Last Sunday Croft Circuit near Darlington hosted the first round of the Classic Racing Motorcycle Club’s King of the Classics Championship. 30 races and parades over the weekend made for great entertainment that featured solos and sidecars from the 1960’s 70’s & 80’s
Unfortunately the series won’t be back at Croft again this year but information on other races can be found on the club’s website: www.crmc.co.uk.
In no particular order, 10 reasons to visit Oliver’s Mount this weekend for the Spring Cup. If you’ve already been I apologise for preaching to the converted and if I’ve missed something then feel free to add it using the comments at the bottom.
Images by A.T.R Photography and Charles Robertson
1. The Closeness
Watching racing at other UK venues now pales in comparison since I visited Oliver’s Mount as you just can’t get as close to the action. This never felt truer than last weekend at Silverstone where I watched the BSB through twenty foot high mesh fences, thirty meters from the track. At Scarborough the only thing between you and the riders is a waist high wooden fence. I’m not exaggerating when I say that you can smell the oil and rubber of the bikes and feel the throb of their engines in your chest as the riders race past.
2. That Hairpin
The first corner of any race is always a spectacle with whole field piling in and fighting for position but the first corner at Oliver’s Mount is something else altogether. It’s not just a corner, it’s a hairpin, a proper one, a switchback. And what’s round the other side? Sheene’s Rise with it’s 1/9 gradient. It’s amazing and you can watch it all unfold from a few feet away.
Here’s what happens when it all goes tits up:
3. It’s a Free Workout
Because the 2.41 mile circuit winds its way up, down and around the mount you’ll need to do a fair bit of walking if you want to take in all of the vantage points. The main steps down from the car park are hard enough in your leathers but the dirt paths at the northern end of the track make the Travelators from the old TV show Gladiators look flat. Watching people scramble up and down these paths makes for good entertainment between the races.
4. The Ride There
The ride down from Newcastle is a ride of two halves that starts with a boring slog down the A19 but finishes with a blast across the North York Moors. The corners are long and sweeping which means the caravans and tractors that clog the roads are easily dealt with. Don’t get too carried away though, the police are well aware of the crowd that Oliver’s Mount draws and will often have at least one camera van out on race weekend. Scaling Reservoir and the Queen Margaret Road that runs between retail park and the mount are worth taking steady, if you get what I mean. Wink, wink.
5. The Commentator
Almost as impressive as the racing itself is the commentator’s ability to seemingly never stop talking throughout the weekend and you best learn to love it as it’s piped all across the circuit. It’s not always about the racing, sometimes not even about bikes but it’s nearly always entertaining. Personal highlight; when he asked Giacomo Agostini how many notches are on his bed post and if he ever tires of signing women’s breasts.
6. The Back Straight
It’s not straight and it’s barely wide enough to get two cars down it but that doesn’t seem to stop the riders screaming along it. You’ can’t see much of the straight as most of it’s hidden by hedges but using the fence to get a leg up seems to be the done thing to give you a fleeting glimpse or let you get a video.
7. Mental Sidecar Passengers
If you’ve never seen Sidecar racing then they alone are reason enough to make the journey to Olivers Mount. Watching the passengers move around the cars beggars belief and is good to watch at Hall Bends. These guys don’t just get their knees down; arses, shoulders and heads will often touch tarmac. Don’t believe me? Watch this:
8. It’s in Scarborough
Another thing that makes Oliver’s Mount stand out from other tracks is that it’s not found in the middle of nowhere but is walking distance from a popular tourist destination. Granted, few bikers are into donkey rides or sticks of rock but bear with me here. The sheer number of hotels mean that even on race weekend it’s easy to pick up a cheap but cheerful B and B and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to pubs and food. For me nothing beats the East Coast Kitchen in the center which offers an American Diner inspired menu. Owner Andrew Porter is a classically trained chef (as well as a true gent) so while it may be burgers and hot dogs it’s done to a top notch standard but don’t just take my word for it, it’s voted Scarborough’s number one restaurant on Trip Advisor. After stuffing your face head to The Hole In The Wall Pub who normally show the American GP after the Spring Cup (though sadly not this year due to rescheduling). Still, it’s worth a visit as the staff and regulars are sound and they pull a good pint.
9. You Can Ride It Yourself
During race weekend the roads of the circuit are closed but by Monday they’re reopened and there’s nothing stopping you going for a lap of the course yourself (albeit no faster than 30mph). Only when you ride the course can you appreciate the steepness of Sheene’s Rise or the tightness of Mountainside Hairpin. While there Oliver’s Mount Restaurant found at the north eastern end of the mount is certainly worth a visit. Beside that is the War Memorial with stunning views of the town and out to sea.
10. Jefferies Jumps
If you want to see what massive balls look like then head to Jefferies Jump where riders and their machines become air born at speeds that’ll make your ride to the mount look snail like. You’ll know when you’ve found it because there’ll be rows of people lining the fences with cameras and phones to record the spectacle. But enough of my talking, this ten second clip will show you all you need to see.