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Prescott Festival of Motorcycles: a weekend of hill-climb​ action

20th June 2019

June 15th saw the arrival of the eagerly anticipated Prescott Festival of Mortorcycles. SME had enrolled some months ago and had been calmly preparing for the first ever forward-facing event as a new company. Packed up in the SME event van was two (cleaned and polished) Brough Superiors for display and one intended for more action: the Prescott hill climb.

The weather played its games on the congregation on Saturday which made for a damp and dreary arrival to the trade paddock where Superior Motorcycle Experiences were based. Bikes of all shapes and sizes made their way past us as the day drew out.

With the addition of ‘kickback’ (custom motorcycle exhibition) to the program of events, the custom curiosities of the motorcycle world were out in force and a sight to behold. If that wasn’t enough the hill climb program had meant that a totally opposing style of machine, with function over fashion, made their way past the SME team in the opposite direction throughout the day.

As the paddock filled and the warm-up of vintage two-strokes and big bore British iron began, the team were all too tempted, and closed up the display tent early and go take a look. The bikes were a wonder to behold with a highly engineered remodel of everything you could imagine. Trackers, drag bikes and mono wheels made up some of the more unexpected entries.

Through the rain and grey skies of Saturday, the hardy and committed enthusiasts visited the tent to chat about the reclusive Brough Superiors we had sheltering in the dry shelter of our gazebo. One of these enthusiasts was none other than British motorcycling legend Steve Parrish. Steve took a look over the bike and requested the chance to run it up the hill the following day if the weather was dry. The stage was set and we all hoped for dry conditions the following day.

The drive over to the iconic Prescott venue promised good things,  clear skies and dry roads were to be the flavour of the morning. The sun sparkled off the Brough Superiors as they were rolled out into the morning light, a sense anticipation for another enjoyable (hopefully sunny) day filled the air.

8.30 saw the opening of the track for riders to take a look and learn the curves and quirks of the layout. 9am was rider briefing and the day’s runs began at 9.30 with Allen Millyard heading up the charge on his Honda 6. The soundtrack to Sunday was nailed down by track one the RC374 6 cylinder two-stroke with its straight-through pipes tore a hole in the Sunday morning tranquillity that would not return until 5pm that evening. The mingling marvels from yesterdays paddock now jostled and juddered about preparing and queuing for the day’s hill action. We were being kept busy on the stand by gatherings of motorcyclists excited to see a Brough SS 100 in the flesh.

Many of the crowd had extensive knowledge of the bike and were pointing out details to one another. The time was flying by and the SME race slot was rapidly approaching. James, our ride-leader (and occasional event racer!) began pulling on his boots and fitting his knee protection to his ugly bros jeans before realising that the sky had turned grey. Before he had the chance to finish setting up, the Brough’s were being wheeled back into the tent and out of the now driving rain shower. It was hard to tell which looked more deflated; James or the once-again shadow covered Brough Superior. Happily, the shower passes, leaving James to wheel his way through the damp patches and puddles and up to the starter grid at last. Number 219 was going to be a modern Brough Superior at Prescott for the first time and the soggy wet hairpins held little appeal compared with the sunny stroll from earlier that morning.

Regardless of the diminished conditions, the racers pulled up to the line where the legendary “Dave” was setting them off. It was great to share the noise and torque of the Brough with the captive audience spanning the track side stalls..and then all of a sudden the flag dropped, as did the clutch on the SS 100. James shot off the line travelling sideways towards the grass and he didn’t seem to be beckoned in by the first turn ahead… the poor road conditions and adrenaline-fuelled excitement perhaps resulting in a slightly wobbly start for SME. As James caught up with the Brough’s enthusiasm he realised he would have to take a deep breath and calm the mood slightly to conquer this famous hill climb unscathed. Retiring his ambition for the minute and rolling off a few lashings of throttle, the bike once again developed some forward momentum. They were off, a very leisurely 15mph perhaps 20 here and there. Not setting any records nor would they present the sounds and spectacle of the Brough on run number 1, but an exciting start, and good display of action.

Steve Parrish had appeared on the stand earlier in the weekend and quietly requests a run on the bike so shortly after the fisrt run, he was sought out for a ride. No such care was taken by the veteran racer. A one-handed burnout on the start grid was a fair indication of things to come. A spirited exit off the line and Steve and the one-careful-owner Brough Superior disappeared from view. Steve returned to the paddock smiling with good reviews of the bike and its handling.

The SME tried to take note of his feedback but were mainly focused on returning my heart-rates to normal pace after seeing him blaze off into the slippy, damp woodland course...

The sun blessed Prescott in the afternoon and the Brough got a chance to stretch its legs on the newly dry track. Damp patches still littered the upper stretch but for the most part the track was sunny and stable. The day was certainly a whirlwind of enthusiasm, criticism and contemplation. We will be looking forward to another trip to Prescott.