SIDECAR  SPEEDWAY CHAMPIONS



     NATIONAL TITLES
British S/car Championship
Australian Championship
New Zealand Championship
South African Championship
USA  S/car  Championship

      REGIONAL TITLES
World 1000cc Track Racing Chmpshp
   FIM Sidecar Gold Trophy
   FIM Sidecar World Cup
   FIM Oceania Championship
   European Championship

Also covered :
     British Grass Track Sidecar Championships         
German 500cc Sidecar Championship (Sandtrack)
                            ( - 500cc, - 1000cc - RH s/cars)           Machinery  &  Equipment

INTRODUCTION
     Present day sidecar speedway racing involves left-hand combinations powered by methanol-fuelled 'Japanese 4s', i.e. straight 4-cylinder engines, most commonly Kawasaki but also including Honda, Suzuki and a few specials. Also known as 'Australian sidecar speedway' because of the origin and predominance of the sport Down Under, it is staged principally in English-speaking Commonwealth countries where public roads are driven on the left, plus USA. Race direction is clockwise because of the car position. For more on sidecar equipment see the final section, 'Machinery', at the foot of this page.
     The equivalent motorcycle sport in mainland Europe features lightweight right-hand combinations, (RH sidecars,) fitted with 500cc GM or Jawa motors in meetings on sand or grass surfaces of up to 1000 metres. Race direction is anti-clockwise, as for solos. Here its designation is Long Track or Grasstrack sidecar racing, the term 'speedway' isn't used, and it is noticeable that the FIM Gold Trophy/World Championships introduced in 2005 at U.K. and Australian venues are “Track Racing Sidecar” title events, as also with
the British Championship of the present decade and some YGT solo title classes, as it attempts, apparently, to desegregate the 'slider' classes of Long- , Sand- , Grass-   and Speedway-racing, as circuit length also becomes less of a categorization.
     A typical U.K. grass track meeting today can involve both LH and RH Sidecar classes, as participation in big lucrative international meetings on the continent saw many competitors turn to opposite-handed units. Initial British sidecars were limited to 1300cc but this limit was cut to 1000cc after competitors started fitting Ford and Hillman car engines. A new 500 RH class grass championship was introduced in 1978.


BACKGROUND
     Not too long after speedway racing started,
reportedly at the West Maitland Show Society in 1923, sidecar racing on a dirt track oval quickly followed, leading to the first national Sidecar Championship being held in 1931 at Melbourne's 'Exhibition Speedway' in Australia.
     Whilst solo speedway expanded through the conduit of the Empire and into Europe, building on team and league racing, it has been in Australia that this category of motorcycle sport has been most dominant, with extensive developments of both motors and chassis, particularly from the 'seventies onward. After the inaugural Melbourne title meeting the intermediate years saw a variety of 'other' Sidecar championships staged, with contradictions and inaccuracies commonplace. So it is to post-war years that we turn for serious and reliable data on official 3-wheel championship winners, where, under the skies of the Southern Cross, composite speedway meetings with 2-, 3- and 4-wheeled classes, rather than the dedicated solo events of the Northern hemisphere, continue to be the norm.
     With intensive speedway activity in both hemispheres in the late '40s, a number of antipodean charioteers appeared on UK tracks, (see Lt: Aussie champ Jim Davies at Belle Vue, Manchester in 1950,) until 'black-listed' by the British SRA, because  "sidecars would damage the circuits at present used exclusively by solo riders," this despite the fact that the same  solo riders, British and Australian, including the SRA chairman-cum-England captain, were racing together in composite meetings Down Under.
    In 1989 in the UK full-scale Sidecar Test matches between England and Australia were instigated by ex-pat Paul Pinfold,
and in the early 1990s the 'World Of Rebels' series was run, involving sidecars from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa at a limited number of English league team tracks. But with the cost of travel and track wear again being fingered as problems, and solo riders objecting to loosing heats and earnings to the 3-wheelers, the initiative fizzled out.
   
Brandon Stadium, Coventry was one venue that gave sidecars regular outings, mostly involving Grasstrack machines on the Bees' vacant 'away' race nights, and a British Championship was run there in the late '90s. In 2000, the Supercup Qualifier was staged at King's Lynn, and it ran for a few years, bringing with it sidecar stars from Australia, New Zealand, and USA. During this time, the British Sidecar Speedway Championships were made official.

