What is a Sidecar?
A sidecar motorcycle is a three-wheeled vehicle with the side wheel not directly aligned wit the rear motorcycle wheel, and is usually powered by the rear wheel only. Sidecars are raced on short circuits in Ireland however they are also raceed on the roads at events such as The Isle of Man TT. In all types of sidecar racing there is a rider and a passenger who work in unison to make the machine perform, as they would be almost unrideable without the passenger in the correct position. Sidecars began to change away from normal motorcycle development in the 1950s with them becoming lower and using smaller diameter wheels. By the 1970s, they were using wide slick tyres with a square car like profile, the rider kneeled behind the engine instead of sitting on a seat and the motor of choice was generally a 500 cc two stroke. In the late 1970s sidecars began to appear with hub center steering and later the engines moved to the rear of the rider, to lower the center of gravity further still, making the sidecar very long. The most common being LCR, ART or Windle, with 1,000cc four-cylinder four-stroke engines, the most popular being the Suzuki GSX R1000. These at club and national level are known as Formula One sidecars, as opposed to Formula Two. Formula Two sidecars are short front engine bikes, which must have a frame made of steel tube and have leading link forks as monocoques and hub center steering is banned. Engines are 350cc two strokes or 600cc four strokes. F2 sidecars are raced in their own championship but are often on track at the same time as the F1s, but competing for their own championship. Since 1990 at the Isle of Man TT, the Sidecar TT has been solely contested by Formula Two sidecars as Formula Ones were deemed too fast, then lapping at 108 mph (174 km/h) average. By 2006 however, F2s were faster than this lapping at 116 mph (187 km/h).
Where Sidecars race:
There is only one race track in the republic of Ireland which is Mondello Park, located in County Kildare. The track measures 1.2 miles and is the home track for our club and there has been racing here since the circuit opened in 1968. Before Mondello Park was opened Sidecars mainly raced on closed public roads. Some of these race events still take place now such as Skerries, Kells, Tangragee and many more. Eventually the decision was made to remove Sidecars from Road Racing due to safety concerns. This means that the only place in the Republic of Ireland for Sidecars to race is Mondello Park. There are however two major circuits in the Northern Ireland where there are races held. Bishopscourt race circuit is located in Downpatrick County Down. This circuit is 1.8 miles long and holds one of the biggest race events in Short Circuits which is the Sunfllower Throphy races. Most Irish racers travel up to race in this event and there is are many teams who travel over from the UK. The other circuit is Kirkistown which is located just outside the village of Portavogie and is roughly 1.5 miles long. There are not as many races for sidecars at Kirkistown, its biggest event for sidecars is at Easter weekend.