I followed Fred’s motor home to the ferry at Haysham, which was already running late. My helper from Auckland, Corrie Logan was arriving from Dublin via Manchester airport and train to Haysham which worked fine and he was there when we arrived.
He was not allowed to join the vehicular traffic and use my pre-paid pass. Security stopped us so we didn’t connect until we were on board the drive-on ferry which is as big as the Inter-Islander.
Waiting in the queue I met Dick Linton, famous for running Aermacchi race bikes for many famous riders like Bill Swallow. He kindly offered to take me for a first time drive around the track.
I also met TT winner Nick Jeffries whose family have been successful TT racers for 3 generations.
The trip is 3-1/2 hours but was in perfect weather with dead calm seas and sunshine. The area off Haysham port is a wind farm with dozens of turbine standing in the water up to a couple of miles off the coast and a huge number of piles already to install even more.
Once on board I met up with Corrie and we sat with Nick Jefferies who had raced the Britten on the Isle of Man, and could probably quote as much IoM TT history from the very beginning as anyone alive. The hours passed very quickly as he told stories about the famous riders he knew. He had a huge affection for the Britten although he hardly finished a lap on it when he rode at the TT.
Once off the island we headed to the pits, even though it was after 5PM. I had bought a £49 Navman GPS which is great. Much cheaper than buying the UK maps for my NZ one and it gets us most places except when you don’t have a street number but only a house name. It doesn’t like that at all!
The paddock was alive with hundred setting up camp. We entered off the main Glencrutchery Rd (the start/finish road) by mistake and found ourselves in the wrong queue. After explaining we were with Bruce Anstey we were directed to the most distant corner of the pits which took three quarters of an hour while everybody manoeuvred their campers and trucks into position. We finally figured this was not our pits at all but Bruce’s secret hiding spot for his big camper that he was bringing over from Belfast on Sunday, after the Ulster Grand Prix. (Where he got 3 podium finishes)
I don’t really think our Merc Sprinter van with no windows looked like a motor home, so maybe we were being punished for coming in the wrong gate! After an hour we were finally in our correct pit garage (tent) beside Fred Walmsley, in the “GP” paddock which is almost behind the grand stand.
Everybody has been super helpful to us. Even the Chief Scrutineer visited us for a pre-inspection and paid me a very nice compliment by praising the preparation of the bike. He said it was as good as he had ever seen and welcomed me to the Isle of Man!
Saturday was used to set up the pit and meet the neighbours.
The Yamaha Historic Team, run from Holland by Ferry Brower were opposite to us and were doing their last public display ever, with Ferry retiring and all the bikes being sold. The 1968 V-4 Yamaha 125cc that Ferry sent to NZ for Hugh Anderson to ride was one of them, which make us in NZ so very lucky to have seen this bike perform at the Pukekohe Classic Festival only a few years ago.
Bruce turned up after a night time crossing and after a rest he visited us in the pits with his partner Anny. Bruce tried the bike for size and give it the “thumbs up”. He and Anny liked the “Kiwi Challenge” tee-shirts that Iain McDonald and Bob Brookland had produced for me and were quickly asked by John McGuinness for one! No problem!
An evening meal with Bruce and Anny at a Tex-Mex restaurant beside the marina was really great with Bruce proving to be as relaxed and easy going as he seems on TV, and he said he was ready to enjoy a ride on my Manx. He checked out the other bikes in the pits and reported it was the best looking classic bike he had seen!
The other TT riders were arriving along with the last person to ride my bike (and win the Island Classic at Phillip Island) Aussie Cameron Donald and his Fiancée Caz. They are in the Fred Walmsley pit next to us. Cameron was the one who arranged for Bruce to ride my bike, and I am very grateful to him otherwise we wouldn’t have been invited to come.
Michael Dunlop is not far away in Andy Molnar’s pit with the new 4 valve Manxes that Molnar has just finished making. They are highly controversial as to their eligibility, but will be allowed to run here at the Classic TT, in the “Twins Class”
Bruce Verdon was due to do his newcomers ride on the Manx I build for him but the heavens opened and the mist came down so the practice was abandoned. Bruce also has a 3 cylinder BSA as does Doug Fairbrother from Greytown. Later the fine weather returned and we were back to the wonderful weather he have had so far.
My neighbour from work, and classic racer Roy Norgrove and his partner Brenda turned up from their long bike ride on Roy’s 1965 Triumph Trophy 650. Roy shipped the bike along with Doug Rickard-Bell’s 1954 BSA 500 single to Vladivostok in eastern Russia and rode it to the IoM, thru Russia, all the ‘stans and Turkey and Europe. 21,000 Kilometres!!!
We haven’t sighted Doug and Liz yet, but expect them to arrive soon.
After midnight now so more to come soon! Photos coming later!