Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sidewinders, Clackamas, Oregon

Here is a classic shot that not only captures the look of late 60's Flat Track but it is taken at what has to be my favorite Dirt Track of all time. Unfortunately it is a distant memory now as Sidewinders was bulldozed in the late 80's and Condos took its place. It was officially a TT track but it did not have a jump or a right hand turn. The track was built on the side on a hill in the middle of a Douglas Fir Pine Forest. It was absolutely unique. The front straight went uphill and One and Two crested the hill and shot you down the hill into Three and Four which was tight and required incredible commitment to back it in to get it right. The grandstands were right on the track which really made the place exciting. The Fans were famous for their enthusiasm and Mickey Fay said it was his favorite track and one of the reasons was you could hear the fans roaring in the stands. Every Friday night from April through October, racers from all over the map came to race. The Californian contingent made the 600-1000 mile trek regularly. Rocky Robinson told me he loved the place and made the long trip so many times. Portland is a miserable place weather wise and the program was often rained out. Rocky said he didn't mind as the Promoter always made up for it with wild parties and all the Blitz you could drink. This photo is taken in the infield where the stating line actually was. You can see the back straight fence in the background and the slope of the hill going into three. Sonny Burres,69 N.W.Triumph riding Hero sits next to Chuck Joyner a perennial N.W. favorite. A young Steve Baker 42N looks happy and he is another Flat Tracker who went on to big things in Road Racing on big TZ- two bangers. Sidewinders was 10 miles from downtown Portland and it was really a special magic place. So many racers made their mark here. Of course some guys became household names,Roberts,Shobert,Lawson,Eklund and the like,but there were genuine N.W.Super Stars,Charlie Brown,Randy Skiver,Mickey Fay,Brad Hurst and Mark Williams to name but a few. For some unknown reason there is so little info about this place on the Internet. If anyone has photos or history they would like to share ,please email me.

This is a very early photo of Turn Two going down the back straight hill. The surface here looks like bitumen but in its prime the surface was beautifully prepared racy dirt that enabled the riders to fly up and over this rise and down the hill, crossed up,feet up and full throttle. As a spectator you could sit or stand right on the fence all the way around the track and drink in the spectacular sights and sounds. My new at the time Dirt Bike riding friend Wes Taylor, introduced me to Flat Track Racing here and I was hooked when we got out of the car in the parking lot. The track had a very tall fence around it so you couldn't sit in the parking lot and watch the races. We got there during hot laps and I could hear these screaming Triumphs and smell Castor Oil that was hanging in the forest that surrounded the track. We ran from the car to ticket booth and when I got inside I could not believe my eyes. Sidewinders for the uninitiated was an intimidating place. The track looked 100% hairball. The close proximity of the Bikes to the crowd and downhill with the turn Four seats bracketing the sharp corner. The track was a small 3/8 mile and every inch required total commitment. My first night at Sidewinders turned me into a life long Flat Track Fan. Thank you Wes Buddy !