The Donington Park Classic Motorcycle Festival is reputed to be one of the largest Classic bike events in Europe. The festival is on 7-9 August and expected a massive turn out. The festival consists of racing and exhibitions of some classic race bikes. Due to my work location and other commitments, this year I couldn’t go on my bike very far, so I decided to go to one of the festival days as my summer biking treat.
Donington Park was used to be the home of motorcycle GP (now MotoGP), now the GP venue is in Silverstone but it still has lots of fond memories of the blue ribbon class motorcycle racing, especially the two-stroke era. I first saw 500cc GP racing on BBC and that was also the last win by one of my racing heroes Australian Wayne Gardner who had announced his retirement prior to the race. Since then I have never stopped following the GPs. I also attended the race events when I could and met other GP legends: Mick Doohan, Kevin Schwantz, Kenny Roberts Sr and Jr etc. (They used to mistaken us as Japanese so we could slip through the paddock, fab time!) The journey from Liverpool takes about 2 hours. This time I took my Yamaha which had just been equipped with a newly customised luggage rack by myself.
Two motorways and a long ‘A’ road later, I arrived at the circuit. First impression was very good: The parking arrangement was very well organised and there was even a buggy take you from the bike park to the entrance gate (only a few hundred yards apart).
The first bike that I saw was this GSXR and I knew that I came to the right place. Lots of craftsmanship gone into the bike and it’s a pure racing machine.
There were also Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Ducati, Triumph, Norton, Moto Guzzi, BMW, Harley Davisonson and many customised frames, such as Seedly. Everyone could walk around the paddock and got up close to these racing machines (as long as not intruding people’s work and privacy). There was a friendly atmosphere and all of the people I met had time to talk to you.
The bike exhibition area had many of iconic racing machines ranging from the early two-stroke era to the modern four-stroke 100cc MotoGP machines. I loved every single one of them, especially the adorable Ducati GP3 and GP5. Many of them were on the track later for parade laps too.
Racing was the theme of the event and there were a number of classes of racing during the day. You could get addicted to the smell of the two-stroke fume, I certainly was. The sound of these machines flying by brought good memories when they were the premier classes of racing. Two-stroke engine was the King however the so-called environmental concerns hammered the advance of such engine design. When Honda announced that they no longer produced two-stroke engines in nineties and in GP 500cc two-stroke was changed to four-stroke 900 cc, truly two-stroke, they signalled the end of the two-stroke era. Thanks to those enthusiasts who spent sweat, blood, time and money to restore, maintain and transport, these machines could race once again on the circuit. That was a truly amazing experience! Many of us like me, would never forget they were the most desirable motorcycles. Absolutely wonderful!
There were also racing legends around for autographs too, however I chose to watch the races instead. There were people ran off the track and in a side car race, the machine flipped over and a rider was trapped underneath, luckily both of them walked away unharmed.
This reminded us the danger in the sport but that didn’t deter those who were passionate about speed, control and the feel of escapism.