It’s the third weekend in August and Canada’s historic race track known affectionately as Mosport, near Bowmanville in Ontario, looks as if it’s stepped back in time. Velocette motorcycles, Norton, Laverda, and extinct Japanese brands accent the grounds. Rare, unique, and definitely old motorcycles are transported from the safety of their owners homes for the annual Vintage Road Racing Festival. You’ll not see lavish carpeted paddock hospitality suites or mechanics dashing around in pristine matching team overalls. This is a place of true grit motorcycling, of down-to-earth aficionados lapping the track on most anything ever created with two wheels!
The VRRA (Vintage Road Racing Association) based in Ontario, run this festival which is one of their four yearly race events. They’re the only motorcycle association in Canada solely devoted to classic and vintage road racing. Machines from the 1930’s to 1980’s rumbled over this once upon a time GP-class circuit.
Newly renamed the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) this particular venue sits a little deeper in the hearts of this group. Mosport has a vintage motorcycling history of its own. Days ago it hosted some of the world’s racing greats and their machinery. Mike Hailwood, multiple MotoGp title holder ran his final FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) championship event on this very track during the weekend of 30 September 1967 and won! That same weekend Giacomo Agostini on his MV Agusta placed 2nd and famed Canadian Mike Duff (aka Michelle Duff) placed 3rd on a Matchless. Today the tracks elevation changes and high-speed straights and challenging corners attract racers and street riders from Canada, USA and Europe to the festival.
Ages 17 to 75 are riding and competing and it’s a very popular club for women as well. The ladies of the “3 A Breast Racing” endurance team wear their statement fuchsia pink tees and equally bright pink duct tape! This place and this event, will alter your perspective on road racing and motorcycling. Some of the races you’ll see are the “Warwick Cup” for 350cc and 500cc British four-stroke motorcycles; maximum model year 1967. Then there’s the “McGill Masters” for riders over 50 years of age riding any eligible machine and the various “Vintage Classes” defined by period (dates) open to most all makes of motorcycles. On Friday the Endurance Race is held – a multi-class two-hour race with teams of up to three riders on motorcycles from all eras.
But don’t just come to the festival to indulge in vintage racing, come to ride! Midday you’ll have the chance to take your own motorcycle on the track for a parade lap or two. And if you want more action try your hand at being a vintage sidecar passenger! For a small donation, you’ll be given a short instruction and then you’re off! You’ll move in unison with the pilots aid making the machine perform through all of Mosport’s corners. It was a huge kick when I did it and a thrill I’ll never forget!
As you walk through the diverse paddock, you’ll find yourself standing at boot’s length away from a dismantled 1969 Honda CB350 twin whose components lie the ground over. Its owner, who is also the rider, tries with the voluntary assistance of nearby friends to resolve a small oil leakage before the next lapping session. You won’t be shunned or asked to move aside as a priceless 1935 Rudge Ulster gets ready to go out on the track.
In fact, chances are, if you stay around a little longer these strangers may just offer you a devilled egg or a homemade bologna sandwich to accompany the fifty cent glass of lemonade you bought from their daughter’s stand.
Here where old-fashioned motorcycles and the values of the people who enjoy them, offer up a classic experience rarely found these days!
Visit the VRRA website at http://www.vrra.ca/
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