Thursday, 30 July 2015

Race With The Devil

The fact this is brilliant is reason enough, but it's also a reflection of the healthy hot rod scene in the States in the mid 1950s, and showcases the great guitar of Cliff Gallup with two class breaks. Lyrics provided, because Gene, who'd have turned 80 this year, really turns on his Virginia slur. First released in 1956. MP

RACE WITH THE DEVIL (Davis, Vincent, 1956, Capitol 3530)

Well, I've led an evil life, so they say
But I'll out-run the Devil on judgement day

I say, move hot rod, move man
Move hot rod, move man
A-move hot rod, move me on down the line

Well, me and the Devil sittin' at the stoplight
He started rollin', I was out of sight


I was going pretty fast, looked behind
Here comes the Devil doin' ninety-nine

[Chorus] Let's drag now

I thought I was smart, the race was won
And here comes the Devil doin' hundred-and-one

[Chorus] Let's drag again

I was going pretty fast, looked behind
Here comes the Devil doin' ninety-nine


Well, I've led an evil life, so they say
But I'll out-run the Devil on judgement day


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Pemberton Flat Track Races

Our mate Sam V from British Columbia is promoting these fun races. Support your local race track!
More details at Pemberton Flat Track Racing. G

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Doug Chandler. On it

Doug Chandler wrestling the Freddie Spencer-backed Honda VF750 in the AMA Superbike championship, 1987. One of racing's most versatile riders, that same year, as he began his transition to full-time road racing, he was still topping dirt track podiums. In the current issue of Sideburn magazine, you can read his memories of winning that year's televised Ascot half-mile on a V-twin Honda RS750. MP
If anyone knows who took this photo, please let us know.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Thriller in Malilla

Some fine racing in the final of Saturday's Swedish round of the Speedway World Championships. Britain's Tai Woffinden went into this GP leading the championship, but Denmark's Nicki Pedersen was chasing him hard...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Lima Pea Gravel Protection

From Roger in Ohio

I took these with my phone while touring the pits at the Lima 1/2 mile national well before practice started. Many of these bikes have expensive paintwork and components that do not stand up well to the violent Lima pea gravel spray thrown off rear tires in the turns. You can see the extensive care taken by some of the teams to protect the bikes while maintaining the appearance of the machines. Almost the whole frame was done on Brandon Robinson's #44 Triumph.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Spoke And Stringer

Kristian Crews' Spoke And Stringer, one of our Bristol stockist finally has his own cafe shop after a run of pop-ups. Down on the waterfront opposite the SS Great Britain. Propper coffee, and chilies in the chocolate Brownies YUM! The pintxos tapas menu is especially impressive. BP

Friday, 24 July 2015

AMA New Rules: The Debate starts

Reader Pat Riot left a comment to the post below  (Sideburn Talks AMA GNC Listens?) that brought up some good points that I've already been discussing with friends. I'm going to give me view on them below. Pat's comment are bold, my replies are italicised... G

Pat wrote, Well I have to say that I agree with and am excited about the rules changes except for two notes: 1) I don't like the bit about 'production motorcycles' for GNC2 - I'd love to see single cylinder framers make a comeback as well. Perhaps 'production engines' would be better. Chris Carr has commented (in your mag if I recall) that jumping from dirt-bikes to framers is a big gap for up-and-coming riders starting out in GNC1.

By production motorcycles, they mean 450 MX bikes modified for dirt track - DTX bikes as the sport refers to them.
The move to DTX bikes, and away from framers (450 or older Rotax motors in custom dirt track chassis), made some kind of sense. We at Sideburn never hidden our love of framers or ambivalence to the appearance of DTX bikes, but saw the sense or trying to attract manufacturer support by running production bikes they could market. But the support never came. If you're trying to sell MX bikes, it's easier to put all your marketing into MX or supercross. It's big budget, spectacular, the riders are more famous, the races are better attended. Really, why the hell would Honda support flat track 450s in any significant way when they had the huge US MX industry as a battleground?
And if there's a transition from DTX bikes to framer twins of the Expert class, then so be it. For years, Grand Prix road riders had to jump from 250 two-strokes to 1000cc four-stoke MotoGP bikes and just got on with it. The talented thrived, the others fell by the wayside. That is racing.  
Also, framers making a come back doesn't make sense. The GNC2 guys are on a real budget, and DTX makes sense for them. Also, they make sense for amateur club racers too. Be clear, we are NOT anti-DTX, they're good for the grassroots, but, I think, not for the elite. 

 2) 2016 is really soon. Especially for privateers, but even for well supported teams, that is a major reshuffling of the required bikes to solve by Daytona next year. All of that said, it will be awesome to see how short track and TT races evolve the formula for pro-twins bikes. I just can't see launching an XR750 as the best way to go at Peoria.

The bigger budget teams are always going to cope with transition better than privateers. That's life, but perhaps this opens a door for a privateer to put all their effort into building a great Peoria twin, and making a name for themselves, at the expense of another area of their programme. It's no different to now. Shaun Baer (featured in Sideburn 20) is concentrating on the twins races this season and has been a regular top six qualifier, but isn't racing any single races this year. So what's changed? If anything, it'll be easier for him and other twins teams (Ducati Scrambler, Bonneville Performance, Latus Triumph, Rogers KTM) to tweak their bikes for short track and twins than buy a whole new machine and tune it to compete with the top singles. 

