January 2015

Happy New Year and welcome one and all! What news? Simon and I will be racing with North Glos under number 92 in 2015. Both he and I have put in our TT entries with our respective partners, and work goes on apace on the sidecar. Our first outing should be mid-March at Brands Hatch: we’ll keep you posted.

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Dave’s eulogy

I was asked by Dave’s family and friends to give the sidecar racing part of the eulogy at Dave’s funeral. This is (broadly) what I said:

I was lucky enough to passenger for Dave at Cadwell in 2012, from which humble beginnings grew a great friendship and racing camaraderie. I’m standing here today as a poor substitute for both Roy and Kevin, the two people who were the most important in the sidecar racing side of Dave’s life. Dave and Roy have been racing sidecars together for over 30 years, and for the last three years Kevin has been Dave’s full-time passenger. It’s a mark of how well loved Dave was that there are so many racers and former passengers here today, and messages of support from even more who couldn’t be here.

 We were privileged to see another side of Dave’s life to that which his family and friends have already spoken about, and I’d like to share his passion for sidecars with you and try to convey just how many people’s lives he touched in such a positive way. A life petrol-fuelled and well-lived.

 Although Dave was focussed and accomplished as both a driver and passenger on circuit, he seemed to have a love-hate relationship with other vehicles. His sense of direction, unless chasing down the chequered flag, could be suspect: I cite the time he was heading to Oliver’s Mount at Scarborough to passenger for Kenny Marsh, and ended up in Preston asking for directions. Or the time where he did his best to ‘improve’ the performance of Brian Illaria’s motorhome by posting each empty beer can up the exhaust as he finished it…

 That’s a classic example of the humour and joie de vivre that Dave brought to the paddock: I’ve spoken to many of his fellow drivers and passengers, and what shines through from every single anecdote was his sense of fun. His jokes were often ribald, his language colourful and not suitable for repetition here, but he was never malicious and loved a good laugh. As Sue Sherwood, one of the marshals at Bemsee said, such a laugh and such a gentleman. Generous to a fault, he was always quick to offer support, friendship, time and company, expecting little in return.  He had a strong sense of justice, always racing with integrity and honour, tempering his fierce sense of competition with an awareness and sense of compassion for his passenger which can be a rare quality amongst drivers.

 The late, great Dave Wells once said that they don’t make diamonds the size of house-bricks. Not a giant himself in stature, it’s fair to say that Wardy was himself a diamond in the rough – a gentle, gracious man who would have loved the idea of Kevin fitting extra handles on the coffin so it could be passengered down the aisle here.

 If Kevin wasn’t available, Dave’s good reputation as a fast, safe, driver ensured he had a host of other passengers who were very happy to hop on with him. Ross Hart remembers Dave as having ‘popped his cherry’ in helping Ross to his first race finish and signature at Donington Park.

 2014 was a successful year for Dave: he knocked time off his personal bests at almost every circuit, such as four seconds off his best lap time at Mallory with Mick Fairhurst on the side. With Kevin’s retirement from passengering, Joe Gaunt was going to be in the chair for Dave in 2015, the team making changes to the bike and fairing over the winter and hoping to solve the engine misfire which had plagued the last race of the season at Brands Hatch.

 We all thought we’d have more time with Dave, we all expected to see him in the paddock at Brands Hatch in the March wind and rain, beer flag flying high, ready to start the new season. We all looked forward to a repetition of Dave’s never-captured-on-camera “Lumley Manoeuvre” on left-handers. Who knows what his new kilt-based teamwear would have achieved?

 Most of all, he would have been looking forward to returning to Cadwell Park which was a very special circuit to him. He’s left a big impression on us all, and there will be a Dave-shaped silence in the paddock and on circuit next year.  We were all fortunate to have had the great pleasure to spend time with him, drink beer with him, race with him, laugh with him. We’ll remember him best by always asking, in moments of uncertainty, “What would Wardy do?”. Race safe, Dave, and thank you.

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Dave Ward – RIP

I was privileged to race with Dave Ward at Cadwell in 2012, and was shocked to hear of his sudden and unexpected death yesterday.

