From: Kevin Meynell, Kim Gregory & Andy Williamson
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.