I know the top teams have a half-mile bike and a mile bike, with the different engine tunes, but privateers don't. They change the gearing. They'll do the same for short tracks. 

Peoria. Everyone is mentioning twins at Peoria. That makes me think a few things. First, people are DESPERATE to see how the twins go at Peoria. When was the last time this many people were desperate to see a CRF450 at Peoria? Never. Secondly, let's be blunt Peoria is just a shit motocross race. If I wanted to watch motocross I'd watch motocross. But I don't I want to want dirt track. TT is part of the championship, but it's mutated so much it has virtually no link left. People get excited about Peoria because of its history. If it launched as a new race now it wouldn't get a lot of interest. I'm not saying the racing isn't exciting, to those really in the know, and who have favourite racers, but the GNC has to offer more to grow. 
Also, the 450s are flying so far they're missing the transition off the jump and landing on the flat. Won't the riders just back off, and land their jumps on the transition? Fans won't think, 'They're not jumping as far as a full alloy, lightweight 450, this sucks!' They'll think, 'They're jumping 'Harley XR750s? Those things must weigh a ton. Holy cow!'

The riders will suck it up and put on a spectacle. Perhaps Dirt Quake USA hero, The Rusty Butcher can give them a lesson on how to launch a really heavy Harley. who is telling me they'd rather watch a field of experts/GNC1 riders on DTX bikes or a field or riders on twins? 

Sometimes you have to take a step back to go forward. F1 has done it throughout history, and they're doing ok for sponsorship, last time I looked. 

If you want to read more on this subject read the Ronnie Jones interview in Cycle News p58-70 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sideburn talks AMA GNC listens?

Back in early March, Michael Lock, a Brit who is the former CEO of Ducati North America and a big cheese at  Honda Europe, Triumph and Lamborghini North America, got in touch with me. He said he was consulting at AMA Pro Racing, or had just joined the organisation, and was looking at how to make flat track more successful. I was pretty surprised that he would talk to someone in the UK about American pro flat track, but we arranged a time he could call me. We spoke for 20 minutes and I gave him my enthusiastic fan's perspective, a perspective that has an ocean between the sport I love and where I live.

I'm sure Lock had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of people involved in the sport - riders, team owners, sponsors, plus thousands of people who have attended far more races and know far more about the GNC than me, but he clearly thought the view of someone who loves the sport, but sees it from a distance and doesn't have a vested interest, had some merit. So I told him what I thought, then  boiled it down to a blog post from March 30, not mentioning in the blog that I'd spoken to anyone at the the AMA. I have cut and pasted it below.

Then, earlier this week, I was checking instagram and saw a few posts from pro riders commenting on rules changes. Those in the screenshot at the top. And thought, perhaps someone did listen to what I thought...

This means the GNC1 riders (the elite) will only compete on one bikes, so if Brad Baker wins the title, he wins on a Harley, not a Harley and a Honda or KTM or whatever single he uses that year. It also means fans don't turn up and see MX bikes and riders in MX gear when they were expecting to see flat trackers.

People are complaining, people always complain, but the sport has been in decline for 30 years, playing to its strengths and USPs are crucial. G

DTX bikes* can produce good racing, and they're a good way for some into the sport, but the hope that killing framers** would bring more mainstream advertising and support into AMA Pro Flat Track has been proven not to work. Instead, the main thing it's done, from my fan's perspective, is lost some of flat track's unique identity. Imagine you were a motorbike enthusiast, travelling through the US on holiday and heard that a big flat track race was happening just up the road and you could get along to see it. 

You don't do any research; you don't know much about the sport, except what you've seen in On Any Sunday. So you just roll up and pay your money at the turnstiles and take a seat with a beer. But it's a short track race. And everyone looks like a motocrosser. No one is in the cool leathers you've seen photos of. And the bikes don't look like you expected. They all look like motocross guys. But they're not even doing jumps! Eventually you might get into the racing, because that's still good, but the whole experience is dulled. And sport has to be an experience if it's going to reach beyond the hardcore. 

 I don't blame the AMA for trying, but go back through the blog and you'll see we were never fans of the idea. And neither are we Luddites, kicking against progress and digging our heels in. But pro flat track isn't growing and no one is addressing this issue, yet. The aesthetic appeal of flat track bikes and flat track riders in their leathers is one of its great strengths.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sideburn Tea Towel

Eye-melting screen-printed cotton tea towel featuring an illustration of the AMA number 1 by Ryan Quickfall is now in stock.

Comes wrapped in a printed card sleeve.

Arguably the world's coolest glass-drying tool.
Perfect for home or bar.

£10 plus post.

Can also be framed or sewn on the back of a jacket (like our previous sold out towel is on the back of my own Edwin denim cut-off). G

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Run What Y' Brung

#14 Dirt Quake IV Street Tracker class, rode 200 miles to the track on his Honda mongrel and then raced. Managed to avoid enemy fire and rode home Sunday morning. Trooper.
Who are you? Tell us more about your bike. BP
Photo: Paul Bryant