Moto Media

from ... Tim Gibbes

Well it happened several weeks ago as part of the NZ GP at Woodville 2011 on 29-30 January but it was good and my apologies for not providing a report before now.

On Saturday, 41 of us went on our coach tour where first port of call was Thomson’s Motorcycle Museum not far from Palmerston North. A great collection of rare motorcycles, well worth the visit, followed by a tea break.

Back on the coach, through the Manawatu Gorge to the town of Woodville where we were hosted and dined by the Woodville Community Group and i-Site. This group recognised the value of the Woodville MX to the district.

Then our first visit to the Woodville MX where we were able to witness some of the Saturday racing which included Mini’s, Juniors & Vintage MX racing.  Manawatu-Orion MCC had provided a VIP hospitality suite for our "oldies” group.

On our way back we detoured via the Wind Farm on the ranges between Woodville & Palmerston North. The Wind Farm manager, Colin Farrington, also a motorcyclist, showed us part of the workshop where they maintain the propellers as well as a slide show on how they maintain 187 mills from the highest power producing wind farm in the world. But the winds are aggressive, requiring more maintenance than most. Of course we left there with much more knowledge & appreciation of this source of power.

Then back to Palmerston North for a reunion dinner at the Steeple Restaurant where we had about 70 people present. A condition of admission here was to display photos on display boards, as well as tell stories on a "pass the microphone around” system.

Naturally the stories got longer faster and braver coming from some well matured mates.

On to Sunday when we met a gain in the VIP hospitality marquee at the MX to witness some top level racing that only Woodville can provide. From the 50 or 60 rider entry of our early times, the entry this year was about 650 over the weekend.

Time was given when some of the bikes & older bodies were able to do a few laps of the easier part of the circuit, where we saw and heard the familiar to us, the roar of BSA, DOT, Greeves, AJS, Matchless, Metisse, etc. all unknown brands today.

Debbi Ritchie had made a Woodville 50th Anniversary birthday cake which Ken Cleghorn and I cut jointly for the occasion, Ken being one of the many instigators of getting the land & helping organise early years of the famous event.

It can be safely said that everyone involved with our reunion enjoyed the whole weekend & our thanks to our hosts Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club for their cooperation in making this event last & grow so well.

Tim Gibbes

The start of the 1964 Woodville MX GP, 3 years after its inception. A big event then.

Ken Cleghorn and Tim Gibbes cut the 50th Anniversary cake.

Start of the demonstration parade by bikes of the bygone era, 50 years on.

Ken Cleghorn explains to Ken Davies how "we did it when were young”!

"Old Farts” tell their stories – from left – Norma Tong, Ken Davies, Ted Sisley, Brian Tong with his AJS 500 scrambler, Graham Terry & Peter Thomson with Glen Robins BSA 500 is in the foreground & #44 in the background is Graham Terry’s Greeves 250

Start of the 1969 NZ MX Grand Prix – the same venue as today, 50 years young.

Our thanks to Kaye Davies & Brian Zemanek for the photos

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Footnote: I've just heard, Don Elliott injured his spine at an International tractor display in the South Island last Sunday and was operated on at the Dunedin Hospital, where he is at the moment. His wife Yvonne says he's recovering well and expects to eventually make a full recovery given time.