    WORLD,  EUROPEAN  &  OCEANIA  SIDECAR  CHAMPIONSHIPS
     After a squad of riders from Down Under traveled to the UK and Europe for a series of unofficial sidecar Test matches
at the end of the '90s the FIM, as a preliminary step to a world championship, initiated the Sidecar Gold Trophy in 2005, as is its normal practice.  For the first event in Werlte, Germany, there was just one continental pair included in the field, (from the home country,) but after the practice day and excessive rain, the competition proper had to be abandoned and was not re-staged.  Two of the next 3 annual meetings that were staged were raced in the UK, and the 2007 event held in Australia, with just one non-Commonwealth pair, (Dutch) participating. Australian riders took the Trophy on each of the 3 occasions, though no one pairing every stood on the podium more than once. Two British duo's, Jackson & Blyth and Rob Wilson & Owen, were 2nd and 3rd in 2006 on the Isle of Wight.
     Come 2009 the event was upgraded to World Championship status. France, Britain and Australia promoted the Championship in turn, but participants comprised only Commonwealth riders, even in the continental meeting. Aussie Mick Headland, Trophy winner in 2007 won the first 2 World Championship titles, with Darrin Treloar and young Jesse Headland taking the third year when he switched from chairing for his father in 2011.
     With a lack of interest from mainland European, where lightweight 500cc combinations are still the norm and where the French and British favour grass track racing, the World 1000cc Track Championship was dropped from the FIM calendar. In Australia a Sidecar 'Grand Slam' Series was initiated as a replacement for the programme, with involvement of the usual Commonwealth teams, and which in 2013 was upgraded to official status as the FIM Oceania 1000cc Championship, the de facto World title. With the added inclusion of riders from USA, the FIM apparently reconsidered its support in 2016 and restored to the big sidecar scene its World title by granting approval for an FIM World Cup competition. Aussies Treloar (NSW) and Monsoon (VIC) have topped this podium in turn, but over the 'World' campaign, started in 2005, Mick Headland (SA, seen Rt,) can boast most successes with 3 titles, though never having won his own national championship, (see below.)
    
In Europe, the European Sidecar Championship is hosted at grass circuits on most occasions, and is a 500cc competition with right-hand cars in an anti-clockwise direction, as with solo machines. Germany and Netherlands have staged the event almost exclusively, - France just twice; Britain 3 times - , hence riders from the Rhine countries have taken the championship title all but once, when Britain's Josh Goodwin & Liam Brown raised the trophy on home soil at the High Easter track near Chelmsford in 2014. 
         Rt: Will. & Nathalie Matthijssen, 3x Euro Champ, 2007, '09, '11.

     World Championship 2009                  World Cup 2016                    European Championship S/F, 1992


  BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP
    Having staged regular Sidecar race events in mixed programme meetings for many decades on the Coventry Bees 'away' nights, Brandon Stadium hosted the first British Sidecar Speedway Championship, a 1000cc competition, in 1996, which was won by Roger Measor & Shane Lapham, with Rob Wilson leading home son Robbie Wilson for the minor medal places. In the new century the event was staged in turn by other speedway tracks until it became a Series competition in 2005 until the final staging at Sheffield in 2010.

    In 2009 an all new Sidecar Track Racing Championship series was set-up by the ACU, run by the Mid Cornwall Premier Grass Club, with the aim of having the top six British speedway competitors take on the top six British grass track competitors. British contestants from the World Championship were also been invited to take part. Though mostly on speedway tracks, the Tonbridge grass circuit also staged a round.
     Most successful pairing over the 17 years of competing for these British Championships was
Matt Tyrell & Shaun Yates with 5 titles. Gary Jackson and partners Carl Pugh, (in 2002, '03) and Carl Blyth, (in '06,'07, seen Rt, to left of Jackson,) clocked up 4 wins, - Jackson was also World silver medalist in 2006 and 2010, and 3x grass track's British Masters prior to the speedway titles.
     After an aborted series in 2014 the ACU Track Racing Championship event is being resurrected in 2017 with over £5,000 of prize money up for grabs when the top 16 British Sidecar crews fight out the championship over four 18-race rounds, starting at Leicester Speedway on the 27th May. The second round of the Championship will be at Somerset Speedway on Friday 9th June, with round 3 at Kings Lynn on Friday 14th July, and the Grand Final at Belle Vue, Manchester on Saturday 14th October.