Cadwell 30th June 2013. (c) Richard Glover.

Cadwell 30th June 2013. (c) Richard Glover.

It’s this photo – not even of Dave driving – which sums him up for me. That’s Dave giving my hand a quick squeeze before I head out onto circuit with his great friend Roy Hawkins in the driving seat of their shared F2 at Cadwell in 2012. When I picture Dave it’s not just his smiling face, eyes crinkled in laughter, nor the ribald gravelly laughter, but the warmth, friendship and generosity of the man. I regret that we never had a chance to do Cadwell again together and see how fast we could go without blowing up the engine, I regret we won’t share one more joke, one more beer, one more discussion about the ways he wanted to improve his MR Equip. I’ll miss Dave, I’ll miss his presence in the paddock every time we’re there. And tonight I’ll be raising a glass to him – goodnight Dave, take care.

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Our thanks to you all for the 2014 season

Simon, Francois and I would like to say a BIG thank you to all of you who have supported us throughout our 2014 season. Every single supporter makes a difference and is valued. We hope we’ve given you some excitement throughout the year in return!

First to our major sponsors: Simon Jeffery at Safe Response, Mark Rose of Mark Rose Accountancy, The Bathroom Centre, author Andrew Shurmer (Anoeth Ltd).

To those who were there for us at the TT: Mick & Lorraine, Isla, Claire, Sue, Francois B, les deux equipes francais. Also to Andy Martin who kept us going on short circuit.

To all our individual supporters: Ben, Morgan, Lynn, Claire, Fliss, Mike, JKB, Jason, Jo, Mel, Martyn, Jase, Jeremy, Jan, Iain, Liz, Cathy, Gareth, Oz, Mike, Claire, Tony, Greg, Beth, Sue, Peter, Joe, Richard, Keith, Pete, Steve, Megan, Pauline, Mike, Jaygee, Andy, Vanessa, Andy, Lucy, Nick, Linda, Chris, Gene and Kitty.

To the publications and groups who have published articles or listened to me speak this year: Bristol Advanced Motorcyclists, Chelmsford & District Advanced Motorcyclists, Bishop’s Stortford Observer, Solihull Observer, Rye Park Women’s Club, Hilltop Ladies Club, Hoddesdon Ladies Club, Herts & Beds Advanced Motorcyclists, Sele Farm Women’s Club, New River Women’s Club, Cheshunt 41 Club, Hertford Heath WI, Roysia Women’s Club.

To those photographers who have braved the elements and captured us at our best and worst, especially: Jenny Triker Wells, Derek Donsworth, Kevan Boitoult, Richard Glover, Dominic Bedford, Dave Kneen, John Manclark, Steve Parker, Tom Reed, Barry Clay, John Lockett, Sid Diggins and many many more!

To our friends and families, everyone who came to meet us at races, who did taxi rides, who bought Francois’ wine, bought jam, who made us tea, talked to us, took photos and shared stories. Too numerous to name, but thank you :)

To all those companies who helped us out along the way: Signs Express, A&M, Byson, Nitron, Avon and others.

and finally: to all our fellow racers. Here’s to a set of brilliant battles again next year!

As the weather turns, preparations are underfoot for 2015. Simon’s new fairing has arrived: he and I will be concentrating on the North Glos championship, where we’ll be running number 92 – the same number as Simon’s son Caleb in his first year of mainstream club racing on his 125. Francois had a ‘proud father’ moment this week as Estelle was announced as the 2014 winner of the Susan Jenness trophy again – a very worthy and lovely recipient, and so well deserved.

Wishing you all a VERY merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Nous vous souhaitons un joyeux Noël et bonne année!

