The 25th of November saw Terra Topia serve as venue for the Hero’s and Legends motocross event. ZA Bikers cracked an invite from the kind folks at Yamaha. I cruised out with our ace cameraman, Bjorn Moreira to take in the action. It was a bit of a Deja vu moment for me. I remember back in the late 70’s going to watch MX at Syringa Spa. Watching the likes of Charlie Tissen, Grant Maben, “Rocket Rex” Staten, Tyrone Stevenson, to name but a few, battle it out was always super exciting. I have always been more into road bikes and road racing, but to spectate at a MX event never fails to get the adrenalin pumping.
Strolling around the pits, taking in the sights, sounds and smells is truly intoxicating. Gazebos dot the landscape, sheltering bikes on stands, riders and pit crews from the sun. On the one hand you have the pros. Everything is perfectly shipshape. Riders look resplendent in state of the art riding kit. Even as the day progresses their kit stays relatively clean, not like the weekend warriors who fill the midfield and make up the rear in each Moto. They get dirtier from the roost from their midfield mates. Not that the racing is in any way less intense for them, it is simply at a slower pace. A cacophony of sound constantly assaults the ears. Booming high performance four stroke singles as well as the higher pitched sound of tearing two strokes. The smell of two stroke oil, somewhat muted compared to the “Castrol R” of yesteryear, mingles with the wonderful aroma of braai fires as family pit crews sort out lunch.
Put all this together and it becomes quite a sensory assault. The visual impact comes from the racing itself. Riders, banging elbows, claim serious airtime over jumps, rail through berms and spew dirt off their back knobblies as they drive out of the bends. The start is a spectacular affair as the whole field jump from the starting gate, vying for the all important “hole shot”. Whoever manages to lead into the first bend has a huge advantage as they have an open track before them. Everyone trailing in his wake has to contend with his dust and roost, the debris thrown up from the track at those following. Now comes the race tactics and different riding styles. Some square off the corners, braking till late then muscling the bike to turn it and dropping the hammer to accelerate down the straight. Others like it fast and flowing, taking the longer way round, but braking less and trying to carry greater corner speed and a flowing line. This makes for spectacular viewing as the lead shrinks, swells and sometimes changes. “Styling” is a huge part of MX. You don’t just jump the jumps. You style over them! Crossing the bike up, or “whipping” the back wheel in the air makes for awesome viewing.
Heroes and Legends race meetings are particularly enjoyable for those of us that have been around awhile. There is a class for “Classic” dirtbikes. I’m talking big bore, twin rear shock Maico’s and Husky’s as well as Suzuki RM’s and Honda Red Rockets. Those big 500cc two stroke singles made evil horsepower and accelerated with such venom that it made incredible viewing, especially when ridden by the talented few who could vaguely harness the power and torque. Watching these bikes with their quirky left hand kickstarts and temperamental ways, brought back another flood of Syringa memories.
Many of the countries top riders turned out in the “50+ and 60+” class and put on an incredible show. It is scary how fast these “toppies” still are. The Legends races were interspersed with the current crop of MX stars strutting their stuff. The general standard of the days racing was of a really high order, and I am certain that no spectator was left disappointed. The general chilled vibe around the pits was in stark contrast to the intensity of the racing, and this is the charm of these types of race meetings. You witness family fun with kids running all over the place to better watch their heroes competing. The running commentary provides an aural backdrop to proceedings as the various heats unfold to determine the days winners. I came away having thoroughly enjoyed myself and thinking that in one way anyone involved in this wonderful and entertaining form of motorsport is a winner, irrespective of where they came on the day! Herewith some pics that tell the story.