The Goodwood Festival of Speed is event like no other, rider and drivers go that one step extra to entertain the sun drenched crowd. Bike and cars come out from underneath dust covers, and secured barns. Some have been painstakingly restored over months to be paraded up the famous hill climb. This year was no exception as a plethora of modern and classic bikes were paraded by a host of racers of past and present, along with a dash of a celebrities. The quintessentially English event was blessed by sunshine on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as the champagne flowed. However on Sunday the rain fell, but even that didn’t perturb the classic riders. Giacomo Agustini braved the rain and slippery conditions first thing on Sunday to morning on his immaculate MV Agusta. Here is our pic to some of the most interesting bikes at Goodwood.
Norton CS1 – Ian Bain, classic racer, historian and gifted mechanic had pianistically worked night and day for six weeks to restore this immaculate 1928 Norton. This was Norton’s first overhead cam engine, and in race form won the Isle of Man Senior in 1928 – on its debut. Alec Bennett was the rider at the time, who interestingly was a pilot in the First Word War. In the flesh the bike is stunning, Ian has done an impressive job as usual. The right hand gear change and only a rear ‘cycle style’ brake make it a tricky bikes to ride as Ian explains, “ I don’t have any real brakes, the back brake is near useless. Coming down the hill on the return run back to the pits and getting through the paddock is the worst bit, if anyone steps out or stops suddenly there’s nothing, I can do but just rider over them. The bike ran perfect all weekend, we had lots of interest around the bike.”
Rudge Ulster – Classic racer and Goodwood Revival race winner Mike Farrall is the owner of this historic race bike, and despite the weather on Sunday, was still splashing away in the puddles and having fun. The 1934 Rudge was a 499cc single-cylinder four-stroke race bike, and was so called the Ulster after it’s victory in the Ulster GP in 1928. The Ulster GP as like the Isle of Man was seen as the proving/testing ground for manufactures to prove their speed and reliability. The Ulster GP win was taken by Graham Walker, the father of the greatest commentator ever, Murray Walker.
AJS Porcupine – The famous porcupine was so called due to the spiky cooling fins on its cylinder head. The 500 GP winning bike was provided by the Sammy Mille Museum and ridden by Sammy himself a 11-times British Champion. MBE Sammy has never missed a Goodwood since the events debut year in 1993. Unfortunately, the AJS broke an oil-line on Saturday morning, and the team of mechanics feared the worse – had the engine starved itself of oil. However, luck and quality oil were on the teams side and the porcupine was back up and running by the afternoon.
MV Agusta 500 – A bike and rider combination which really shouldn’t need any introduction – the name Giacomo Agustini and MV Agusta are synonymous with dominating GP racing from the late 19050s to the early 1970s. ‘Ago’ won his first GP for MV in 1965, and went on to win seven 350cc championships and eight 500cc championships for the iconic Italian brand. The 10-times TT winner was now aged 77 was riding the famous four-cylinder 500 which was ear-bleeding loud. Despite the rain and hazardous conditions on Sunday, ‘Ago’ was the first up the hill entertaining the crowds. Throughout the weekend, Ago was swarmed by race fans desperate for an autograph.
Moriwaki 1000 – In the late 1970s racing was dominated by two-stroke 500cc and 750cc machines, but Moriwaki set to change all that tuning and converting 1000cc Kawasaki four-stroke road bikes into competitive race bikes. In the American Superbike class and at the famous eight-hour endurance race in Japan, the bike had a huge amount of success out qualifying the factory bikes of the time. Riders like NZ Graeme Crosby and four-times World Champion Eddie Lawson famously rode for Moriwaki. This 1981 model is owned and was ridden by bike fanatic Chris Wilson, and despite owning a huge collection of bikes, the big Moriwaki is still one of his favourites.
Suzuki RGV500 – Steve Parish was the lucky man to ride Kevin Schwantz’s 1993 Wold Championship machine, even in the rain on Sunday, “the conditions weren’t as bad as I thought they would be, and the 500 isn’t as peaky as you’d expect. The biggest problem is the carbon brakes, as they warmup they get stronger. The brakes didn’t feel like they are working, then they go bang and grip really hard – I didn’t want to lose the front in the wet”. The V4 two-stroke powered Schwantz to victory in 1993 after a season long battle with arch-rival Wayne Rainey.
Honda RS500 – The RS500 was a two-stroke 500cc three-cylinder triple which was based on the NS500 which Honda won their first 500cc title in 1993. The RS500 was sold to privateer riders and teams and took national titles, along with success at the Isle of Man. Casey Stoner and Mick Doohan both managed to throw a leg over the iconic two-stroke. Casey the two-times world Champion said, “ It’s the first time I’ve ridden a 500 two-stroke, never ridden anything above 250 before. I was on the RC30 earlier but wanted to ride the 500, thankfully they let me. It’s such a nice bike”.