Simon card TT card cover TT card inside

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The quiet winter season

It’s all gone quiet… but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening! Francois is coming over to visit this weekend and I have no doubt we’ll be discussing both TT2015 and the possibility of doing some of the French championship rounds together. Simon, meanwhile, is hopping from foot to foot in a state of heightened anxiety waiting for the new fairing so that and the new loom can be fitted. We’ve started to see the provisional calendars for the 2015 season, and as soon as we know what we’re doing we’ll update it on the site. I’ve given a couple of talks recently, with another booked in a fortnight or so, and in between times am throwing myself at muddy scenery to keep fit. It seems to be working ;)

20141102 Nuclear Fallout

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Mallory Park Sidecar Bonanza 28/09/2014

(c) Dominic BedfordSimon and I had a fantastic weekend at Mallory Park: he and Dave Gristwood nearly overturned the F2 (punctured front tyre), then redeemed themselves with a 3rd place and 2nd place in the Open 600 class. Mike Bellaby and I achieved his fastest lap time round Mallory with a 1:03.91 in race 1 (2nd in class!) and 1:03.74 in race 2 – but despite being on for a win in race 2, a final drive failure exiting the hairpin on the penultimate lap robbed us of our trophy.

Thanks to everyone who came to support – over £1000 was raised through the taxi rides. We’ll be back at Brands Hatch with Bemsee this weekend (3rd – 5th October), with taxi rides available on both days. Book through the Bemsee website. Edit 1st October: entries are now CLOSED.

Thanks to all our photographers – a selection of their shots below.

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Press cutting from Bishop’s Stortford Observer 25/09/2014

With thanks to Herts & Essex News for this coverage from our weekend with EMRA at Mallory Park. The photo is by the wonderful Sid Diggins.

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Taxi rides at Mallory Park 28th September!

Taxi rides at Mallory Park on Sunday 28th September! Details below. If you’re interested then get in touch with EMRA on the number below – and don’t worry if you’re short of kit, as we’ll do our best to have a whip round and make sure everyone is catered for. Please bear in mind you’ll need to pay an entry fee to get access to the venue on Sunday – with regret, while we’d like to get everyone free tickets, it’s just not going to be possible :(

“EMRA is bringing to Mallory Park – The SIDECAR BONANZA incorporating the international sidecar race of the year 26/27/28th September 2014, it promises to be the biggest event of its type. Stars from UK and Europe will be on track with F1, F2 and Classic machinery. If you need any more information, please call Iain and Joyce Rankin on 02476 317273 EMRA.

EMRA will be holding a session during Sunday for Taxi Rides for Charity £20 per person for a lap, anyone wanting a passenger ride must be 16 or over and have full protective clothing, including leather footwear, no trainers.

To book or offer to give taxi rides contact Iain for more info on the number above.”

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Round-up and exciting news

  • Simon raced at Darley Moor on bank holiday Monday (25th August) with the lovely Claire in the chair, and together they achieved a fantastic 4th place – well done both!
  • While Simon will be racing with Dave Gristwood in the chair at TT2015, I’m delighted to have been asked to partner François Leblond again, so will be there too.
  • At the Sidecar Festival at Mallory 26-28 September we’re literally playing musical chairs: I will be on the classic front-exit outfit of Mike Bellaby, and Dave Gristwood will be hopping onto the F2 with Simon.
  • Still no news of taxi rides at either the Festival or the Brands Hatch meeting in early October – we will bring you news as soon as we have it.
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Brands Hatch GP: 8-10 August 2014 (Bemsee)

With apologies, this race report is compiled from my Facebook updates as I didn’t get an opportunity to write a separate report afterwards:

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

We had a superb test day on the Friday on the Indy circuit, with the bike going brilliantly and Simon absolutely on it. With relief we heard we were no longer a reserve, but had a guaranteed grid slot. Phew! We did a track walk of the GP circuit in the evening, which alleviated some of the nerves.

On the Saturday we had our first experience on the GP circuit, which is absolutely immense and huge fun. It was a day of mishaps for others. After being stuck with a slow F1 for over a lap, a red flag accident in qualifying on Paddock Hill nearly collected us, Simon’s quick reaction and driving skills avoiding the accident by mere feet. The bike overheated as we pulled into pit lane, but after topping up the water we only had one more lap, leaving us well down the qualifying table.

