Racing Naked: How paddock spirit helped Pawley and Hammond salvage their weekend

In Darley Moor, News, Sidecars

FEW may have thought it possible or even legal for an F2 sidecar to race without a fairing, until one squad hit the grid at Darley Moor almost completely naked.

During the fifth round of club action last month, Steven Pawley and David Hammond were dealt a big blow following practice when it became evident that something on their outfit was amiss.

The bracket that supported and held their fairing to chassis had snapped, causing it to obstruct the controls. The fix ideally required a welder and Darley’s paddock announcer was happy to make a call around for one but with time ticking by, the duo had little choice but to act fast – they planned to race without a fairing at all.

Hammond, a sign maker by trade, set about making an improvised number board for the front of the outfit from duct tape in a bid to get on track and while he and Pawley made it to collection area in time for the first race, their nude outfit caught the attention of the technical officials and they were halted.

Pawley and Hammond weren't afraid to race their sidecar in the nude to salvage their weekend...
Pawley and Hammond weren’t afraid to race their sidecar in the nude to salvage their weekend…

“The official was very apologetic, advising that the rules state an outfit ‘should’ have a fairing fitted, and that the handbook includes the specification for the fairing,” Hammond said.

“Having been prevented from racing, I asked for the rule to be clarified – whether it explicitly said a fairing must be fitted. The ACU handbook does not explicitly say a fairing must be fitted… with contradictory rules, it created a grey area.

“The technical official pointed out one area of concern that we had overlooked: the bracket for the fairing projecting from the front being a hazard. We agreed a way to reduce this risk and it was agreed with the clerk of the course and club officials we could race.”

And although it took the crew time to sort out an arrangement, Darley’s General Secretary Eddie Nelson admitted he was glad to see Pawley and Hammond back in action, in the spirit of competition.

“We are here to organise club racing and will always help our competitors to go racing,” he said.

“This is a great example of officials and competitors working together to keep the racing going and keeping everyone happy. It was a great result for common sense and co-operation.”

Pawley and Hammond completed the full 10-lap race distance with the fairing missing and despite Hammond’s restricted movement, which resulted in a slight drop in speed, the duo put up a fight and laid down respectable times to come home fourth in class at the chequered flag.

And with their salvaged points, Pawley and Hammond retained third place in the Formula 600 Sidecar championship battle with another signature towards their national licences.

“Initially I thought the meeting was over for us,” Pawley revealed. “The officials are there doing their job voluntarily, dealing with the information they had at hand, and are only concerned with our safety, the safety of our fellow competitors and the public.

“When I first learnt Dave wanted the rules clarifying, I was skeptical of them changing their decision. But by talking to the technical officials, listening to their concerns, and respecting their opinion, together we were able to get out for the second points race.

“It was a pleasant surprise to obtain a signature towards the national licence, and to return to third position in the championship was an unexpected bonus. Whilst I’d like to take credit for that, the retirements and non starters over the meeting was, along with the help and support of the club, their officials and other crews in the paddock, were the real reason we managed to pick up some valuable points.”

With the bodywork now sorted, chairman Hammond is hopeful that the squad can dip into a yet-elusive lap time bracket this weekend as they prepare for Darley’s sixth round on Sunday.

“The plan for this weekend is to go as fast as we can as the sub 1:10 lap has still eluded us. Fairing is fixed so knowing we can do 1:10s without it, and the outfit getting a little out of shape, we’re confident this weekend we’ll put that to bed.”

*Image: Tony Else

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