Timing: Sidecar Racers David Holden and Krishna Hanns

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Photo courtesy David Holden and Krishna Hanns
Sidecar racers David Holden and Krishna Hanns and their 1972 Yamaha XS650 sidecar.

Riders: David Holden/Krishna Hanns
Age/years racing: 52/2; 48/1
Occupation: Brand licensing/Writer
Race bikes: 1972 Yamaha XS650 sidecar, 1984 Suzuki GT750 sidecar, 1971 Honda CR750, 1957 Triton 650
Daily rider: 2015 Triumph Explorer 1200/2014 Triumph Thruxton Ace

At first blush, David Holden and Krishna Hanns seem unlikely candidates for vintage sidecar racing. Before launching into the sport, neither of them had much of any experience in motorcycle competition. Krishna came closest, having worked support for the South Africa Motorcycle GP in 1999, while David’s track time was limited to racing in the single-seater Formula Ford 1600 series. Their involvement in AHRMA’s sidecar series seems even more unlikely when you learn the pair hail from Midhurst, West Sussex, in England.

For David, the motivation to go racing came from a simple desire to do something with his brother, Miles, who lives in Canada, and has been sidecar racing for six years or so. “He suggested we race in the States. He had access to people who had rigs and had sidecars himself, so he provided the transport, the inspiration and the motivation to start. We enjoyed it so much, we kept coming back.” Coming back, indeed. David came in third in his debut AHRMA sidecar race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2014, and this year the pair will compete in 14 races in AHRMA’s Vintage Super Sidecar series, requiring six separate trips from the U.K.

David may have been first to embrace sidecar racing, but Krishna was quick to latch on. “I was absolutely hooked straight away,” Krishna says, even though her first time out with David wasn’t exactly storybook. “He said ‘just get on, we won’t go fast,’ and he absolutely took off! When we got back, I was so wound up, I got off the bike and it was either walk away or I think I would have thumped him! ‘You were doing great,’ David said, ‘you didn’t give me any signs to slow down.’ I couldn’t give him any signs; I was trying to hold on!”

Krishna’s first run may have been something of a baptism by fire, but the flame it lit gets brighter with every race. “She’s the competitive one,” David says, “she’s the one going down the straight saying ‘go faster, go faster.’” “You really have to concentrate, really focus on the track,” Krishna adds. “The timing is so critical. If I’m even a second out it has such an impact on our performance. Sometimes you don’t have to throw yourself all over, you can use tighter movements. Getting the balance right, balancing with David, with the weight of the bike, that’s really challenging.”

The pair make their U.K. sidecar debut this year, but they’re hooked on U.S. sidecar racing. “The thing we absolutely love about the American series is the social side of it,” David says. “The people in the paddock are spectacular and the sidecar racers are kindred spirits. The Americans do things brilliantly. The track and facilities and the overall show you put on are just fantastic. It’s so professional. You roll into places like New Jersey or Road America and you feel like a little bit of a star. The worst part now is, somebody told Krishna you get 1 horsepower for every 8 pounds of weight: I’m on a serious diet just to get a few horsepower!” MC

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