Jeff Godfrey and Michelle Ducky Hovanec in the thick of a sidecar pile
Before the crash, Michelle and Jeff G. managed to acquire a few trophies while the goin’ was good.
It’s been a tough season for Syck Bubblegum to say the least. What started off with a lot of optimism definitely ended up with events testing both the patience and endurance of all involved. But if I’ve learned something about Heather Rowe and Michelle Ducky Havonec, it is that they’re not quitters.
With the loss of her first partner at the beginning of the season, Heather set out to find a new one and that’s when she met Michelle. Michelle rode for the first time with Jeff Godfrey (who flew out for a brief time from Australia) on Syck Bubblegum at Victorville and placed third in the main. Then Michelle rode with Jeff Rowe on Superbeast, the R1 powered sidehack, at Pirate. If you don’t know what to expect, nor what muscles are needed to hold onto a sliding beast on three wheels, the fact that Michelle dove in with no experience is my definition of pure balls. But Michelle’s luck ran out at Costa Mesa, where she injured her leg.
During Michelle and Heather’s first team appearance at Pirate Speedway, several hands were involved in Syck Bubblegum’s set-up and with a quarky throttle cable and hard starting issue, Heather and Michelle found themselves dead in the water at the starting line. It was a disappointing first showing for the twosome, but they were determined to keep practicing until the next race.
While Heather and Jeff G. were racing at Industry Hills Grand Arena, however, Jeff found himself in a gaggle of third wheels and whipping clouds of sand. While doing his best to snap the handlebars back from oblivion, Heather was sent flying off Syck Bubblegum’s keel, head first into the dirt.
The sidecars are one of speedway’s most grandiose yet dreaded attractions as without the presence of much safety precautions, racing sidecars in the United States is an extremely dangerous sport, especially for the monkey’s riding the sidecars stern with nothing much to hold onto other than a grab rail, a piece of the rider in front of them and the floor board. Broken limbs, broken backs, fingers and collar bones are common, and those who are said to love this sport are just a hair short of bonkers. In the words of a spectator, “Every time my wife hears these guys get onto the track, she disappears. She’s fascinated by them but they freak the heck out of her!”
Unfortunately, Heather’s get-off sealed her season for her, as she suffered a severe case of whiplash after the fact and will probably spend the rest of the season recuperating. With Heather and Michelle both suffering injuries, they will have to wait until next season to get back behind the bars.
A normal neck curvature.
Heather’s neck curvature post-crash.
A starting line shot with Jeff G. and Heather.
In the aftermath of injury and mayhem, Jeff Rowe, Heather’s husband attempted to resurrect Syck Bubblegum after Jeff Godfrey’s departure by racing it at the track himself. However, Ms. Bubblegum seemed hesitant to leave her usual suspects at the sidelines and declined to start, running with two cold cylinders. After checking the header pipes, it appears one of Ms. Bubblegum’s pick-up coils decided to conk out, perhaps out of sympathy for her team. Still, she will have to remain in the garage until she is repaired and perhaps, her cohorts are ready to return behind the bars.
Until next year when the dirt is flying and the audience is gasping with clasped fingers and phones held out to capture the carnage, I bid you goodbye until the racing starts once again.
Racing photo, mid-drift through the corner.
A corner shot of Jeff G. and Heather.