The Annual Pukekohe Classic Motorcycle Racing Festival, in its 34th year, will this year be held at Hampton Downs this weekend, on February 8-9-10, due to the track upgrade work at Pukekohe for the Australian V8 series.
The Classic Festival has through the years been the largest event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere and 2013 is no different with over 270 classic race bikes entered from the Pre 1976 era. Triumph NZ is the major sponsor for the Festival.
International guest rider is Ron Chandler from England, a top Grand Prix rider of his era and a Triumph ‘Works’ Rider for the 1973 season. As the British motorcycle industry was crumbling the Triumph Trident Formula 750 machines were still the fastest machine and one of the best you could get.
In his first International Race at Rouen in France, the richest race in Europe at the time with 2,200 pounds for first prize, Ron won against all the best teams in Europe on the last factory ‘Works’ bike built at Meridian.
This was the last win for a Triumph Works bike and the Festival will mark 40 Years since that achievement with a special focus over the weekend on the World’s first Superbike, the BSA Rocket 3 and Triumph Trident. They were released in the USA in 1968 just one month before the ground-breaking Honda 4 750 but the design had been drawn up in 1963 and the bikes could have been produced in 1965 as the prototypes were ground breaking with 58bhp on tap and had very smooth engines.
There will be lunch time parades for the public to take their historic triples, the BSA Rocket 3 A75, Triumph Trident T150 & T160 or specials produced from 1969 to 1976 onto the track for a 10 minute session on both the Saturday and the Sunday. Ron Chandler has bought his genuine racer to NZ for the event and in addition to riding in the Open Class races there is a special F750 triples race each day with eight NZ based Rod North Replicas lining up on the grid.
The sound will be magic and the like of which has never heard in Australasia before. For 2014 there is strong interest from Australian owners to bring their race triples over to join in our unique festival.
With Triumph sponsoring the Festival there is a ‘TriDay’ track day for all comers on the Friday plus demo rides of all the new Triumph range on the local roads over the three days of the event. In the Hamptons Pavilion there will be a display of rare motorcycles by Webb’s for their upcoming auction in March plus a static display of the latest Moto Guzzi, Aprilia and MV Agusta machines.
A pair of unique Triumph T100 classics will also be on display, A 1950 Grand Prix racer of the type used to win the Manx Grand Prix in 1946 and 1947 plus the first ‘Round the Houses’ meeting in Wanganui in 1951. From the USA market comes a 1955 T100/R 500cc ‘C’ Class flattrack model of with less than 10 exist in the world of the original 130 produced at meridian to AMA and Tricor specs.
With 42 classic races over the two days featuring Manx Nortons, Dominators, Commandos and BSA Gold Stars & Rocket 3s, Triumph Bonnevilles & Tridents, plus Velocette, Rudge, Ariel, Vincent, Scott, Benelli, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, BMW, NSU, Bultaco, Jawa, Indian and Harley Davidson, a pure symphony of exhaust sounds will be a magical experience for both young and old alike.
Hundreds of other classic bikes will be on display with lots of parts, books and other goodies on sale in the trade stall village. Racing starts at 11am on Saturday and 9am Sunday with Friday adult entry $10, other days $25 or $35 for the three day pass.
For further details go to www.nzcmrr.com/festival
Words by Robert Cochrane