2013 No luck!

Hi All,
No luck!

Everything went according to plan up to the race but maybe we did too many laps on one motor.

Because Bruce had not ridden a classic bike before he was keen to do all the practice sessions, which I encouraged.

I was unsure if I should fit the spare motor, as the original motor was going so well with nothing on the magnet and perfect compression so I took the chance.

We did nine laps of the course in total which is more than twice race distance but something in the motor has broken on the second lap when in second place, 6 seconds ahead of Cameron Donald on Fred Walmsley’s Seeley G50. Cameron retired soon after with a split crankcase so he had no luck either!

I was really sorry for Bruce as he was on a “flyer” with a good chance of getting the classic singles lap record. He felt it was going to be over 108mph. There was a huge sigh from the grandstand when it was announced he had retired near The Bungalow.

Wasn’t what I hoped for but Bruce is pragmatic after racing on the Isle of Man so many times.

Paul Phillips, the promoter of the races for the IoM Government thanked us both for putting on such a good showing and already spoke about next year.

We were so well received I will have to consider it, but no decision yet.


2013 Off to the races!

Here is what the race start looks like from the inside.

All the TT stars, except Guy Martin (who decided he didn’t need to arrive on time, because he is special!) are here.
The noise of 80 odd un-silenced bikes was huge. I would certainly have ear muffs in future, preferably with a radio tuned to the Manx radio commentary.

The 350 race is on today with Cameron riding Fred’s 7R AJS. His practice run on Saturday afternoon was cut short when the gear pedal fell off.

Lots of commiseration for our DNF and serious, helpful suggestions from top people on how to get a finish.
We did 9 laps (the race is 4) and as far as I can tell, every one was the fastest single! Only the Paton was faster.

In NZ we have no idea how popular Bruce is over here. They All  just love him and his quiet Kiwi manner, and his huge determination to do well. They can’t believe how”laid back” he is, and just gets on the bike and goes so fast.

I think I got half the pits wearing our Kiwi Challenge Tee shirts, and nobody baulked at paying for the posters. Free to all the kids though. Bruce was never too busy to sign them.

The bike festival at Jurby Airfield yesterday was huge. Maybe 25,000 people. Bruce rode the Britten. I took the Manx along for display, and everybody seemed to know all about it being built in NZ after the commentators in the Senior race gave them all the guff on race day.

One of the commentators (they are all around the course) came over to the Island on the plane with Debbie, so she got special mention and quotes too!

The organisers seem well pleased with the attendance, as the Manx GP had been slowly declining and something new needed to be done to revive it. They have offered to help me come back again which was very pleasing.

Off to the races!

Ken McIntosh

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2013 Bruce’s McIntosh-Norton Leathers

Thursday 23rd Aug

New tyres fitted and balanced by our “do-it-yourself” Kiwi team. Another two lap practice, this time first away at 6:20pm. Bruce is really great to work with good  feedback and he decided to leave the higher (145mph) gearing but go back to the old needle setting which was good as we had to find the best settings for the new to me 102 octane Sonoco race fuel and we had found time to get it right. The plug looked a bit too rich on the main jet and Fred kindly showed me Cameron’s plug which was looking better so I went down one size.

The biggest surprise for me was when Bruce turned up with his new “black” leathers, which are absolutely beautiful, and have the McIntosh and Norton logo’s front and back. I was absolutely delighted by this great compliment. Bruce is obviously really enjoying the “Kiwi  Challenge” with the NZ built Norton and riding the NZ built Britten.

Bruce wanted the tank full to see how much it affected the handling and reported “not much different at all”. So with full fuel and high gearing he did 107.9mph, which was his fastest yet. Everybody is really impressed!

Bruce is just a dream to work with and the bike, so far, has not misses a beat. Fingers crossed for Saturday!

Because we are finishing practice so late in the evening it has been really hard to get time to write this; it’s after midnight, so see you later!

So far, so good!

2013 Wednesday

Wednesday 22nd Aug

Again only basic prep for the bike, still with the original 4 year old Summerfield engine which is running really well. The jetting and gearing (142mph @ 8500 rpm) seem close but we tried a bit richer on the needle and raised the gearing a tooth to see what would happen. Fuel consumption is less than 5 litres per lap with a 23 litre tank, so no problems with 4 laps non-stop.

Bruce goes again from the front for his two laps and on his fifth ever lap on the bike does 107.77 mph which is getting close to the fastest ever lap by a single cylinder classic bike. He reports “the bike is handling really fantastic just as it is set up” and he can use the outside edge of the track more so than when riding his modern bikes, because the handling is so precise. He says the days of riding a 250 Yamaha at the TT are a real help and keeping up momentum is the key. Everybody is “well impressed”, and the bike is still running great.

Cameron had a really big “moment” when the newly fitted engine of Fred’s G50 broke a crank at full speed in 5th gear when cranked over. Michael Dunlop was behind and said Cam did an unbelievable job of riding the full lock slide at 120 mph and used the gutter to keep aboard. Cam said it was the scariest moment he has ever had!

The weather has been great since we got here with Tee-shirts only.


