THOUSANDS of motorcycle fans turned out to watch vintage bike racing return to the beach for the first time in more than 60 years in South Australia.
The Sellicks Beach event, organised by the Levis Motorcycle Club, attracted 4000 spectators and 105 racing bikes over two days on the weekend.
“Everybody had a ball – the riders are all keen to come back and the spectators were just ecstatic with it all,” the Adelaide-based club’s publicity officer Peter Hennekam said of the February 18-19 event.
The field of 105 motorcycles manufactured before 1963 raced across five classes – under 125cc through to 501cc – 1300cc. Sidecar races will also be held.
The club, the oldest motorcycle club in South Australia, began beach racing in the 1920s and held annual Sellicks Beach Speed Trials in summer through to 1953.
Re-enactments were held in 1986 and 1992 but regular races had not taken place on the beach for more than 60 years.
Hennekam said allowing spectators onto the track to speak with riders and have a close look at the vintage bikes before each day’s racing proved hugely popular.
“There’s 105 highlights – every bike and everyone had an amazing story of how they got there,” he said.
“We had two guys, who are 81 and 79, they were on a 1958 Aerial that they rebuilt over the last six months.
“They came second in their class and won the best presented sidecar and the crowd was ecstatic with them.
“There was also a local bloke here who was riding a 1938 Harley Davidson that he’d got in boxes. It had been sitting in boxes for 60 years and he put it all together and this is only the second or third time it had been ridden in 60 years.”
The 1.6km (1 mile) track was the same length as the original track and took riders 800m down the beach before rounding a hairpin for the 800m return journey.
The Levis club, named after the English two-stroke motorcycle, is looking to hold the event every two years in the future.
Sellicks Beach is about a 45-minute drive south of the centre of the South Australian capital Adelaide. It is well suited to racing because it has a pebble foundation under the sand, which gives it a solid base and prevents it from becoming boggy.
Adelaide hosted the Australian Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995, and is the home of the Clipsal 500, the only CBD street circuit on the V8 Supercar calendar.