Categories: Features
29 | Updated 03

Doug Bingham: The Last Round-Up

We were saddened by the recent news about the passing of AMA Hall-of-Famer Doug Bingham, who had a long and illustrious career on motorcycles. But we weren’t nearly as affected as Paul Garson, MO’s long-serving contributor who had gotten to know Bingham over many years of covering his sidecar events.

Griffith Park Sidecar Rally Report
2004 Griffith Park Sidecar Rally
Getting Hacked on Halloween

A few days ago we posted a news item about Bingham based on a press release issued by the AMA, but the sidecar legend’s story deserves fuller exposition. We’re happy to run Garson’s homage to Bingham below. —Kevin Duke, Editor-in-Chief

You could say Doug Bingham cast a long shadow – the good kind – across not only the USA but worldwide thanks to his more than half century’s worth of passionate dedication to the sport of “sidehacking” and all things relating to sidecars. He designed, built and raced “flying chairs,” and brought them to the public’s attention and fought for their rights and safety. His work with sidecars included TV work which earned him multiple Emmy Awards for Outstanding Videography and Live Event Coverage highlighted by the broadcast of the 1984 Olympics in L.A. in which he provided the mobile camera platform.

Doug also responded to the call of the U.S. military to design off-road machines, taught untold numbers of people how to pilot sidecars – often transforming their two-wheeled street bikes to three-wheelers – and steered them into a whole new form of motorcycle appreciation.

Doug Bingham’s skills on three wheels brought him Sidecar Road Racing championships in 1968 and 1969. This photo shows him piloting a Harley-Davidson-powered rig of his own design, with Ed Wade as racing co-pilot/monkey.

In addition to being a 50-year AMA and Charter Life member, Doug was recognized for his many contributions when chosen for the 1998 AMA MVP Award for advancing the cause of motorcycling. In 2003, he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Additionally, he served as the Director of the Sidecar Industry Council.

Doug opened Side Strider Inc., in 1969. The Van Nuys, CA shop produced his own Bingham Mark I sidecar which brought renewed interest in the sport, even spotlighted by a feature in Popular Science magazine.

This rider/writer had the great pleasure of knowing Doug for the long run and was able to cover the annual rally he organized. I could always count on a call from Doug checking on how I was doing and to see if I could attend the rally. He often extended an invite to the pre-event dinner where he was joined by his longstanding sidehacking friends, many of whom he had literally put on three wheels, several passing on the sport to their children and grandchildren.

A few of Doug’s awards joined by his vintage motorcycle toy collection, 600 of which he donated to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in 2014.

In his Van Nuys Side Strider workshop Doug matched a variety of sidecars he designed or distributed to a wide spectrum of bikes including new and vintage Harley-Davidson, BMW, Triumph, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, you name it.

Every year, thanks to Doug, L.A.’s Griffith Park was a magnet for sidecar fans, some traveling from Europe and Australia to attend. One year’s 3-wheeled party attracted some 12,000 fans and spectators who enjoyed the unique bike/sidecar combinations and their equally colorful riders.

Doug made sure a special t-shirt design accompanied every rally.

Since 1969, Doug brought fans of 3-wheeling together for the annual Griffith Park Sidecar rally, the most recent this past October 2015, its 44th event. But in this case, everyone was asking, “Where’s Doug?”

Word circulated he was in the hospital but was doing okay and would be back on his feet and on three-wheels in no time. As it turned out, it was “no time,” as Doug passed away on January 27, 2016 at the age of 76.

Naturally, we can just see Doug blasting around whatever three-wheeling event he’s moved on to, and he’s no doubt leading the way as always. We’ll miss you, Doug.