Sidecar speedway racing has been happening on speedway circuits for almost 90 years. The sport is highly respected but less popular than other forms of speedway racing such as motorcycling and sprint car racing due to organizing and cost difficulties. Sidecar speedway racing is popular in a number of countries but doesn’t have as much international standing despite its long and well-respected history.
What Is Sidecar Racing?
Sidecar racing requires a delicate balance between teamwork and maintaining the speed of the machine. A sidecar includes a motorcyclist and a pillion passenger that are placed on a 1000cc sidecar with three wheels. The rider and the passenger both play a crucial role in maintaining the balance and traction of the machine. Speedway happens on a loose surface and traction is particularly important on sharp corners. There are also no brakes or traction systems in place.
One of the more challenging aspects of the sport is trying to avoid other competitors due to the size of sidecars on the speedway circuit. Sidecar speedway racing features frequent touches by machines often unintentionally due to their size. Touching is not strictly enforced unless it looks intentional because of charging into or barging. These rules are difficult to impose, and there is often conflict between the judges and racing teams as a result.
This is less of an issue in other forms of speedway racing.
The role of the pillion passenger is to use their body weight to control the amount of traction on the rear wheel. The passenger has to move their body in many different directions inside or outside of the machine to do this. The machine turns right, and the pillion passenger is always on the right-hand side of the rider.
Teams can be taken out of the competition for losing a passenger. Teams can also be excluded for running out of the circuit, which relatively easy to do. Touching the starting tape can be a reason for exclusion as can not starting within 3-minutes.
Sidecar racing started in Australia with events starting in the early 1930s in Melbourne. It has maintained its popularity at settings like the Sydney Showgrounds Speedway and the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds. Other destinations have included Broken Hill, Olympic Park and many more. It developed along with other forms of speedway after the 1930s. Some of the most popular forms of the sport include the Australian Pairs Championships, and the sport started running the Speedway Sidecar Grand Slam series from 2011/2012.
The UK is another popular destination for sidecar racing but has had frequent disruptions due to costs for competitors and organizers. In the 1990s the ‘World Of Rebels’ series attracted competitors mainly from Commonwealth countries. However, in 2000, the Supercup Qualifier at King’s Lynn started a renaissance for the sport in the UK. It went on for some years and then ended. The British Sidecar Speedway Championships was also made official and is still running in the UK.
Sidecar speedway racing started as a demonstration sport in the U.S and was brought to the U.S from Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s. Luckily the sport is still going well in the U.S after 20 years of racing. One of the big races in the United States is the National Speedway Championship which is held annually. California is one of the popular places for sidecar speedway racing in the US.
The dedication and expertise of sidecar speedway riders are often overlooked by other speedway sports. This is despite many speedway enthusiasts recognizing the danger and skill required to move a sidecar around a circuit with such high skills. The sport has not had an easy history but maintains a dedicated fan base and continues to push ahead all over the world.