This month James declared war on the small principality of the HM Honda
team and takes one in the eye for his efforts. poor little soldier boy...
Our recent moped run to the classic racing bike gathering at Spa Francochamps in Belgium (see page 86) was one of the best trips in ages. Andrea and Ruby flew out to meet me and we spent the weekend catching up with old friends and hanging out with some legends from 1970s and 1980s GP racing.Several pukka races for classic bikes took place over the two days but most of the proper famous old riders, including loads of former World Champions, were there to take part in the ‘legends parades.’ Even though my results as a racer over the years, in my own opinion, didn’t really qualify me to share the track with heros like Carlos Lavado and Kork Ballington, I’d somehow managed to blag my way in. At the briefing the organisers were at pains to point out to the assembled racing royalty that, as the name would suggest, our track sessions were ‘parades,’ non-competitive and under no circumstances should we go out and try to race one-another. Yeah, right! It was akin to telling them that they should stop breathing. When we filtered onto the track for the first session there was an uneasy calm, everyone waiting to see who would make a move. First to crack was Freddie Spencer, he put his head down and off he went. After that it was like a cross between the charge of the light brigade and Whacky Races...but with more smoke!An old mechanic of mine, Nigel was out there looking after some of the best of the bikes, among those in his care was an NS 500 Honda being ridden by the aforementioned Freddie. As me and Nige were talking about the good old days, the man himself walks over and says the tyres didn’t ‘feel quite right’ in the first session, and could Nigel have someone from Michelin look over them. When he’d gone Nigel said, “He said the same thing last year, I don’t have the heart to tell him that there’s no one from Michelin here and the tyres don’t feel quite right because they’ve been on the bike for the last 10 years!” Andrea and me attended the Goodwood Festival of Speed last month. It was quite a shock to be invited back after the debacle that was my last visit. That was the time three years ago when I wheelied a TT winning Triumph Daytona, belonging to the National motorcycle museum, at 80mph into a stone gatepost, destroying the bike, the post as well breaking my nose, a rib, and losing a couple of teeth. This year I’d be doing six runs up the hill on a race prepped KTM Super Duke. With big bars and loads of grunt this bike should’ve been just about the perfect machine for demo runs up the Goodwood hill. Wheelies, stoppies, and rolling burnouts are a doddle on these. But I was scared to attempt anything too daft, not because I was afraid of making a fool of myself again, no, it was because I’m a bit scared of my missus. When I looped the Triumph we missed going to the star-strewn glitzy ball in Goodwood house on the Saturday night, and she’d bought a new dress on the strength of it. She told me that if I did anything stupid (me ?) that prevented us from going this time, then I’d better hope the paramedics get me away fast from whatever incident I caused, because if not she’d disembowel me. And they say romance is dead ! I took no chances up the hill, a couple of nervous wheelies was all I could manage, and Cinderella did go to the ball. As it turned out though I think it may have been safer to crash the bike. Ya see, at the ball, after the meal was finished a small food-fight developed between some of the bike racers. After we ran out of left-overs to use as ammo, someone realised the huge, and very expensive looking, table decorations contained a number of green peppers. These made excellent missiles. I took a bite out of one and tossed it towards the Honda table, straight armed, hand-grenade style.I watched it till it disappeared in the gloom, sailing over the dance floor in the general direction of the HM Plant boys. What I didn’t see was it being skilfully caught by Cal Crutchlow and hurled straight back, with considerable force it turned out, and deadly accuracy. It hit me square in the left eye and exploded. I spent most of the rest of the night in the bog trying to swill the seeds out from underneath my eyelid...
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