Rough Season for Syck Bubblegum

Jeff Godfrey and Michelle Ducky Hovanec in the thick of a sidecar pile

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.

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 starting line shot with Jeff G. and Heather.

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.

Racing photo, mid-drift through the corner.

A corner shot of Jeff G. and Heather.

A corner shot of Jeff G. and Heather.


Syck Bubblegum: Speedway’s first all female sidehack racing team

Shawnay and Heather wait for their turn to get some track time.

Shawnay and Heather wait for their turn to get some track time.

550291_163954343753687_230211534_nThe first all girl Speedway sidehack team known as Syck Bubblegum Racing (named after the Rob Zombie song) is about to wreak havoc on the Southern California speedway arena. Heather Rowe and Shawnay Aguilera will be making their debut this 2013 racing season on a classic New Zealand born sidehack with a 1980’s Kawasaki Police KZ1000 engine roaring beneath them. For Heather, formerly the “monkey” of team Superbeast Rowe, this will be her first season as the rider and for Shawnay, this will be her first season as the “monkey” or person who hangs off the back while Heather drifts the sidehack sideways through a corner.

Their KZ1000 sidehack, formerly known as the “beast” was used as a loaner bike for newbies looking to get a taste of sidehack madness through the years. But now in the hands of the girls, it has been completely rebuilt from the frame up by guess what, mostly WOMEN!!

Heather is so dedicated to speedway racing, she had Corey Miller tattoo a replica of a race photo taken of her and her husband during last year's season on her stomach.

Heather is so dedicated to speedway racing, she had Corey Miller tattoo a replica of a race photo taken of her and her husband during last year’s season on her stomach.

Syck Bubblegum Racing Info:

Riders: Heather Rowe (operator), Shawnay Aguilera (monkey)

Mechanics: Joe Jones, Rachael Maltbie

Gas tank and body painted by: Suzanna at J&S Customs

Powder coating by: B&B in Riverside, CA

Diamond plating cut and fitted by: Heather Rowe

Sponsors:, Six Feet Under

Tracks Syck Bubblegum will be racing at: Pirate Speedway, Costa Mesa Fairgrounds, Victorville Fairgrounds, Industry Hills Grand Arena

Heather is excited for the upcoming season. She says, “I wanted to have this all girl team to set an example for all the little girls and women in the audience to let them know they can do anything they want! Racing has nothing to do with testosterone! I think woman are better listeners and more graceful in their movements on the track because after all, you want to be smooth!!”

And when it comes to having a new monkey, Heather is confident. “Shawnay and I felt in sync out there. She’s very smooth in her weight distribution and the bike responded well to her. We still have a lot to learn and we will be learning every time we get out there. The only thing that is important to us is that everyone has fun and walks away safe from every race!”

Race Schedule, rider profiles and points standings can be found here.

Stay tuned to to see upcoming race photos, interviews and videos from Syck Bubblegum Racing.

Here’s a look at how the “beast” transformed to “Syck Bubblegum.”

Here are some photos from Heather and Shawnay’s initial practice runs. First race is April 13th at Victorville Raceway.

Video from Heather and Shawnay’s first practice

MI Featured Rider of the Week: Living Brakes, Heather Rowe

Photo by Tony T-Bone Colombini from Blacktop Magazine.

Heather Rowe has an interesting hobby. She likes to hang her “ass” off the edge of a Sidehack, which is a speedway motorcycle with a third wheel attached. She races with her husband at local Southern California speedways every chance they get. The Sidehack has a 1000 cc motor and no brakes, which Heather says is the fun part! The Sidehack can reach speeds up to 100 mph in the dirt, which can get exciting when you have several Sidehacks racing on a small oval course enclosed by a wall.

Husband and wife team – Heather and Jeff – in action.

“People love the Sidehacks,” she says. “It’s pretty strange to see a person driving while another person hangs their ass over in the dirt.” Since the Sidehacks have no brakes, the person hanging off acts as a brake as they shift their weight over the back axle, thus helping to propel the machine out of a corner and avoid the wall.

Heather and Jeff having some fun between races.

So what is it like to hang your body off a slammed, over powered machine in the dirt? Heather says “It’s like a dance with an 80-year-old woman who wants to kick your ass!” I’d assume you’d have to be a racer to understand what that means, but I’ve met some pretty tough old ladies, so I can relate.

Superbeast Sidehack racing under the lights.

Heather and her husband race their Sidehack at the Inland Motorcycle Speedway in the San Bernardino-Industry Hills area on Wednesdays, and they also race in Victorville and Costa Mesa. She said that her and her husband also plan to race in Las Vegas and Auburn this season.

Heather in true rocker style aboard a bike just a little bit smaller than what she’s used to.

As you can see, Heather is fully inked from head to toe. Her right arm is made up of skulls with different kinds of pony tails, as she believes a woman can be strong but feminine at the same time. A saying by Pablo Picasso is inscribed on her left arm, which reads ‘It takes courage for a man to listen to his own goodness and act on it.’ Do we dare to be ourselves? “That is the question that counts,” she says.

Heather has full sleeve tattoos on both arms.

Heather’s cake toppers and portrait. Pretty cool.

Heather’s Day of the Dead cake toppers and portrait. Some pretty alternative, yet fascinating art.

A chilling portrait of her great, great grandfather who was the war chief of all apache is showcased on her left cafe while her mother’s portrait adorns her right thigh. She has a Day of the Dead-style wedding cake topper with the words “better together” over it. She and her husband have been married for 17 years and say this phrase to each other often.

Heather’s war chief on her left calf.

Heather’s back is completely inked with the same scheme that is painted on her and her husband’s chopper. Additionally, she has a bird and “steam-punk” gear tattoo on her back designed by artist, Jason Greely of Lowbrow Ink in Grand Terrace.

Heather’s full back tattoos.

“I love racing for the fans and I love the family of Sidehack racers we have,” she says. “We’ve got each others back, at least until we get out on the track, then it’s all about racing!”

To find out more about Heather’s Sidehack racing, visit her Facebook page or check out her website. If you’d like to learn more about the schedule, Heather or Sidehack racing in general, you can email her.

Photo by Tony T-Bone Colombini from Blacktop Magazine