Burt Munro through the eyes of “Team Velo” pit-girl

Bill Biber and Shaun “IT” in a van crammed with gear for a fortnight and four race bikes, Nick Thomson and Graeme Peters also crammed into a van with gear for a fortnight and four bikes, and Phil Price with two photographers travelling in accommodation on wheels all departed Tuesday to make the trek south to the Burt for the 10th Anniversary Challenge.

Having work restrictions meant I could only leave Friday night to fly down to “The Burt” along with several others flying in for the weekend; Cloud Craig-Smith, Chris Swallow, Janet Wilson and Shaun Chamberlain (Gepeto).

Velocette_KTT_MK_VIII-5137350cc, Bluff Hill, Bluff HIll Climb, Burt Munro Challenge, Flagstaff Road, KTT 350, KTT MK VIII, Motupohue, New Zealand, NZ Hill Climb Champs, Phil Price, Rider 197, VelocetteBluff Hill, Bluff HIll Climb, Burt Munro Challenge, Flagstaff Road, KTT 350, KTT MK VIII, Motupohue, New Zealand, NZ Hill Climb Champs, Phil Price, Rider 197, VelocetteThe hill climb on Thursday by all accounts went well for ‘Team Velo’. Phil Price having a wee moment on his second run, but came off unscathed. Unfortunately there was an accident on the hill mid-afternoon, so the event was cancelled after the boys’ second run. Phil managed a respectable 61 second ascent first time up which was enough to get 3rd place in the pre 63 category.

Big_Velo_500-6891Velo_KTT_MK_IV-6938Friday was a test/play day at Teretonga and I believe the weather was just fine. All riders and bikes performed splendidly. If you can remember the weather we had in Wellington that weekend, we were experiencing some 144 km p/hour winds and around 12 flights were cancelled—mine being one of them! Bugger!

VRNZ_Pits-1802Flying into Invercargill on a fresh Saturday morning, I could see sunshine, but just as we landed it started to rain. A quick taxi trip to the track taking around 10 minutes and it was fair bucketing down with strong winds. Proper grotty. One could see tents flapping, gazebos flying and general chaos. Team Velo on the other hand were cool, calm and collected!

Dummy_Grid_Big_Velo-7257Big_Velo_500-pits-1Classic_Pre_63_Girder-1107The first race of the day was the girder fork event, which saw all of team velo out on the track together. The aim was to get good placings, to be proud of what was a once in a lifetime viewing experience, seeing the KTTs and the Big Velo out on the track at the same time. I think what came next exceeded expectations; 1st, 2nd and 3rd going to Team Velo with riders Cloud Craig-Smith, Chris Swallow and Bill Biber. A repeat performance was seen for race two. Alas there wasn’t to be a third round, the weather was the reason for that! We were all cold, wet and shivering. A small amount of fettling to be done for the bikes in preparation of the street circuit the next day, and we were off to the warmth of the Bluff pub for a brew!

The battle of 1930s #4 Bill Biber of Martinborough on the 1934 Big Velo 500 leads Rhys Wilson of Invercargill aboard his 1936 Rudge Ulster 500 during the first races of the Pre ‘63 (with girder forks) Classic races at the Burt Munro Honda Invercargill Street races.

The battle of 1930s. Rider 4 Bill Biber of Martinborough on the 1934 Big Velo 500 leads Rhys Wilson of Invercargill aboard his 1936 Rudge Ulster 500 during the first round of the Pre ‘63 (with girder forks) Classic races.

Sunday was a refreshing sight; sun, bit of light cloud and a gentle breeze. Riders briefing was over two hours late, and we were beginning to wonder if there was going to be ANY racing on that day. But the call came, we went, we listened, and we listened, and we listened… Riders_meeting-7856(Remember Errol McCabe and his riders briefings? Need I say more?). Finally the boys were called up for their two sighting laps, which launched straight into four laps for qualifying, resulting  in front row of the grid for Cloud, Chris and Bill… again. I had a friend ask me if I get excited. I sure do, but the feeling blurs between excitement and nervousness.  But, the boys pulled it off yet again, 1st, 2nd and 3rd not once, but twice. Great result!

Team_Velocette-1

The Team, L to R: Janet Wilson, Graham Peters, Nick Thomson, Phil Price, Chris Swallow, Cloud Craig-Smith, Iona Gibbs, Bill Biber.

Velo_turn_another_page_poster-Invcgll_Chris_Cloud_Bill-1440Thanks must go to “Squadron Leader” and general “Boss of Operations” Phil Price—for without him none of this would’ve been possible. Nick Thomson, for without his mechanical skills for not 1, 2 or even three bikes, but five, none of this would’ve been possible. The riders; Chris, Cloud and Bill, for without THEM (yep you guessed it), none of this would’ve been possible. They all put on such a great performance on some very special, very rare and beautifully prepared machines.

Team Velo rocks!


CREDITS:


Words: Iona Gibbs
Photos: © John Cosgrove / FairfaxNZ, Iona Gibbs, Shaun Waugh
Desktop publishing: Shaun Waugh MagentaDot Brands

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