End of an Era: Closing the Sidecar Door Opens a Window to Adventure

Well it’s official: I am done with road-racing sidecars. I first started out as a passenger on “The Woody,” a very dilapidated but fun Formula 2 outfit, in 2008. I moved into the driver’s seat in late 2009 and was campaigning my own bike by 2010. During those years I’ve had many highs and lows, but it’s always been a struggle to find the time and money to continue.

racing sidecar motorcycle
It’s been a long time since I first got into sidecars.

During my career I’ve managed to race in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb six times, setting a record for three of them. I still have the record but if someone manages to break it I won’t be back to defend, since our race bike is up for sale now. I’ve also won multiple regional and national championships in my class, made a ton of friends, and shared an epic series of memories with some really genuine people.

racing sidecar motorcycle victory at Pikes Peak
I managed to race Pikes Peak six times, setting the record the last year there was any dirt, the first year it was all asphalt, and retook the record in 2016. Michael Hill Photo, 2011.

Strangely, my last race was anti-climactic. With all the fast teams failing to show up I had an easy double-win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which happens to be my least-favorite track of all time. Still, it was fun to push the limits one last time, with Zoe Flynn holding the chair down. I took the driver’s championship in the SRA-West series, said goodbye, and left the trailer and race bike in Las Vegas.

It was a difficult decision mind you, as sidecars have been a part of my life for so long they became part of my identity. Still, I couldn’t ignore the pulling feeling whenever I was heading to or from the race track. It wasn’t the pull of a trailer behind the van; it was the pull on my heart, telling me I was missing out. I wanted to explore the country, but I was always traveling to a race track, exploring the limits of traction. With all my money and time devoted to sidecar racing, there was no room for anything else.

east bay loop nuviz onboard
There is a whole world out there to explore, and I’ve only been able to see if from the windshield of my van, on the way to another race track.

Now, with my writing and photography taking off, and with an increased involvement in the Veterans Charity Ride, racing was in the way more than ever. When I came home from the final race and saw that empty spot in my garage, I wasn’t sad: I was excited at the possibilities. Motorcycle builds that have been on the back-burner for years are now a possibility. I have the time, space, and money to work on them.

This doesn’t mean racing is over mind you. I’m still partnered up with Jacob Jades of Strategic Protocol. For the last two years I’ve raced under the banner of Strategic Protocol Motorsport. We plan to relaunch the team into a new realm, with an eye on building it as a brand. I won’t be chasing championships though, so the effort level will be much lower and the costs will be far less.

It’s been a long run and a lot of fun… but now I’m done.

That means I’ll be able to hit the road and do some travel writing, chase bigger writing assignments, clear stuff out of the garage, and build up my name as more than someone who races sidecars. It also means I’ll be able to spend time in Moab, Utah, helping the AdventureVet team. This new project is an offshoot of the Veterans Charity Ride, and will allow for year-round adventures for people with or without a motorcycle license.

I’ll be able to use several of my skills as AdventureVet readies for launch, and I can use my experience as a driving instructor in the US Marines to help out once things are launched. Plenty of building, vehicle maintenance and modification, route planning, and content writing will be needed… which are all things I can do.

Motorcycle sidecar Ural rides off road in Moab Utah with motorcycle in background on trail.
With AdventureVet, I’ll be able to use my skills as a mechanic, instrucotr, writer, and there will still be some sidecars to pilot. Photo: Sara Liberte.

So don’t feel sad that I’ve given up racing. I haven’t given up anything. I’ve taken on some new and exciting adventures and the possibilities are a bit frightening. I’m letting go of the familiar and taking steps to positively affect a lot of lives. Here’s to the future: wide open and free.

a road leads to the horizon, blurred with speed

You can follow the action easily by signing on to my mailing list. You’ll get updates no more than once a week, on everything I’m up to.

2 thoughts on “End of an Era: Closing the Sidecar Door Opens a Window to Adventure

  1. Geno Newman says:

    Johnny what a pleasure it is to have crossed paths at Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.
    Standing at Brown Bush corner the crisp morning quiet was shattered with the sweet souls of your bike down shifting to transission from the fastest sector on the coarse to one of the tightest right handlers. Before long as the sidecar cleared tre trees and I finally gotta a look at the beautiful Black 187 perfectly hit apex and ripping through the gears all out. Oh boy these guys are great!
    This old man has seen many teams in my 30 years on the mountain, you guys were destined for greatness, both on the coarse and I will never forget about your team.
    Top shelf men racers and genuine really tough competitors.
    Thanks for all your help with my veteran brothers truly a labor of brothership and love.
    God speed brothers.
    Geno Newman
    Safety and rescue
    Pikes Peak International Hillclimb

    Like

    1. johnnykillmore says:

      Wow dude, that’s some praise Im not sure I deserve. I def gave it all I had and then some. I came home flat broke and behind on rent some years, but it seemed to be the only way to leave the mountain with no regrets.
      Thanks for the compliments. Of all the corners we could have broke down in during practice, I couldn’t have asked for a better spot than at your corner.

      Rage on!

      Like

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