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With 95 hp through the mud: Richard Brinsden races sidecar motocross as a hobby

Richard Brinsden has been a passionate sidecar co-driver since his youth. For the hobby of the salesman at STILL Materials Handling UK as well as for the job, teamwork and the ability to see the next steps ahead even in tricky situations are needed.


Dark clouds still hang low over the motocross circuit, the rain is just moving away. The air is still damp, it smells of earth and is filled with the sound of the engines of the twenty classic sidecars that race across the track. Over the numerous hills on the track they lift off the ground for a short time each time, on landing the wheels try to regain grip, mud splatters. In every bend, the co-drivers lean so far out over the three-wheeled vehicle that it seems as if they could fall off at any moment. This is how they keep the sidecar on the track, which has been turned into a mud dessert by the rain. One of the passengers is Richard Brinsden, South Coast Territory Salesman for STILL Materials Handling UK by profession.

The 64-year-old hails from Henley on Thames Maidenhead, 30 minutes west of London. "As a kid I used to watch my dad build his own sidecar motocross specials and race them until the 1970s," says Brinsden with a gleam in his blue eyes. "Then as a teenager I raced as a sidecar co-driver myself for four years with changing riders until I got injured during the British Sidecar Motocross Championship." After that Brinsden turned to amateur football, keeping fit with gym work and jogging on the side. The passion for sidecar racing came back to life in 2000 when he learned about the sidecar motocross racing scene with vehicles built in 1985 or older: "My father was offered one of these bikes at the time. From then on, we raced together. He was 64 years old at the time, I was 42."

Richard Brinsden, salesman at STILL Materials Handling UK, is a passionate sidecar motocross rider.

"My father was a good rider in his day," says Brinsden. "I never tried to be a driver myself. While I sometimes wonder how good I'd be, I've always ridden as a sidecar co-driver on classic or modern sidecar motocross bikes." This is because the co-driver has the responsible task of keeping the vehicle on its three wheels. That requires a lot of skill. Especially in bad weather. "Personally, I enjoy the muddy conditions as they require extra skills and teamwork to keep you on track and maintain a fast pace," says Brinsden.

Teamwork - by far the most important attribute. Not only in motorsport, but also at work. Before Brinsden joined STILL Materials Handling UK as salesman for the English South Coast in autumn 2022, he worked for various industrial truck dealers and - already for the KION Group - as senior salesman at Linde MH. His job includes monitoring the market, optimizing sales processes, analyzing sales, planning personnel for the future and measuring customer satisfaction. "This requires the ability to see the next steps ahead, even in tricky situations," Brinsden lists, "as well as a certain level of fitness, a winning attitude and, last but not least, mechanical aptitude."

Right: Brinsden's father was already a successful sidecar motocross racer in the 1960s. Left: Father and son raced together from 2000. At that time they were 64 and 42 years old.

Brinsden has changed employers from time to time, but not the profession. Likewise the drivers, but not the sport. With changing drivers, he races up to two times a month during the racing season from April to November. One of his biggest successes was winning the 2015 Classic Pre 85 British Sidecar Motocross Championship. And he has also raced internationally - in Germany and in France - and has been successful. In 2018, he finished fourth overall in the German Kleinhau Floodlit Classic Sidecar Cross in the 55+ class, holding his own against the best German and European sidecar teams. This "cult race" takes place annually on the Ascension weekend in May in the Eifel region of North Rhine-Westphalia near the French border and is Brinsden's favorite event anyway: "I like the race track a lot," he says. "Besides, the races have a very special atmosphere, because the second race takes place at night under floodlights and there are thousands of spectators."

For all the skill and experience Brinsden has gained over the years, he doesn't forget the early days with his father. His ambitions for the future? "Basically, I want to keep doing the sport as long as I still enjoy it and am physically able," Brinsden says modestly. "And hopefully I will take part in the Kleinhau race at least once more." Perhaps one of his two sons will accompany him then. At least as a spectator. If the weather is nice.

Brinsden is also successful internationally: in 2018, he and his rider took fourth place overall in the German Kleinhau Floodlit Cross with classic sidecars in the over-55s class.

The scene of racers with classic sidecars built in 1985 or older is an absolute niche. In the United Kingdom, the chassis of the sidecars mostly come from the British motorbike and sidecar manufacturer Wasp Motorcycles, based in Salisbury. The name "Wasp" seems to derive from the early color scheme of the Wasp tank and side panels in yellow and black. In the 1970s and 1980s, Wasp chassis were ridden not only by British riders but also by many of the top European riders who were on the winner's podium in the European and World Championships of the time.

The amazingly high number of machines still in circulation today is testament to the outstanding build quality. The Wasp Motorcycles company, founded in 1964, still exists. Its founder Robin Rhind-Tutt passed away in 2019. Since then, a Wasp Celebration Race Meeting featuring over 40 of the classic machines has been held every year in his honor, as he helped the sport achieve some prominence.

In the pre-1985 era, there was also a famous German chassis by HEOS whose special feature was to have the fuel tank built into the sidecar so that its center of gravity was kept low. A German championship team of that time, Josef Brockhausen and his co-driver Herbert Rebele, were very successful with this machine, and Wasp copied the idea of the fuel tank in the sidecar for later models of their own.