Friday, July 11


IT STARTED back in the 1980s with Christchurch motorcycle identity Lindsay Williamson and a group of like-minded enthusiasts deciding to host races for motorcycles that were not competitive in New Zealand Championship racing and which were also not eligible for Classic racing.

Thus the British European and American Racing Series (BEARS) class was born.

The biggest event on their calendar was the annual Sound of Thunder at Ruapuna, and it was not very long before it was one of the biggest road-racing events on the New Zealand calendar.

With a solid tradition of racing European bikes in Australia, strong entries came in from across the Tasman, with the premier race in the 1988 Sound of Thunder fought out between Aucklander Glenn Williams on the Anglo American Ducati 888 and Newcastle's Graeme Morris racing the Silastic Gaskets Ducati 888.

That event also saw the debut of the first water-cooled Britten racer, which popped and farted around the track as the team tried to find a cure for its inconsistent running.

The bike had only been completed a few days beforehand.

Time goes by.

Next year the Sound of Thunder will be held on February 21-22 (last weekend in February) and its theme will be the 20th Anniversary of John Britten's death. 

At this stage it looks likely that five, possibly more, Britten bikes will be there, ranging from the Aero D Zero onwards, some locally owned, the others ex-overseas.   

There is also the chance of a Steve Wynn Sports Motorcycles Ducati. 

Already there has been interest shown from England, the USA and Europe.