CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE SOUNDS
FROM A DONINGTON PARK ON FULL THROTTLE
A jet airliner takes off from East Midlands Airport and gains height over Donington Park race circuit. It's engines, at full thrust, are quiet compared to the blistering decibels pushed out by a full grid of sidecars revved and waiting for the red lights to go off signalling a full tilt dash to Redgate Corner.
It's the annual August three day meeting of the Classic Motorcycle Racing Club (CRMC) at Donington, a wonderful festival where sound, smell, vibration, engineering, innovation and racing expertise is brought together on track. And in the exhibition centre dozens of restored, rebuilt, and attention lavished machines were on display, adding a bonus dimension to the weekend's proceedings.
This year summer visited the event. Fine warm days keeping the track temperature and spirits high for competitors, mechanics, friends and helpers who accompany the classic caravan to the various meetings in the UK and Europe. Plus a bevy of ex race champions as guests: Freddie Spencer, Niall McKenzie, Steve Parrish, Sammy Miller and Ron Haslam who runs the Honda racing school at Donnington.
One of the stand out positives about CRMC and similar events is accessibility. You can literally go anywhere to spectate and take photographs without having a pass round your neck. This meant myself and others were able to poke our curious noses into the pitlane garages, and all around the paddock. If you wanted to watch from the pit lane wall too, no problem.
There's such a variety of machinery here; ranging from the multi-thousand pound Walmsley replicas of Matchless G50's and the classic teams with bikes and transporters that rival other professional road race teams in their size and opulence, through to the 'ordinary' racer with her/his post classic big Japanese four or two stroke twin. Then there are the sidecars, the buccaneers of the paddock, racing all manner of self designed engineering creations – the commentator alluded to the sidecar crew party held on the Saturday night being a wild and late occasion.
As the Sunday race programme was underway and bikes were coming and going from the holding area and the track producing a cacophony of motorcycle sound; it occurred to me that future generations might only know the quiet thrum of electric powered machines. The trick will be to digitise the noise of these internal combustion engines and build them as real sound alternatives into helmets of electric bike riders – 'today I'll switch on the sound of an MV Agusta'. Could work you know.
In the meantime it will be possible to capture the sound and atmosphere at the last big classic meeting of the season at Snetterton on October 16th-18th. Culminating in a four hour classic endurance event on the Sunday. I'll be there with my Yamaha FZR250 if it's not snowing. More details at:
www.classicbiketrackdays.com or www.crmc.co.uk
Check out a few more photos to get a feel for the event...
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