           Norwich 1964                   Oxford 2004                       Swindon 2006                  Isle of Wight 2008



   The British Sand Racing Championships have also featured a 1000cc Sidecar class in the present decade with the chairs' Sand title being taken exclusively by two families, the Wilsons and the Winterburns.  Wilsons Snr. and Jnr, who both took podium places in the first British Sidecar Speedway Championship at Coventry in 1996, were Sand Champions in 2012 and '14 respectively. Father and son Rod (in 2013 and '16,) and Gareth Winterburn (in 2015) taking the other 3 Sand titles, young Billie Winterburn's chairing seemingly being the decisive factor. (See Long Track page for full results.)

                              British Sand Race Championship, Vazon Bay, Guernsey, 2012

                                       Below, Champions 2012, Rob Wilson & Terry Saunders
                           


 RSA and USA
   In the Republic of South Africa the format of speedway meetings post-war (in its Union days) followed the UK model with team matches, Test Matches, MRCs, etc. and negligible sidecar activity on dirt track ovals. After political isolation in the '60s and a dirth of solo riders, mixed category meetings with 2-, 3- and 4-wheel classes became the norm and Piet van Niekerk
(who later played a significant role in the development of the GSM Dart sports car,) became S.African Sidecar champ in 1968. After a '70s hiatus Gary Coetzee took 4 SA titles in 5 years in the mid-'80s at the Dunswart track, followed by a similar score from Colin Aitken between 1988 and 2008, the last at Walkerville Oval, the only present-day venue in South Africa for speedway.

     Colin Aitken (rt,) with 2008 passenger                        Hilliar & Dean Todd inside Edwin & Estelle Butler,
        Derrick Hilliar, S.A Champ of 2011.           George 2013                       the SA Champs of 2011 & '12



    In the USA many of the small Californian motorcycle speedway tracks feature sidecars on their programme during the season, the national Championship being run latterly at Costa Mesa. Names like McIntyre, Gardner, Matherson all had a brace of successes in the Sidecar Championship through the 1990s, but once Joe Jones and his partners, -
in turn, McElroy, Olsen, Glover, German  - , captured the trophy all others were denied much chance. Jones is the current USA Sidecar National Champion with 12 wins in 13 years.

          Joe Jones & Dave German,               National Sidecar Trophy          Jones and Tom Summers,
                      2016 Champions                                                                                2013 Champions


Australian NATIONAL  +  STATE  Sidecar Champions


  Australian Sidecar Champions 

    Two star names that dominated Sidecar speedway racing after the War were NSW's Jack Carruthers and Victoria's Jim Davies. Carruthers claimed the national title in Sydney in 1946 and '50, as well as 5 local State titles. Jim Davies took the Australian crown in '47 in Sydney, plus the '48, '50 and '51 3-lap titles in Adelaide, as well as a dozen State titles in 5 different states. Traveling widely, - he raced in the UK during this period, as seen in action above, at Belle Vue, Manchester - , Davies was also New Zealand Sidecar Champion in 1956 when partnered by Les Moore, father of solo World Champ. Ronnie Moore.  
     In the following decades national hat-tricks were taken by Doug Robson, (1967, '74, '75,) Phil McCurtayne ('84 - '86,) and Glen O'Brien (2000 - '02,) but WA's Dennis Nash collected the national Championship prize on 5 occasions, as well as 9 Western titles. However, it's the phenomenal success of Darrin Treloar and his various passengers that out-does them all, - and is continuing still at the time of writing. Treloar has had 9 Australian national championship wins since his first in 1993, and 36 State titles, including 19 from his NSW home state. Yet topping all these victories are his 3 FIM World titles,  - 2008 (FIM Gold Trophy, at Kings Lynn, UK,) 2011 (World Championship, at Murry Bridge, Aus,) and 2016 (World Cup, at Gillman, Aus.)   
 
           Jim Davies  &  Jack Carruthers c.1950                             Doug Tyreman,  Doug Robson 
                                                                                                          & Warren Sullivan c.1975


                   
Darrin Treloar  & Blake Cox,                                     Warren Monsoon & Andy Summerhayes,
                       
Aus. Champs in 2016                                                   2017 World + Oceania Champs
Darrin Treloar & Blake Cox in action. 


