Sidecar Racing Team Prepares For Pikes Peak Hill Climb
Victorville, California: The 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (www.ppihc.com) will reunite sidecar racers John Wood and Chris Rizzo as “Team Johnny Killmore” for their first race together in almost three years. The duo will be taking on the 156 turns of the famous course for the first time as a team. Driver John Wood will be competing in the Race To The Clouds for his third consecutive year, but 2011 will be the first time he will take on the event with his #187 Windle road-racing sidecar. “After running [Pikes Peak] last year on a motocross sidecar I decided the dirt sections were smooth enough for my road-racer to handle it. I think the real challenge is going to be traction and line-of-sight, not ground clearance,” says Wood. “We’ll have a lot more traction with the road-racer but also a lot more power. Combining that with only being two feet off the ground, and I’m expecting nothing less than the biggest challenge of my career.”
Taking on passenger duties this year will be Chris Rizzo, substituting for rookie full-time passenger Giorgina Gottlieb. Rizzo has not raced as a sidecar passenger since 2009, but brings with him tremendous experience as a motorcycle racer and racing coach. Still, the unique challenges of Pikes Peak are not to be taken lightly. “To be on the course will be totally surreal, not strapped into a cage but literally hanging on, inches above the pavement,” says Rizzo. He adds, “I learned to drive in New York in the snow, so the low traction stuff (dirt) doesn’t bother me, but I also remember the last time we took this bike into the dirt it ended up on top of me,” referencing their 2008 crash at Portland International Raceway’s turn 4. “Just so long as we don’t repeat that, I think it will be a great race.”
Although this will be his third year on the mountain, driver John Wood still considers it a learning year. “In ’09 I raced as passenger, and last year we used a motocross sidecar, which is a night-and-day difference,” says Wood. “We have every intention of putting our full effort forward, but my main concentration is on getting a rhythm down with [Chris] Rizzo and helping him learn the course. My real ambition is to come back in 2012 with this year’s knowledge as a foundation, with an ultimate goal of the class record.”
With over 160HP on tap, the Windle-framed machine definitely has the specifications to do the job. The fifteen-year old design is far more developed than its age might suggest, the frame having been substantially reinforced and geometry changes made by Becker Moto Works of Apple Valley, California. Along with newer wheels and upgrades to the braking system, a mildly tuned 1000cc Suzuki engine and Hoosier race tires holding it all down, the machine is a unique hybrid of motorcycle and open-wheel technology.
June 25th will mark the 89th running of America’s second oldest race, with a wild mix of one-off race cars, motorcycles, ATVs, and sidecars. From vintage to modern to electric powered, all manner of machines and racers will be poised to take on the Race To The Clouds. For up-to-date timing and scoring, visit www.ppihc.com.
Team Johnny Killmore is currently ranked number 2 in the Sidecar Racers Association- West Formula sidecar series (www.sra-west.us) with driver John Wood and passenger Giorgina Gottlieb. For more information on both their road racing effort and John and Chris’ Pikes Peak effort, visit www.johnnykillmore.com . As always, Team Johnny Killmore is helped by the generous support of Becker Moto Works, specializing in custom fabrication, race prep, and BMW service of all eras. Additional support is graciously given by Victorville Motorcycle Center (www.vmcracing.com ), Sinful Flesh Clothing (www.sinfulflesh.com ), and Bristol Brewing Company of Colorado Springs, Colorado (www.bristolbrewing.com ).