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Hog Wild Racing (USA) aiming for the Lisbon - Dakar Rallye 2007 / 2008 with Harley V-rod sidecar
Why this crazy machine:

A journalist from a British magazine asked me (Scott) this question about my sidecar;
"Why have you made this amazing creation?".

Here is my answer:
The idea for this sidecar began in 2000 when our Harley Sportster powered sidecar blew up in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb . We had won there the two previous years, but we finally reached the limits of our machine in 2000. The sidecar we ran there was an old modified home-built motocross sidecar with a heavily built up Harley Sportster motor (with nitrous-oxide). We needed more horsepower, more reliability, and a chassis setup that was better suited for that smooth and fast dirt road.

At the same time I was dreaming about doing the Dakar Rally on a sidecar. I've been a sidecar guy for over 30 years so that's the way I want to do it. These two races are about as different from each other as can be imagined. One lasts 15 minutes on a smooth dirt road with the finish at the 14,000ft (4,300m) peak of a snow-capped American mountain. The other lasts for 15 or more days through the most desolate roadless hot desert regions on earth, with the finish at sea level on the beaches of Dakar in Africa. But they are both great World-Class events that just about every race enthusiasts has dream about doing. I am fulfilling my dreams, but I had a dilemma. I needed two new sidecars, each with very different and specialized requirements. You can not "buy" a sidecar that is made for either of these types of races.

As I thought through how to build a new Pikes Peak sidecar AND a new Dakar sidecar, it slowly became clear that deep down they really were the same thing. Everything started with the tyres. Rally car tyres were ideal for both events. As I thought through the concept it all fell into place. I selected the Suzuki TL1000R as a good reliable high-horsepower motor. I bought a 15 inch rally tyre, a matching racing wheel, and designed and machined custom wheel hub pieces. I stuffed all the wheel pieces in my baggage and jumped on an airplane from Los Angeles to Belgium where the EML motocross sidecar factory is located. A week later we had most of the basic bare chassis completed. It was a modified version of an EML motocross sidecar, with special features to meet my special needs. I spent the next 6 months in my garage fabricating all the bits and pieces to pull it all together.

For Pikes Peak we use smaller 13 inch rally tyres, short shocks, very low driver's seat, small fuel tank, low mounted handlebars, aerodynamic front shield, etc. It was fantastic at Pikes Peak where we pulled off another win in 2001 .

Oh, by the way, I'm the passenger. My brother Pete had been my driver for the last 20 years of sidecar motocross. He was never much into building bikes, and he also was not into doing Dakar. He liked wheel-to-wheel racing, not the man against Mother Nature thing. So, for Dakar only, I temporarily promoted myself to driver. Unfortunately, in July 2003 Pete died in a car accident. It's been a very difficult thing for our whole family, but racing continues. Pete's son Craig has been my passenger for some recent events here in the States. For Dakar I have selected Duane McDowell of Los Angeles as my Dakar passenger. He's an experienced sidecar motocross driver and passenger, and has been competing in "Eco-Challenge" type adventure races and mountain biking in recent years.

Following our win at Pikes Peak on the new Suzuki sidecar, I set my sights on setting up for Dakar. The cost for Dakar is outrageous (around 100,000 dollars). We need some serious sponsorship to meet that budget. Unfortunately, our Suzuki was not attracting any attention. At the same time, Harley had come out with the new V-Rod. I took a long look at it, inside and out. It really blew my mind. The V-Rod is unlike anything Harley has ever made. In almost every way it was superior to the Suzuki. It has the horsepower I need, and careful studies suggested it would be even more reliable than the Suzuki.

Meanwhile I had converted the Suzuki sidecar over to the Dakar configuration with tall suspension and many other changes. We had begun doing some real off-road testing out in the desert. I was also talking with Harley-Davidson about our project and goals, and how they might be able join our effort. They eventually committed to sending us two V-Rod motors . As they were boxing them up for shipment, the Suzuki motor had a catastrophic failure while testing in the sand dunes. We now had a huge hole in the transmission and oil gushing out into the sand. That was the end of the Suzuki motor, and it could have been the end of my Dakar plans.

The timing was almost perfect though. Out with the bad motor, and in with a good one. Unfortunately, the V-Rod motor is a bit bigger than the TL1000R, and it didn't fit. It took me a couple of weeks working on the frame to get it in, but the final result was excellent . It came together just in time for Pikes Peak 2003 , where we pulled off another win. It was a great debut for the new V-Rod!

Next we reconfigured the bike for the Dakar setup again, and set off for some desert and sand dunes testing. Through two years of further development and a lot of miles of testing, the V-Rod proved 100% reliable.

Now crowds gather around this beast like dogs on meat. It's definitely an eye catching machine. But with the huge expense of the Dakar, we still need more help. We have large panel space for big sponsor logos, so we can get some great media exposure for anyone who gets on board with us for the coming Dakar Rally.

Who would have ever believed that a Harley would be a good choice for off-road racing? Well, it sure is a blast flying through the desert on a Harley with a hundred horsepower to play with. And all that chrome scares the lizards off the trail ahead of us!


Old Sportster Sidecar

Frame Construction

Pikes Peak setup
with Suzuki Motor

Dakar setup
with Suzuki Motor

V-Rod Motors

New V-Rod Sidecar
Pikes Peak setup

Dakar Setup
with V-Rod Motor

Flying in the Dunes

Bartels' Harley-Davidson - California  

   Oneal Racing - helping us get from Portugal to Senegal in Dakar 2007  Baja Designs - Providing lighting for night riding in desert off-road sand dunes and all terrain  Works Performance - Great custom shocks for our Harley V-Rod sidehack (zijspan, seitenwagen, gespanne)

copyright 2003-2008 Scott Whitney, and respective photographers.  All rights reserved.