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Classic Magic This Easter Weekend | Penrite Broadford Bike Bonanza | News

The Penrite Broadford Bike Bonanza (PBBB) happens this Easter long weekend at the Victorian State Motorcycle Complex at Broadford (Victoria), 25-28 March.

The Bike Bonanza is about participating and the glory of motorcycling’s history.

Superbike legends

Now in its eighth year, the 2016 Penrite Broadford Bike Bonanza promises to be the best yet. Held at the Victorian State Motorcycle Complex at Broadford every Easter weekend, it brings together enthusiasts of all riding disciplines: road racing, motocross, trials, observed trials, flat track and speedway.

The action takes place on the various circuits of the complex but it’s non-competitive, meaning you don’t actually have to be any good to participate. Some of AMCN’s lesser-known stars are threatening to ride, including Paul ‘Crasher’ McCann who is currently begging Spannerman, from sister publication Motorcycle Trader, for a lend of his Yamaha XT600.’

The PBBB changes themes each year to tease out the hidden gems of Australian and overseas motorcycling. This year it celebrates Australian superbikes (and their riders) from the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. Quite a few of these monster racebikes have survived and you’ll be able to see them in action, many ridden by their original pilots.

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A major player in the rise of superbikes was Mick Hone, best known for running Mick Hone Suzuki in the Melbourne suburb of Box Hill. Mick stopped racing in 1980 but invested his accumulated knowledge into building a team for the Australian Superbike Series based around a young Robbie Phillis and support from Suzuki. The Mick Hone Suzuki team dominated the series from 1981 to 1985, winning every single year.

Among the stars of the day were Andrew Johnson, Mal Campbell, Scott Stephens and Neville Hiscock. Mal Campbell finally broke the Mick Hone Suzuki spell in 1986 with a series win for Honda Australia, but the heat generated around what some people called the ‘special’ Hondas can still be felt and will no doubt simmer when the subject comes up again at Broadford.

Late news is that Mick Hone will be bringing two of his racebikes to Broadford and that Graeme ‘Gyro’ Carless will also be bringing the legendary ‘Syndicate’ Kawasaki, which carried Andrew ‘AJ’ Johnson to the title in the first year of the Australian Superbike Series. It was a shock win in that Gyro, boss of the modest Ecco Engineering business, somehow managed to beat all the factory teams and nobody was ever sure who was actually in the ‘Syndicate’. Mick Hone, who raced against it, said it was successful because of its sheer power and AJ’s incredible riding.

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Sultans of Slide

Regulars at the PBBB know the Saturday afternoon ritual. You stop what you’re doing and make your way to the speedway track at the lower end of the Broadford complex. Those who’ve never seen speedway before are usually the most impressed, but the massive crowd always enjoys the demonstration.

For this year’s event, the organisers have assembled a feast of bikes and famous riders that will pump up the hearts of rusted-on speedway enthusiasts and allow newcomers to immerse themselves in the sport’s rich history.

Chief among the guests will be Chris Watson, the most successful rider in the history of Australian dirt track racing. Watson won 41 national titles, mostly on dirt tracks, but he was also very successful in speedway and long track racing both here and overseas.

Joining Chris is a long list of champions. You’ll remember Gary Flood as being Australia’s second ever Mr Motocross in 1975, but he also starred in speedway, riding with Phil Crump for the UK Crewe team.

Peter Goddard is best known as a GP racer and Superbike champion, but he cut his teeth on dirt, winning the Australian Dirt Track Championship (125cc) in 1982 and dominating the scene in 1986 with wins in 250 Dirt Track, 250 Track and 500 Dirt Track championships. He’ll be there strutting his stuff at the PBBB.

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Nigel Boocock is another name that will be familiar to fans from speedway’s golden era. Although Nigel won’t be there (he died in April 2015), his controversial bike will be. Nigel was one of England’s most highly decorated speedway riders from 1955 until 1972. Nigel and his wife, Cynthia, retired to Australia and he made a major contribution to junior speedway in his later years.

Boocock will be remembered at the PBBB by the appearance of arguably the most controversial bike in modern dirt bike racing history. Boocock fitted a Yamaha TR3 engine to a Hagon frame and the result overwhelmed the establishment. Boocock did some demonstration runs for Great Britain’s ACU (Auto Cycle Union) committee who were so appalled by its performance that they banned it on the spot.

It’s capable of over 200km/h and you’ll get a chance to see it in action at the PBBB Speedway Spectacular.

Guzzi Dreaming

Each year at the PBBB, a different marque is singled out for special focus. In a stunning coup, and with the support and contacts of Teo Lamers, some of Moto Guzzi’s rarest and most valuable racers will be spending one week together at the Broadford Bonanza.

You may never see them in this grouping again anywhere, and some so rare you may never see them again at all. Prince among them will be one of three existing Moto Guzzi 500cc V8 racers.

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Designed and built over just four months in 1954 in response to the rise of the powerful four-cylinder engines in the 500cc GP class, the Guzzi V8 was an instant hit. Dickie Dale won on it at Imola and, in testing from a standing start over 10km, managed an average speed of 243km/h.

“Dickie Dale won on it at Imola and, in testing from a standing start over 10km, managed an average speed of 243km/h”

Debate still rages over how good the bike actually was. Australian World Champion Keith Campbell argued with the Guzzi designers that a bike with that much power needed wider rims and tyres. Dale led on the bike in the 1957 IoM TT but ended up finishing fourth.

Various stories emerged from this. One was that Dale was so exhausted from the effort of riding it, he had to stop for a rest. Another suggested an engine fault resulted in the bike running on seven rather than eight cylinders, something Dale appreciated as it gave him a break from the ferocious power.

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The Guzzi V8 will actually be ridden at this year’s PBBB and, for almost all of us, it will be our only chance ever to hear and see one running in the flesh.

PBBB Details

The 2016 Penrite Broadford Bike Bonanza will be held over the Easter weekend of 25-27 March at the Victorian State Motorcycle Complex in Broadford, Victoria.

You can camp on the circuit for a modest fee – you might even bump into the AMCN crew – but for more information, visit www.ma.org.au. See you there!