Cycle speedway

Cycle speedway is a form of bicycle racing on short oval dirt tracks, usually outdoors, occasionally indoors, typically 70–90 metres long. Like motorcycle speedway, riders use machines without brakes or multiple gears but, unlike motor speedway, the object is not to slide bikes round the turns.

Cycle speedway gate
Gate during tournament in Kalety, Poland


The origins of cycle speedway are obscure. It existed by the 1920s[1] but appears to have taken off in the wreckage of post-war cities in Britain. With tracks cleared through the rubble, on bikes not otherwise roadworthy, and under the influence of motorcycle speedway, cycle speedway grew haphazardly as a way for young people to enjoy themselves in cities.

London, with most bomb sites, led in organising races, in 1945.[2] There were more than 200 clubs in East London by 1950,[3] with more than 20 in Walthamstow alone. The sport spread across the country. The Birmingham league had 22 teams in its first season. Coventry, Leicester, Wolverhampton and Cradley Heath followed.

Intercity matches began in 1946. They were hampered by inconsistent rules, a problem resolved with the formation in 1950 of the National Amateur Cycle Speedway Association (NACSA). Consistent rules opened the way to national competitions and championships and then to international tournaments.

Ten thousand watched the first international between England and the Netherlands at the Empress Hall, Earls Court, London on 26 October 1950.[4] The sport then declined as bomb sites were cleared and potential riders were drafted into the armed forces for National Service; cycle speedway once more became a local enthusiasm and many clubs closed.

Enthusiasts tried to revive the sport in 1958 and organised a tournament billed as a world championship, with riders from the Netherlands, Sweden and Poland. The sport then became divided by an administrative civil war, a situation resolved with the formation in 1971 of the British Cycle Speedway Council.[5]

Modern administration

Today the sport is managed and administered by British Cycling,[6] the governing body for all cycle sport in the UK except individual and team time trials. A management committee, the Cycle Speedway Commission, advises on racing rules and competitions. All cycle speedway riders and referees are required to be members of British Cycling, and in return are covered by their comprehensive insurance policies.

UK competitions are run annually, world championships biannually, alternating with the European championships. There are approximately 40 clubs in the UK.


Competitors use a lightweight single-speed bicycle equipped with a freewheel without brakes, often a stripped-down mountain bike frame is adequate for beginners although specialist machines are used by the top racers.

Cycle speedway is raced by individuals, pairs or teams. Each race is contested by up to four riders, and a match normally consists of eight to twenty-four races. Points are awarded for placings in each race. A race day fixture might take in up to two, three or more matches. In a team event, the winning team is the one with most points at the end of the day.

Races involve up to four riders racing anticlockwise round four laps of the track, the winner being the first across the line. The number of laps varies with the age of the riders but is usually 4 laps for a single race. Competitors use a lightweight single-speed bicycle equipped with a freewheel but without brakes, often a stripped-down mountain bike frame is adequate for beginners although specialist machines are used by the top racers. Riders slide their left foot along the track as they race round turns. Physical contact is legal and often necessary; clothing usually covers the whole body from the neck down, with padding for knees, elbows and hips; helmets are also required since their introduction in 1999. There has never been an accident in cycle speedway resulting in serious injury or death.

The bike

Cycle speedway bikes are simple and robust. Steel and aluminium still rule in cycle-speedway. No suspension, upright handlebars, a low, single gear with a freewheel and 26 inch wheels (ETRTO:590) with heavily treaded tyres. They are purpose-built for getting through a cycle speedway race as fast as possible and doing so in one piece.

Tyre & inner tube

Tyre widths below 26 x 1 3/8 (ETRTO:35-590, French:650x35A) were popular in the past, current tyres tend to be available from 30-35 (ETRTO:590, French:650A) with 32 and 34 with Schrader valve type tube being the most common. Often a stripped-down mountain bike tyre 27.5 x 1.35 (ETRTO:35-584, French:650x35B) is used by those just starting out in the sport.


Cycle chain

The roller chain is used 1/2 x 1/8 same size as single-speed bike or single speed city bike.

