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Billing Aquadrome 2003


June 2003, Indian Owners of GB rally combined with the American Auto Club Summer Nationals at Billing Aquadrome, Northampton.

It seemed an odd idea when Jess suggested at Christmas we hold this year’s national rally in the American car rally at Billing.  It seems they had been trying to get us to go for quite a while, if only to thin out the Harley contingent a bit (they all look alike don't they) But seeing as usual nobody else was clambering to hold the rally and that they were offering us a good deal on entrance price the committee went for it and Jess ran with the ball and got us in.

Its a good venue and easy to find especially when you miss the main turn off you can see the park as you drive by, and so with a quick visit to the next roundabout you just follow the next passing classic American car, see dead easy!

As we cruised into the park the first thing you were faced with was an impressive array of campers and caravans, they do tend to take this lark a bit serious these car guys, there were small campers, pick-up towed fifth wheel units, Winnebago's by the horde and expanding units that dragged out into small detached houses bigger than mine and this was only Friday, 

We rode around for a bit hunting for our plot and the usual dishevelled looking collection of shanty housing that denotes the Indian club has arrived.  We found it hiding in the shade of the trees within staggering distance of the beer tent Excellent!

This was all a bit new, to start with there was no large empty field to hide round the edge of, and it looked already as if we would be a bit tight for space but at this stage we knew nothing, as the day went on we shuffled and stuffed tents and vans into ever tighter spaces and even had to re-site Ray Chriss's tent, but this was due to the pigeons deciding he had set up under their favourite crapping branch, quickly spotted by his tent turning white and smelly (they know a thing or two these country folk )

The layout seemed good though, as we had our own display area where the club tent was set out alongside all our favourite Belgium and Dutch spares suppliers. With plenty of room to display the bikes in front of them and opposite the gate to the main arena, so you got to see all the motors over the weekend even if you didn’t run about all over the site.

So with every thing set up it was off to have a look round, check out the food situation and have a look at the stalls that were set up all round the arena and three lanes behind it, where you could buy everything from Electric scooters to  Bubble guns, (later used to give ambience to a film crew trying desperately to video a camper park next to our bikes, Sorry!)

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Hennie winning best rat bike

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Anna Baines with her Indian 101 prize winner

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Indian 741B winning best of show

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John Chatterton winning best scout

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Fred Woodgates having a tinker with his Henderson

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Frank Nuber winning


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Carl on his Indian Brave winning furthest travelled

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Eddie Baines pushes Jess's Indian Four to the judges

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Anita taking a break on the colourful club stand

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Club stand



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Club Stand



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Ride out escorted by American police car


It was good to see we had some of the new members turning up if only to give the others a target for piss taking (would we? naaah!) and Eddie and Anna Baines had arrived to make this their last do before disappearing off to Canada for a prolonged spell of touring (they’re still there) bringing Eddie's latest toy, an Indian Papousse with them (it’s a Brockhurst Corgi in disguise) and I think everyone who hadn’t already tried it out at Flimwell was sent off round the field on it until Alan Gould’s small associate learnt to ride it ,then claimed it as her personal transport for the weekend .

All around us more and more American cars, vans and trucks were pouring in some of which are very high on my xmas list every year.

Friday night we all forced ourselves off to the Beer tent and staunchly helped out in moving some of the alcohol about to the music from the band on stage, the only real downside was the bar closed at 11.30 boooo! hisss

Saturday dawned bright and got better as the day went on, there was a rumour of the proposed optional ride out being filmed for TV.  So although most people had decided they were staying onsite so as not to miss anything, there was still an escorted ride out through the show and down to the main gate at which point most of the bikes turned round and went back into the show to the dismay of the gate security guard, This has to be one of the more bizarre events at any rally so far.  This could also be a new event for the international listed under the Slow Obstacle Race as we all weaved at a snails pace round pedestrians, children and pseudo policemen through the middle of the auto jumble.

Yes there were Indians there and Harleys and standing out from the crowd was a BOSSHOSS which if you haven’t come across one yet is a 350bhp small block Chevy engine with a 2 speed auto box all wrapped up in a bike frame, it was immense but annoyingly it was getting round the show easier than I was (I really must grease that clutch pivot) I did consider going and winding the guy up but once I met him I went for the polite approach cause he was as huge as his bike but a real nice guy who took time out to tell some of us about the bike and of the problems and worries of owning a bike that it takes five guys to pick up ,Apparently one of the neat things about for folks who ride other bikes than Indians, is that you cannot twist the throttle faster than the engine can keep up , before you reach that stage you will have blacked out and blown yourself off the back. Now my 741 is nearly that good and well, Bill's tuned his so ........

On the Indian display we had probably one of the bigger line ups of bikes for a while, and this seemed to generate quite a lot of interest as the day went on, we were right, it was a great place to watch the cars going in for judging and just generally cruising around the site and at one point most of the club were sitting round here taking in the sun and the beer (or JD)

In the Afternoon we re-sited the bikes in the main arena with all the other bikes on site and waited around for the judging which with so many vehicles onsite seemed to go on for ages.  But this done we all retired back to our stand into the now welcomed shade

The evening had us back in the beer tent for a Status Quo tribute band, which actually due to the lack of desire to play anything from "Our New Album " turned out to be better than the real thing at Cambridge during the winter. 

After another legal closing time we went off with Claude and Tony etc for a quiet nightcap and the serious discussion of owning an old motorcycle in the 21st century, so in depth did this become that it was felt necessary to phone John Wright for advise as he was hiding somewhere in Spain on some type of holiday (bike not included) I mean who would be away when we are having a rally ......

Sunday morning, time to pack up and say goodbye

But there's going to be no rush, the weathers still nice and there still a few thing we haven’t looked at and " Oh by the way there’s about a 2hr wait to get out of the gate "

I told you on Friday we didn’t have a clue about how the place was filling up and as you rode around didn’t you notice this place now had a population of a small town?, but now they were all trying to evacuate together.

Just to help things out, do you remember the psuedo policemen, (these are nice normal folk who buy a car, make it look like an American patrol car, buy and wear all of the uniform including an empty holster and a plastic shotgun and then wait all year for the American car show so they can act out their fantasy by doing volunteer security and crowd control) yep! These folk were directing traffic.  Interesting to say the least.

I must admit I said I would phone Anita once we had got through the gate to let her know how bad it was, But it was me who left the phone in the back of the van and forgot, So after about 3 hrs I think she thought I was winding her up, and I hadn’t been home long myself before the defamatory e-mail arrived,..Sorry!

Apparently Claude got so fed up with the waiting around he threw himself off the back of Tony's truck and broke an arm, the things some folks do to pass the time and get out of packing the van

Anyway there you go all in all it wasn’t a bad idea after all Jess, it made a novel change from just being with the usual crowd and looking mainly at bikes you've seen before, so well done!  And if you didn’t go you missed a good one, SO DON'T DO IT AGAIN or I'll have to write another of these torturously long write ups and its about time you had a go.


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