It's 8am. The pits are a literal translation of the word and the paddock looks like a 20-year-old Frank Thomas catalogue. And the 'race machinery'? It's not a pretty sight.
Welcome to RAF Wittering's bi-annual six-hour Supamotoped endurance race - a last bastion of two-wheeled stupidity, albeit with a hefty serving of common sense organisation and clockwork efficiency. It's a heady mixture of, ahem, highly tuned 50cc two-smoke scoots and Honda C90s with top speeds approaching 100mph. Maybe.
For £20 a rider this has to be the best laughing gland stimulant available. The rules are simple. You must start and finish six hours of 'racing' on either a 50cc twist-and-go scooter or the venerable Honda C90 step-thru. To keep the costs down you're not allowed to use anything that wasn't manufactured for road use. Lovely. Cheap as chips.
The event is the rapidly growing baby of the bike nuts at RAF Wittering on the Lincs/Cambs border. And it's a breath of fresh air; this self-insured, self-run, self-promoted event ploughs its profits back into local charities. How unique is that?
A glance down the entry list (48 teams, four riders per team) gives the inkling this is far from dead-pan. There's Hugh Jardon Racing, PMT Racing (strapline: 'she's got it, we're off racing'), Jockass (they're from Scotland dontchaknow), 50 Bent etc.
The day starts with practice, which sees the three-quarters Tarmac, quarter dirt track littered with K+N filters, exhaust downpipes, jubilee clips, airboxes and prosthetic limbs. Then it's Superpole. The technology leaves no room for error. The organiser's daughter has a stopwatch. And a thumb. Foolproof.
With our top speed severely limited by an errant transmission our Superpole effort is pitiful. Despite being positively 'squirrely' everywhere and at times even 'loose' we end up 35th on the grid. The atmosphere in the Wafty Crank 'race workshop' is black, and to make matters even better our windy gun strips the thread on the clutch centre nut. After some deft filing work by Nobby the mechanic, the nut is 'secured' by a few blows with a chisel.
At precisely (or thereabouts) 11am the 'race' starts. Forty-eight smoking, wheezing, farting machines streak into the first corner. From the touchlines it's hilarious. The first tyre-lined turn is bedlam; arms, legs, crunched gears, howling tyres, the stench of burning Halfords' engine oil and riders swearing at fellow 'competitors'. The C90 dressed up like an aeroplane with it's damping-free shocks wimpering as the rear wheel scrabbles for grip stands out in the chaos largely because it needs twice as much track space as anything else. Its proud owner, Manic, is clearly in possession of a lift that doesn't quite reach the top floor.
And so it continues. Relentlessly. For six hours. Six whole hours where grown men and women shirk the responsibilities of life and immerse themselves in high speed 'competition' and death defying acts of bravery and quick witted skill. Perhaps.
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