Motorcycle speedway is the sound of roaring motorbike engines, motorcycles zooming around tight corners, and speedway fans hurriedly filling in "programs". It's a spectator sport with short, exciting races that are not expensive to watch.
Although countries vary when it comes to speedway, this motorcycle-racing sport involves riding speedway bikes (lightweight motorcycles with one gear and no brakes) on a short, oval shaped track. In some parts of the world, speedway is raced with teams and leagues (more like soccer), but in other countries it involves individual racing. Speedway matches usually involve several motorcycle races, with four riders in each race; in most matches, the winner of a race collects three points, second place collects two points, third place collects one point, and fourth place receives no points. If two teams are against each other in a match, each team will send out two riders to compete.
The most important countries in speedway are Australia, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; the United States also has a significant speedway scene, but it's largely restricted to California. These countries have at least several speedway tracks each that are, in most cases, open to the public whenever there is a match. There are many other countries that also have motorcycle speedway, but do not have enough of it to justify a section in this article. Examples of countries with less motorcycle speedway include Germany, Argentina, South Africa, France, Norway, and the Czech Republic.
The sport is canceled due to the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic in most countries, and opportunities to watch the sport live are practically nonexistent as of May 2020. In Poland racing is scheduled to resume as a televised sport due to the importance of the sport there; updates are available at the Polish speedway website.
Australia has been the source of many Grand Prix-class speedway riders, particularly in the 2010s, including Jason Doyle, the Holder brothers, and Darcy Ward. Many of these riders did their training in Australia and then began racing in British leagues during the Australian winter. (That way, during summer in the Southern Hemisphere, they would race in Australia, and then during summer in the Northern Hemisphere they could race in Britain.) These riders have joined other European leagues as well and even won Grand Prix competitions. By doing this, Australian speedway riders have become important figures in European speedway racing despite having learned how to ride a speedway motorcycle on the other side of the globe.
Although there is a speedway league in the southern part of the state, most speedway matches in California are individual matches. Most of the speedway racing in the United States takes place in California.
- 1 Fast Fridays (Auburn — Northern California) has the only major Northern California speedway track at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. This is California's best-known speedway track due to the number of individual matches that take place there. It is the home of the annual USA vs. the World speedway matches, in which some of California's best speedway riders race against a selected group of speedway riders from other nations (usually riders from Northern Europe).
- 2 Costa Mesa (Southern California) is the motorsports venue credited with the renaissance of motorcycle speedway racing in Southern California. The track, which is 185 yards (169 metres) in length, hosts both solo and sidecar speedway.
- 3 Industry Hills (Southern California)
- 4 Ventura (Southern California) is at Seaside Park in Ventura, California and has a 1/5 mile, high-banked, clay oval track. Ventura Raceway hosts some speedway motorcycle events that attract many nationally-ranked racers and past World Champions such as Greg Hancock.
There is a Danish Speedway League in the country with several teams.
Speedway and soccer are Poland's main sports. There are three main speedway leagues in Poland, with the one at the highest level being the Extraleague (Polish: Ekstraliga). Along with the Extraleague are the First and Second Leagues (Polish: Pierwsza Liga and Druga Liga).
- 5 Bulls (Leszno), the three-time defending Ekstraliga champions (2017–2019), have won the.Polish national championship 17 times, including 6 in the Ekstraliga era (2000–present). They are also one of two clubs to have competed in every Ekstraliga season. Their home track is in the Alfred Smoczyk Stadium.
- 6 Sparta (Wrocław) were established in 1950, and have also participated in every Ekstraliga season. Their home track is in the Olympic Stadium, which has a capacity of more than 35,000 people.
- 7 Stal (Gorzow), founded in 1947, had their greatest success in the 1970s. They have enjoyed something of a revival, winning Ekstraliga team titles in 2014 and 2016. Stal's home track is at Edward Jancarz Stadium.
- 8 Falubaz (Zielona Góra) was founded in 1946 when the motorcycle department of Militia Sports Club was established. The track is about 340 m long and has a granite surface. For safety, there is an inflatable air-fence.
- 9 Lions (Częstochowa) were founded in 1946. The club's home track is at the "Częstochowa Arena" Municipal Stadium, which has the capacity for more than 16,850 people.
- 10 GKM (Grudziądz)
- 11 ROW (Rybnik) were founded in 1964 by the merger of two other clubs, the older of which dates to 1930. While they've won 12 national team titles, their last was in 1972. Returning to the Ekstraliga in 2020 after a three-year absence.
- 12 Motor (Lublin) are relatively new members of the Ekstraliga, having earned promotion from the First League in only their second season in 2018. Their track is at Stadion MOSiR Bystrzyca, with a capacity of 13,000.
Like Poland, there are three main speedway leagues in Sweden. A list of clubs is provided here for the Elite and National Leagues, but there is also a Division One league.
The Swedish teams in the Elite League (Elitserien) are Dackarna, Elit Vetlanda, Smederna, Indianerna, Lejonen, Rospiggarna, and Masarna.
The Swedish teams in the National League (Allsvenskan) are Piraterna, Gnistorna, Griparna, Vargarna, Västervik, Örnarna, Valsarna.
