By SEAN O’KELLY
AT the rear of Cafe Moto, in Carrum, a rookie motor cycle racing team is preparing for its first assault on the “Holy Grail” of street motorcycle racing: the Manx Grand Prix.
The two-week event is held on the Isle Of Man in August/September. But it won’t be the Oilee Racing Team’s first foray onto the international circuit: Last year it sponsored double amputee Alan Kempster in the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
The sponsorship was a “sweet mix of pride and passion”, team owner/manager Lee Allen said. The Oilee Team took on a huge challenge in supporting Alan, who lost his right arm and right leg in a motorcycle accident in 1990.
“We had to customise a Suzuki 600 to accommodate Alan’s unique needs,” Mr Allen said.
“We moved the clutch and throttle to the left side and met all safety and performance requirements, which now seems to have been the easy job when you consider the hard task was left to Alan.
“He spent many wee hours relearning to balance, control, ride and then race the bike at the highly competitive level required to enter the race.
“We could not have been happier with the result when Alan qualified.”
The Isle of Man Festival is a petrol smelling, bone shaking, mud splattered, testosterone powered event over two weeks. It attracts thousands of racers and bike enthusiasts from all over the world to the thrills and spills of modern and vintage racers.
The 100-year-old track is raw and dangerous. It has always been raced on the original road around this tiny island between England and Northern Ireland – very unlike the slick, computer-designed circuits with sweeping camera angle bends, safety barriers and padded crash zones.
“It is the ultimate street race and is dangerously bloody, with the track lined with what we call furniture,” Mr Allen said.
“There is danger around every corner with a stone wall here, tree there and a house just up a little further.
“It’s not a race you can just roll up to and say ‘Hey! I’m going to win this’. No matter who you are, it takes a lot more than just speed or riding experience. We feel it will take least three attempts before we are an experienced Manx team.”
The Oilee team rider is John Chiodi, of Adelaide, who has competed in many national events but is a first time Manx rider. “We know it will take a few attempts for us to establish confidence and experience to win this gruelling race,” Mr Allen said.
It comprises the Manx 2-Day Trials, Classic 2-Day Trials, Classic TT event, MGP Racers, VMCC Rally and Festival of Jurby. The Manx GP Trials are designed for the fast, slick, modern machines, and the TT Classic as a showcase for a variety of bikes celebrating 100 years of racing on the island.
“For the bike enthusiast this event is an exciting smorgasbord of classic, modern and modernised bikes, rare parts and a lot of conversation about bikes,” Mr Allen said.
“We will be posting updates along with special reports and clips via our respective Facebook pages and on oilee.com.au”