This weekend marks the fourth round of five in this year’s Vintage Motocross Championships.
Set for South Taranaki, the event will actually be a massive weekend-long celebration of dirt-biking from yesteryear, with twin-shock, air-cooled motocross and trials events set for Tariki, halfway between Inglewood and Stratford, on Saturday and the fourth round of the national VMX series scheduled for the same venue on Sunday.
Saturday evening will feature the official grand opening of the Steve Gallichan VMX Museum, at his fabulous facility near Egmont Village.
The Tricky Dicky Racing-sponsored VMX series is not to be confused with veterans’ motocross – this competition pits riders of all ages against one another, but on motocross machinery built before 1986.
With three championship points races at each round, it is imperative that both bikes and riders are made of stern stuff to survive the entire series until the final round, set for Wanganui in March, and, with three rounds already in the bag, likely class winners have already started to emerge.
That resolve and stamina was surely put to the test at the season opener near Feilding in October when clinging mud made conditions very unpleasant. However, round two near Whakatane in November, and the third round at Taupo in December, more than made up for that, with perfect conditions to greet the riders.
The fact that these motorcycles still withstand the abuse of off-road racing after all these years is testimony to the manufacturers and also to the bike owners who spend so many hours lovingly restoring and maintaining them.
There are separate classes for 125cc, 250cc and open class bikes, ranging in vintage from twin-shock spring suspension pre-1975 motorcycles through to the more modern water-cooled and linkage suspension bikes of 1986.
Top riders expected to enter again this weekend include many-times former New Zealand motocross champion Murray Anderson, former national cross-country champion Luke Ramsey, of Auckland, Wanganui’s Mark Ellen, Taranaki’s Steve Gallichan, Taupo’s Bill Doe, Palmerston North’s Tom Vandenburg, Wanganui’s Danny Willemsen, Katikati’s John Bouzaid, Auckland’s Mark Wooding, Wanganui’s Lloyd Mackenzie, Stratford’s Stan Jones, New Plymouth’s Niven Muir, Norsewood’s Kevin Hermansen, Taupo’s John Flight, Taranaki’s Peter Sacree, Manawatu’s Wayne Moxham, Feilding’s Stephen Shirriffs, Taupo’s Darryl August, Kapiti brothers Ian and Stuart Pike and Tauranga’s national champion and former Woodville Motocross GP winner from the 1970s, Peter Ploen, to name just a few.
Riders are able to discard their three worst results from the series, meaning just 12 of the series’ 15 races will count, ensuring tight racing to the conclusion, set for Wanganui on March 10.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com