The history of motorcycle Speedway

Federation of International Motorcycling

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Do not ask us why, but most of the racing federations out there have French names. The same goes for motorcycle speedway. It is managed and governed under the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme, or FIM. Luckily, most people simply translate the official name to English, which makes it much easier to remember (and pronounce) than the French version. The FIM takes care of all motorcycle racing out there, not just Speedway. This website will focus on Speedway, though, so let us not get too deep into the administration and management that FIM is handling. Just remember that Speedway is not some home-made sport that anyone can jump into. It is a world-famous, celebrated sport that is under intense scrutiny by a governing body with plenty of history. The Federation of International Motorcycling was founded in 1904, so they have had more than a hundred years to set up the perfect hierarchy within their organisation.

Early history

There is no clear answer as to where Speedway originally came from, but most historians agree that it evolved in either the USA or Australia, some time before the First World War. In contrast to other motorcycle sports, Speedway is much easier to set up and manage, since all you really need is a motorbike with a powerful engine, some thick, broad wheels, and a dirt track you can glide around on. Drifting became the main interest point of Speedway, as the racing course allowed the drivers to slide into the turns instead of breaking and leaning like they do in most other motorcycle sports. Forget about MotoGP and the aristocrats with their million-dollar bikes, forget about huge sponsors and multi million dollar prizes, forget about the “high society” and sophistication. Speedway is the complete opposite of all this. It is all about dirt, about fun, about raw power and fearlessness. We will not go into detail on exactly where the sport came from, as this is a matter of much debate, but we will tell you this – the first known Speedway race was held as early as in 1923, long before the awesome bikes we see today were invented. Since then, the progress has gone ahead with lightning speed.

Modern history

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Nowadays, Speedway is a global sport which culminates in several international competitions every year, both for seniors and juniors. Here in Europe, the main Speedway countries are Poland, Sweden and United Kingdom, as well as Denmark and to a lesser extent Italy, Russia and Czech Republic. Internationally, you can add the USA, New Zealand and Australia to the list. Most countries have their own domestic leagues for Speedway, but its the first three mentioned above that are constantly showing off good results internationally. Since 1995, it is the Speedway Grand Prix which is the main international competition for individual drivers, as well as a World Cup for national teams – it is these two grand events that draw the most attention from Speedway lovers across the globe.

Find out more

We will provide you with in-depth information about every aspect of motorcycle Speedway necessary. If you are ready to find out more about this down-to-earth, rough and extremely entertaining sport, check out one of the following articles;

Speedway champions

Since Motorcycle speedway is divided into different competitions, it is important to understand the difference between individual races and international team events where it is all about the nationalities of the riders. If we look at the individual championships, it is quite mixed. Swedish Tony Rickardsson has won the Speedway Championship six times, the exact same amount of medals as Ivan Mauger from New Zealand. In general, Swedish and Danish riders have won 14 individual championships each. Now, if we turn our heads towards the team events, where teamwork and nationalities are more prominent, a different picture will show itself. In terms of medals, it is Poland that is dominating the scene with 10 in total. An amazing 6 gold medals places the Poles at the top, which is 2 more than Denmark and 3 more than Sweden. In total, though, the standings by country looks like this;

  1. Denmark – 12 medals in total
  2. Sweden – 11 medals in total
  3. Poland – 10 medals in total
  4. Australia- 9 medals in total