The series doesn’t make many appearances here on A&R, other than the odd reference to a MotoGP or WSBK rider heading to or having come from BSB.
This season I’ve had two opportunities to visit BSB races in person and I’ve been so impressed I thought I’d offer the readers of A&R a trackside view of the series via the most recent round from Cadwell Park.
At most of the MotoGP circuits I’ve visited, trackside is territory the spectators see only from a distance. Modern circuits built for safety and liability concerns keep fans far from the tarmac.
While BSB races at Silverstone, Assen and Donington Park, the first of those having even more separation of fans and action than many other GP circuits, BSB is most at home at venues such as Oulton Park, Snetterton, Thruxton, Brands Hatch, Knockhill, and Cadwell Park.
These older circuits allow the fans much closer to the action than most GP circuits, Phillip Island being an exception. While I’ve seen only Knockhill and Cadwell Park in person, I’m told the others offer similar views and proximity for the BSB fans.
You can see in the photo above how close spectators can get to the track at Cadwell Park. Those aren’t credentialed photographers beneath the trees in the background, just fans with general admission tickets.
Cadwell is an amateur photographer’s dream, as is Knockhill in terms of unobstructed views of the circuit and a super-telephoto lens being entirely optional. At Knockhill I was a spectator as the trip was last minute and I had no time to arrange a credential.
I brought only a single Nikon body and my trusty 70-200mm lens. From the spectator side of the fence I needed nothing longer than 200mm to cover the track action.
With a photo pass, in fact, photographers ar Cadwell are allowed so close to the circuit that several times I stopped to change a lens or something, then decided to move to a location that offered more personal safety, such as a spot behind a large tree that would offer some shelter should bikes come off the track while I had my head down.
It’s difficult to overstate how important this proximity to the bikes is to fans, however. Being able to get close to the track changes completely the experience of watching a race weekend unfold.
BSB offers a very full schedule of support races between the main Superbike and Supersport classes. I think part of BSB’s allure is the inclusion of modest, no frills motorbike racing.
While MotoGP gets the glamour, there is genuine, down-home appeal of watching racers who sleep in the vans they haul their bikes to races with. I have a lot of respect for the privateer racer, and I think a crowd of true motorbike fans does as well.
The crowd at Cadwell Park was impressive all weekend, but especially, of course, on Sunday. It was fantastic to see so many people come out for a motorcycle race that didn’t feature Valentino Rossi.
That isn’t to say, however, that the races feature no recognizable names or personalities to support as a fan. Any sporting event is dull unless you care about who wins.
To add some famous names to the grass roots appeal of the support classes, BSB offers fans a wide variety of characters to care about when it comes time for the podium. The Superbike class has several names motorbike fans are likely to recognize even if seeing a BSB round for the first time.
Shane “Shakey” Byrne was leading the championship on the Paul Bird Motorsports Kawasaki when BSB arrived at Cadwell Park.
John Hopkins is back for the remainder of the 2015 season. If BSB is so foreign to you that you don’t know about the section of Cadwell Park called The Mountain, then no, this photo is not a trick: Hopper is really flying through the air in this photo.
Australian Josh Brookes claimed both Superbike races at Cadwell and took over the points lead from Byrne.
That reminds me that there are two races in the Superbike class (and in several other classes as well) plus a 3-section Superpole scheme that ramps up the suspense for which riders will move up the grid a session at a time.
It’s almost like the entire show was designed to be entertaining to fans, rather than an elaborate testing ground for electronics and software, as MotoGP sometimes seems to have become.
BSB also features a Showdown scheme to make the end of the season as interesting as possible. After the Main Season concludes next weekend at Oulton Park, “the top six riders in the championship standings (only) become the ‘Title Fighters’ for the final three events.
Each Title Fighter begins The Showdown with 500 points, plus additional points for each podium position they obtained in the Main Season: 5 for a win, 3 for a second, and 1 for a third. The standard points scoring format from the Main Season then continues for The Showdown, with all points scores from the final seven races counting.”
Michael Laverty, shown above, is on the bubble to make it into the Showdown as a Title Fighter.
That BSB is a thriving national series is also good luck for Americans who’d like to see the AMA return to the days when it produced internationally respected racers.
Working with MotoAmerica is BSB series and race director Stuart Higgs. Having Higgs’ influence and experience can only help the AMA regain its respect as a top level national series.
In the mean time, if you’d like to get into some motorbike racing that’s less about technology and more about bringing what you got to the starting line and making it work as best you can, keep an eye on BSB.
Photos: © 2015 Scott Jones / Photo.GP – All Rights Reserved