Collie steps up to fill Barbagallo gap, as old race bikes find their testosterone

CAPTION: Editor Terlick got all arty with the lighting at Collie, capturing this great shot of Shaun Oliver on his '72 Honda 350 carving through the clay on the back straight.

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THERE are many ways to enjoy motorcycles, but if ever there were a motorcycle-enjoyment hierarchy, riding them fast would surely be top of the ladder.

And riding motorcycles fast was the order of the day at Collie today, when the Historic Competition Motorcycle Club of Western Australia hosted Round 2 of its 2017 season.

With Western Australia’s premium go-fast-on-bikes venue, Barbagallo Raceway, effectively out of action for 2017, the small-and-folksy Collie Motorplex has found itself thrust front-and-centre for the go-fast brigade.

And not only is Collie proving itself a perfectly adequate stop-gap venue for those of the Barbagallo set willing to head three hours south, some people are even entertaining the notion of Collie stepping up to the big league.

The riders we spoke to today loved the circuit. It’s shorter than Barbagallo, both in total length and in main-straight metres, but that’s not a problem for older, smaller and slower machines.

CAPTION: Yes, the Collie circuit could be extended — potentially making it faster and longer than Barbagallo. But is there the will, is there the money, and is it worth the expense? Time will tell.

And, if it did want to accommodate the 250kmh club, there’s room to extend the track to the south. A quick look at an aerial photo shows an apparently-uncomplicated extension just waiting for the nod from authorities and, no doubt, the more difficult funding and signing of a pretty fat cheque for capital works.

More than one member of WA’s road-racing community has raised the notion that maybe Barbagallo should stick to cars, and bikes should go it alone.

Current momentum (and maybe sober sanity) suggests Barbagallo will be back on line next year and the status quo will resume – the old bikes will split their time between Collie and Barbagallo and the modern-bike folks will stick with Wanneroo.

CAPTION: Collie usually hosts older riders, older bikes, and longer lap times. Joshua Mathers (2010 Suzuki 600) showed what happens when the fast guys turn up. He was great to watch.

But there seems little doubt that Collie has presented itself as a credible Plan B, should it be necessary.

There were more than a few modern bikes at the Collie circuit today but the historic bikes stole the show, for us anyway. Beautiful old machines, some of them old enough to be great-grandfathers, fanging around the course like they were testosterone-charged teenagers. Wonderful stuff.

The Nikon got a workout. Here are some of our pics.

CAPTION: Check out the smile on John Pitcher’s face. And who can blame him? John found his 1961 Norton 650 for sale on a website in Holland. It had been sitting unused, part of a deceased estate, for 20 years. Not any more. The old Norton got to stretch its legs and sing at the top of its voice today. And it looked superb.

CAPTION: And here it is, stretching those legs and singing its song. Love it.


CAPTION: Another pair of exotics tracked down in Europe. Marco Vittino (that’s him on the right) brought his first 1962 Ducati 250 in Italy about a decade ago, in service as a road bike. His more recent acquisition (the foreground bike) was built as a race bike by a former Ducati factory mechanic, then sat unused for 17 years. Marco bought them both tickets to Australia so they could be put to better use. “The first bike usually behaves very well,” he told us “but I’ve spent eight years or so getting it right. The ‘new’ one is still getting sorted. “I had its head off yesterday, replacing valve stem seals to stop an oil leak. But it’s still leaking today.” Both of Marco’s bikes are beautifully presented. We’re sure he’ll sort that leak.

CAPTION: Another shot of Marco’s stunning little Ducatis.

CAPTION: We featured Lex McKinley and his stunning old Moto Guzzi a few weeks ago. (Read his story here.) Today was Lex’s first race day and he was grinning from ear to ear.

CAPTION: Andrew Orford’s sweet ’56 BSA 500. Hey, we recognise that bike in the background — it’s Madonna from Bologna!

CAPTION: The Bike Shed Times boss Peter Terlick used to own this Ducati Pantah, but sold it to Dave Roberts a few years ago. Dave planned to take the Pantah racing, and has done just that. “It’s down on power today,” Dave told us. “Hopefully it’s just a tuning thing. The engine had a difficult 2016 and has been rebuilt for this year.” But is Dave having fun? “There are less pleasant ways to spend your time,” he told us. We’ll take that as a ‘yes’.


CAPTION: Lex McKinley (#74, 1972 Moto Guzzi) and John Mattaboni (#62, 1937 Velocette) shared a square metre or two heading into the first corner.


CAPTION: John’s Velocette taking a rest in the pits. Beautiful bike.


CAPTION: Another Mattaboni; this is Zane on his 1930 Norton 500.


CAPTION: Smaller tyres mean less resistance, right?

CAPTION: John Pitcher’s Norton again, looking all slim and lithe.

CAPTION: Carpark action included this slick S2 Ducati …

CAPTION: … and this head-turning Laverda. Wouldn’t mind a couple of laps on this, hey?

CAPTION: Mark Ackermans on his 1980 GSX1100.


CAPTION: Rory Rebel aboard his 1990 Suzuki 750.


CAPTION: And they’re off. Rory keeps his front wheel down while Tony Hynes (#75, 1980 Suzuki 1166) and Mark Ackerman avoid unnecessary tyre wear.



CAPTION: Nalaka Dias (#16, 2007 Suzuki 1000) and Colum Reynolds (’08 Honda 600).


CAPTION: Suellyn Luckett on a 1960 Ducati 250.



CAPTION: Chris Kirby’s 1972 Suzuki 492.

CAPTION: Paul Smith’s 1972 Honda 350.



Also see:

Lex McKinley’s Moto Guzzi

Barbagallo update



4 Comments on "Collie steps up to fill Barbagallo gap, as old race bikes find their testosterone"

  1. Great to see these old bikes still snortin’ around a track. Well done to all the guys that risked these beautifull old bikes. The noise and smell is so special to me lol. Thanks for the pictures as well.

  2. michelle gapes | June 12, 2017 at 5:25 pm |

    Awesome article and great photos of some great bikes..another great weekend had by all..we would love to see you again..i am chief Grid Marshal and my hubby races a 1980 Honda cb900..

  3. Great photos Peter, come down and shoot again, we’d love to see you. Meanwhile thanks for the mention on Madonnna, still a looker and a goer after all these years.

  4. Steve Corsini | June 12, 2017 at 8:45 am |

    Great coverage, of a great weekend. I was pitted next to John and his Norton. Such a great sounding bike.

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