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It’s motorcycle racing. But not as we know it

By Gary Pinchin -

Off road

 30 July 2010 09:26

Out in that big wide world of motorcycle racing, some of the biggest events of the year were kicking off.

At Laguna Seca Jorge Lorenzo was trouncing his rivals again and Rossi was writing another chapter in his legendary career by finishing on the podium just 50 days after badly breaking his leg.

In Japan Ryuichi Kiyonari was winning the Suzuka Eight Hours to re-establish his position as Honda’s favourite son.

And at Tallington, there was grasstrack. Tallington is on the outskirts of Stamford in Lincolnshire and this wasn’t any old grasstrack, but the FIM 250cc Longtrack Youth Gold Trophy and FIM 125cc Grasstrack Youth Gold Trophy with supporting races for the 500cc Elite Solo class.

This FIM meeting was the premier grasstrack event in the UK of the year with the very best youth riders in the world racing and it was all overseen by 15-times World champion Ivan Mauger OBE and MBE.

What does it all mean? A bunch of talented young kids from all over Europe, an afternoon of 50 four-lap sprint races, and some epic scraps.

Grasstrack, if you don’t know, is something of a backwater of European motorcycle sport.

It used to a precursor to a speedway career (riders like former World speedway title winning Brits Peter Collins and Mark Loram both cut their teeth on grass) but as both sports have become more and more specialised, grasstrack tends to sit alone.

But that doesn’t detract from some incredibly close fought racing.

The Tallington track  - a bumpy, grass oval of between 400-500 metres in length – quickly lost it’s grassy surface and produced some spell-binding close racing and dramatic full-throttle, sideways action – especially from young British heroes on the full 500cc bikes like British Masters champion Jamie Rogers, Lewis Denham and Paul Cooper.

The pity was not more people got to see it. Despite being well promoted there was a mere sprinkling of a crowd – probably only 200-250 hardcore fans - which was shock since I can remember back in the Seventies when grass track was a regular Sunday out and the crowds used to line the ovals ten deep if the top guns were in town.

If you’re even remotely interested in grass track there’s bound to be an event near you (check out the ACU’s website www.acu.org.uk for fixtures) but if you want to see ACU British Championship action covering 250cc, 350cc, 500cc and 500cc sidecars plus 1000cc sidecar support races – then put August 22 in your diary. It’s at Tallington!