Luneville – Circuit de Vitesse

Situated just 15 miles East of Nancy, Lorraine, France, in the direction of Strasbourg, the Luneville ‘Circuit de Vitesse’ appeared to be established on an old World War 11 airfield. Approximately 2 miles in length, most of the circuit was in good order and well defined with fencing, a small spectator banking and Armco on most of the bends but there was one section about half a mile long which crossed what might once have been an aircraft holding area. This area was somewhat rutted and required lines of straw bales and plastic cones to mark the margins of the circuit on this section of the track.

This race meeting was organised by the Nancy Motorcycle Club, representatives of which I had been introduced to by Jean-Pierre Beltoise (J. P) at Albi earlier in the month. This meeting was somewhat different from the other meetings which I had so far entered. Firstly, entries were restricted to invitation only, 2nd, the organisers did not (initially) offer any starting money to the riders! they did however, offer very good price money down to 10th place in each race and if I remember correctly, the equivalent of £25 to each finisher. All in all, this seemed a good system to discourage riders from turning up with any old dog of a bike just to collect the start money! and thirdly, I could not find the meeting listed in the FIM International Race Meetings calendar for 1964!

The offer to start first made to me in Albi amounted to an assured £75 for 3 rides (subject to finishing in all 3 races) with the prospect of earning quite a bit more, however the assured element was still £75 short of the minimum I had accepted for 3 rides at any meeting up to this time. Having delicately put my case to the organisers in Albi they eventually agreed to pay me a special £75 fuel allowance on arrival at their meeting subject to me keeping this special arrangement between us strictly confidential, which I willingly agreed and did, up until now!

On our arrival at the circuit we immediately announced our presence to the organisers and collected the agreed ‘special fuel allowance’ before off loading the bikes ready for practice the following morning.

In the morning with a whole day of practice sessions for 50 cc, 125, and the 350 and 500 cc classes (now combined into one class as there were not enough 350 cc entrants to hold a separate race), there was plenty of time to walk around to meet the other competitors and we had a good look at all of the race machines and transporters in the paddock.

J. P had already arrived at the circuit and he had a most impressive line up of bikes and transporter. In addition to his 125 TSS Bultaco and 248 cc Morini which I had seen at Albi, he also had an immaculate 50 cc Kriedler and a G 50 Matchless which was prepared as well as any G 50 I had ever seen. It soon dawned on us that this meeting was going to be a walkover for J. P.

The weather was very good and practice went well for me on the 125 and the 250 when I finished in the top 6 in both timed practice sessions, I even managed to make 8th place in the combined 350 and 500 class, being recorded as the 3rd fastest 350 on my 256 Moto Parilla.

Being determined to finish in each race I decided during our final preparations to pull one less tooth on the rear sprocket of each Moto Parilla to keep the revs down and put an extra 3 to 5L,s of fuel in the tanks of each bike above our normal calculated requirement for each race.

With my first number 1 number plate allocated by the organisers on my 125 Moto Parilla and with the fine weather still holding, I felt confident that I would have a good race as I lined up for the first race of the day with the other competitors. As often happens when you become over confident the first race was a bit of a struggle for me, carrying too much fuel and needing one more tooth on the rear sprocket, I only just made 9th place after a ding-dong battle for the whole race with a Bultaco and a Ducati which looked and sounded more like a 175 to me! As anticipated, J. P won the race, at a canter followed home by Kurt Johansson (Bultaco) and Andre Bellone (Honda)

The following race was for the 50 cc machines when once again J. P took the chequered flag with half a lap to spare!

Reducing the fuel load by 2L’s and replacing the original rear sprocket with one extra tooth I was better prepared for the 250 race and following a good start stayed with the leading pack for most of the race getting as high as 3rd for two or three laps when the bike began to develop a misfire when accelerating out of corners. Reducing my maximum revs to only about 8,500 RPM I managed to hold on to 5th place at the finish. J. P again taking the win! — the misfire turned out to be a faulty spark plug

As expected JP won the 250 race on his Morini and was followed home by Bo Brolin and Barry Smith – both on Aermacchis.
Having prepared my 256 Moto Parilla in the same way as I had the 250 and now with 2 finishes under my belt I was prepared to have more of a go in the 500 cc race. With my best start of the meeting I lead the race for 3 or 4 laps but I was well aware that there was a G 50 Matchless breathing down my neck and J. P slipped past with ease once he had had enough of following the leader! unfortunately, his pass encouraged more of the 500 cc riders to have ago and slowly I slipped back to 8th place at the finish but still the first 350 cc class machine home.

J. P was not the sort of Guy you would find smiling very much but at the prizegiving reception in Nancy that evening, he just could not stop himself having won all 4 races. Vic and I were smiling too as we took more money from Luneville than from any meeting we had competed at so far.

On to the next chapter, Bautzen………..