As long as there have been vehicles, there have been people who felt the need to race them. Enter Sidecar Racing. Like all forms of racing, Sidecar Racing began with started with vehicles built for the street. They were a simple motorcycle with a simple sidecar attachment. Over the years, however, the sidecars have evolved to increase speed and safety.
The early modifications were to lower the center of gravity by laying the driver forward over the engine. This modification reminds me of the Ninja motorcycle, otherwise known as the crotch rocket. It inspires speed in the vehicle. The sidecar itself was also changed from a mere basket to a platform, so that the passenger or monkey, could be mobile. Having a mobile passenger meant a moveable mass to help keep the tires on the ground at higher speeds. The passenger could lean this way and that to help stabilize the motorcycle and sidecar. As with any vehicle, the basic motorcycle components were used to build the racer…engine, steering, and larger diameter treaded tires. The racer was void of anything that could get in the way of aerodynamics. All that was there were fenders and whatever the driver and passenger could provide. Oddly, this type of sidecar, original around 1949, is still raced today in vintage classes, and most are home built.

Nevertheless, the vintage class has given way to the modern class, and after years of modifications and updates and the modern sidecar has emerged. Even today, some of the modern sidecars are home-built, but there are also companies who are dedicated to building sidecars. Whereas the home-built sidecars tend to be made of steel tubing and are less refined, the specialized companies use aluminum, carbon fiber, or other types of stronger, lighter material, designed to make the vehicle even faster. These specialized shops are also able to build a vehicle with a better suspension and better handling, as well as single swing arms for ease of wheel change. The modern sidecars use slick tires, as opposed to the larger diameter treaded tires. Race cars made the slick tires “famous” for their ability to build speed before takeoff. They also have molded aerodynamic bodies, probably much better than the home-built models, at least as far as speed is concerned.

These days, there are three types of modern sidecars. Known as F1 (Formula 1), F2 (Formula 2), and F3 (Formula 3), with the F2 and F3 sidecars having the motors positioned under the drivers. Oddly, for full out speed, the best choice is the F1 model sidecar. I guess that placing the driver on top of the engine wasn’t the best modification for speed. The F1 models are sometimes referred to as long bikes. The motor on the F1 is behind the driver. The maximum engine displacement in this category is 1000cc 4 stroke. For the F2, the maximum engine displacement is 600cc 4 stroke or 500 cc 2 stroke. Engines are pre-1996 for F3. The F2 and F3 sidecars have a shorter wheelbase than the F1. This gives them better handling on short tracks, so apparently the racer needs to know what model will fill the need for the track being raced. Whichever class the racer choses, the sidecar wheel will not have any suspension. The engines can be carbureted, or fuel injected. One hard and fast rule is that they must also be chain or belt drive, because shaft drive engines are allowed. Other than these many changes, the basic design is the same as the vintage sidecar racers. Obviously, if the sidecar were placed anywhere else, it would not be a sidecar. The sidecar racers usually run between $6,000 to $20,000 and will last for several years…probably a bargain considering the amount of money that goes into most race vehicles.

FIM (International Motorcycling Federation) Sidecar World Championship is the international sidecar racing championship. It is the only remaining original FIM road racing championship class that started in 1949.

Every grandchild is special, but you will always remember when your first one arrived. It is a day you most parents have waited for since their kids reached marrying age. I don’t mean that you wanted grandkids since your kids became teenagers, but as they grew, your mind…maybe deep down, maybe consciously, wondered what their children would be like. We were no different. As my girls grew up, I wondered what my grandchildren would be like. No matter how hard I tried, my thoughts of who they might be, came up very short of the great kids they are, or the fact that after having two daughters, I would end up with only one granddaughter, and 3 grandsons.

Every one of my grandchildren is very special and very unique. Christopher, from the beginning, had the best smiley faces. His eyes were so expressive. You couldn’t help but laugh with him. He loved doing goofy things, like dumping all the clean clothes out of the basket they were in, so he could get into the basket himself. Then, he waited to see what you were going to think of it. His great big eyes were always so expressive, and in them you could totally see the delight that he was feeling. And he seemed to be able to play to your sense of humor, because he never seemed to fail to do things that were just funny.