  
STATE  Champions

  1984 Australian Championship          1993  WA Championship                  2010 Australian Championship

New Zealand NATIONAL  +  GRAND PRIX  +  N. & S. ISLAND  Sidecar Champions


New Zealand Sidecar Champions

    Sidecar speedway is just one of the dozen or more classes in the multi-category programmes staged on New Zealand dirt oval speedway tracks, alongside, Stocks, Midgets, TQs, Saloons, etc. as well as solo speedway. But unlike Australia and its controlling body MA, 'Speedway New Zealand',  (SNZ) is the dominant regulating authority for bikes and trikes, with MNZ in charge of other motorcycle (and 4-wheel speedway,) the two having polarised after NZ.ACU became independent in 1983.
     The name Les Dwight dominated the NZ Championship in the '70s, when father and son Les Snr. and Les Jnr., with passengers Graham Pullan and Steve Unwin, took 5 consecutive titles. Pullan stopped the run by taking the title in his own right in '76/'77, pushing Les Jnr. into 2nd place. Brian Turner next claimed the title and made it 4-in-a-row, a feat repeated by Robert Vandenberg  at the end of the 1980s. At the same time Vandenburg also won 4 NZ Sidecar Speedway Grand Prix between '86 and '91, plus becoming North Island Champion in 1989 and '90, so dominating completely the NZ sidecar scene.
    New Zealander Andrew Buchanan is prominent on today's wider sidecar scene, racing extensively in Australia where he has taken podium places in 2017 in both the FIM Oceania Championship and the FIM World Cup, after having been South Island champion in 2016 and NZ Grand Prix winner in 2011.
                     Les Dwight Snr.                                                  Andrew Buchanan & Phillipa Burns


                            

    GERMAN  SIDECAR  TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP
    BRITISH GRASS TRACK SIDECAR CHAMPIONSHIPS
                           - 500cc   - 1000cc  - LH S/cars
(500cc)


             Shaun Harvey & Danny Hogg, 8x British 500cc Grass Track Champions


           Mark Cossar & Liam Brown, 3x British Speedway/Track racing Champion,
                                                        4x British 1000cc Grass Track champion


                       Michael & Rosamunde Datzmann, 4x European Champions,
                                                      4x German 500cc Sand Track Champions.



                    Mark Venus & Mark Heiss,  German 500cc Champions, 2013 -'15


.
MACHINERY
   Although Sidecar Speedway in the opening days started with single cylinder units of 500cc and 650cc as were to be found in solo bikes, British-built 1000cc V-twin motors dominated dirt-trike racing for many decades before and after WW.II, primarily Vincent-HRDs, along with the JAP 8/80, (which Jim Davies stuck faithfully to: see photo of restored models, below,) until, in the 'seventies Japanese engines started to make a mark and dirt track racers tried fitting out their units with same. Sydneysider Geoff Grocott was an early initiator and experimented with a Kawasaki 500cc, but as he persevered and upped his mount to the 3-cylinder 750 model he drove all before him and convincingly took the national crown in 1972.
   Conscious that UK production had ended in the 'fifties and they were living on borrowed time, trike racers now gave other Jap marques such as Honda and Suzuki time and space. Today 1000cc and 1100cc Japanese straight 4's, boosted by piston kits, stronger conrods, race camshafts, beefed up clutches and a lot of head work, are taken for granted as the norm for sidecar speedway around the globe, non more so than the Yamaha FZR 1000. But 50 years on, in the 21st century this motor too has been out of production by more than 10 years, and supply of donor units is drying up.

     Sidecar frames were for many years simply solo designs with an elementary platform bolted on, only the angled third wheel denoting the unique sporting application. When English grass-track champ Paul Pinfold emigrated to Australia in 1981 the local speedway outfits were fairly cumbersome with high rigid frames and an old-fashioned style of passengering, the swinger kneeling on a board on the left hand side of the bike at the start of races.
   Pinfold produced a new-style frame which was lower to the track, wider and had much improved handing qualities. This bike hugged the track magnificently and quickly began outpacing the older Australian machines, and won a hat-trick of national championships for its buyer Paul McCurtayne in '84, '85 and '86, (the first after a run-off with Pinfold !) Produced en masse, Pinfold's Lowliner frames then dominated the sport for many years.  The photo right shows clearly the design of a present-day style one-piece monocoque speedway sidecar chassis.

    Below, newly restored vintage JAP 8/80 and Vincent-HRD combination racers.


                  1000cc Kawasaki 'Australian' sidecar                                         500cc GM European sidecar