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Saturday, March 17, 2007

 

Return of Speedway


It's all happening in terms of motor sport this weekend. We have the return of Formula 1 - Doctorvee is doing a great job of liveblogging every moment - and also the return of my particular favourite motor sport, Speedway.

It's not as well known as it deserves to be so for those unaware of the sport. Speedway is a form of motorcycle racing which takes place on a flat oval track on a surface of dirt or loosely packed shale. The racers use this surface to slide their machines sideways (powersliding) into each corner using the rear wheel to scrub-off speed while still providing the drive to power the bike forward and around the bend. Races feature four riders and are four laps long.

The bikes themselves are fairly unique in that they have no gears and no brakes. They run on methanol and accelerate faster pound-for pound than Formula 1 cars. The only way to stop a speedway bike is to pull a cut-off switch which is tied around the riders' wrists - a safety feature to deactivate the engine in the event of a crash.

Speaking of crashes, it's not uncommon for riders to collide such is the competitive nature of the sport and the relatively confined track. This YouTube video shows some of the crashes from recent years. Be warned, the audio is very loud on this. Quite why the Prodigy's Voodoo People was used ahead of their track actually titled Speedway, I don't know!



As a child, I used to attend home fixtures of the Eastbourne Eagles team with my parents but I've not been to the track for a long time now. Fortunately, Sky bought the rights to the sport and do an excellent job with it, you can't beat the atmosphere track side though, with the smell of methanol and dirt in the air.

Anyway, this was a brief post (well, it was supposed to be) to announce the arrival of the new season. I'll be posting a lot about it over the course of the next seven months so you've been warned.

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