Celebrity motorcycle racers and some of the most famous, iconic and mesmerising race bikes from the last 50 years were the stars of the show at last weekend’s ‘Grand National’ race meeting at the Castle Combe circuit.
Hailed by many as the biggest and best race meeting ever seen at the circuit, there was one name who not only drew the crowds, but was happy to entertain them with his trademark boundless energy.
Guy Martin, now as famous for his TV exploits as he is for his racing, made an emotional union with one of the many bikes being demonstrated as part of the ‘Mike’s Bikes’ parade, a very special tribute to the late Mike Hailwood, arguably the greatest motor cycle racer of all time.
Martin took a keen interest the 1968 297cc Honda 6, a legendary winning machine which Hailwood took to many victories and which is renowned for the amazing sound it makes from its tiny engine.
Alongside Martin in the pit lane and on track for much of the time was the equally legendary Freddie Spencer, a three time world champion, who rode the later Honda NSR500 3 cylinder 2 stroke, playing to the crowds with ‘wheelies’ and performing an evocative ‘overtaking manoeuvre’ over Martin on the main straight, of which he commented, “These two Hondas were ground breaking bikes. The NS500 as much as the Honda 6. Just like the 6 moved everything on at the time, the NSR did the same in 1984. So I thought it would be nice for everyone to see them together. I hope the photographers caught it!” Spencer added, “I can’t believe the crowds here, a fantastic turn out and they are so enthusiastic.”
Dozens of other famous bikes associated with Hailwood were also ridden by some of the biggest names in the sport. Martin’s Honda team mate, John McGuinness, a 23 time TT winner, Bruce Anstey, a multiple Superbike and TT winner and Steve Plater, another multiple TT winner, all delighted the crowds.
After his demonstration was cut a little short due to a technical issue with the Honda, Martin was introduced to the grandson of Mike Hailwood, also named Mike, some 60 years since the legend had his second ever motorcycle race at Castle Combe at the age of 17.
Aside from the superstardom, the weekend provided a huge programme of racing action, courtesy of the ‘NG Road Racing Club’.
Sunday’s ‘King of Combe’ 10 lapper was the race every rider aspired to win, with Josh Day from Cirencester on his Kawasaki ZX10R, reiterating his dominance by taking his 6th victory of the weekend.
Three time ‘K of C’ winner Dan Cooper from Stroud had to be content with another runner up place on his 600cc Honda, some 8 seconds behind Day.
Neil Sutton from Odd Down, Bath, took a class race win in the second ‘Pre Injection 1300’ race, having finished second in race one on his Yamaha R1.
Chippenham’s Nick Brown took 5th and 4th places in the pair of EDP Open 500 & Moto Mini races on his Kawasaki ZXR400 and also notched up a 3rd and 4th overall in the combined Formula 400 races.
Melksham’s Russell Hynes took his Triumph 675 to a 4th and a 3rd place in the Pre Injection 700cc races.