From the Blog

Final Phillip Island wrap-up

Bruce Lind’s last hurrah

The Pacific North West’s favourite son made another trip down under and once again, Bruce Lind and his lovely wife were a very important part of the Team USA pit. Bruce missed the cut to be part of the USA IC team but he raced on in the P5 races and, despite a few mechanical glitches, finished the meeting in good shape and had a great weekend. I asked Bruce if this was going to be his final Island Classic and he said it wouldn’t. I knew that Edie had said that he couldn’t race again next year so Bruce said, “I’ll be back, but I won’t be racing, I will put a young guy on the bike and see what he can do.” I hope he does because having the two of them here is a real pleasure.

Continuing the Phillis Tradition.

The last few Island Classic meetings have not been kind to Robbie’s young bloke, Alex. Mechanical issues have dogged the team and blighted what could have been some sensational performances. A win in one of the heats last year seemed to end the drought but the gremlins got into the works again in 2019 and a DNF stopped any chance of a dominant performance. Alex was riding for the NZ team since the Phillis clan seem to be spending a lot of time racing across the Tasman these days and it was disappointing again that he didn’t really get the chance to show us his best.

Head wrench, Lyell Williamson, trying to figure out what’s wrong.

Entries were down.

It was no secret, even back in 2018, that Roger Winfield was unlikely to return with his Team GB effort in 2019. The furphy about fuel was merely a smokescreen, the real reason was financial (isn’t it always?) Roger could no longer afford to fund the effort out of his own resources and PI Operations’ tightening of their financial belt added to the strain. In the end it was just impossible and the absence of Team GB had an unfortunate knock-on effect. Logic would suggest that, if PIO didn’t have to subsidise the British effort, then more leeway would be available for them to reduce costs for the “ordinary” competitors. Sadly this did not transpire with many potential entrants crying off the meeting altogether because they just couldn’t afford to come. Racing IS expensive and nobody is forcing the competitors to enter but steep increases in costs (garage hire, for example) has become a severe disincentive for many and the pit garages were noticeably more sparsely populated than in previous years.

Good PR

For all that, the people who work at PI are the best. From the people serving in the canteen to the security staff on gates and car parks to the Media Liaison people, they are wonderful. Dealing with Kelsey about my media accreditation is always a joy and I always make it a point to go and thank her at the end of the meeting. In the office handing in my vest and retrieving the $20 deposit I thanked her just as Peter Mitchell walked in. I’ve got to know Peter pretty well too so I thanked him and complimented him on his great staff. “Oh, her,” he said, indicating Kelsey, “I keep telling her not to let you in. I saw your application and I put a big black cross through it but she over-ruled me and let you in anyway.” This at the end of a long and difficult meeting. Like I said, PI staff are tops.

The Purple Gang.

Some people come to PI to race and win, some people come to race and a small percentage come to just have fun. Nowhere was this more evident than in the case of The Purple Gang. Made up of sidecar racer, Wade Boyd (#273) and his best buddy, Eric Lindaeur (#619) These two American reprobates brought across Wade’s Kawasaki Z1000 from a couple of years ago and a hot-rod Moto Guzzi that the two of them have built and they spent the weekend kicking back and propping up the back end of the grid. Now, to be fair, Wade did get a couple of top 10 finishes which was pretty impressive for a big, heavy and underpowered bike, but their lap times didn’t set the world alight and they did have their share of mechanical woes (thankfully the Guzzi problem proved to be minor) and nobody could say that they didn’t liven up the pits and the meeting. Wade’s wife, Christine, has some serious family issues at the moment so she couldn’t make the trip so no sidecar antics for Wade (in the end there weren’t any sidecar races anyway, boo, hiss) but it was a constant delight watching Eric and Wade go about their business in the pits and on the track. I don’t think I know any racer who has a more laid-back attitude to his racing than Wade and Eric, who I hadn’t met before, seems to be the perfect foil to his purple-haired compatriot. What a duo!

Time to go home.

Pyramid Rock, Phillip Island.

Since this year’s IC was as much about tourism as it was about the racing we took two whole days to get home, doing a “Melbourne to Wollongong via Darwin” effort. We started by some sightseeing on the Island, something I have never done in 8 years of going there and it truly is a lovely place.

We then wound our ways up through the Dandenongs, The Black Spur, Healesville, Alexandra and out onto the Hume at Benalla. We overnighted in our favourite motel in Albury and then headed east along the Murray Valley Highway to Corryong. What a great road that is. From Corryong we headed up into the Snowy Mountains, falling into company with a group of 4 bikes who were obviously touring like us. At one of the lookouts we caught them stopped admiring the scenery and were amazed to find that the riders all come from Wollongong, it’s a small world.

We stopped at Jindabyne for lunch and then pressed on. We took the back road across to Dalgety coming out on the Bombala Road at Ando and the out onto the Snowy Valley highway. Down Brown Mountain to Bega and up the coast to home. The last part of the journey was pretty uneventful except for navigating a shrieking storm just north of Batemans Bay. We arrived home late on Tuesday afternoon and are already making plans for IC2020. The Island Classic IS the most fun that you can have with your clothes on and next year’s event can’t come soon enough.