The Beginnings: As the World recovered from the after effects of the Second War, the modern World Championships were inaugurated in 1949 and Sidecars found a rightful place on the international calendar. British machines and riders dominated the early years of the Sidecar World Championship. Eric Oliver and Denis Jenkinson [‘Jenks’ the iconic motorsports journalist who went on to partner Stirling Moss to victory in the classic Mille Miglia Sports Car race in 1955] took the first ever Crown on their Watsonian-Manx Norton machine.

Oliver, now with Italian passenger Lorenzo Dobelli, completed three World Titles in a row using the British Single-Cylinder engine in the burgeoning years of the series until an injury during the 1952 season allowed fellow Brits’ Cyril Smith / Bob Clements to grab the title. Oliver recovered the championship in 1953, partnered by Stan Dibben.

The early racing sidecars were simply a motorcycle with a separate sidecar attached but Oliver, and Switzerland’s Hans Haldeman, had ideas to improve them for racing that were to eventually bring sidecars intothe modern era.

The first sign of this was in 1950 when, after his rivals had copied his initial championship winning set-up, Oliver appeared on the grid with his sidecar wheel moved 10 inches forward, to a full 11 inches ahead of the rear axle line. But it wasn’t until the 1953 season that Oliver débuted a purpose built sidecar in practitce for the Belgium Grand Prix. Designed and made by Watsonian Sidecars, the frame was a single rigid unit, with smaller wheels, shortened forks, a lengthened and cut down frame, sleek streamlined bodywork, and the driver wasn’t sitting on the machine, but in a semi-kneeling position with feet behind.
Oliver and Passenger - GB - 1949


Böhm / Fuchs - GER
NSU Sachsenring - 1950
It was the start of a new era of development in the class that would see sidecars evolve into purpose built racing machines. The ‘kneeler’ sidecar idea had been born [the driving position is still used today] and over the next few years nearly all of the top teams refined and adopted this type of configuration.
But it would take another 10 years before the link between Road and Race sidecars fully disappeared at World Championship level. Oliver used a modified version of the machine 1954, but this year also saw the arrival of the Germans and the Twin-Cylinder Overhead Camshaft BMW RS. After a titanic battle, Wilhelm Noll / Fritz Cron won the title for BMW.

Noll’s win started a total German domination of the sport that was to last almost 20 years. Willy Faust won in 1955. Noll regained the title in 56, and Fritz Hillebrand took the championship posthumously in 57 after being killed at a non-championship race a few weeks before the final GP. Walter Schneider / Hans Strauß won back to back in 58 and 59 before one of sidecar racing’s greatest technical guru’s Helmut Fath took his first world title in 1960. Then came a four year domination between 1961-1964 from Max Deubel / Emil Horner, the last World Champions on a ‘sitter’ machine and the last link to road sidecars.

Deubel retired from the sport in 1966, but is still a major part of Racing today as one of the top personnel at the F.I.M. In 1965 the German domination was broken for a few seasons, when Swiss driver Fritz Scheidegger and his British passenger John Robinson won twice on their BMW. But ‘normal service’ resumed in 67 when Klaus Enders took the first of a record setting six world championships in just eight years. A feat that would make him the undisputed king of sidecar racing at that time.

Hilebrand / Grunwald - GER 1957


Scheidegger / Burkhard - CH BMW Schleiz 1958
 


Fath / Kalauch - Hockenheim - 1968
BMW’s success of fourteen consecutive World Championships was brought to an end in 1968, but it was still Germany that continued to be victorious in the three-wheel category. Helmut Fathhad, after winning the title in 1960, suffered a major crash. During his long recovery the highly skilled engineer had developed plans for a new 500cc 4-cylinder engine with double overhead camshafts called the URS.

Fath débuted the engine in 1965, but it didn’t become a World-beater until he equipped it with Fuel Injection, and went on to take his second crown in 1968. After Fath had crashed out in 1969 it was Enders [BMW] who came out on top once more. Enders and passenger Ralf Engelhardt won again in 70 before the URS regained the top spot in 71 at the hands of Horst Owesle / Peter Rutterford. The next three years saw Enders take the title each time – and the final World Championship for BMW [and a 4-stroke engine] in 1974, twenty one seasons after the German manufacturer’s initial success with the flat twin ‘Boxer’ engine.

