Our first Lansdowne season

Ken Perch in his first Lansdowne season at Donington Park Classic Racing

Recollections of our first Lansdowne season by Ken Perch

In 2018 I decided to change from parading to racing and competed with the CRMC on a 500 Manx. It was an interesting year and a steep learning curve as it was obvious I would never be able to upgrade my license to National due to the quality of the young riders, short stroke motors and the class structure.

I liked the ethos of the Lansdowne Classic Series in so much as it creates and maintains a level playing field for those wishing to race genuine (and faithful replicas) of pre-1964 Group 1 and 2 machines. It also had a class for the over 60s which, I felt, might give me an opportunity to upgrade my license.

Knowing some of the competitors in the championship my wife Anne and I decided to attend the 2018 Team Lansdowne AGM and presentation dinner to get a feel for camaraderie of the members. It was a lovely weekend and the decision was made to enter the 2019 championship.

From parading to classic racing

The first meeting of the year at Pembrey was a bit of a disaster as the bike suffered from engine failure during the test day before the meeting and I was unable to compete. However, this gave me an additional opportunity to wander around the paddock and meet the members.

Cadwell was our first meeting proper… well, at least the first one I would get to compete in. Despite qualifying last, getting a good start, and finishing last-but-one – in all the races, the buzz I got was immense. I could use the excuse that I had only just got the bike back and was taking it steady but that wouldn’t be true. The bike ran really well due to the time and effort Stuart Tonge had spent on it and he was on-hand to keep an eye on me. Thanks Stuart.

Camaraderie and hospitality

I think this might be a good point to mention the hospitality tent which Mike brings to each meeting. Tea, coffee and cakes are available throughout the weekend for members, sponsors and their guests. Invariably Mike will have arranged a small display relating to our featured past rider and the sponsor’s logos are there for all to see.

What an honour it was to go to Mallory Park and ride the circuit as it was when I used to spectate, albeit for a one-day meeting. From the viewing area, you don’t realise how fast it really is and apart from a couple of minor incidents, it was stunning. Overall I was delighted to have qualified further up the field and finished both races in a respectable position and had a grin which stretched from ear to ear. Saturday evening’s barbecue was a very sociable event and a good evening was had by all.

Competition on and off the track

In between Mallory and Donington, Anne had an operation and we are both grateful to the members for their support and understanding. It was very much appreciated. Donington was again very popular, with a good selection of machines battling it out for the honours and putting on an excellent spectacle for the spectators. However, I think the most fiercely contested competition that weekend was the men’s cake baking. A celebrity judge, not Mary Berry, but Malc Wheeler had an almost impossible task in selecting the winner and it quite rightly went to Tony Perkins for his impressive contribution.

The final meeting of the season was at Snetterton and it was a weekend of two halves. Saturday was dry but overcast which allowed for some close fought battles. However, Sunday was very wet with the race being postponed after the sighting lap due to a sudden downpour when we were on the grid. When the race eventually got underway speeds were well down and those that finished were pleased to have conquered the conditions. The rain continued to fall throughout the afternoon and eventually, the meeting was abandoned.

Getting the classic racing bug

In conclusion, we have been welcomed into the Lansdowne community and enjoyed not only the competing but also the social side of meetings. You really are a great family and we look forward to being part of it again in 2020. In my dreams, I will be a lean, mean fighting machine but in reality, I will remain as I am and live for the buzz.