Sally Bly chats with versatile sidecar driver, Dave Wallis
Your father Freddie, described fondly by many as ďa remarkable man and a real racer who was always smooth and quick and who will be sadly missed by the racing familyĒ, was a massive influence on your career until he sadly died last year aged 89. What are your first and other early memories of his racing career on both solo and sidecar machinery?
He retired from racing when I was nine years old and so I can only ever remember him on sidecars with my overriding memories being the great battles he had with Mac Hobson at Silloth and the days when he appeared on TV. Hopefully those TV experiences for sidecars are on the way back.
Freddie competed successfully on British machinery in both solo and sidecar classes at TTs in the 1950s and 1960s; what are your first memories of your fatherís career as a TT racer?
I can only recall going to the TT in his final racing year, although I had been many times before, when unfortunately he crashed at the Gooseneck while holding a good position in what was then a Grand Prix event.
I understand that Freddie on at least one occasion in the 1960s competed in every race in the programme at a meeting at Cadwell Park, and also enjoyed grasstrack meetings too. This was a remarkable feat Ė those were the days and how times have changed! What were his and your views on how race meetings and the TT have evolved since his days of competition?
In his day on solos the same or similar machinery could be used for virtually all disciplines, grass track, scrambles (moto cross) and road racing alike with just a change of tyres needed. Nowadays machinery is very much specialised with professionalism and technical knowledge required; also great strides have been made with safety issues.
You have followed in your fatherís footsteps by successfully racing both solos and now sidecars; how did this change of racing career decision happen?
Having competed on solos at British Championship level for a number of seasons I decided at the end of the 1990 season that, due to a lack of funding I could no longer do myself justice and had to make the decision to either retire, move back down to club racing or seek a more cost effective alternative. I ultimately came to the conclusion that I could change to sidecars and stay at British Championship level for a much reduced financial outlay.
What were your major achievements and happy memories of being a solo rider?
I achieved numerous club championships and then after stepping up to the British Championships had various top ten finishes on what was usually inferior machinery plus a 15th place at the 1989 TT.
And the highlights so far of your career as a sidecar driver?
Having gone straight into British Championships I embarked on a steep learning curve but have since had top ten positions in the final standings and wins at Scarborough, plus a best result of 8th at the 1995 TT prior to my six year injury enforced break from 1998 to 2004.
You are entering the Sidecar TT again this year, hoping to improve on your recent high finishes of 10th in Race A in 2006 and 14th in Race B in 2007; what plans are in place so far in what has been such a difficult winter for racers to secure sponsorship and help for the 2010 season?
The plans remain pretty much the same as last year again, with difficulties in finding a passenger as Steve Wareham, my mainland regular, is unable to do the TT due to work commitments. However I have recently been lucky enough to recruit Mark Howard to passenger for me at the TT with the finance being provided by myself but with the help of engine preparation by Terry Muir and small engineering and maintenance work by Jim King.
You will be hoping too for much better luck than in previous years when you have been so unlucky with retirements and sadly a serious crash in practice last year which ended your hopes of a successful 2009 meeting.
Last yearís unfortunate crash not only created huge financial bills but more importantly
caused serious injuries to my passenger and good friend, Sally Wilson. Hopefully, this year I can
acheive better reliability and therefore benefit from more track time and improved speeds.
You have had success at circuits such as Scarborough along with your competing in the F2 British sidecar championship over many seasons; what is / are your favourite circuits and do you prefer the pure road circuits to short circuit racing?
I, qute simply, just enjoy racing regardless of the type of circuit. My pleasure comes from continually striving to make improvements in lap times at both road and short circuits.
You plan to tackle the FSRA F2 championship again this season; what other events are you planning to enter? Ė for example, Swan Combi-challenge / Scarborough, etc?
I intend to race in the Swan Combi-challenge and Scarborough along with the FSRA F2 championship with my regular passenger Steve. The F2 Euro series and Southern 100 are also events I would like to compete at although financial restraints make those an impossibility.
You combine your racing career with quite an unusual job for a racer, running a pet care service in your local area for Petpals. This company has also been very helpful in sponsoring you, creating a distinctive pawprint design on your machinery; itís always good to see new sponsors from outside the motorcycle trade enthusiastically supporting riders. Your work seems very different to the racing paddock environment and a complete contrast to the racers who work all week within the motorcycle trade and its associated work; how did this career come about?
Unfortunately the support from Petpals is a misconception,
but I use the logo as the owner of the franchise
for our local area even though no help is received from either Petpalsí head
office or any of the other franchises. My wife and
I, having always been pet lovers, found the lure of
becoming self employed and to walk the Derbyshire hills with
a pack of dogs an opportunity not to be missed and so the franchise was purchased.
every success with your racing in 2010; a double finish at the TT would, Iím sure be great reward for
your enthusiasm, dedication and determination.
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