With the inevitable cancellation of the Southport National Scooter Rally, the Scooterist’s Annus Horribilis was all but complete. The only positive that came out of Southport falling foul of the dreaded lurgy was it meant that we would be able to head to the South-East to watch the scooter racing at Lydden Hill.
The BSSO had been invited to be part of the Lord of Lydden weekend and as always Lydden offered up some great entertainment.
If you’ve never had the pleasure to visit Lydden Hill, you basically turn right just before you get to Dover. The circuit sits in a bowl so it is great for spectators, although this weekend saw awful conditions for racing and spectating, but it proved to be well worth it judging by the big grins everywhere. Strong wind and rain battered the circuit all day and night on Saturday and again on Sunday morning, meaning a number of paddock gazebos had to be hastily tied down before they disappeared, some didn’t survive!
The paddock area was officially segregated from the general public as the organisers did their bit to manage social distancing. All of the scooter teams had been put together in one area of the paddock which added to the usual great atmosphere and camaraderie between the racers and teams. It also made it easy for the likes of me to wander around and catch up with everyone. Sadly, entry numbers were slightly down for this event as some teams had been caught up in local lockdowns, etc, however, there was still a good mix of scooters and no shortage of excellent racing in the challenging conditions.
The scooters had been split into two classes:
- Stock Scooters (made up of Production Class, Group 4, Group 4e, Group 10 and Open Class)
- Super Scooters (Groups 6 and 6A)
Most of the riders had taken the opportunity to enter both classes to give them double the races over the weekend. Saturday started with practice and qualifying sessions and then two races for each class (meaning most riders had four 10 lap races on each day). Frantic tyre changes were taking place before every race, with the clouds seemingly waiting to empty themselves on the scooters! Seeing how fast these guys were going, with some riders out in the wet on dry tyres, was incredible. The lap times of the lead scooters would have put them into the top five of the 600cc bike classes! There was close racing right through the field as riders in the different classes battled for the honours.
John the Greek
Darren Scott’s Team DSC were well represented and were running at the front alongside Paul Baker’s Team SRP RaceTech lads for many of the races. However, Dave Bristow’s Team Hornet have found a real superstar in Ioannis Chitoglou – or John The Greek as he is affectionately known on his Parmakit powered PK. He was mixing it with the front runners all weekend and making it look easy in the awful conditions. Although easy may be the wrong word to use as John seems to be able to get the small frame Vespa into all sorts of shapes, with front and rear slides, but he just rides through them… more on that to come. The full results are in the photos so you’ll see the detail there, but John was battling with Justin Price (Team DSC) and Stuart Day (SRP) for the win in the Stock Scooter races.
A minor mishap
It was in the second Stock race that John had an issue from the start and ended up falling half a lap behind the pack before getting going. He rode the wheels off i, working his way through the field to reel Justin in, eventually taking the win. He then battled with Steve Wright (Team DSC) and Stuart Day again in the Super Scooters class. It was in the last race of the day that John pushed a bit too hard and his cat-like reactions couldn’t save him from losing the back end before a high side, barrel rolling the scooter into the gravel trap. Check out his onboard video to see how he gracefully rolls in to shot after the crash! Thankfully he was okay, but sadly the gorgeous Team Hornet PK was a bit battered. The forks being so bent that it looked like the end of the weekend for John.
Saturday night at Lydden is usually party night, but due to the weather many had chosen to find local digs, however, the usual Team DSC party took place in the paddock with other teams joining in, with beer and red wine flowing and no one wanting to be the first to bed for fear of what pranks they might wake up to… there was a plan being hatched to lift a caravan with the “victim” inside to move him to another field. I won’t recount previous pranks as this is a family audience!
Sunday’s racing continued with more close and action-packed races all day in more miserable, wet weather. The Stock Scooter races were again fantastic examples of why scooter racing is becoming a big attraction at these meetings, to quote one biker spectator “they’re feckin nutters”! Stuart Day, Justin Price, Ian Scutt and Graham Tatton were fighting for the top four places. The final Stock race saw Stuart and Justin swap the lead throughout with Stuart just nicking it by a fraction of a second.
