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What is Speedway?
From: Kevin Meynell, Kim Gregory & Andy Williamson

Speedway is a very exciting form of dirt-track racing where stripped-down motorcycles race round an oval track. A type of dirt-track racing took place during the early years of the twentieth century in North America, but it is widely acknowledged that the present day sport originated in New South Wales, Australia. In 1923, a young New Zealander called Johnny Hoskins was looking for a way to improve the finances of the near-bankrupt West Maitland Agricultural Society when he hit upon the idea of staging motorcycle racing around the trotting track at their shows. This idea proved wildly successful and soon spread throughout the rest of Australia.

Due to the close ties with Australia at the time, the sport very soon arrived in Britain with the first meeting being staged at High Beech, Essex in 1928. As Britain had much larger and more concentrated centres of population than Australia, a greater number of meetings with better prize money could be staged and inevitably it became the most popular destination for the world's top riders.

Speedway is now a global sport attracting large crowds in many countries around the world. To this day, top riders of all nationalities still compete in Britain, but other countries such as Poland and Sweden are also popular destinations.

Most races (known as heats) consist of four riders racing over four laps from a clutch start. They score three points for first place, two points for second place and one point for third place. A rider does not score when finishing fourth, when failing to finish, or when excluded from a race. In some countries, races consist of six riders but this is quite rare in Europe as the tracks tend to be too narrow to accommodate the extra riders safely.

A speedway meeting is usually comprised of approximately twenty heats and there are various types of team and individual competitions. Most of the major speedway nations have leagues in which teams compete, with the British, Polish and Swedish Leagues being recognised as the strongest. The travel schedules of some of the top performers can often be mind-boggling as it is not unusual for riders to race in two or more different leagues whilst also representing their country in World Championship events.

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Acknowledgements:
Many photographs on this site are copyright/courtesy of John Hipkiss - Wolverhampton Track Photographer.
The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the promotion/management of Wolverhampton Speedway.
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