One of the greatest motorcycling events in Australia is done and dusted for 2017. A mammoth 4 days of classic bikes, veteran riders, and young impressionable newbies took over Sydney Motorsport Park in the name of smoke and speed.
This year the event changed things up a bit – the name for a start. Now dubbed The International Festival of Speed, the event does everything is says on the box and more. Each year is to have its own theme, with 2017 being a celebration of Italian racing heritage. To bolster this mighty tip of the hat, an audience of Italian moto heros were shipped over to Australian shores for what would be the biggest turn out of the event to date.
Punters were with a remarkable appearance from motorcycling god Giacomo Agostini. The Italian 15 time World Grand Prix champion would be in the pits and on the track each day, gifting a truly unique glimpse at a living legend and piece of Grand Prix history. The roar of Agostini’s MV Augusta 500 3 would draw an instant crowd around it each time it was kicked over. True legend in the form of man and his machine, something none shall forget for the rest of their lives.
A myriad of other racing legends would also be hitting the track and hanging around the pits all weekend, including Piero Laverda, Pierfrancesco Chili (Superbike, 250cc & 500cc GP Rider), Maria Costello MBE (Isle of Man), Steve Parrish (500GP Rider & Factory Team Manager), Troy Bayliss (3 Time Superbike World Champion & MotoGP Rider) Graeme Crosby (500cc GP Rider and TT Formula 1 Winner) and Kevin Magee (500cc GP Rider).
Perhaps what make’s this invent so unique, is that it’s an experience and glimpse into what racing in the ’70’s and ’80’s was. Not just as a result of the classic machines that are being raced, but the riders themselves, and the attitude that is throughout. It’s an open and more relaxed atmosphere, driven by passion. You’ll have an 80 year old bloke working on his 2-stroke speed machine while the likes of Geoff Burgess spin tales with Kevin Magee and other legends. It’s a meeting ground for what once was, and what now is. Young blokes and modern machines, older fellas and classic machines. United by their madness for the track.
Punters wouldn’t just be leaving with incredible experiences, an MV Augusta F3 800 with custom Agostini paintjob, signed by the man himself, would be given away. One hell of a prize. Agostini himself draw the lucky ticket, and despite the winner wearing a Laverda t-shirt the keys were handed over. The sunday saw the show and shine, along with the swap meet providing plenty of extra stuff to check out in between breaks of the racing.
The International Festival of Speed (formally known as the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed) has been gaining traction year by year, if you like bikes (regardless of make) you’d be mad not to check out the event each year. There’s not many like it, being able to rub shoulders – quite literally – with legends in the pits will definitely leave a smile on your face. Not to mention the clouds of 2-stroke smoke that stimulate every sense. Next year will see the theme concentrate on Superbikes – and now we wait for March 2018 to bloody hurry up.