Indoor races

Races are sometimes held in sports halls and other venues. The events are the same but the solid and smooth surface makes speeds higher. A sectional track is taken around sports centres in Britain for national events. Centre sections are added or removed to fit locations.

International aspect

Countries affiliated to the International Cycle Speedway Federation include England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, Australia, the Netherlands and the United States. Cycle speedway also exists in Sweden, Ukraine and Russia. Riders from other countries including Austria, Germany and Malta have tried cycle speedway, and Ireland is regularly represented at full international level.

Many of the sport's international riders go on to compete in other competition. Olympic gold medalist Brett Aitken is arguably the sport's most famous expert, with European gold medallist Jess Varnish linked to the sport through her father James 'Jim' Varnish who was World Cycle Speedway Champion in 1985.

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-04-07. Retrieved 2008-10-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) , retrieved January 2008
  2. ^
  3. ^ Sports Reporter, 19 May 1950
  4. ^ 50 Years of Cycle Speedway(1997) BCSC, UK
  5. ^ 50 Years of Cycle Speedway (1997) British Cycle Speedway Council
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2008-10-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links

British Cycling

British Cycling (formerly the British Cycling Federation) is the main national governing body for cycle sport in Great Britain. It administers most competitive cycling in Great Britain, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It represents Britain at the world body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and selects national teams, including the Great Britain (GB) Cycling Team for races in Britain and abroad. As of 2015, it has a total membership of 116,644.It is based at the National Cycling Centre on the site of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

Commissaire (cycling)

Commissaire is the generic term for an official in competitive cycling, approximately equivalent to umpires or referees in other sports. The vast majority of cycling events require two or more commissaires to fulfil a variety of roles, including supervising pre-and post-race formalities, briefing riders and race officials, checking the compliance of equipment, monitoring compliance with the rules and maintaining safety during racing, resolving disputes and judging results. Sitting as a panel they serve as a "race jury" chaired by the Chief Commissaire to resolve contentious decisions, although this term is now deprecated. The Chief Commissaire or President of the Commissaires' Panel is the holder of ultimate authority over the event.

Commissaires' administrative duties include checking riders' eligibility to compete and filing results and reports on race organisation, incidents and penalties.

Within the areas of the sport governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale, commissaires hold licences issued by their national federations. They qualify at various levels nationally, with the highest level, UCI International Commissaire, being assessed and awarded by the UCI itself. The UCI appoints the chief commissaires for international events on its calendar and the whole commissaires' panel for the most major events.In the English-speaking world there have been sporadic efforts to rename commissaires in line with terms used in more locally familiar sports, although this can cause some confusion as some commissairing roles already use terms like "judge" and "referee". The British Cycling cycle speedway commission and The International Cycle Speedway Federation currently use the word 'referee'. There is no standard international uniform although some countries provide clothing; in the USA commissaires often wear the traditional black and white stripes worn by officials in American sports.

Cycle sport

Cycle sport is competitive physical activity using bicycles. There are several categories of bicycle racing including road bicycle racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, mountain bike racing, track cycling, BMX, and cycle speedway. Non-racing cycling sports include artistic cycling, cycle polo, freestyle BMX and mountain bike trials. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the world governing body for cycling and international competitive cycling events. The International Human Powered Vehicle Association is the governing body for human-powered vehicles that imposes far fewer restrictions on their design than does the UCI. The UltraMarathon Cycling Association is the governing body for many ultra-distance cycling races.

Bicycle racing is recognised as an Olympic sport. Bicycle races are popular all over the world, especially in Europe. The countries most devoted to bicycle racing include Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Other countries with international standing include Australia, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Dominican Republic Cycling Federation

The Dominican Republic Cycling Federation (in Spanish: Federación Dominicana de Ciclismo) is the national governing body of cycle racing in the Dominican Republic.It is a member of the UCI and COPACI.

It covers the disciplines of road racing, track cycling, cyclo-cross, BMX, mountain biking and cycle speedway.

