Western Leader : January 18th 2011
www.westernleader.co.nz Tuesday, January 18, 2011 0800 ABC KIDS Teammates: Son Craig Gibson and father Russell Gibson with their upgraded sidecar. Sidecar surprise By TUREI MACKEY RUSSELL Gibson called an end to his racing career after a nasty crash at the 1988 Auckland Sidecar Champion- ships. But 22 years later the Avondale resident is back on the track thanks to a surprise from his son Craig. He secretly revamped Rus- sell's vehicle and they are racing Sidecar 17 together at the Auckland Vintage Speed- way Club this summer. Russell won the Auckland club championship in the 1987/88 season but suffered extensive injuries when a sidecar in front of him spun out. Russell and his swingman -- his sidecar passenger -- tried to jump off their vehicle. But Russell's leg was caught and he couldn't break free. He needed steel rods in his leg and also lost part of his left ring finger in the crash. His wife Jill was about to give birth to their son so Rus- sell decided to retire from the sport. But Craig developed an interest in sidecar racing as he grew. The apprentice mechanic decided to fix up his dad's neglected Suzuki GS1000 while his parents were holidaying in Australia. I just thought dad needed something fun to do because he works so hard, plus I wanted to see his reaction,'' he says. Craig and former competi- tor Steve Rush had only 10 days to rebuild the sidecar and worked night and day on it.They sourced parts from all over the country and even flew in a gasket set from Perth. There was a lot of ringing around because the engine was really old. We found the only gasket set in Australia, and we didn't have time to get some new ones made so we told them to send them over regardless of the money,'' he says. Russell was stunned when he and Jill returned from overseas to see his old bike completely transformed. It was so overwhelming, I just couldn't believe it. I had promised Craig for a number of years that we would fix it up but to be honest I never thought it would go again.'' The 52 year-old has had no trouble getting back into racing but Craig has had to learn the role of swingman. He hasn't seen many sidecar races, bar a few videos at home. But he was a natural,'' Russell says. His job as swingman is to move his body in such a way it steers the sidecar through corners. Usually they can't see because of the dirt and mud in their face so they have to listen to the engine and when they hear it slow down that's when they get low.'' Craig admitted being a little nervous about his first time on the bike -- which reaches speeds of up to 100kmh in races. The heart was pumping but it was a lot of fun,'' he says. It is a nice thing to do with dad -- he likes to take the bike for a ride and relive his glory days and I get to share that with him.''
January 14th 2011
January 20th 2011