Race 1 was full of drama, with a competitor stalled on the grid on our racing line so evasive action and quick braking required, dropping us back quite a few places, then an engine blown by another competitor and oil round half the circuit, then an F1 spewing fuel over us for the last 2 laps. We were really finding our way and starting to get a feel for the bike, but on our last lap the red flags came out again.

Unfortunately it was our awning-buddies Sean and Mark, having had a racing incident with another competitor on the way into Clearways on the final lap. I’m pleased to say that after a very anxious afternoon and time in hospital for Sean, both seem to be merely walking wounded. The bike is looking rather sad though In terms of our race, Simon did some great overtakes and I think we finished 11th F2, 17th overall.

 

(c) David Daisy

(c) David Daisy

With several stoppages throughout the day our second race, along with all the solo races, was cut from 6 to 5 laps. We had a good start, but yet more incidents made for excitement – another blown engine, someone had dropped a *lot* of fuel around Druids. I felt the engine was flat but Simon disagreed and the time sheet proved me wrong, taking another 1sec off our fastest lap.

Sunday was a real change of fortune for us. The bad weather swept in overnight so Sunday’s warm-up session was very damp, with very little grip anywhere. We only had 2 laps, not really enough to do anything except reassure ourselves that MSV hadn’t reconfigured the circuit overnight. An F1 spun in front of us at Druids (nicely avoided by Simon!) and we heard of other pirouettes elsewhere.

Our first race was distinctly damp, and I’d already decided I was going to sacrifice the lefts to try to keep weight on the rear wheel. This is something I’m always nervous of doing, but works brilliantly as long as I can overcome the headology of thinking the chair wheel will come up. Simon was relearning the great grip levels possible on the wet tyres. Off the line the real wheel spun up dreadfully and we found ourselves in a huge bunch going into Paddock. Visibility was a real issue, and as we went up into the GP circuit the rear wheel was struggling to find any grip, even with me completely draped over the back wheel. Left-handers felt much better with me keeping my weight inboard, so that was a positive.

 

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

I could feel something was wrong within a couple of laps as the power seemed intermittent and Simon was struggling to keep us going. The same F1 spun in front of us at Graham Hill, collecting another outfit in the process and causing a red flag. We were sent back to the paddock for a very quick lunch break, before the race was re-run over 5 laps. We changed the tyre pressures to try to get more heat into them and improve grip. Simon wondered if the engine was cutting as we were hitting the rev limiter with the rear wheel spinning.

Again, a very poor start with the bike spinning up, and then a couple of laps in we also spun on the exit of Druids: a very neat 360 and we rejoined almost straight away. The engine was cutting out, and despite Simon doing everything he could to diagnose the problem while on the move, we retired at Stirlings. Water in the electrics seemed to be the culprit, so after making our way back to the paddock after the race (under our own steam) we stripped the fairing off to try to find the issue.

 

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

Simon went through everything, liberal applications of WD40 and contact cleaner, and the battery connectors tightened. The lanyard had been checked but didn’t seem to be causing an issue, and of course we couldn’t replicate the problem in the paddock – how frustrating!

The weather was variable all afternoon but eventually the warm breeze and sunshine started to dry the circuit and we switched to slicks for our last race. The warm-up lap was fantastic and we were both feeling confident ready for the start from the back of the grid, but within seconds of the lights going out we knew we hadn’t found the fault. Hand in the air, we retired almost before we reached the end of the start-finish straight, limping round the indy circuit before returning to the Hailwood centre to watch the rest of the race.

At least one other competitor had chosen to pack up and go home earlier in the day as their engine was cutting out too, so we wondered if it was just the rain getting into the electrics. (Some days after the event Simon finally tracked down the issue: a broken connector for the lanyard.)

However, although we had two DNFs on the Sunday we had a really positive weekend. Friday’s practice was superb, and the racing over Saturday and practice in the wet on Sunday gave us both a chance to feel the bike sliding about and learn how to control it better. We’ve quite a lay-off now, as we’re not out until the middle of September, but a lot of work will be going on in the background over that time.

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