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25th November 2004

The Festival Of Sidecars

Classic racing comes in all shapes and sizes. Roy Workman enjoys a day out with the outfits, at Mallory Park's annual sidecar event...

This is the biggest gathering of racing sidecars in the country. It is organised by the Retford and District Motor Club, and it takes place at Mallory Park in Leicestershire. This is an annual meeting and this was the ninth such occasion. There was a full programme of 18 races.

With twenty-plus outfits lined up on the starting grid, the spectators are guaranteed plenty of excitement throughout the race, especially when they all jostle for space in the bends.

The riders range from Steve Webster, arguably the most successful sidecar driver since the sport began, to Roy Hanks, another famous family name in the sport.

Top Scott, maybe Ted Parkin's one.

This meeting covers the latest machinery - at one end of the scale there was Ted Parkin's 1930 Scott and a couple of quick Vincents, with lots of Triumphs and BSAs. Something of a surprise was a Gilera outfit; there are not too many of these around. The classic sidecars are teamed up with the likes of Morgan three-wheelers. This can make for a really exciting race. The front wire wheels of the Morgans flex when pushed hard into corners!

The Federation of Sidecar Clubs took this golden opportunity to set up a display area for members' machines, and they had people available to answer questions and hopefully attract some new members. One machine on display was a 'DVW' machine - look at the photo and work out the various different parts used in the make up of it (please note the shaft drive). Regarding the Fed's members' machines - the oldest one here was a girder-forked Panther with a boat-type sidecar, a nice Norton and The latest offering from Jim at Charnwood Classic Sidecars was also there. Jim is also an agent for Royal Enfields.

'Aye sonny; and if you keep riding that scooter like that you'll be in here before you know it...

Chris, my partner, watched an outfit pull into the Fed stand from a distance. She thought; 'That looks big enough to be a hearse - hang on -- it IS a hearse!' And so it was - the Reverend Paul Sinclair was bringing in the outfit that he uses for his motorcycle funeral business. As he says you can have a dignified and dry final ride, knowing that you are travelling in the fastest accelerating hearse around!

During the lunch-time break Chris Vincent did a couple of demonstration laps on the URS outfit, which sounded very nice, but unfortunately the motor died on the back straight and the machine was pushed off the track.

Walking close to the entrance gate, I spotted a young rider on a scooter. I thought I hadn't seen one of those scooters around for quite a while. I wandered over to chat to the rider. He was quite surprised that I knew what it was - you don't see a lot of Velocette Viceroys on the roads today. He uses the Viceroy daily. It is fitted with Japanese pistons, but other than that it's as original.

Davida's new 'Classic Dome' helmet was a great success.

I like the Club Class type of racing because you can enter the pit area and talk to the riders and crews. Whilst wandering around the pits there was a great deal of activity, with riders trying to help each other out. One chap had lost a ball bearing somewhere and was desperate for a replacement.

There were some trade stands in the pit area. One of these was displaying some nice pewter models of cars and motorcycles. One in particular that caught my eye was a racing sidecar outfit. The stand was manned by Donald Kay - he does crystal and pewter work. The quality was very good.

Donald told me that he used to race sidecars himself as the passenger. This came about by accident when he stood in for his brother one day and after the first day he was hooked and raced all over Britain, the Isle of Man and Ireland. They did very well. In 1987 they finished 3rd in the first race at Oulton Park, in the second race they were lying second - and then they overtook the leaders just 500 yards from the finish...

Sidecars on

Unfortunately it was raining, the throttle stuck and they aquaplaned on the water straight into the crash barrier! Donald spent the next four months in hospital. As this was not his first serious accident, whilst in hospital he decided to give up racing and put his energies into starting up 'Tamoshanter-crystal', his own engraving business.

Honey, I squashed the Norton.

The vintage races had a field of twenty outfits - the smallest being a 500cc Norton-Jawa, the oldest was a 600cc Scott and the largest was a 1300cc Vincent. The classic sidecars and Morgans races fielded 25 vehicles on the starting grid, with about equal numbers of sidecars and Morgans competing. This was serious stuff - some of the Morgans can really shift. The passenger was often lying on the floor of the vehicle, looking up at the sky. You certainly have to have faith in the driver.

There were some continental riders racing here today. A Dutch rider, Jos Modder, had a very nice classic Trident outfit; this sounded terrific as he roared around the track.

The passenger is the Morgan is cowering behind the dashboard in terror...

This event was well supported by a large crowd. The burger stands were busy. The weather was kind - dull, but overcast, with just the odd spit of rain. There were some big black clouds in the distance, but they came to nothing. This was a well organised day, with several races for classic and vintage machines. It was nice to hear the likes of a Triumph twin at maximum revs!

A nice day out, with something a little different, which you may wish to consider for next year.

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