Passengers Now Welcome at Goodwood—Sort Of…

by Kyle Smith
10 April 2024 1 min read
Passengers Now Welcome at Goodwood—Sort Of…
(Photo: Goodwood/Dominic James)

The thrill of lapping the Goodwood Circuit during a Members’ Meeting is reserved for a relative few, and up till now, no one’s been allowed to ride shotgun. That’s about to change, and passengers will be getting in on the hot laps. Well, very specific and very engaged passengers only. That’s right, sidecars have joined the Goodwood race schedule for the upcoming 81st Members’ Meeting.

Motorcycle racing has been a part of racing at the Goodwood Circuit for some years as part of the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy, but until recently, sidecars had been left in the paddock. Goodwood organisers announced that a race between eight world-championship-spec machines will be on the 13th April event schedule.

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These are top-level sidecar rigs that feature aluminium monocoque chassis and 600cc four-cylinder engines. With a slim rulebook, these mills often produce 130–140bhp while only having to push a roughly 210 kilogram chassis. And two humans, of course.

While that power-to-weight ratio might not sound shocking, it’s not the outright acceleration that makes sidecar racing so thrilling, but instead the relationship between the rider and the passenger, known as the monkey. The monkey plays an active role in the motorcycle’s handling dynamics by moving their weight about to aid in turning, braking, and acceleration. It’s not an easy dance to learn.

The eight pairs of racers will take part in qualifying and head-to-head races over the weekend, before the racing culminates with the top four teams competing for top spot in a Sidecar Shootout on Sunday.

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