HE’S been in the passenger seat with dozens of riders over the last few years, but now Harry Payne is taking centre stage as driver – thanks to a bit of help from his dad.
The 25-year-old has had enough of life in the chair and is set to drive in 2018, in a new sidecar outfit he is currently building with dad, Greg.
Payne plans to contest the full BMCRC season, along with two or three British championship wildcard outings, the Sunflower Trophy Races at Bishopscourt at the end of the year and will also race in the Isle of Man’s Jurby series.
Riding under the Harry Payne Racing banner, he will pilot his own outfit which he’s currently building with his dad.
Greg, who won the New Era 600cc club championship in 1994, was left paralysed from the waist down in a crash at Lydden Hill in 1995, but has never lost the urge to dabble with bikes and sidecars.
He’s already built a handful of road outfits which he has ridden himself, and had decided to work on an outfit which he and Harry could mess about in together…well, that was the initial plan.
“We were just going to build something for my dad to drive using buttons and things, and I’d have a bit piss about in there with him for a bit of fun,” Harry explains. “But then it ended up taking a completely different direction.”
Aware that the partner of his late friend, Dwight Beare, was still struggling to sell the remaining parts from Dwight’s outfit, he decided to buy them all himself, initially just to help Tash and to sell at his own leisure.
“We had these parts sat there and I think we just decided to make something of them.
“It’s is a bit of a mongrel really. It’s an F2 chassis with a Honda engine, and incorporates Dave Molyneux’s 2016 front end and then various salvageable parts from Dwight’s.
“It’s nice being able to work with my dad on it. He enjoys getting involved and it’s nice for us to have something exciting we can do together. I know it was initially something we had planned on running together, but we both agreed if we were building this thing, we may as well do it properly, and that means race it.”
With the outfit well on its way, Harry’s got a busy 2018 ahead of him. The self-employed diesel technician from Ballasalla, Isle of Man, will be joined by Benjamin Avison in his Bemsee assault.
Avison is an experienced passenger who is returning to the sport after a year out following the birth of his son.
Whenever the pair have been on track together previously, they were competing against each other at the likes of Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough, the FSRA British series or at BSB.
However, they are now teaming up to tackle the Bemsee series, and as a pair of competitive youngsters with high ambitions, they will be looking to finish next season with a top class result.
Meanwhile, at the Isle of Man, he will also be pairing up with Manxman Olly Lace to tackle the Jurby series.
“With Olly, he’s new to this so we’ll be taking it a bit easier and having fun, but I really plan to push hard at Bemsee. Ben is coming back from a year away but I think together we can go well.
“Before I was a passenger my background was in sidecar motocross, so I’m not totally new to this! I think I can come at it with a different view having passengered for so long. I have been in with about 30 riders and you do learn a lot from each one.
“I am certainly not coming into this just for a laugh. I want results and I am confident we can get them. I certainly want to be up there in the Bemsee series and we definitely will be aiming for the top step.
“I’ve got a good team behind me and a very strong passenger – 2018 looks like it could be pretty great.”
So, the big question is, is this the end of his passenger days? “No, not at all,” he chuckles. “I’ve got unfinished business there.
“I’ve had some good results, but nothing like what I really would’ve liked to have achieved. The other thing I want to do is the TT.
“I was supposed to do it this year but it didn’t happen, and I’m still gutted about that to be honest.
“I’d be lying if I said that chapter was closed and to that end, I do have plans in place to be out at the TT as a passenger this year. Watch this space…”
We will, Harry…. We will.
*Main image: Dirk Wharton
*All other images supplied by Harry Payne Racing