Speedway sidecar racing is quite a bit more popular in Australia than it is here. But one thing the Aussie’s don’t have are some seriously crazy, fast ladies. Here in the USA, these girls are taking the Speedway circuit by storm. Team Syck Bubblegum racing has competed in more than 80 heats, taking 6th in points last year. This year, they’re getting faster and last weekend in Perris, competed in the main event. And it’s not just them. Ashley Gibbons is now riding with Jeff Rowe on Team Superbeast and Michelle Ducky Sanches is competing with TRod aboard a Harley-powered sidecar. Want to find out more about this year’s schedule? Wanna see some grit-your-teeth, edge-of-your seat sidecar action? Keep up with race news here.
Syck Bubblegum has had a second chance this 2014 season. At the start, the driver, Heather Rowe, ran into some issues with the ignition system on Bubblegum (the KZ1000) sidehack, but with help from fellow racers, she got Bubblegum running and was able to join up with Michelle “Ducky” Sanches for a second season.
So far, the twosome have competed in 13 nights of racing, which equals about 50 heats. Of those, their best finish was second place and they’re currently sixth in points overall for the season. The biggest race of the year – the Matherson Cup – is coming up this weekend at Costa Mesa Speedway, which is the main event for the sidecars. Both girls are anxious to show the boys what’s up. “It’s been a challenge to read the track as it goes away through the night,” Heather says. “My monkey – Michelle ‘Ducky’ Sanches is a tiny mite! Her finger tattoos read ‘pint’ and ‘size.’ I love that!”
The best part for Michelle is feeling like a hero to the younger generation who go to see the races. “It’s been pretty amazing being a female racer/monkey,” says Michelle. “I feel like a celebrity because all the little girls call my name and want autographs or pictures with me. It’s pretty RAD to say the least.”
Heather has also ridden three nights with another monkey, Heather Gledhill, and together they’ve been training to make Heather Rowe a better driver. “I click with her,” said Heather Rowe. “But we are all great friends and super happy.”
Click here to see the race schedule.
Video of Heather and Ducky
Video of Heather and Heather
“HEY RACE FANS!!! On 9-28-2013 our sidecar nationals take place at Costa Mesa speedway!!! We NEED your HELP!!! Heat race sponsors are needed!! To sponsor a race is 100.00, for that, you get to go onto the track after your heat has been raced and get your picture takin with the sidecar team that wins your heat!! Also, your name (or company) will be printed in the program as such sponsor!! It’s a great way to show your support and we would really appreciate your help!! C’mon peeps- lets fill the seats as we know we can!! Main events can also be sponsored for 150.00-200.00!! Love yas!!! Fire-up!!!” – Robert Dent
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.
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.
After a brief hiatus, Heather Rowe is bringing Syck Bubblegum back to the track with her new team mate, Michelle Ducky Hovanec. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, Shawnay Aguilera was unable to compete with Heather this racing season. Now, Heather will be returning to the track with her new team mate, Michelle. “We will make our first race on July 26th at Pirate Speedway in San Bernardino,” Heather says, optimistic. “Please mark your calendars, come on out and have some fun with us!”
Syck Bubblegum Racing had their first race at Pirate Speedway on April 19th. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, Shawnay Aguilera will be sitting out the season, but Heather was able to find a temporary replacement monkey just in time for the first race.
Heather and her stand-in took two second place finishes on her first race night ever and she made it to the main event. What an awesome night despite some set-backs.
“It was a great first race and I couldn’t be more happy,” says Heather. “Thank you Josh Bennett for trusting in me and jumping on bubblegum with me. You are a blessing!”
Heather is currently looking for a brave woman to ride “monkey” with her aboard the KZ1000 Syck Bubblegum sidehack. If you love action-packed racing and don’t mind dragging your butt in the dirt, contact Heather.