Scooter Racing is a funny old game, it’s weeks of preparation for what often only amounts to about 30 minutes on track during an average weekend. The time trouble and money that goes into it are hard to comprehend but in this series of video blogs, Dave Bristow will give us a glimpse into his race preparation as he gets ready for the Petrol & Pistons event at Snetterton this weekend.
Who’s the man?
Dave Bristow, age 52. Lives near Stansted, workshop is in Loughton, Essex.
I was always into machines as a kid and remember helping my dad repair our Mini on the drive. Remember how your road would be full of cars with their bonnets up? Owners servicing and changing brake shoes every Sunday!
Bought my first Vespa 50 at the tender age of 15, stripped & rebuilt it, rattle can spray job. Then a few Lambrettas followed (and more Vespas). Met my wife Abi, at a Northern Soul do and courted her doing Euro-Vespas around the continent.
At 16 got taken to the scooter racing at Lydden by Alf Jones (who later went on to race Group 3) and was hooked – one day I was going to do that!
Early Racing Years
Fast forward to Disc ’85 and my first race – a Vespa SS90 in the back of my Morris Marina van with Abi (my now wife) as pit crew, doing my newcomers sessions. Raced Group 2 on the SS for 4 years then lost my bottle, I just started freezing up on corners.
Around this time I’d met John Howe from Jahspeed so I bought a scooter sidecar combo off him – you can’t fall off 3 wheels! Campaigned the combo for a few years with Gary Capewell ‘in the chair’, came close to winning the group championship a few times but never quite got there.
Bottle back, throttle open
One day at the Three Sisters circuit (I think we practically lived there) I saw Bob West from Team Taffspeed put his knee down as a guide around corners, so I borrowed one of the teams group 4 Lammies (Epping Forest race team), there were quite a few of us and I had to have a go at that for myself. My bottle instantly returned and I was back on two wheels the following season, racing group 4 until mortgage and grown-up stuff stopped me in 1993-94.
18 years later, setting up a bike on the Dyno at Jahspeed, John Howe bent my ear enough to come back and race with him. So in my late 40’s I was back at Three sisters on a ‘Legacy’ Group 4 Lambretta pulled out of storage, still running a cast iron cylinder barrel, Amal mark 2 carburettor and Luminition ignition – I was hooked again!
Favours from Muckers
I met up with some of my old Muckers from before. SRP were kind enough to lend me a more current Group 4 motor whilst I built one of my own. Gradually I pulled myself up the rankings racing for Jahspeed over the last few years, until I was offered Group 4 sponsorship from Team Replay for this season, I’m also trying to improve my runner-up place from last year in combos for Jahspeed Racing.
Hornet Scooters Workshop and Race Team HQ
I ran Hornet Scooters full time in my early 20’s but we were all young and skint then, so I drifted off, doing other things to actually earn some money. I always kept the business running part time through various changes in location, doing the normal repairs, tunes and restorations. We have settled in Loughton and it’s now taking more & more of my time up so will probably be full time again soon. My team mates pitch in a bit with the rent and have the run of the workshop and tools, (and brake cleaner and paper roll, b*****ds)! Our team nights are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.
Racing alone is not as much fun as racing with mates (although those in the scooter paddock are all mates). Paul Kent had been coming along to meetings as my pit crew (Abi had done enough in the 80’s!), he’s a Vespa man and Stuart Mackenzie made quite an impression, so last season we built him a Vespa P Range to race. It’s been a learning curve for him, it’s a lot quicker on the track than it looks from the stands! Unfortunately a broken collar bone in Venlo which isn’t healing has put paid to this season for him.
Built a Lambretta motor for an old mate at the workshop and he professed an interest in racing – stupid! Next thing Danny Lodder has bought a Vespa PKXL and a Quatrinni motor from me and is out in Group 5. Sadly, there’s just him in this Group so he’s been put into Group 6, but had a great 1st season racing the Production class boys.
Finally on the BSSO forum a young lad was asking questions about racing and seemed fairly local, I invited him down on a team night and he hasn’t left – Stephen Graves introduced us to Autos and won Group 10a last year. This year he’s defending that and racing for Team DSC in the Production Class after Darren Scott thought he may have some potential on geared. It’s okay, he’s bribing me in pies for taking my rider!
Back next week
That’s all for now but we’ll catch up with Dave and the team after this weekends BSSO/Petrol & Pistons meeting at Snetterton…
Words, photos and Video: Dave Bristow