9 Aug 2011

Old bike racing at Nogaro: the Coyote days

This event, called Journées Coyote, is a two day annual meeting involving bikes from the period 1950 to 1980, and is held on the Nogaro race-track in the Armagnac area of South-Western France over the first or second weekend in August.




One has a pretty good view of some of the most interesting parts of the track from gradiants placed near the paddock area, which is also full of activity and has stands selling all kinds of parts and paraphanalia, as well as the usual greasy sausages and beer (why no wine?). To take pictures of bikes on the track you need a decent telephoto or to get close up to the safety mesh that surrounds the track (see above). Even then you need a 200mm lens at least.


There are no actual races involved as each category of bikes has several 20 minute sessions around the track, going at the speeds thay choose, but mostly quite fast. As the bikes, and the riders, have variable capacities, there can be considerable differences in those speeds but everything seems to go well. 


I missed last year's event but managed to see half of the 2nd day this year. There was plenty of interesting machinery out there. Unfortunately my Commando won't start at the moment so I wasn't able to ride this to the meeting. The now fixed Ducati did the job well enough.

Here are a few pictures and comments. And for those who may be interested (and there was a contingent there from the UK), here is the web site: http://coyote-racing-team.com/crt/JOURNEES.html


What I enjoyed most about this event was the mixture of bikes, as well as the very friendly atmosphere in the paddock area. Here is a beautifully prepared Guzzi Le Mans 850 painted (the fairing and stuff) in a nice shade of green. I spoke to its owner, who hails from Brittany. He has been running it at this kind of meeting for about 10 years. He doesn't go that fast but clearly has a good time. I guess he doesn't want to damage his handywork, which is fine. The red Guzzi in the background seemed a bit faster. See below:




Italian bikes were quite prominant, with various sizes of Ducatis taking the lead part, like this 900. 


At least in the twisty section, where I spent most of my time, the fastest were not the biggest, and the Ducati singles were not exactly hanging around. This one had just passed the bike behind on the outside comming into the bend.





And there was also a series of pretty fast and nice-looking Yamaha singles, like these 2 who obviously like racing each other.


English bikes, mainly Nortons, were also evidence and quite a few Hondas and the occasional Kawasaki. Here is a good-looking Honda Four:






Riding styles varied quite a bit between the modern, let-it-all-hang-out one seen on the bike in front, and the taughter, more classic style as shown by the orange Laverda rider behind (who always showed perfect line in this curve).


One of the nicest bikes on the track that day, and certainly the noisiest, was this 350 (I think) MV Agusta. It went fast and sounded loud and firm.




Part of the fun of these events is wandering around the paddock area and looking at the macinery there, not all of which is destined for the track. One of the rarest machines I saw was this immaculate JPS Norton F1 (the one with the Wankel-engine), with Gironde number plates. There can't be many of these in France!




As it started up alongside the equally immaculateSuzuki RG 2 stroke, you can see that both smoke equally well! It sounds quiet and more like a 2 than a 4-stroke. I wonder how it goes?


all photographs by David Cobbold

Next time I will show you something of the sidecar sessions, which were by far the most spectacular of the day.