Chris and Fiona Hawksley are regular visitors of the Bikers' Classics at Spa Francorchamps.
Although Chris will take his Norton 500 Domi Racer along this year, he doubts whether he will find the time to take it to the track. “It tends to get very busy”, the co-owner of Solo Motorcycle Products smiles. At their hometown Scunthorpe Chris and Fiona run their company and promoting and operating their Solo Motorcycle Starters involves an annual visit to the Belgian Ardennes. “We provide starting machines in the paddock and in the pitlane”, says Chris, a former Historic racer himself. While racing in the United States he spotted an electric starter and decided to use his engineering background to improve the machine he saw. Since 2007 Chris and Fiona and their 'Solo Roadshow' have travelled to many circuits in Great Britain and Europe. “We kind of pick and choose where we go to. We demonstrate the starters and of course we hope the phone rings when we get home”, says Chris. “It's partly a seasonal thing, but people still want to play in the garage with their bikes in winter. We don't just sell the starters to riders, but also to collectors and to people who get too old to push-start a bike.”
Operating the starters can mean busy business at race meetings and bike shows. “Sometimes it takes two of us, working all day”, smiles Chris. “It can get hectic. You know, sometimes a queue starts forming when people think it's too hot to push-start their bike. On other days we're busy because it's wet. But of course we hope the weather will be good at the Bikers' Classics.”
Throughout the years Chris must have started thousands of bikes, but he is quick to pick out a 'sound' favourite. “That must be Giacomo Agostini's MV Agusta 500 three-cylinder! I was lucky to have started that on many occasions. It's loud!”
Ago and Chris and Fiona will meet again at this year's Bikers' Classics where fifteen times world champion Ago will need some assistance to start his MVs. Chris is already looking forward to it. He says proudly: “And you know what? When he's at an event he seeks us out.”
For more information on Solo Motorcycle Products visit www.solomotorcycleproducts.com