Speedway Racingposted Sep 15, 2008
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Everybody knows that the first motorcycle race most likely took place as soon as the second motorcycle was created. Motorcycle competition goes back nearly to the invention of the first motorcycles. Speedway racing is one of the oldest forms of motorcycle racing known. The first reported race was in 1923 in New South Wales, Australia , although many claim that there were earlier races held in both Australia and the United States. Over the years Speedway has evolved into one of the most specialized motorcycle racing sports. They generally race on short oval tracks, averaging between 1/4 and 1/2 mile, and each race is run with 4 riders on a line. Using extremely lightweight motorcycles, weighing less than 165lbs, they burn methanol fuel and a 500cc single engine makes over 85 horsepower! With that kind of power to weight ratio, you know these bikes go fast, and getting stopped would be pretty important. However, these guys run these bikes without brakes! You have super fast specialized motorcycles making big power with no brakes, small tracks, and close racing, you know it has to be exciting to watch!
Speedway is a huge sport all over the world, and as a racing goes, it is somewhat unique, as most competitions are team based, with riders individual scores combined to form the team score. They even have special rules that can allow a team to send in a ringer rider if the team gets too far behind! Kind of like a power play in hockey.
While Speedway is a more popular in Europe than it is here in the US, there have been many standout American riders. Billy Hamill, Bruce Penhall, Sam Ermolenko, and Greg Hancock all have won world individual championships. As a matter of fact, the first American to have ever won a world motorcycle racing championship was in speedway, Jack Milne won the 2nd world championship ever held, in Wembley, UK in 1937. Americans have also shown well in Pairs and Team competitions.
Speedway is a fast paced sport, with each race typically lasting less than one minute. The riders are held at the start by a double row of tape that is lifted quickly to signal the start. The racers rely on the power of their engines to power slide through the corners, and the methanol engines have so much engine braking from their high compression ratios, that additional brakes are not necessary. While the races are short, they are packed with action, with multiple lead changes, and complex strategies to pass their competitors.
Motion Pro has been a supporter of Speedway for a long time, supporting top racers like Greg Hancock, and tracks like the Auburn Speedway in northern California, regarded by some as the capital of Speedway racing in the US. There is also a thriving Speedway scene in Southern California.
The future of speedway looks good for America, with riders like 15 year old Ricky Wells putting up excellent results in both domestic and international competition. Ricky is the current American Under 21 National Champion, and is currently competing in the 2008 International Under 21 World Championships. Motion Pro is proud to be a sponsor of this young man's racing dreams as well.