Words: John Cameron
Photo: Sean Bakken
Team Johnny Killmore took another double win at the second round of the SRA-West Formula Sidecar Series, but it was an absolute dogfight throughout the rest of the grid. Host club AHRMA once again invited the SRA-West for the Corsa Moto Classica at Willow Springs International Raceway. The modern sidecars were welcome among the dizzying array of vintage two-wheelers. Sticking with the vintage theme, defending SRA-West champions Team Becker Moto Works chose the Corsa Moto Classica to unveil their ground-up, homebuilt vintage-spec sidecar. Powered by a Yamaha XS650 engine, the machine went as well as it looked.
The main action in Saturday’s 6-lap sprint would be up front, however, as Team Johnny Killmore’s John Wood/Giorgina Gottlieb leapt from the front row and began to build a gap immediately. The battle for second lasted most of the race though as different teams made their way to the front. Wood Brothers Racing’s Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen would begin the fight with Stull Racing’s Steve Stull/Daniel Bergeron and Team 321‘s Donn Sayre/John Heenan. As the bikes began to spread out, Stull would throw a chain, ending his bid on lap 4. Team 321 suffered a strange front end vibration and began to slow, but the fight was not over.
Back from a three-year hiatus, Lucky 13 Racing’s Mark Macanga/Bobette Burdick was making up ground from their back of the field starting position. Unable to match Wood Brothers in the straights, they made ground in the corners as best they could, eventually securing the second spot and not relinquishing it.
Based on Saturday’s finishing order it was difficult to predict how Sunday’s 6-lap sprint would play out. Not only did two of the fastest teams suffer mechanical woes, but Wood Brothers Racing were unsure if they had solved an electrical glitch they suffered in morning practice. Adding to the uncertainty, several mid-pack teams had found extra speed and finished much closer than usual. The biggest story for Sunday though was certainly the return of Team Becker Moto Works William Becker/Eric Becker on their modern Formula 1 machine. Although their vintage machine ran well on Saturday, engine vibrations were causing discomfort with William Becker’s left arm due to a recent surgery to have hardware removed.
From the start Team Johnny Killmore again flew from the front row and began to gap the field. Wood Brothers Racing Wood attempt a chase in the opening laps but would soon come under fire from Team 321‘s Sayre/Heenan. Once clear of Wood Brothers, Sayre/Heenan would build a small gap. By the fourth lap Becker Moto Works had made their way up to 4th position but they had brought much of the field with them.
A dizzying battle was taking place behind Becker as several teams attempted to stay in their draft, and Wood Brothers Racing would be dragged into the fray, finishing a disappointing 6th. Team Big Dog Garage’s Bernard Juchli/Kevin Kautsky were just ahead of them in 5th, after finally sorting out their electric shifter. More speed is expected from this pair in the coming months, as Juchli is a veteran 250GP rider as well as an experienced Sports Car and open-wheeled driver. Up front though Team Becker Moto Works was in 2nd spot and began a charge for the lead. Team Johnny Killmore had dramatically slowed and it seemed their hefty lead might not be enough. However, the Becker duo was having rear-tire grip issues and could not put in their usual lap times. This allowed Wood/ Gottlieb to maintain much of the gap they created in the early laps, taking home a double win. Saturday’s second place finisher Lucky 13 Racing was unable to catch Sayre/Heenan and settled for 4th.
The SRA-West will immediately follow AHRMA to Sonoma Raceway this Thursday/Friday to carry on the battle. Not only are several mid-pack teams catching the rest of the field, but Lucky 13 Racing has now officially blown the cobwebs off and gotten such much needed seat time on their Becker/Suzuki Formula 2 machine. Another question mark in the saga is the wildcard entry of Subculture Racing. The former series champions will be on home territory and fresh from an excellent showing at Phillip Island in January. Subculture Racing’s Wade Boyd/Christine Blunk were also in competition at last year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where they finished just over 3-seconds behind Team Johnny Killmore despite it being their first year to the mountain. Also, only half of Team Becker Moto Works will be be in attendance. Veteran passenger Heidi Neidhoefer will sub for Eric Becker, and with a drastic weight difference between the two, the defending champion is an unknown variable until the time sheets from morning practice are posted.
The SRA-West again thanks the American Historic Motorcycle Racing Association (AHRMA) for inviting the SRA-West to both Willow Springs and the upcoming Event in Sonoma May 2-3. This event will mark the final round for the SRA-West before an extremely long summer break, returning to action August 30- September 1 at Miller Motorsports Park, again with host club AHRMA. Each team will be looking to end the first half of the season strongly, and with the field so much closer it is impossible to predict what will happen when sidecars take to the hills of Sonoma. For a full schedule and championship standings visit http://www.sra-west.us.
SATURDAY, APRIL 27
1. John Wood/Giorgina Gottlieb, Windle/Suzuki
2. Mark Macanga/Bobette Burdick, Becker/Suzuki
3. Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen, ART/Suzuki
4. Bernard Juchli/Kevin Kautsky, CSR/Honda
5. Phil Wood/Gary McEwen, Baker/Arctic Cat
6. Harald Skjorshammer/ Rolf Nedrebo, Baker/Suzuki
7. Scott Lane/Elizabeth Herlocker, Becker/ Suzuki
8. Donn Sayre/John Heenan, Baker/Suzuki
SUNDAY, APRIL 28
1. John Wood/Giorgina Gottlieb, Windle/Suzuki
2. William Becker/Eric Becker, Becker/Suzuki
3. Donn Sayre/John Heenan, Baker/Suzuki
4. Mark Macanga/Bobette Burdick, Becker/Suzuki
5. Bernard Juchli/Kevin Kautsky, CSR/Honda
6. Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen, ART/Suzuki
7. Steve Stull/Heidi Neidhoefer, Baker/Honda
8. Phil Wood/Gary McEwen, Baker/Arctic Cat