Darrel Cooney Finds Out What It Takes

Circumstances prevailed that my first vintage sidecar ride occurred this summer at Calabogie. I will start this with a disclaimer; if you are not in reasonable shape, be prepared to struggle to be a competent Monkey! Having just finished a solid 20-minute solo session, I jumped on the rig without a thought as to how physical it would be. I truly had no idea what to expect, but as we zipped into turn 2 and the rig started drifting, then sliding, I was already laughing my ass off. I don’t know if it was pure ignorance or having observed Dave’s driving, but I had absolutely no concerns of him getting us in trouble. So as we fired down to turn 5, I was using my thumb to hold my helmet up high enough so I could see what was going on. Yes, this would be bad racing form! I shifted my weight, as best as I understood, behind Dave to weight the inside wheels for the right-hander. The rig slid wildly, but in that “I’m giving you lots of warning, so play with me” kind of way. It reminded me of the first time I drove an all-wheel-drive turbo car in the snow.

Darrell Cooney, 2018 Modern GP Champion, Vintage Open Champion (VRRA) and multiple time AHRMA two stroke class winner on his very potent Yamaha TZ250. Darrell takes a keen interest in our classic sidecar efforts and has provided a wealth of information and assistance. Thanks Darrell!

After seemingly forever stretching my stomach over the rear fender, I realized already I was hurting for breath. My first serious attempt at the left “Temptation” corner seemed like a gym workout as I worked inefficiently, with the braking G’s acting on the rig, to move into position. Finding the handholds was reasonably easy and as my shoulder touched the asphalt I instinctively pulled back before realizing I wanted a war scale on my leathers and grinding it back down into the surface. 

Straight – reposition – wild slide and repeat. At the end of the first lap, I was still laughing which was in no way helping me try and gather my breath. This went on for 6 long laps of me wanting it to end before I saw my breakfast again but having way too much fun at the same time. I think it could only be best described as a leg cramp during sex from an experience standpoint!  As I had an endurance race that afternoon, I skipped the next session and let Kathleen Coburn have her turn as a kid in the candy store!

I truly have not done anything that compares to this although there were bits and pieces of many different things I have done. I think I would say the rig itself behaves mostly like a lowered quad, like those used at flat track events. The dynamics created by two individuals having input on one mechanical device is again very interesting. You can see where a well-oiled team can drag far more lap time from the rig than less physically prepared and synchronized teams.

Hats off to all those keeping this discipline alive and many thanks to Dave for the opportunity to experience such a unique ride.

– Article by Darrell Cooney

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