The most common question that I get asked now that I have retired is what do I do with my time? People seem genuinely surprised that my reply is that I am very busy doing all the things that I’d LIKE to do rather than all the things that people tell me I SHOULD be doing. One of my favourite T-Shirts says, “Yes, I do have a retirement plan – I plan to go riding.”
My good CRRC mate, Allan McNeice says that his retirement motto is that every day is a Chooseday, I do like this.
Having said all that, the pace of life is certainly slower and the last few years with COVID and so forth has certainly limited my riding and, especially, my touring. I sure hope that I can get back to that soon. But my days are filled with home-based chores, assisting my wife with the more strenuous aspects of her garden maintenance and keeping track of my many friends through social media.
With the resumption of outdoor activities I have dived back into speedway and most of you know that I have been employed this season as head of commentary at Goulburn Speedway. Nowra Speedway, where I have been on the mike since around 2006, has been closed this season while the committee undertook a major revamp of the facility with a view to modernising it and also upgrading certain aspects of the track to satisfy increasingly stringent safety requirements. As a small, volunteer-run facility, much of the work has been of the Working Bee variety and it has taken a long time. However, the committee is confident that they will be able to run at least three meetings before the close of the 2023-2024 season and I am pretty keen to get back in harness at my home track.
With my next appointment being Goulburn next Saturday night, I was pleased to get an SMS from my brother asking me if I’d like to go to Sydney to see the NSW Championship event for Speedcars at Sydney’s new Eastern Creek facility.
It sure is an impressive place; I have no doubt that the designers took a long, hard look at the big USA tracks and tried to duplicate that look and feel in Sydney. Everything about it is big although the size of the track does tend to dwarf the smaller cars unless there are big fields (there usually are).
The racing was excellent but the enjoyment was somewhat dampened by some glaring omissions that a track of its pretentions should not have overlooked. Yes, there is a full-spec canteen in the pits but it was closed for the night; regulars told me that this is usually the case. The main canteen is about half a mile from the pits and totally out of the question for someone with a bad leg like mine. And, speaking of my leg, there are no seats available anywhere in the pits, if you want to sit, you bring your own. The pits are on the outside of Turn 1&2 but there are no benches on the mound from which pit crews, competitors and helpers can sit and watch the racing, yep, none at all. After an hour or so I was really feeling it but my brother ducked down to the First Aid room and borrowed a plastic chair for me.
As the promoter is an ex-Sprintcar driver, the programme was heavily slanted in the direction of the big V8 monsters even though the Speedcars were the featured category.
The Championship race was won by Canberra’s Michael Stewart who ran down and passed two imported hot-shot American drivers to make it three championship wins in a row, only the 5th driver in the 79 year old history of the event to do so.
As the track is in an industrial area it is not curfewed and it was after 1130 when we headed out even though the Wingless Sprintcar feature race was yet to be run. We stopped at a Maccas and sneaked in a Big Mac and a coffee, getting in under the wire just before the facility closed at midnight.
By the time we negotiated the Sydney maze which was still pretty busy even allowing for the lateness of the night, it was nearly 2 when Paul dropped me at my place. I couldn’t get into bed straight away as I was covered in dust from the races so a shower was necessary first.
And that wouldn’t have been a problem really, except that I had already scheduled a Breakfast Ride with my local riding group on Sunday (later that) morning. Since the Sydney trip was a last-minute things I felt obligated to honour the breakfast commitment.
Quite how I got out of bed, got dressed and made it to the start point I really don’t know. We decided that we’d go to Berrima and have a look at the car show that happens there every last Sunday of the month and it was well worth it. The highlight for me amongst Holdens, Fords, hot rods, custom cars and exotica of all kinds was this glorious Aston Martin replica. It looked (and sounded) perfect.
A bacon and egg roll and a drink kept me going till I got home and a couple of hour’s worth of nap helped make me feel nearly human. A frantic weekend; entirely my own fault but I survived. My left eye is still a bit sore, a legacy of the flying dust from Saturday night but I’m glad I went to see the show.
I didn’t watch the Suerbikes from PI, I am afraid that we are in for another decade of Ducati domination courtesy of the organisers who frame the technical regulations to favour the Italian brand, just like they did back in the 90s’. Not for me.