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2002, Cycle Speedway in the USA!

It was in the year 2000 that I did write an article about CYCLE SPEEDWAY in FATBMX. Just recently I got in contact with a Dutch Cycle Speedway specialist again and he told me about some new developments taken place in the USA with this cycle discipline. It's time again to write about cycle speedway, but now an article on my own web-site. Well, here it comes:

Since the '70 several new bicycle disciplines have seen the day of light. Bicycle Moto-Cross ( BMX ), Road Bicycle Down Hill racing ( special prepared BMX bikes, no paddles, only brakes ), Formula One road race-bikes ( 20" wheels and gears ), Bicycle Trial riding, MTB down-hill, MTB Dual Slalom and just recently MTB 4 cross just to mention a few disciplines.

Have you ever heared of Cycle Speedway?
As in BMX (a copy of stadion motorcycle moto-cross), cycle speedway can be seen as a copy of motorcycle speedway. Since I know just a little about this sport, I want to share this knowledge with you, because it might add a new dimension to cycling sport in general, world-wide. I do remember from the early days (1955 / 60), that in the city of Hilversum (Holland) were I was living at the time, we did have an official Cycle Speedway track. A watched a rider practice several times on that track and later on I learned he was a World Champ in his class.

Cycle Speedway in some form existed as early as 1927 !!! The year 1945 is generally considered as the official birth of organized racing in Great Britain, were it all started. On May 30th. 1949 the first home international match at Rayleigh Stadium, Essex - England took place: England ( South ) beat Scotland by 88 points to 32. Team competition was the main thing.  The sport's first official national governing body, the National Amateur Cycle Speedway Association (NACSA), was formed the 14th of January 1950.

October 26th. 1950, first visit overseas nation at Empress Hall, London. Holland beat England by 49 points to 47. Again, team competition still was essential. June 14th. 1958, the First World Championship final at Hilversum, Holland took place and was won by Dutchman Martin van de Brakel ( club: Hollandse - Welpen ) with 15 points.

Ofcourse certain differences of opinion arose and in 1959, a rival body was formed, called the British Cycle Speedway Federation (BCSF). Finally in December 1971 top administrators of both organization came together and decided to start working together. A truly national body was now formed called the Cycle Speedway Council.

Speedway track.
The inner perimeter of a cycle speedway track is about 65 till max 100 meters. The starting gate is of the same structure as on a motorcycle speedway gate. The track must have a width between 5 and 6,5 meters. The track surface shall be of an approved substance. A loose dressing when used must not exceed 25 mm (1" ) depth and a certain banking is allowed.

Competition, bikes, clothing.
Big difference with BMX is that team-racing and competition is an important item. A team must consist of 8 riders. A race holds 4 riders, 2 riders of the home team and 2 riders of the quest team, riding 4 laps. This means the distance to cover is about the same as racing on a BMX track (350/400 meters ). Junior competition of riders under 18 and Senior competition of riders 18 and over. Ages are mainly between 12 and 30 years of age in this sport. Speedway bicycles don't have brakes, mud-guards, rat-trap or all metal pedals, toe clips or straps, lamp brackets, wing-nuts, any form of gears or any other fitting considered dangerous. Handlebars shall not exceed 30" ( 75 cm ) in width. Special super light frames and parts are mounted and 26" wheels are used. Riders in a team must be uniformly dressed and must be covered from the neck down. Nowadays a riders must wear a helmet ( wasn't so in the early days !) and gloves must be worn.

In the 1980's there were over 50 events from May till September and over 200 clubs in England alone Besides Great Britain and Holland, Australia has been very strong in Cycle Speedway.During the European Challenge Cup BMX event in 1990 at Ponypark Slagharen - Holland, we had this Hilversum cycle speedway club giving several demonstrations with their riders.

First ever Cycle Speedway event in the USA.
Latest news I received in September 2002 from Johan Koudijs, one of the three men who organized the demonstration at Slagharen (Ton van Haren and Gert Veer where the other 2 men) was the following and..... it was HOT news I believe! Johan Koudijs told me that he just has come back from a trip to the USA, to be present at the first ever Cycle Speedway event in the USA. It concerned an Anglo-American competition between USA and Great Britain riders. Johan was invited by the British delegation to be present at this event. The competition took place in Edenton - North Carolina and the local organization made it a big happening. Many TV appearances were part of this event, explaining all about Cycle Speedway during interviews. John made a lot of friends and ofcourse the races took place.

Final result of this team competition was that Great Britain did beat USA with 113 - 67 points. In fact the final result wasn't that important. More important was the fact that nobody knew Cycle Speedway existed in the USA and now everybody knows. This is a good way to promote Cycle Speedway and make it more popular worldwide.

The main difference between Cycle Speedway in the USA and in Europe and Australia are the bicycles used. In the USA mainly adjusted BMX bikes (cruisers 24" or 26") are used and the tracks itself are somewhat longer than the European/Australian tracks. The Americans however are going to adjust their tracks and bicycles to the official standards and train very hard to be able to sent a good team to the upcoming 2003 Cycle Speedway World Championships, a two round series to be held in Rawicz (Poland) and Manchester (England).

Any of you USA BMX guys interested in joining the Cycle Speedway ranks?
Anyway, Johan Koudijs of the Cycle Speedway Racing Almere - Holland and his men are now preparing the European Club Championships which will be held in city of Almere (about 30 minutes by car from Amsterdam) in May 2003. This might also be an opportunity for Dutch BMX'ers to try Cycle Speedway and maybe qualify for this European Club Championship 2003.

Interested? Let us know. Good luck with the organization of the 2003 European Club Championship Cycle Speedway Johan! We will keep you all posted in the time to come.


Track in AlmereWC-Team AlmerePolen 2000