To feel the need, the need for sidecar speed…

March 28th, 2024To feel the need, the need for sidecar speed…

When you’re doing well over 200 km an hour, just centimetres from the ground with no seat belt and no air bag you don’t think about much other than remaining upright.

When you’re doing well over 200 km an hour, just centimetres from the ground with no seat belt and no air bag you don’t think about much other than remaining upright.

The niche sport of sidecar racing would have to be one of the most photographic, daring, arguably lunatic and heroic motor sports going.

 “It’s exciting,” says Daylesford’s Noel Beare, one of the fairly exclusive bunch of folk that belong to Australia’s  competitive sidecar racing fraternity.

“You don’t think about your house loan or that bill you have to pay,”  he laughs.

When he’s racing sidecar Noel, also known around town in his more sedate guise as a postie, also thinks (or perhaps it’s something more instinctive than thought) about how he’s using his own body weight to counterbalance the ferocious forces happening at those speeds to keep the  sidecar upright and  hopefully in a winning position.

These days when they race, it’s Noel on back doing the “passengering” (read balancing) and son Declan in the driver’s seat

They’re just back from Tailem Bend, SA where, totally self-funded, they put their F1 1000 CC sidecar through its paces at the Australian National Sidecar Championships.

They were doing very well up until a chain snapped setting them back somewhat.

But chat to father and son and it’s pretty clear neither are too worried about the chain-snapping set-back.

 They both  rate the experience as resoundingly positive, and as a good “shake down” for what lies ahead.

Declan and Noel Beare racing at Broadford (State Motorcycle Centre) in 2017. Image: contributed

“It was  bit tricky learning a new track,” said Declan of the Tailem Bend outing.

“We did the Friday practice day and by the end of that day we knew which corner was coming up next and so we were able to go a bit faster and have a bit of fun.

“On the last race before our chain snapped we started at 12th and got up to sixth and our times had kept dropping.

“We were starting to get a bit of a feel for the bike again because it’s been about four months since we’ve been out. It’s good to be back out on the bike, and all the changes that have been made have been really positive – a lot to do with the seating for myself, for more support and just so I can get a bit more of a feel for what the bike is doing.”

And, Noel adds, any safe outing is a good outing.

Many Daylesfordians will recall that the Beare family lost  keen sidecar racer Dwight Beare, Declan’s brother, back in 2016.  He’d been racing at the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) at the time and following his untimely and tragic loss, the entire Daylesford Town Hall was packed out by mourners.

So, today Noel says that heading back to the Isle of Man this May will be “bitter-sweet”.

Bitter because of the loss of Dwight, 27, there. Sweet because it’s here on this island  that sits in the Irish Sea and is particularly famed for its F2 600 CC sidecar racing that  Noel feels especially close to the son he lost to this addictive sport.

The Isle of Man event  will be happening over May 27- June 12 and Noel will once again be making the trek, not to compete but rather  to spectate and to mark also the tenth anniversary since the first time he and Dwight ever attended  the  Isle to compete.

“It is a little bit bitter-sweet for us but I feel like we are close to Dwight there,” says Noel.

“I’ve been every year just to spectate. It’s fantastic. This year I am just going to spectate and it will be 10 years this year since I first raced there with Dwight.

“In 2014 there were 64 sidecars. We started in 61st position and we came 12th and won a bronze replica trophy.”

 In his career as sidecar passenger – which simply couldn’t be any further from the passive role usually associated with being a passenger as it entails literally using your body to shift and counter-balance the immense forces at play, frequently hanging over the side of the vehicle like a living rudder, Noel is current holder of two lap records at the Sydney Motor Sports (Eastern Creek) raceway where a lap is about 4.3km. One of those records was set with Dwight ten years ago, an F2 class race (1.44.84).He also retains a current lap record at Philip Island.

Before Noel heads off to The Isle of Man this year he and Declan are next up headed to Broadford in about a month’s time to compete in the Victorian Titles.

“All the changes that Hamish and the team have made (to the F1 1000 CC long chassis sidecar) are positive and you just hope for a safe and a fast time,” Noel says ahead of Broadford.

“Under a minute, five would be good.”

As they look ahead to take on the competition at Broadford there is a whole team of locals who they want to thank for helping them get their gleaming machine in order.

Noel writes the names down. The list (below) includes people like Hamish Millar who  has spent many months working on their F1  Road Race sidecar’s body, steering, and even its remarkable paintwork.

“The paint is called aurora chameleon interference mica pearl,” says Hamish who is noted as being the first person in Australia to have built an F2 sidecar, as raced at the Isle of Man.

Noel and Declan are also looking to compete at Philip Island in September, a track where they regularly top 220km an hour.

“You know you’re alive I tell you,” Noel says when asked what travelling at that sort of speed with  part of your anatomy leveraging balance, just five or so centimetres from the ground, is like.

Noel says the number of people in the sport of sidecar racing is dwindling and he is keen to attract more to this niche motor racing fraternity that he loves.

“It’s an unusual  sport. People often say ‘where are the safety belt and the air bag?’ And there is none! You just hang on.”#

Words and Images (Top and Inset): Eve Lamb

The local team that Noel and Declan wish to thank for getting Beare Boys Racing up and racing includes:

Howe Auto – Albert and Will Lamb, Kerry Lamb, Deb and Peter; Daylesford Tyre Service – Jamie Adams, Jason Liversidge and Aaron; Dan O’Toole Signs, Hamish Millar (for nearly everything); Mal Reid.

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