An unrivalled sport
I mentioned camaraderie earlier and also that John the Greek was now without a ride, well step forward Chris Geyton from rival team – SRP. Chris offered to loan his spare Group 6 Lambretta to John for the two Super Scooter races. John had never raced a Lambretta before, it didn’t show though as he was very quickly battling with Steve Wright, Stuart Day, Steve Hamilton and Justin Price at the front. Finishing third in his first-ever race on a Lambretta behind the flying duo of Steve Wright and Stuart Day.
Fittingly the clouds broke for the final race of the day and what a race it was. The second Super Scooter race was a brilliant spectacle with the flying duo setting 54 second lap times on a wet track as they battled for the win, with Steve crossing the line half a second ahead of Stuart, followed by Hammy on his 6A auto and then Justin and John at it for the full ten laps (also chucking in 54-second laps), which included panels flying off and some serious out of shape speedway style riding as they pushed the scooters to their limits in the conditions.
VIDEO: John the Greek on SRP Lambretta
Check out the onboard video (above) of the last two laps! Hearing Chris’ high-pitched reaction to this you might be fooled into thinking he regretted loaning him the scooter, far from it, he simply said “That’s increased its value!” If anyone is interested in a fully prepped, competitive Group 6 Lambretta (with very well-scrubbed in tyres!) then contact Chris Geyton at SRP as it is now for sale.
Well done to Mikey Bonnett who did an excellent job covering all of the races via Facebook live on the BSSO page (check them out here) and also producing an informative interview with newcomer Phil Hallam on how to get started in scooter racing. There are also helpful tips on the BSSO website if you do fancy having a go yourself. Phil had a good weekend and experienced his first trip into a gravel trap… riding through it and back on to the track like a pro! John the Greek’s Team Hornet teammate, ex-bike racer Ian Scutt, found good form to take a couple of 2nd and 3rd places in 4e to round off a solid weekend.
A massive well done to Jeremy Steel who notched up his first-ever win in Production Class. Keith Terry found the form of his younger years and had a fantastic race with Justin Price, swapping positions throughout the race and was only pipped by a brave kamikaze manoeuvre on the last corner. He then found himself sat in the middle of the track as he low sided out of the hairpin in the next race, thankfully Keith was ok, as was his Sunday best outfit which he always wears for Sunday races. As if Justin didn’t have enough fun out on track he decided to help out one of the bike sidecar teams who needed a passenger, so he had to literally jump off the chair and straight on to his scooter. In the wise words of some Mancunian musicians, mad for it!
Bob West – 50 years service
An extra special mention and congratulations to Bob West (The Real Taffspeed) who was celebrating his 50th year of racing! An amazing feat and judging by the smile on his face he’s still enjoying it.
The trophy presentation took place as a huge rainbow appeared over the event sponsor, Cornwall Scooter Centre’s van.
Trophies (not pasty shaped) were presented by Graham Lake to the following class winners:
- Production – Graham Tatton
- Production Auto – Alex Vandyke
- Group 4 – Chris Geyton
- Group 4e – Stuart Day (he narrowly pipped Justin Price, as they had equal results. It went down to their fastest laps, with Stuart 12 hundredths of a second faster than Justin, that is what you call close racing!)
- Group 6 – Steve ‘Bruno’ Wright
- Group 6A – Steve ‘Hammy’ Hamilton
- Group 10 – Danny Loder
- Open Class – Ioannis Chitoglou aka ‘John the Greek’
Full results and more info about scooter racing at – BSSO
There was even a special appearance from a certain Mr Trump clearly canvassing votes from the scooter world, although the image of Barrie Braithwaite’s arse cheeks soon put a stop to that – more rump than trump! A personal thank you to Scotty and all at Team DSC who made me so welcome over the weekend and also to all at the BSSO and the other teams and riders for putting on such a great event, truly a highlight of an otherwise dismal scootering year.
Looking towards 2021
Who knows what the future holds, but maybe this type of race meeting with scooterists camping and having an old fashioned campsite piss up could be part of it. It certainly will be for us lot anyway. Get yourself along to a BSSO event next year and if you can then try to make a weekend of it, you won’t be disappointed!
Words and photos: Shaun Hodgkin
Race images: Lee Hollick – view and buy Lee’s images here
Onboard video: John Chioglou (edit by SLUK)