In 2010, Canadian Speedway was introduced to a local speedway sidecar. Simon Bennington originally from the UK, but now from Burlington Ontario, produced a great looking speedway sidecar to the events at both Paris Speedway and Welland Speedway.
This class of speedway which actually goes in reverse direction on the track, is hugely popular in the UK, and we are hoping that a full class of these machines can be implemented into the future speedway classes in Canada.
Below are some great photos by Arley Orosz and Mario Glynn.
An article was produced at the end of last season, which outlined the introduction of the speedway sidecar by Simon's Father, Gordon.
Bennington Speedway Sidecar Review
Simon Bennington imported a speedway sidecar into Canada in 2009, and he has provided the Canadian speedway fans, with some great displays of the immense power and potential that these powerful machines can offer to the Canadian racing world.
Simon's Dad Gordon, was on hand in 2010, to show Simon the ropes from driving the machine, and we were very pleased and honored to have such a great guy, come over from the UK to join in the fun!
We requested Simon to provide us with Gordon's racing career profile for us all to enjoy, and our sincere thanks are offered to Simon for some very entertaining information.
Dad and I started racing sidecar grasstrack in 1984 with an 850cc parallel Weslake twin housed in a Wasp chassis. During that season we were asked to race in a Weymouth speedway meeting using our grasstrack outfit with a trials type tyre fitted. We had some success that night by not coming last and really enjoyed the bumpy Weymouth track.
We were then asked to ride at Poole, although the week prior I was in hospital with head injuries after a crash at a Wimborne grasstrack, so Dad rode with another passenger.
Our first year saw us crowned as Southern Centre Novice Sidecar Champions.
In 1985, we also raced at Oxford speedway and by now we were getting the hang of things on the shale. After several years of a sidecar ban we were invited to the banked track at Exeter Speedway. We had been warned about the metal fence however the banking made a great racing circuit. Unfortunately this night was to signal the end to our speedway racing as we careered into the metal fence taking out two panels leaving me in Exeter General with head injuries. The outfit behind us took avoiding action, headed infield and took out the hare rail of the dog track resulting in another ban for sidecars!
1985 was a good year for us on the grasstrack, finishing 5th in the British Final and qualifying for the British Masters (the top 18 sidecars in the country race for the title of British Master).
1986 proved to be a disappointing year as we had a series of engine blow-ups at crucial times whilst in good positions in the finals. One such day was during a special European meeting held at St Macaire in France. 14 sidecars traveled over from the Uk to do battle in a mini European Championships. Whilst running second, our ignition packed up and we limped home for 5th place. Our attempt to finish in the top half of the British Masters also ended in engine failure.
1987 started with a bang when we picked up extra drive in the final of the Salisbury Sizzler grasstrack and cart wheeled down the track. Dad smashed his lower leg and ankle in 12 places. 4 weeks later and only 3 days after the cast was removed we were racing in the qualifier for the British Finals. A win in our first race set us up to squeeze into the finals in the last qualifying spot which was a great feat seeing as Dad was getting about via walking stick at this time. By the end of 1987 we had swapped the Weslake for a sponsored Kawasaki Z1000. After a few years of breakdowns and bi-monthly strip downs with the Weslake, the stronger Kawasaki prompted us to regret not changing sooner. The smoother power delivery of the multi cylinder Japanese engine meant fewer wheelies and a safer and quicker ride. We won a couple of local meetings on the Kawasaki before the year ended. The toll on our family with the injuries, the traveling all over England every weekend from March to November and the death of a good friend and my mentor in a racing accident at the Wimborne Whoppa made us decide to retire at the end of 1987.
To summarise our racing careers I would say we were always finalists, but rarely did we win the meeting outright.
In 1989 we came out in the Past Masters event at Andover to claim a 4th spot in the final. In 1991, I purchased a grasstrack outfit and started a brief racing career for myself. Dad and I rode together for the last time in July 1991 as he helped me get the new outfit dialed in to the track. After that I had a 5th place and two 1st place victories in smaller grasstracks in Yorkshire before meeting my future wife and deciding to spend what little cash I had on her rather than racing. Having had a go at grasstrack, the one thing I regretted was not trying speedway as a driver.
Fast forward to September 2009...
In September 2009 and recognizing that at 42 I was getting to prime sidecar driving age, I imported a top 5 sidecar speedway outfit from the UK. Now was my chance to have a skid about and knowing that I would be the only one in Canada would not stop me from enjoying myself. Dad took the role of viewing the bikes offered to me and did all the necessary stuff to get the bike over to Canada. In Nov 2009 it arrived and was immediately filled with anti-freeze and stored away until the racing season started. The bike is a Yamaha R1 1000cc engine producing 200 bhp with a compression ratio of 18:1 running on methanol fuel. The engine has had approx $10,000 of work done on it and is fueled by 4 39mm Keihin carbs and utilizes a two speed semi automatic gearbox conversion. The chassis is a Steer frame (a legendary grasstrack frame builder who sadly passed away a couple of years ago) and is a copy of a Russell Mitchell chassis. Russell is an Australian who has revolutionized the sport with his exceptional handling chassis'.