BEARS National & Club Champions
Of Ill Spent Youth And Wayward Ways
BEARS Australia MCRC History
BEARS is the acronym for British, European, American Racing and Supporters. BEARS was first formed by the late great John Britten and a couple of his friends in Christchurch, New Zealand in the early 1980's. The BEARS Australia Motorcycle Racing Club was formed in 1991 after a factional group broke away from the Ducati Owners Club of NSW.
All machines eligible for BEARS racing are categorised according to its original performance specifications (i.e. power to weight), but there are virtually no restrictions on subsequent performance modifications. Today just about any motorcycle made outside of Asia may be classified as a BEARS bike.
BEARS Australia quickly gained affiliation with Motorcycling NSW which allowed its members to obtain a motorcycle racing license. In the first few years our members could only compete against the cavalcade of Japanese motorcycles, but in 1993 we were able to start forming the first BEARS only grids at some local Sydney race meetings. But our first big break came shortly afterwards when Ian Gowanloch agreed to back the BEARS at the spectacular Italspares BEARS Trophy Races at Bathurst in 1993 and 1994.
These legendary events were supported by luminaries such as Alan Cathcart and of course John Britten with his mighty V-1000 twin "Dominatrix", fresh from victories at Daytona, Assen and the Isle of Man TT Races. Since 1994 BEARS have become a regular event on many promoters programs, including the Australian TT Races at Port Kembla, the World Superbikes at Phillip Island, the Easter Bathurst events, and the Pro Twins with Formula Xtreme.
In 1996 the inaugural National BEARS Series was implemented, with events in QLD, SA, and NSW. Originally conducted in only 2 classes "BEARS Formula 1" (modern bikes), and "BEARS Heritage" (for pre 1977 machines). 1998 saw the introductions of two new classes (BEARS Formula 2 and BEARS Formula 3) to cater for machinery left somewhere between the old and the new. In 2000 we implemented a 5th category to entice street riders to start racing with the BEARS. Formula 5-Clubman was introduced, restricted to C and D grade riders only and using street tyres.
An average BEARS field could include current model superbikes to 1950s classics, with riders from A Grade to D grade, aged 16 to 70, 2-strokes or 4-strokes, singles, twins, triples, and fours, as long as the machinery comes from an acknowledged BEARS manufacturer. In 1998 we had 97 riders on 19 different marques compete in the "new" Australian BEARS Series!
In 2001 the BEARS Nationals trialed a winner-take-all, single event Championship. After this competition, the competitors overwhelmingly requested a return to a series format. The series format remains in place today and now includes visits to tracks in VIC and to Hidden Valley in Darwin every second year.
A passage by Ian Gowanloch
OF ILL SPENT YOUTH AND WAYWARD WAYS
There was a time when the local youths congregated on the village green to practice archery and sword fighting and jousting in general. There were castles and much finery and fair damsels too. I was going to start this story "once upon a time", but somewhere in history somebody invented tax departments that completely buggered up castle ownership, and jousting, and a lot of other things.
Somewhere else along the historical timeline somebody else invented motorcycles. It was probably the Italians, with their keen sense of history, who remembered jousting in general and saw the similarities to motorcycle racing. For many decades the boys from Verghera, on their MVs, did glorious battle against the boys from Mandello, on their Guzzis, and the boys from Breganze on their Laverdas, and the boys from Bologna on their Ducatis and Morinis, and the boys from Pesaro on their Benellis. Jousting lived and it was good.
Italian club racing even today is very much an inter-regional thing. However Australia never was a collection of city states so motorcycle racing evolved slightly differently. You can't really imagine escaped convicts going round in circles and ending up where they started, but that is getting off the subject. We don't have any castles either; we have sheep stations, but those that the tax department missed, the drought stuffed - so they are not worth racing for.
But competitions we do have. The bugle calls competitors to the field, the flag is waved and battle furious ensues until a winner is declared.
As castles are old hat and sheep stations are not worth racing for, the question "why" remains. The idea of winning the hand in marriage of the fairest maiden seems about as out of date as castles. And most of us bring our own maidens these days anyway. As for the racers of the fairer sex, history hasn't recorded your appearance in jousts. And as for taking home successful motorcycle racers, well, I know a lot of these blokes personally and I wouldn't take them home.
This weekend we are here. There will be a lot of noise and spectacle. By the end of the competition there will be a few victors, a lot of fellow competitors who gave their best, and even more spectators who came and saw, and went away amazed.
There are classes for bikes of many different sizes and ages. Viewed with some perspective in history that seems irrelevant. And at a future time, on some distant village green, will again sound that bugle, and the competition will commence once more.
Bring on the spectacle.