As Longy tries to explain the intricate racing lines of Mallory park to his 83 year old mother-in-law driving her to Heathrow airport, the rest of the S&M clan headed north to their home circuit Mallory park. It's the last time the red mist will come down in 2006 and they want to end it on a high.
Matt Vimto Strong had been practising on the tricky little circuit all day Saturday trying to remember if he had a five or six speed gearbox after his 12 month lay off from race duty. Now recalled back into the team, he's riding the crest of a wave after completely blitzing all the riders in the novice group. Even a few minor gear change snags could not temper his enthusiasm. The boy wonder was feeling well prepared to teach the New Era big guns: Ivan-the-Terrible, the Bionic Man Hardwicke and Colin Plumb-the Plumber a lesson or two as he tucked into his second pint of Vimto at the B&B later.
Come the dawn....Race day...Moldy ignores the change from British summer time and sleeps in for an extra two hours as Vimto-Matt polishes his helmet, leaves his B&B and good lady Sabrina to rest, and heads to the circuit to "kick some ass". Suited and booted, warmers on and fueled up ready for action, he goes to sign on but then starts to confuse the officials when he requests to go into the intermediate group. Moldy meantime changes out of his pajamas and hopes his race is the last one of the day to give him chance to wake up properly.
Qualifying: Moldy qualifies well, he's 4th CB500 on a mixed grid of 125's, CB's and Honda C90's. It's head-to-head time again with his old buddy PC #22 - another plod vs plod fest was being savoured by the loyal SandM supporters who had made the trip. Vimto meantime fires up the Hornet but then is puzzled that none of the bikes in the holding area are sporting registration plates - Oh Sh**, he suddenly realises, the race office have put him into the fast group. He starts to perspire relentlessly.
Feeling like he was on death-row, Vimto nervously tries to click the bike into gear to ready himself for action - but a false neutral hits!, He senses something could be wrong with the finely fettled machine.....then realises this could be a result! Breathing a sigh of relief he immediately starts to wheel the Hornet toward the garages to park her up for the day, but then accidentally engages first gear with his toe slider and gets waved onto the circuit by the scrutineers. Vimto has no choice, he has to follow the pack - damn! That freshly baked croissant back at the B&B flashes before him again.
As the nerves subside, Vimto winds up the Hairnet and realises it's all coming back. Memories of those head to head dices with Longy and top runners of old like Alastair Fagan, the trophy's glistening in the cabinet and his complete mastery of Mallory Park where he breezed 1.10min lap times in damp conditions - he's lovin it... But then suddenly, "click" nothing, "click-click" nothing - driving out of Gerrards he's only got 4th gear, out of the esses, no 5th gear.....Vimto's vision of wheeling the Hornet past the chequered flag in first place are shattered and he reluctantly pulls the Hornet in for observation from chief spanner man Martin Strong-Man. It's bad news again - another dead Hornet for S&M - a gear box failure and Vimto is out. Moldy swiftly hand writes a P45 for the Chief Engineer.
Race 5: Moldy has his usual head-to-head with PC#22. Missing out by just 2 tenths of a second after a thrilling dice, they are wheel to wheel past the chequered flag. Another fourth place leaves Moldy in a safe seventh spot in the New Era Club championship. Lintin takes the Hornet race by a huge margin and smashes the lap record.
Race 11: With all the responsibility of the team resting on Moldy's shoulders, he nails it off the line determined to teach Officer Dibble #22 a lesson this time. Having beaten his personal best and now racing at the 1m 5s lap time mark, Moldy is really starting to get the hang of this game. Confident, almost aloof, he's swinging the bike around the demanding circuit like poetry in motion. But then a pesky 125 #20 - a little white gnat of a bike is hassling him on every bend. Moldy stamps his authority and blocks him corner after corner. Frustrated, the gnat makes a dive for the inside line on the exit of Edwina's.... they collide, Moldy hits the grass with both wheels locked - it's curtains and he heads for the gravel with a triple-salco. Moldy accepts a can of Stella from a nearby race fan and contemplates what could have been.....
Epilogue: It's the end of the season for SandM Team Racing. Only a few races were had and there were some ups and downs....but that's racing. The team now re-group and plan their strategy for their Xmas party at Chicago Rock. Next year it's a full blown challenge for the New Era Club Titles. Watch this space for pictures of Martin Strong-Man schmoozing on the dance floor at The Rock!