on a scooter trying to get past me, the smile on my face however was regularly interrupted by a rictus of fear as the bike bucked against the sporadically grippy surface. Almost every other corner I’d lose the bike, front wheel and all, then somehow recover it. I reconciled myself to the fact that I would soon be eating dirt and yet I was rarely threatening the podium positions.
I was nevertheless determined to make the IRB final, I wanted to ride against Fiddy and David Boras on his 80’s neon-nightmare Honda who were in the other IRB group and both seemingly making light work of it. After some confusion about there being two bikes with the same number I was told I hadn’t made it, a little later whilst nursing my second beer I was told they’d figured it out and I was in the final after all. I trusted the beer would give me the gumption to push it a bit harder on the turns, it kinda worked and I stayed in the front pack until I got the willies exiting a corner and backed off, it was one of the last turns and I knew there was no time to pull back the places. C’est la vie. I exited the track for the last time just wanting to keep racing till exhaustion. It was a good race, enlivened when I had to dodge debris from Fiddy’s GS, one of the exhaust headers blasted off, he raced on regardless of course.The chopper class featured some fierce racing and some pretty radical choppers right up against each other on the turns, I saw one chopper do the longest low side I’ve ever seen, so long in fact that I was hoping he’d rescue it but gravity is an unyielding adversary. Ben Part was relentless but couldn’t quite steal first place from a soft-tail Harley. Mike Johnson looked very dapper in a sharp suit on his low pegged XS 750 chop and another chop from Yorkshire was powered by a turbo-diesel car engine of all things.
Elsewhere, Charley Boorman was racing a lovely Zaeta DT brought over from Italy alongside such characters as Thor Drake of See See Motorcycles all the way from quixotic Portland, Oregon in the Street Tracker class. The French were particularly well represented this year and their random rides slotted right into the spirit of Dirtquake. Respect has to be due to the guys and girls who rode serious miles and raced at the event, particularly the Berliner who rode his Aprillia Millia over with Continental TKC 80 knobblies on it. Stunt-rider Lee Bowers of Icon Motorsports put on a real ‘heart in the mouth’ display in the centre of the track on a surface that was far from ideal, mad skills, all captured by a ‘gyro-copter’ camera operated with consummate skill by Iron Bird, the film company responsible for the fantastic Dirtquake II promo.
All in all a wonderfully mad day, many thanks to the organisers Gary Inman, Dave Arnold, his Dad, Ben Part and Dave Taylor et al for whom you can tell it’s really a labour of love. Thanks also to the delectable flag-girl Olivia, Simone Balecastro who is a genuine Venetian no less and the rest of the Davida gang Dave, Ruth, Remi, and Amina. For all of us, Dirtquake III cannot come soon enough.
To get the full flavour see Gotz images
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