Playing in the sand

Motorcycle racing at Sellicks Beach, South Australia, was a major event throughout the 1920s, 40s and 50s. After the idea of resurrecting the event gained traction in recent years, the Levis MCC sprang into action, now hosting an historic meeting bi-annually which invites riders to race down the sand on motorcycles built before 1962.

The team at Doxboyz Racing offered Royce a ride on their 1949/50 500cc BSA sidecar for this year’s event.

Pic: The Doxboyz Racing team (Neil, Dean, Daniel and Jess Watson with Royce) preparing the bike at Rowe Racing HQ

The Watsons prepared the bike immaculately and had it performing beautifully ready for the meeting.

It was a steep learning curve for Royce, who had never raced on the sand, or raced a rigid frame/girder fork bike… or a sidecar for that matter!

However, he adapted well. On the Saturday, in the second of their four races, Royce and passenger Jess were in second place in the 4-lap race (a lap being one mile, 800 metres down the beach, around a drum and 800 metres back to turn around another drum).

Pic: You got a beach? You got a racetrack! (credit: Steve Davis)

Unfortunately, one problem with beach racing is the inevitable change of tides. This race had been left a bit late and the bike was swamped by a freak wave. You can check video out here:

Team mechanic Daniel dismantled most of the bike to try and get rid of the sand, sea water and seaweed and did a great job, getting the bike mobile for Sunday’s races, but the seawater had affected the magneto so it was no longer running correctly. 

BRACE FOR IMPACT! (credit: Foot in bowl photography)

Nonetheless, Royce and Jess ended up 3rd overall after the four heats.

In what can be considered a nice nod to history, the founder of Rowe Racing, Darrell Rowe actually first started racing in 1950 on a sidecar at places such as Sellicks Beach, so after 70 years the wheel has turned full circle.

Pic: Not a bad way to spend your Sunday! (credit: Deb Lock)

After drying off and pulling the seaweed out of his lucky jocks, Royce said:

‘Sellicks Beach was a great way to tick off my first race back in motorsport – it was my first time on the sand and first time racing a sidecar. Being a classic bike, it was a slower pace so easier on the bones, apart from the big bumps from the sea wash, which I think Jess felt a lot more than me! 

‘There was lots to learn being on the outfit, the body weight definitely making a difference to where the passenger was positioned – even if it was just the right hand corners. I loved the new experience! 

‘Not knowing how to swim, I was hoping the tide wouldn’t come too far up but alas, last race of Saturday, Poseidon had other ideas and forced Jess and I to do our best Kelly Slater impression resulting in some overtime for Dan the mechanic man, with Dad, Neil and Dean’s expert opinion flowing in from the sideline! 

‘After tackling the sand, I’m pretty sure this won’t be the end of our classic adventure, but some track days on a modern bike are definitely in the cross hairs, as I’m itching to get out on the Ducati!’