East Park, Wolverhampton

East Park is a park in Wolverhampton, England. The Wolverhampton ward population taken at the 2011 census was 12,497. Situated off Hickman Avenue, near Monmore Green stadium, the park has good transport links to the city centre.Its name is also used for the East Park ward, which covers the Monmore Green and Deansfield areas.

Work began on the original design "Utile Dolci" by Thomas Mawson on 18 hectares of land donated by the Duke of Sutherland, Sir Alfred Hickman, and Mr Arther Sparrow in 1892, with the park opening for business on 21 September 1896.The original design included a boating lake; however this was beset with problems as old coal mines that were previously there began to drain the water from the lake. Despite great efforts to save the lake, it was grassed over in 1922 and is now part of a children's playground and all weather sports pitch. This has since been turned into a car park in 2013.The park includes The Lysaght Memorial Clock Tower, however this has been out of order for over 30 years although rumors continue to circulate that funding will become available to refurbish this in the near future (Work started in 2013), and a small band stand originally funded by the proceeds of a floral fete. Although presently (2012) repairable according to The Scottish Ironwork Database ( the bandstand is currently considered to be "at risk" having suffered years of neglect and vandalism.

Current facilities include football pitches, tennis courts, children's playgrounds, cycle speedway, fitness and exercise equipment alongside gardens, walkways and flower beds.Once a year, the Wolvestock4life festival takes place. It has been hosted by East park for over ten years and annually brings in over 4,000 people. The festival, now in its 14th year, is the largest free-to-enter festival in the United Kingdom. It has no longer free since 2013.A Lottery grant of £981,000 was granted in December 2011 to stabilize the aforementioned coal mines and refurbish the park's facilities, including the clock tower.

Findon, South Australia

Findon is a western suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. It is located in the City of Charles Sturt.

Frank Auffret

Frank Joseph Auffret (born 23 December 1950) is a British former motorcycle speedway rider.

Born in Middlesbrough, Auffret entered the sport via cycle speedway, and after winning the Tyneside Cycle Speedway Championship in 1967 he took up the motorized form of the sport. He first rode in second half races at Middlesbrough Teessiders in 1969 and made his league debut in 1970 for Hackney Hawks in Division One, riding in two heats but failing to score, also riding for Rayleigh Rockets. He established himself in the Teesside team in the Second Division in 1971, and his average improved to 8.62 in 1973. He was selected for the Young England team in 1972 and 1973. In 1973 he also rode in the top division for Leicester Lions and Halifax Dukes, and he signed for Leicester in 1974, averaging almost 6.5 in Division One. He stayed with Leicester in 1975. He represented the full England team in 1974 and 1975. In 1976 he moved on to Hull Vikings, riding for them for six seasons until their closure in 1981. He made three appearances for Middlesbrough Tigers in 1982 before retiring from the sport.

After his speedway career, Auffret gained a diploma in Management Studies and Marketing from Teesside University and worked in local government before becoming a website designer.


Handicapping, in sport and games, is the practice of assigning advantage through scoring compensation or other advantage given to different contestants to equalize the chances of winning. The word also applies to the various methods by which the advantage is calculated. In principle, a more experienced participant is disadvantaged, or a less experienced or capable participant is advantaged, in order to make it possible for the less experienced participant to win whilst maintaining fairness. Handicapping is used in scoring many games and competitive sports, including go, shogi, chess, croquet, golf, bowling, polo, basketball, and track and field events. Handicap races are common in clubs which encourage all levels of participants, such as swimming or in cycling clubs and sailing clubs, or which allow participants with a variety of standards of equipment. Often races, contests or tournaments where this practice is competitively employed are known as Handicaps.

Handicapping also refers to the various methods by which spectators can predict and quantify the results of a sporting match. The term is applied to the practice of predicting the result of a competition, such as for purposes of betting against the point spread. A favored team that wins by less than the point spread still wins the game, but bets on that team lose.

In either case the handicapper is the person who sets the handicaps for the activity.

