BSSO Production Class: Andy Francis interview | SPORT
Scooter racing has been enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years, with many classes now well-subscribed and hordes of spectators at most rounds. The 2016 season is likely to be one of the best spectacles in recent years, thanks in part to the new ‘Production Class’.
This subsidised class takes some of the cost out of racing and allows everybody to start on a level playing field. SLUK’s own entry to the series, Barrie Braithwaite, spoke to Andy Francis, the proposer and main driving force behind the new class to get the full story.
So what is Production Class all about?
I first had the idea in November 2015. After speaking to Paul ‘Chalkie’ White of Replay Scooters I sat down and started to draw up an outline of what the class rules would consist of and the idea really started to snowball from there. The main inspiration behind it all is to get people out on track and right from the start have a scooter, which has the same performance as all the other competitors. It’s not about who has the biggest bank balance or the most generous sponsors; it’s about the rider.
After spectating at some race meetings in 2015 I noticed that there were a couple of scooters out in street class, but the rules for the class were so broad that a complete newcomer would have to spend a lot of money to be able to compete on a level playing field. Hopefully Production Class will keep costs to a minimum and help those new to racing and returning racers get out on track at a relatively low cost.
What make and model of scooter can enter the class?
There are regulations in place for Vespa and Lambretta scooters, which is a bit of an anomaly as the class is officially titled the Lambretta Club of Great Britain Production Class due to the large sponsorship package offered by the LCGB. The Vespa regs are aimed at PX and smallframe models but so far the interest has come from Lambretta riders. Basically the regulations state that any Series 3 Lambretta frame and bodywork may be used in conjunction with the permitted RB20 cylinder kit, crankshaft and gearbox.
You raced a Lambretta in the 80s?, after such a long absence from racing what motivated you to get involved again?
I raced from 1979 until 1988 but have always kept an interest in racing through the years. I spectated at a few meetings over the years but recently started to notice how professional the current teams looked. To reach the level of some racing teams would take a big investment of both time and money and that could be a very daunting prospect to someone wanting to get out on track for the first time. I have had a lot of enjoyment from my years with scooters and I wanted to put something back into the sport and the scooter scene in general, hopefully this will open a door to newcomers to enjoy racing too.
Who else has been involved in making this class a reality?
Paul ‘Chalkie’ White played a big part in forming the idea and between us we came up with a few ideas regarding what engine parts could be used. It was then down to me to get in touch with the various suppliers and manufacturers to put the proposal to them and see if they would be willing to offer discounts to riders. Ray Kemp at AF Rayspeed is supplying the RB20 kits, crankshafts, carburettors, gearboxes and other parts at a big reduction on the normal retail price. We have sponsorship from Rock Oil, free tyres from Continental, discounts from PM Tuning, Readspeed, Scootopia, VE UK, BGM, Tino Saachi, Tony Haigh has offered a big discount on paintwork, JB Fabrication are offering discount on workbenches and engine stands. The idea has really gathered momentum. The LCGB have offered backing to the tune of £3000, all of which will be put back into the class in the form of prize money and subsidised entry fees, we have even had an offer from Darlington Scooter club to sponsor 24 hi-viz vests for newcomers to wear.
Where do you see the class and scooter racing as a whole in five years time?
Personally I think racing was going to run out of steam simply due to the age of a lot of competitors. I’m hoping this class will help get new blood into racing and carry it on into the future. Production Class could be a stepping stone to moving into the more technical classes and that can’t be a bad thing.
Now that the rules have been established and the class has become a reality will you still be involved with the organisation of it?
I will be attending as many meetings as I can and now that I’ve got my teeth into the work behind the scenes I’m trying to get some sponsorship for other classes to give something back to a sport that has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years. I want to open things up for everyone to have a go at an affordable price. I don’t see myself as some sort of saviour of scooter racing, far from it, but if I can help the committee in anyway I won’t hesitate.
Are you preparing a scooter for the class yourself?
Yes but James Lancaster is riding it. I think I might be a bit long in the tooth and round in the waist to get the most out of the kit!
Anybody you would like to thank for help setting the class up?
Obviously all of the sponsors I mentioned earlier, without them offering the discounted parts the whole point of cheap racing would have been missed. I must mention Chalkie White again, also the BSSO President Norrie Kerr and committee members Jayne Morris and Jon Gilbert. From the LCGB Paul Price, Moy, Toot, Martin Weeks for putting me in touch with the right people and the numerous others who have had an input. Here’s to a good safe season!
Where can people find out more?
The updated BSSO website has all the latest class rules and details of this year’s busy race calendar.