Often when brothers and sisters get together there’s a little bit of tension. But not between Arron and Teagan Hartwig. The pair caught up with Sunraysia Life motorsport guru Wade Aunger to talk about their love of their chosen chariot – a speedway sidecar. Pictures: Wade Aunger
THEY aren’t in it for a joyride.
There’s an unmistakable grit and determination in the way that brother and sister speedway sidecar team Arron and Teagan Hartwig go about their racing that’s hard to ignore.
They’re here to win.
From the first hit of the throttle recently in their media session for their appearance on the American social media TV show The Road To Knoxville it was obvious they weren’t going to coast.
The day didn’t go to plan.
Thankfully they brought both their bikes to the media session but unexpectedly the motor backfired and suddenly set the motor on fire.
They quickly extinguished that situation and then moved on to the spare bike without blinking an eye.
“That wasn’t ideal,” Arron Hartwig says.
“Lucky we brought the spare one I guess.”
It can be a frightening world on a “chair” – that’s the slang for a 1000 plus cc low slung rocketship with no brakes.
Riding these beasts is not for everyone.
The tree-lopper from Waikerie and the now Mildura-based nurse don’t even second guess it.
It’s a way of life.
They also know it’s not a cheap sport.
At the elite level you have to come into it with the right motors, the right bikes and an arsenal of spares.
“We build our own motors, put together our own Mitch chassis (built by former Australian champion Russell Mitchell) and even build our own wheels,” Arron explains.
“We started doing it to save money but now we like the process and having that personal input into what we do. Dad and I build a lot of it ourselves. I can’t see us doing it any other way.”
The pair of them have enormous respect for each other – that much is immediately apparent. There’s no little sister or big brother stigma.
There’s just an innate understanding of the chemistry and the body geometry required to go as fast as possible on their bike.
The desire runs in their blood, but so too do the reminders of the danger.
Their great Uncle Brian Schultz was one of South Australia’s greatest but was sadly killed in a race crash at Port Pirie at the height of his career.
“When we had our first big crash Dad said ‘what are you going to do now? Are you going to go back to playing netball?’ and I just laughed. This is what we do,” says Teagan.
“We take this risk and we know that fence is there, we know that arm or leg can be broken but I think that’s even part of the thrill. Any time we get on the bike we know that something could happen, that’s part of what makes it exciting for me I guess.”
The pair started out in motocross sidecars and still race individual motocross now.
“There’s only ever been two things that stand the hair up on my neck,” says Arron.
“And that’s sprintcars and sidecars. I don’t have the budget to race sprintcars and this way I can race with my sister. I can’t do that in a sprintcar.”
Big brother believes that little sister is a vital part of the Team 27 formula.
“I couldn’t ask for a better passenger,” Arron says.
“Teagan does exactly what she needs to do when she needs to do it on the bike. It’s awesome to have someone without an ego on the back that’s for sure. And she’s not there to make up the numbers, she wants to win as badly as I do.”
The fact that they’re brother and sister is a rarity but the duo is not by any means a novelty.
They’re building up a strong arsenal for the 2020 Australian Sidecar Championship to be held at Olympic Park, Mildura, in March and they’re in it to repeat their stunning upset win in the 70th anniversary Olympic Park meet last season.
“We just need to work on the sponsorship a bit harder,” Teagan says.
“It’s not cheap to race these bikes and we can’t afford it without getting some more support on board.
“Both Arron and I know how important it is to build profiles and to get a good fan following. That’s one of the reasons we love meeting kids. It’s not that long ago really that we were kids ourselves dreaming of going racing.”
Speedway is in their blood.
With proud Dad Steve toiling on the spanners, this badass big bro and lightning fast little sister are on a mission.
A mission that might just make the only brother and sidecar team in history to win the Australian Sidecar Championship on March 27-28 next year.