The three important British speedway leagues are the Premiership (formerly Elite League), Championship (formerly Premier League), and the National League. British speedway is organized by the British Speedway Promoter's Association and the Speedway Control Bureau.
Britain has plenty of speedway racing and is one of the best places to watch the sport. However, it suffers badly from rain, since if a speedway track is waterlogged when the racing is supposed to take place, the racing must be postponed.
There are seven teams in the Premiership. The reason there are not more Premiership teams is closely related to the expenses of operating in this league. This was previously called the Elite League and before that was speedway's First Division.
- 13 Aces (Belle Vue — National Speedway Stadium, Kirkmanshulme Lane, Manchester) have been in the Premiership for some time.
- 14 Panthers (Peterborough) were in the Elite League during the early 2010s but moved down the Premier League before it became the Championship.
- 15 Pirates (Poole — Poole Stadium, Stadium Way), the reigning Premiership champions, are one of the most successful Premiership teams; many Grand Prix champions have been on their team, including Greg Hancock and Chris Holder.
- 16 Robins (Swindon)
- 17 Stars (King's Lynn — Saddlebow Road) has been the highest league for several years and has in the past owned a National League team (called the King's Lynn Young Stars) as well.
- 18 Witches (Ipswich) moved into the Premiership after the 2018 season.
- 19 Wolves (Wolverhampton — 14 Sutherland Ave) were the Sky Sports Elite League Champions in 2002, and, as of 2018, they host the Olympique annually. In the past, their team has included part-British Grand Prix winner Tai Woffinden and Freddie Lindgren.
The Championship was previously called the Premier League and before that was speedway's Second Division. It is the lowest-level league in British speedway that allows fully non-British speedway riders. In more recent times, however, it has become nearly equal with the Premiership for the levels of the riders and their racing; for example, you can now find Grand Prix riders in this league, while in the past such a thing would have not occurred.
- 20 Bandits (Berwick)
- 21 Bears (Redcar) are based in the north of England.
- 22 Brummies (Birmingham) came close to financial disaster in the mid-2010s when they were racing in the Elite League (and went into debt) but were saved by Tony Mole and went into the National League. They entered the Championship before the 2019 season.
- 23 Diamonds (Newcastle) came under new management prior to the postponed 2020 season.
- 24 Eagles (Eastbourne) had been in the Elite League during the early 2010s but eventually joined the National League. Before the 2019 season, they joined the Championship.
- 25 Lions (Leicester — 1 The Lions, Beaumont Leys, Beaumont Way) left the Premier League and joined the Elite League during the 2010s and then went back down to the Championship (Premier League) after the 2018 season. Jason Doyle has been on their team in the past.
- 26 Monarchs (Edinburgh) are one of two speedway teams in Scotland, along with Glasgow.
- 27 Rebels (Somerset — Oaktree Arena, Bristol Road, Highbridge) are one of the only speedway teams named after their county instead of their city; but despite not belonging to a city, they have successfully made the transition from the second division and they quickly became one of the best Premiership clubs.
- 28 Scorpions (Scunthorpe) are known for having once been the speedway team with Tai Woffinden in it.
- 29 Tigers (Glasgow) were once a struggling speedway team, but they have been turned into one of the best Championship teams under different ownership. Will not operate in 2020.
- 30 Tigers (Sheffield) have the same name for their speedway team as Glasgow.
The National League used to be called the Conference League. It's the division lower than the Championship and Premiership, but the National League has higher-class riding than the Development Leagues and serves as the gateway for young British speedway riders to Championship and Premiership racing.
- Bees (Coventry) were an Elite League team, but they now have to race at the Leicester Lions track and be in the National League because their old stadium is going to be demolished and the land redeveloped.
- Colts (Belle Vue) are the National League team for the Belle Vue Aces.
- 31 Devils (Plymouth) were have been in the Premier League and the National League at different times and for one season were in both leagues. Speedway began there when speedway ended at Exeter. Since 2006, when the current track began to host speedway, Plymouth has been successful in the National League but not so successful in the Premier League.
- 32 Warriors (Isle of Wight) are the only club based on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England.
- 33 Kings (Kent) are like the Somerset Rebels: their club is named after their county rather than a city. They were formed in the 2010s.
- 34 Tigers (Mildenhall) are on the eastern side of the country and therefore, like the Peterborough Panthers, it's not as likely for matches to get postponed due to heavy rainfall shortly before or during the speedway match. In the 2018 speedway season, the "Fen Tigers" did not loose a single National League match.
The Grand Prix is an individual speedway competition that occurs over several matches each year that are hosted during the Northern Hemisphere's late spring, summer, and early fall. The speedway rider with the most points accumulated over the several Grand Prix matches that take place is the speedway world champion for that year. Speedway riders can win and have won the championship multiple times in the past; examples include Ivan Mauger, Hans Nielsen, Greg Hancock, and Tai Woffinden. The Grand Prix is the most important international competition in speedway.
Speedway of Nations
There is also a speedway world cup called the "Speedway of Nations" where several important speedway nations will create national teams and several matches will be ridden to decide the winning nation, somewhat like the Football World Cup. However, in the Speedway of Nations, four speedway teams (representing four different nations) compete in each match. Russia won the 2019 championship, in Russia.
- Motorcycles — the vehicles that make speedway possible