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Thrill of sidecar racing with dad is East Lancashire teacher’s passion
THE job description sounds innocent enough — Fiona Baker-Milligan is the passenger in a dad and daughter sidecar racing team.
But the reality couldn’t be any different.
In essence, Fiona is an acrobat and daredevil, throwing her weight from one side of the machine to another, only inches off the track, while travelling at speeds of up to 160mph!
It’s a sport that calls for nerves of steel and while 40-year-old Fiona admits it’s ‘scary’, she lives for the season when she’s racing with her father at weekends.
The primary school teacher, from Mellor Brook, said: “Sidecar racing is instilled in me, it’s been a way for life for me since I was a baby, something the whole family has been involved with.
“I spend all my time talking about it and training in the gym for it.
“Racing gives me my personality and my confidence. It’s made me who I am.”
She added: “Mum and dad had two daughters, who have been like sons; I race and my younger sister Gayle, who is also a teacher, is our mechanic — she’s designed the new, black, blue and yellow livery on this year’s sidecar, too.”
Fiona passengers for her father Tony Baker, one of only a handful of sidecar manufacturers in the world and the pair, known as the Cumbria Express on the track, compete in the Sidecar TT on the Isle of Man.
In 2009 the two finished in 9th place — making Fiona the highest placed woman on the island since 1987 — and in 2011 they earned two 11th places.
They want to compete again in June, but Fiona cannot get time off work during practice week to enable her to qualify.
So she has appealed to anyone who can fly to help her get to the Isle of Man and back again after work.
Said Fiona: “You have to prepare mentally for the TT, become completely tunnel visioned. You can’t wait to get there, then it’s hell when you do, because it’s an abrasive track.
“I can never watch where we’re going. I have to know the routes and corners by heart, so I know how and when to position my body to make the machine perform to its optimum, so I drive the course in the car and also watch videos again and again.”
She’s had just one major injury, when the sidecar hit a bump and she landed heavily against the machine, cracking five ribs.
Added Fiona: “Nerves stop me falling off, but it can be scary being only an inch and a half from the track when you are averaging 100 mph!”
If you can help Fiona get to TT qualifying at the end of May, email email@example.com