Cruel Mistress, By Bob Bird

Sidecar racing has been my passion ever since I saw my first race in 1956. During the intervening years I have marshalled, competed as a driver and passenger, been a race official and organiser. It has been my privilege to be a member of a very exclusive club, the Sidecar Family.
Below is a post that encapsulates my feelings about my chosen sport.

How I hate you, hate you so much at times since you first enchanted, captured and enslaved me sixty plus years ago. How many times have I tried to escape from your clutches, sometimes succeeding for several years before being relentlessly drawn back into your tantalising embrace.

Those occasions on which I have managed to ignore you have largely been by going cold turkey, denying your very existence which sometimes caused almost as much pain and anguish as being under your spell, but still you came yet again for me.

Your very existence has to be acknowledged because it is so deep within me that it is difficult to be without you. You have given me much pleasure,many thrills and excitement as well as great friendship. Other times the pain that you have inflicted has been so immense to the point that I wish to never see or hear you again. You have made me smile and laugh much to my great pleasure and enjoyment then you callously destroy the good times with your capricious, unpredictable ways.

Yesterday was one of those good days of enjoying the company of friends together that you suddenly, wantonly turned into one of great sadness and tragedy within a few moments. Not being content with your initial cruelty you struck without warning again several hours later. You hurt not only me but many other people undeserving of your callous being.

Dear reader, you may wonder what on earth happened, of what dark secrets have I been partaking for all of these years. It is something which is not illegal nor even immoral but does involve consenting adults at its very heart. It is something which can cost very dear in both financial and personal terms because of its very nature. It is also something that can be physically and emotionally demanding upon occasions.

Your suspense and curiousity will now be allayed because I am talking not about some dark, nefarious secret but motorcycle racing, particularly sidecar racing to which I was first introduced by my late father in 1956. The impact which it was to make upon my life was little realised as a then callous youth but from that day I was ensnared by the sound, sight, smell, glamour and danger of motorcycle racing. It is like a drug that gets deep under the skin into the psyche and very being that has to be satisfied when, however and as frequently as possible. Those that have never experienced the adrenalin, the speed, the sensations of racing may well not understand how this can be so but it is an addiction just like alcohol, tobacco or narcotics.

Over the years I have lost a number of very dear friends to racing, each and everyone still missed to this day yet I would not do anything differently should I have my life again. No, that it is not quite right because I would do it with even greater intensity should that be possible.

Dduring the Isle of Man TT Sidecar this year three mebers of that Family tragically lost their lives. None were ally known personally to me but still regarded as friends because thhe, like myself, were one of the great family of sidecar racing people which, unless experienced, is beyond the understanding of outsiders. I knew that the accidents were bad, very bad because of where it happened on a very fast part of the course. My worst fears were confirmed a few hours later which caused me great sadness and a few discreet tears.

Thhe following morning I did not want to see another racing motorcycle nor sidecar ever again. This should have been the ultimate end of my Cruel Mistress’s hold over me but no. During the day I have been chatting online with many friends from the racing world and reading their posts and comments which have helped me and others through this terrible, tragic time. It was with a certain sadness but hope that my entrapment and fascination will continue probably for the rest of my life because it is not easy to walk away from something which has been so great a part of my life.

RIP César, Roger and Bradley My thoughts and heart go out to your families and friends, you may be gone but will never be forgotten. Thank you all so much, race on in peace my brothers.