Sunday, June 7, 2009

super-mono racing with hair-lip sean

Another funny track story.
by Pierre Martins

During the late nineties the local Northern Regions Super-mono bike championship was a hotly contested series with a mixed bag of riders. I got into it when someone offered me a ride for a couple of seasons and discovered how much fun it was. Old tappets competing with up-and-coming-snot-noses, big grids with plenty-plus riders and furious fairing-bashing-paint-swapping racing were the order of the day. Pit crews from the other classes used to drop whatever they were busy with and ran to pit-wall to watch whenever the lights went off for a Super-mono race.

In racing you find a phenomenon where the same four or five guys are usually up front, followed by the main pack of about ten racers a few seconds adrift and the back markers who bring up the rear. I was usually fighting for P5, behind the leaders, but leading the main pack. In fact, I got so many 5th places in my first year in Super-monos that I joked about P5 becoming so monotonous that I considered stopping just before crossing the finish line and letting a few guys through, just so I could finish in different position for a change. He-he.he…

But fortunately the more I learned, the better I got and eventually I started fighting for podiums. The racing was fantastic. There are so many stories I can tell you, but one race at Midvaal Raceways springs to mind as one of the funniest races I’ve ever had. I bogged at the start and was making my way through the pack during the opening laps. If you’ve ever raced at Midvaal you will know that from turn two, three, four and five, all the way to the back straight is actually one continuous sweeper. Very technical and very sweet if you get it right on a bike. You can take five or six guys in that section if you bully your way through.

That’s where I came up behind “Hair-lip Sean”, into turn 5, the corner leading onto the back straight. I’ve since forgotten his last name, but he had a funny upper lip, so I just remember him as Hair-lip Sean.

Anyway, I stuck it underneath his inside into turn five, we touched, he lifted the bike up, ran out of track and went straight off at one helluva speed! In the old days there used to be a service lane on the other side of the tyre wall, parallel to the drag strip they run on the back straight at Midvaal. Ole Hair-lip managed to stay on the bike through a gap in the tyre wall and found himself on the service lane and continued full taps…

I looked over at him on the other side of the tyre wall and made a palm-up gesture with my clutch hand as to say “What the hell are you doing?” He pointed ahead and signalled that he intended getting back on track at the end of the straight. I made a circular movement on the side of my helmet with index finger, signalling that he was nuts. His reply was a simple zap sign, to which I replied with the old school two-finger-salute…

And that was the end of our little sign language conversation. The hairpin at the end of the back straight came up fast. Time to brake and pitch it in. No time to see what happened to Hair-lip, but when we came down the back straight on the next lap he was cruising up in the opposite direction on the service lane with his left hand high up in the air, giving me the mother of all one-finger-salutes. Turned out the gates at the bottom were locked and he was forced to turn around. He-he-he…

And that was that. I got a 3rd place, Hair-lip Sean DNF’d and four riders behind me all missed their brake markers at the end of the back straight the lap before cause they were in fits of laughter about Hair-lip’s antics and our sign language conversation down the back straight.


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