The weekend of 15th and 16th October meant it was time for the annual motorbike show at Stafford, or to give it it’s full title the 23rd Carole Nash Motorcycle Mechanics Show.
It was the second time that my nephew and I had visited, the last time being two years ago. Its fair to say that we enjoyed the 2016 show just as much, if not more than when we visited in 2014.
It really is a cracking good show . When you buy your tickets in advance and online (for £12) you can save yourself a couple of quid, which if nothing else will buy you a reasonable cup of coffee at the show and with money to spare.
The Staffordshire show is a good day out. Access is pretty easy as it’s only a few miles from the motorway networks and the show was fairly well signed on the local roads.
We knew from our previous visit that as well as the massive outdoor area given over to displays and traders of almost every description, there is also a huge indoor area, so we were not unduly concerned about the forecast rain. Having said that, given the torrential nature of the rain as we approached Stafford I was having my doubts.
As it turned out, the rain lightened off as we arrived and apart from it being a damp start it went onto be a decent day, with sunshine and blue skies at times and we barely got wet at all.
Parking was good (and included in the ticket price), and this year we had reason to use a blue badge. The disabled parking was first class, and left us only about 250 yards from the entrance. I had checked that out in advance and received a courteous and prompt email from the organizers recommending that we use the Stafford Gate and it proved just ideal.
It’s one of those shows where there really is something for everyone. So if you’re the sort of person who likes rummaging around for a bargain at the dozens and dozen of autojumbe type stalls then you will probably be satisfied, or maybe a visit to the Wall of Death takes your fancy and for £3 its almost mandatory that you go and take a look, even if you’ve seen it before. It’s simply impressive to stand at the top of the wooden ‘drum’ and look down as the bikes quickly build up speed and hurtle round inches from where you stand and seemingly defy gravity.
When you add to that the dozens and dozen of indoor displays and superb collection of all manner of bikes then really its pretty difficult to grumble about the event or the value of the £12 entry fee.
We took it all in and particularly enjoyed the bikes in the Classic Racer GP Paddock where we stood to watch, listen and smell as the bikes were are fired up.
For me though, my personal highlight was the Suzuki tent. Two of the bikes ridden by my boyhood hero, the legendary Barry Sheene had been brought over from Australia. The opportunity to stand next to the RG500 and touch it was worth the entrance fee and trip alone, and as well as the orange and black RG500 from the 1976 season there was also the race bike from the following year … alongside one of Kenny Roberts (junior) RGV500s in Movistar colours bikes and one of Kevin Shwantz’s in Pepsi colours.
It was just brilliant and to add to the Suzuki tent there was a superb display of machines from various Suzuki owners clubs.
Also on display were a couple of bikes that belonged to the King of Cool himself – Steve McQueen!
The supporting literature for the event reckoned there were in excess of 900 motorbike displays … and there probably were.
There were literally hundreds of stands where bargains could be had or that long lost missing part could probably be found. There were also a few stalls that if I’m honest I always find a bit odd at bike shows – if I want a bag of sweets I don’t need to go to a bike show for them, but that’s just a personal view, clearly lots of people like that sort of thing.
There was even a restoration workshop with a before and after example that was actually quite dazzling.
I loved looking around the stalls even though I wasn’t really looking for anything, whether parts, accessories, clothing, memorabilia etc
If you’ve taken your own food and drink then there are plenty of places to sit and eat, but there are also enough food outlets if you want to get something whilst there. In my opinion the best value is in the indoor cafe/restaurant area with coffee at £1.70 and a good sausage sandwich available for £3 (or more elaborate meals if that’s your thing).
The show seemed bigger and better than last year and the organizers were expecting more than 30,000 visitors over the weekend.
If you missed it this year, it really is worth watching out for next year – its a great day out.
The last thing for me to say here, and as a bit of personal promotion, is that if you’re looking for a good motorcycle travel read then why not take a look at my book What if You Don’t Break Down. It’s getting good review from people that have read it and I wrote a Blog Post about it here.
I’ve uploaded (a lot) of pictures below, which will probably be worth a look if you were not able to make it to the show and will give you an idea of how extensive the show is if you’re thinking of marking it in your diary for 2017..
Clicking on the first will open a scrolable gallery.