2009 Classic Motorcycle Festival at Pukekohe Raceway, New Zealand

Classic Scene

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Doug Johnson’s 1939 BSA M23 Silver Star closes in on Kerry Piggott’s 1920 Harley Davidson Model J.

Robert Smith

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Pukekohe isn’t a name that slips off the tongue, but for New Zealand motorcycle racing fans, the Classic Motorcycle Festival at Pukekohe Raceway just outside Auckland, is a must.

Feb. 6-8, 2009 marked the 30th year of the festival, and many famous bikes and riders joined the celebration. Headlining was former GP World Champion Kevin Schwantz riding a McIntosh Manx Norton in a thrilling duel with local racer Dave Cole on a Matchless G50. Also competing was U.S. racer Jamie Waters on the Peter Williams-engineered Monocoque Commando.

Demonstration rides included the Konig 4-cylinder 2-stroke on which Kiwi Kim Newcombe was leading the 1973 500cc World Championship before dying in a crash at Silverstone. Paul Smart demonstrated the 1972 Ducati 750SS, while Dave Croxford circulated on the 1976 Norton Cosworth Challenge. It was Croxford’s bad luck to crash the Cosworth at Brands Hatch in 1976, effectively ending its racing “challenge.”

A field of more than 300 machines included Vincents, Broughs, Benellis, cammy Velocettes, Ariels, Bultacos, a Morini — and a Coventry-Climax sidecar outfit! If you can find a way to get to N.Z. next year, this is some of the best vintage racing you’ll ever see!