2013 Tuesday

Tuesday 21st Aug

A trip south to the airport in the morning to pick up Debbie also gave us a chance to say hello to the Fairies at the Fairy Bridge . A tradition which goes back forever and many say is not to me ignored!

The check list for Tuesday was very short with only basic stuff before the first two lap timed practice on Tuesday evening.

This was a fantastic surprise with Bruce’s 3rd  ever lap on the bike the fastest single cylinder at over 106 mph, ahead of all the other singles. We were on the pace!
Bruce started 10 seconds behind Cameron and was dicing with him the whole way. Cameron’s time was 105.9 mph. The two Paton’s were really fast at 111mph but they have to do a fuel stop to do 4 laps.


2013 Monday

After the cancellation of the newcomers practice on Saturday because of the only bit of bad weather we have had, and Sunday being a rest day for the 1500 marshals the excitement started to build on Monday as the evening practice drew nearer.

Monday afternoon;

The bikes were being started now and with no silencing restrictions the “just like the old days” comments are common. The combined noise would have a noise meter smoking!

Fred Walmsley’s Seeley G50 has a beautifully made but very non-period tapered exhaust that is really large diameter and snakes through the frame and oil tank, and it really barks!

I felt I had to start my Manx up to give the assembled fans a chance to hear the difference between the Manx and the G50. It fired on the first bump on Fred’s rollers which although expected was still a relief after its trip from NZ!

The queue for scrutineering was a mile long with hundreds of bikes and only 4 rows through the shed. Because the bike has a single digit number (5) it goes out first so it is vital to get to the front of the holding cage.

The build up to first practice was fantastic with all the bikes (maybe 300) held in an area about the size of a football field. The classes were varied from all sizes of classic bikes thru to post classics plus the modern bikes for the Manx GP.

There was a hold up to clean up oil in two spots around the circuit from the earlier practice so a further delay until 7pm and then only one lap.

Finally Bruce Anstey was away, but for only a single un-timed lap. There is nothing for us to do now and after a couple of hours of waiting Corrie Logan, Roy Norgrove and I had quick visit to the Mike Hailwood Hospitality Centre behind the grand stand for a cup of tea and an Eccles cake. The lap is over 20 minutes.

Bruce arrived back with a big smile and the tyres feathered to the very edge. He reported the bike was handling really well and was surprisingly fast. He was wearing his new pink and blue Britten Leathers (for demonstrating Kevin Grant’s Britten at Goodwood and the Ulster GP) until he received a new set of black ones made especially by his leathers sponsors. These had caused a bit of hilarity when Bruce was being interviewed by “Manx Radio” and Michael Dunlop sneaked up behind him and grabbed the back of his leathers and “wedgied” him while he was trying to talk plus making rude comments about Bruce’s leathers. Bruce wasn’t too worried and promised revenge!


2013 Friday: Off to the Isle of Man

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!

2013 Start of the adventure

Debbie and I arrived at Birmingham on Sunday to perfect weather.

Debbie’s uncle Tony and Alice  very kindly took us from near Rugby to Hereford (100miles) to pick up a huge Mercedes Sprinter van from the famous motocross rider and frequent NZ Visitor Randy Owen, who has a constant stream of Kiwis hiring his fleet of vans and campers.

Tuesday was the start of the motorcycle adventure with a trip north up the M1 to Derby to visit the manufacturers of my motor, Summerfield Racing.

Three brothers, Jerry, Mike and Roger, all now in their 70’s run a huge engineering business, with, it seems, about half the staff answering to the name Summerfield. Mainly making huge rock crushing equipment  and massive gearboxes the bike racing side is a hobby although they have made more than 200 Manx engines.

Jerry had very kindly agreed to lend me a spare brand new engine, such is the prestige of having Bruce Anstey ride my bike in the first Classic TT.

Next stop was a further two hours north to Preston in Lancashire to stay with my Isle of Man mentor Fred Walmsley, who’s bikes (Manx Norton’s and Matchless G50’s) have won 19 Isle of Man classic bike races. Fred invited me to stay with him at his home and pit beside him at the TT, which is a huge advantage for a “first timer” to the Isle of Man like myself.

The responsibility of providing a good bike to a rider of Bruce’s abilities (9 times TT winner) is my top priority, and every detail has been discussed with Fred who has been completely open and honest with his advice (a strong Lancastrian trait!!).

Today (Friday) we are packing and heading to the ferry at Haysham, only about 20 minutes away, and a 3-1/2 hour ferry trip to the Isle of Man.


Fred has built a brand new Seeley G50 for Australian TT winner Cameron Donald which is super light weight and going to be hard to beat. Andy Molnar has gone all out and built 3 x Manxes with his own 4 valve heads, which have raised a lot of eyebrows as to how they can be eligible, but it appears they will be allowed to run.

With all the current top TT riders riding classic bikes, many for the first time, the bookies must be having nightmares!

Fred tells me time and again “the race is won on the last lap” so we will have to wait and see what happens!

I don’t know how my internet connection will work when I get to the IoM but I will certainly attempt to keep up with the news.

A special thank you to all the people in NZ and UK who have supported this Kiwi effort in many different ways and made it possible.

It is certainly the most intense programme I have undertaken so far.

Ken McIntoshImage