AMA: Racing Wodchis Sisters First
10 April 1998LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY, Monterey, California (April 8) Top Superbike and Xtreme racers who will compete here next weekend, April 17-19, for U.S. championship points during the Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca are in awe of their counterparts who will also race here in the Barnett Sidecar Challenge.
Racing sidecars are high powered motorcycles with a platform and a third wheel attached. Drivers steer and control the power lying flat on their stomachs. Passengers, also known traditionally as "Monkeys," scramble side-to-side on rigs -- and frequently hang far out on them like out-riders on a catamaran -- to keep them from flying off the track or flipping end over end in turns. Winning takes team work and trust like the trust a combat fighter pilot has in his wingman. It also takes strength and guts, which is why sidecar drivers and passengers have long been considered some of the most macho motorcycle racers.
The Wodchis (pronounced: "Watches") sisters from Enticoke, Ontario, Canada, are a lot of things. Macho is not one of them. Wrapped in their leather riding suits, heads in helmets, they are racers who finished third in the 1997 championship point standings on the East Coast and tied for first in 1996. Helmets off, it is more than obvious that they are not just a couple of the guys.
"We love the sense of going fast," says Rosemarie Wodchis, the passenger, twin sister of Christine, the driver. "Speed is what thrills us and gives us the adrenaline rush and the level of exhilaration we thrive on. We want to see how far we can push it before we see God."
The sisters have been motorcyclists since a friend took them both riding when they were 16, in 1980. Christine took up sidecar racing in 1990 and was the Rookie Passenger of the Year. "She came home with a glint in here eyes (after a weekend spectating at an event where there was sidecar racing) and told me she would be racing sidecars one day," recalls Rosemarie. "Not long afterwards she told me she had met a young man and they were going sidecar racing together."
Rosemarie got hooked on sidecar racing while watching Christine race. In 1991, she took up racing as the passenger for "a gentleman by the name of Dennis Gale." The sisters raced against each other until 1994, when they became sidecar racing partners and were third in points season. They heard comments like, "Women cant handle a sidecar." Rosemarie says, "We hope weve proved them wrong."
Knowing that the driver position would have greater demands on upper body strength, Christine was the obvious choice for driver. Besides, she would make a more gutsy driver. Rosemarie, who tends to be more technical in her riding, explains, "We made a joint decision based on the fact that it is possible to teach someone to be more technical and a lot more difficult to learn to be gutsy.
"Working together came naturally to us having grown up together, as sisters and friends. It is though we can anticipate each others actions. Theres an element of predictability and need for an instinctive nature that we attribute to our success. We know how to get the most out of each other. We work out and maintain a high level of physical fitness because we need to. Women just do not have the same muscular strength as our male counterparts, as much as we hate to admit that."
Christine and Rosemarie Wodchis are the first female sidecar racing team in North America. They will be racing a Honda-powered sidecar, No. 13, in the Barnett Sidecar Challenge. They also expect to be here on Wednesday, April 15, at the Media Day for the Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca.
To contact them prior to Sunday, April 12, call (416) 748-0601 or fax (416) 394-8843.
Event/Ticket Information Call: 1-800-327-SECA www.Laguna-Seca.com
Mailing address P.O. Box 2078 Monterey, CA 93942
April 17-19 Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca featuring AMA National Superbike Championship Round 3
July 10-12 Dunlop United States World Superbike Championship August 14-16 The Chrysler Corporation presents the 25TH Annual Monterey Historic Automobile Races Featured Marque - Porsche
September 11-13 Honda Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300
October 23-25 Visa Sports Car Championships presented by Honda featuring the FIA GT Championship finale
HONDA is the official automobile & motorcycle of Laguna Seca Raceway
Budweiser is the official beer of Laguna Seca Raceway
Laguna Seca Raceway has been operated by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula since its opening in 1957. SCRAMP is a non-profit organization chartered to benefit local charitable and non-profit groups and to promote economic vitality.
Race events at Laguna Seca Raceway race have resulted in over $8 million being distributed to Monterey Peninsula and Central California groups for youth programs and community service projects, and they have generated more than $1 billion in revenue for area businesses.
Today, SCRAMP is the most important economic and charitable organization in Monterey County.