Passengers Now Welcome at Goodwood—Sort Of

Goodwood/Dominic James

The thrill of lapping the infamous Goodwood Circuit during a Members’ Meeting is reserved for a relative few, and up till now, no one’s been allowed to ride shotgun. That’s about to change, and passengers will be getting in on the hot laps. Well, very specific and very engaged passengers only. That’s right, sidecars have joined the Goodwood race schedule for the upcoming 81st Members’ Meeting.

Motorcycle racing has been a part of racing at the Goodwood Circuit for some years as part of the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy, but until recently, sidecars had been left in the paddock. Goodwood organizers announced that a race between eight world-championship-spec machines will be on the April 13th event schedule.

These are top-level sidecar rigs that feature aluminum monocoque chassis and 600cc four-cylinder engines. With a slim rulebook, these mills often produce 130-140 horsepower while only having to push a roughly 460 pound chassis.

And two humans of course. While that power-to-weight ratio might not sound shocking, it’s not the outright acceleration that makes sidecar racing so thrilling, but instead the relationship between the rider and the passenger, known as the monkey. The monkey plays an active role in the motorcycle’s handling dynamics by moving their weight about to aid in turning, braking, and acceleration. It’s not an easy dance to learn.

The eight pairs of racers will take part in qualifying and head-to-head races over the weekend before the racing culminates with the top four teams racing for top spot in a Sidecar Shootout on Sunday.


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    How many saw the title and were hoping that it was referring to people like us getting to be a passenger. Unfortunately it’s a No, but join a side car team and maybe you can.

    The headline was written to elicit your reaction. “Sidecars Join Goodwood Schedule” for example, while accurate & succinct would not have sparked the same number of clicks. Anyway, the article made me think of something I never had before. Why aren’t passengers allowed? Maybe insurance?

    From what little I know those sidecar ” monkeys ” were just as crazy as the drivers if not more so,and had to be more fit. While maybe not receiving what little glory this forgotten class has/had ( It had something of a reputation of being a last resort at sometime which it didn’t fully deserve ) nice that Goodwood has them in the field. My question is – are they still racing them at the Isle of Man TT ? If you’re looking for old school -‘ just throw down some hay bales’ , wheels off the road action , there’s nothing like it. 140 at the hard right corner just in front of the pub. A ‘ you pay your dime you take your chances ‘ racing philosophy.

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