A fact is that the sidecar class had some problems self-in debt in the youngest past. Often it was pushed without justification in the offside, because the advertising effectiveness was classified as too low. This statement has of course the sales of standard models in the visor. This is not wrong. When does one see nowadays already a pair on public streets? Indeed, the big disguisings of the sidecars in the racing sport offer incomparably bigger ad boxes than the solo machines. This fact should not be underestimated! There are sidecar champions since beginning of the official world championship in 1949. From the year 1998 to 2001 and 2004 the status of World championship was set out and replaced by a world cup. Right proofs this is not relevant for the actual season. With Eric Oliver/Denis Jenkinson the first titleholders came 56 years ago from Great Britain.
The Norton pilot celebrated three world championships - One after the other and fourth in 1953. A year ago the unbelievable victory series of BMW teams began by Wilhelm Noll/Fritz Cron. Until 1975 the teams with the engines from Bavaria were almost not to be defeated. Only Helmuth Fath/Wolfgang Kalauch (1968) and Horst Owesle/Peter Rutterford (1971) could break with Urs-engines in this phalanx. Constructor and spiritual head of the own construction-engine was Helmuth Fath, he came got already in 1960 with BMW global title honor. The 500ccm Urs-engine had four cylinders and an overhead cam wave.


 
In 1965 his masterpiece was ready, however, only by the conversion to fuel injection the expected success came. At this point I would also like to remind of the fact that this engine was also used in solo machines. Karl Hoppe got with the URS-Metisse 1969 twelve world championship points and in 1970 eight counters in the 500ccm class with the Münch-URS. The superiority of the German pair-teams in this time was huge. Indeed, there was also in the nation evaluation a small interruption.

Fritz Scheidegger from Switzerland and his British Co. John Robinson got the world championship crown in 1965 and 1966. Against Max Deubel/Emil Hörner the competition had no chance from 1961 to 1964. By the way, still today Max Deubel, meanwhile in the non(retirement), is a significant official (e.g. FIM vice-president) in the national and international motorcycle sport. Only recently he was a journey manager during the ADAC MotoClassic.

Klaus Enders got two world champion's titles more. He thereby is called the most successful German driver in the history of the tricycles. Successors in the black-red-golden successful history became in 1975 and 1976 Rolf Steinhausen/Josef Huber. The name of their brand was "bush king". King was, actually, a boat engine (!!!). Therefore, maybe one has designated the real sidecar also "dingey". As with URS the king's engine was also used in the 500ccm class.

Kim Newcombe was especially especially successful with it, his 3-rd place in 1972, to the last world championship running on the old "Sachsenring", might still be in the memory of the more ripe youth. A pheno-menon of quite different kind was German pilot Werner Schwärzel. During these years he stood in total after ten Grand Prix on the uppermost little stair. However, first in 1982 he won his first world championship and just in this season he couldn't show a day-victory. Werner Schwärzel/Andreas Huber were 23 years ago the last world champions with the sidecars for Germany.

The British duet Georg O'Dell/Kenny Arthur also managed the trick champion without GP victory in 1977. His successor on the throne of the sidecar king became Rolf Biland, at that time still with Kenny William as an acrobat. The Swiss revolutionized the scene like no second.
 
He used many technologies from the racer construction. Do you still remember his BEO-pair of 1978? The sidecar wheel was mounted on a height with the rear wheel. The technician had attached the engine of Yamaha behind, exactly between sidecar wheel and rear wheel. Besides, both were driven! Rolf Biland was active from 1975 to 1997. He won seven world champion's titles. With 81 Grand Prix victories he stands in this evaluation still today undisputedly at the head. Likewise as a completely ”mad dog“ the Dutchman Egbert Streuer (with co-pilot Bernard Schnieders) has remained in memory. The tulip duet was not only quicker in 1984 to 1986 than all windmills of their homeland, but also as the competitors in the world championship-starter field at that time. Steve Webster from Great Britain won the most world champion titles. The in the meantime 45-year-old got his first title in 1987 with Tony Hewitt in the dingey, provisionally last year with Paul Woodhead. "Webbo" has seven world championships, three world cupwhole victories and 60 day victories on the account. Some media ennobled him, in the meantime, completely deservingly to the "sir". Many years Biland, Webster and the Austrian Klaus Klaffenböck stamped the runnings of the sidecars. Today the man from the Alpine republic is a team head of Max Neukirchener in the super bike-world championship. For many of us there was a reunion with "Klaffi" on the EuroSpeedway Lusatia. However, now we are pleased about the first sidecar world championship on the "Sachsenring". Enjoy this amazing spectacle!