People call people like that a ham or a clown, and maybe he was, but all I can say is that it was just Christopher’s way. Also, I don’t know if he even realized what he was doing, at least at first. After a while, I’m sure he did, and he seemed to hone his skills as he went along. I remember the first time I saw him talking and shaking his head side to side, when he was about 3, and that is something many adults can’t do, but again, on Christopher it just came naturally. And I have laughed at that one over and over, because I can still see it in my memory. He was so funny as a little kid, and still is today. It was his unique talent.

I went to my grandson Josh’s final game for the tournament today. His team took 3rd. I am very proud of him. Now I know that many people might not think 3rd place is something to write home about, but in this case, they would be wrong. My grandson Josh has been playing basketball since he was in grade school. He played 3 years at the Boys and Girls Club, 1 year for Pineview Elementary School, and this is his 2nd season with Centennial Junior High School.  He is in 7th grade now. Josh has always been what would be called a support man on the team. He can rebound and pass well, but dribbling and shooting were not his best talents in the sport. Still each year Josh has improved greatly, and as he continues to play, I have no doubt that he will be a player the other team knows about very soon.

As I said, this was the battle for 3rd place, and the game was tied at 11 – all, until seconds before the half, at which time the Casper Classical Academy team scored 2 more points. Both teams fought hard that first half. When Josh’s team, The Centennial Eagles, took to the court after the break, they were somewhat rattled. Between the beginning of the half and the 3 minute mark in the 4th quarter, the Casper Classical Academy team had moved their lead to 19 – 17…

Enter Josh!! Kevin, my son-in-law, and Josh’s dad had talked to him for a second or two right before they started back up. He told him to take the shots when he could. Josh got the ball and the key was a mass of players doing their best to stop the score, so Josh dribbled, turned, and shot the ball for a beautiful 3 point basket. The crowd literally went wild, and Josh’s team just about lost it. Suddenly the fire was back in those boys, and Josh’s confidence soared.

It was never that Josh couldn’t shoot, he just didn’t think he could. About a minute later, Josh found himself with the ball again, and this time he didn’t hesitate. He ran, jumped and shot the ball, for a 2 point basket. Moments later, he was again in position to shoot a 3 point basket, but the other team now knew what he was capable of, so they were on him…and they fouled him. Now Josh had a free throw shot…in fact, 3. This had not been a strong suit for Josh either…and he was shaking from excitement and exhaustion I’m sure. Still, he made one out of three shots for a total of 6 points in a game, where before he would get maybe 2 points. Josh was a wild man!!

The score was now 23 – 19, and it was the other team’s turn to be rattled. There would be 4 more points scored by Josh’s team, but the entire team knew who won the game for them. It was the kid who managed to keep his cool under fire and score an amazing 3 point shot to put the fire back into a team that was feeling defeated. It was Josh…and it was his day to shine.

My grandson, Christopher, always loved to play in boxes, baskets, cupboards, or any other possible hiding place. I’m not sure why he liked these places, but I do know that picture after picture of my grandson finds him grinning happily from his hiding place as he peeks out to see if anyone is watching him, or if his parents can find him.

I am always amazed by the things toddlers see as being all important. Little ones are continually watching their parents and other adults around them to see what they are doing. Little did we know that our every move would be watched and mimicked…until we had kids that is. It makes you want to think about the things you do and say, doesn’t it? Children interpret the actions of adults as being what the cool kids do. Then they do everything in their power to imitate those people who are so important to them.

We always found that with Christopher, the household chores were the most important part of his day. His waking hours would find him “folding clothes” or should I say, unfolding the ones Corrie had in the basket or taking the unfolded clothes out of the basket, because there was something about that basket that made it very important. If it was a good enough place for the clothes, it was good enough for Christopher…so, clothes removed, enter Christopher, and there he would be sitting in the basket grinning…with the clothes all around the basket.

Christopher was also very interested in the kitchen work. Given a free moment from taking care of all the family’s laundry, Christopher would make his way into the kitchen to start dinner for the family. Pots and pans would come out of the cupboards in preparation for the days meals. Sometimes, it seems the pans had moved to the back of the cupboard…as pans will find a way of doing, but little trooper that he was, Christopher would simply climb into the cupboard and crawl back to the back to retrieve the exact pan necessary to making the meal he was working on.

When you are taking care of your family, Christopher always found that the day’s work was never really done. He “worked and worked” all day long…as his parents went along behind him picking up the clutter left behind…but really, how could they be upset when Christopher would present that precious, grinning little face. After all, we can always use a little help in the kitchen…right?

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