Hearsall Common

Hearsall Common is located in Earlsdon, Coventry in the West Midlands, central England.The common consists of a large grassy area with a smaller partly tarmacadamed area on one side of Hearsall Common Road, and a wooded nature reserve on the other side. It is free to enter and open to the public as of right, 24 hrs a day; however, after several years of residents complaining about itinerant or nomadic travellers using the common, an embankment was built alongside the roads to prevent vehicles from driving onto the common. The common has for a long time been host to circus and fairs. Previously it hosted the 'crock fair'.

Hearsall Common has a long history of being common land going back to at least the thirteenth century. It was reassigned as recreation ground by a Coventry Corporation Act of 1927, along with other areas of common land in Coventry.


Hellesdon is a village and suburb of Norwich in the District of Broadland in Norfolk, England. It lies approximately four miles (6 km) north-west of Norwich city centre and has a population of 11,132, according to the 2011 Census. Norwich International Airport is located In the parish.

Mexican Cycling Federation

The Mexican Cycling Federation (in Spanish: Federación Mexicana de Ciclismo) is the national governing body of cycle racing in Mexico.

It covers the disciplines of road racing, track cycling, cyclo-cross, BMX, mountain biking and cycle speedway.

It is a member of the UCI and Confederacion Panamericana de Ciclismo.

Morden Park

Morden Park is an area within the district of Morden in the London Borough of Merton, and includes the Park itself, an area of green space in an otherwise dense cluster of 1930s suburban housing.

The present park and sports fields between Hillcross Avenue, London Road/Epsom Road and Lower Morden Lane are owned and managed by the London Borough of Merton parks department and cover land that previously formed the grounds of Morden Park House, a small 18th-century country estate (not to be confused with Morden Hall Park, the National Trust property close to Morden town centre).

The estate comprised enclosed parkland, a small Georgian country house built at the top of the hill in the 1770s for merchant and distiller John Ewart with attached landscaped gardens and a farm called Morden Park Farm. By the mid-1780s the estate was in the possession of the Polhill family. One member of the family, Edward Polhill, bequeathed £1,000 in 1826 to the parish church for the benefit of the Sunday school.Between the 1880s and the 1910s the estate was occupied by banker John Wormald.At the bottom of the hill in the direction of Lower Morden runs a small brook.

In the park, surrounded by trees, is a large circular mound. This has been identified as a possible burial mound from the Iron Age, Roman or Saxon periods. Archaeological investigations were carried out in the 1950s although no conclusive proof as to its date or purpose were found. English Heritage believes that the earthwork was remodelled at some time into a belvedere, or viewing platform, with a spiral path to ascend it. Between 1960 and the mid-1990s a cycle speedway track sat alongside the mound, which was home to Morden Cycle Speedway Club. The track has since been demolished but it's still possible to find signs of the track's existence. A local Aero Modelling Club used the area South of the Mound on Sunday Mornings for flying practice.

Morden Park House remains and, after many years of neglect and semi-dereliction, has recently been restored and is now the local register office and a venue for wedding ceremonies.

The entrance to the Park, from London Road is now dominated by South Thames College, Merton Campus. This was built on the site of a Pig Farm which was destroyed by fire at some point in the late 40's or early 50's. The derelict sites remained in place for some years until the early 60's when clearing began for the College. During this period many bones could be found amongst the rubble; these have been assumed by archaeologists to be those of pigs. Children from the Council Estate opposite the entrance at Hatfield Mead used this area as an adventure playground for many years. At this period a Gatehouse (occupied until its demolition in the 60's) was prominent at the entry.

Facilities in Morden Park include a pitch and putt golf course and Morden Park Swimming Pool which was opened in the late 1967 on the site of the old house's gardens.

South Thames College is adjacent to the park and occupies the former site of the farm.

Morden Park also hosts the annual Morden Park Holiday Club event for children to attend for a week during their summer holidays from school. This event is organised by the churches in the surrounding area.

Newport International Sports Village

Newport International Sports Village is a multi-sport complex located at Lliswerry in the South East of the city of Newport, South Wales. It is known locally as Spytty Park, the name coming from the original Spytty Fields on which it is built.

The complex includes a football development centre, athletics/football stadium, velodrome and attached cycle speedway track, tennis centre, swimming pool and cricket pitches. The Tennis Centre is a multi sport facility.

The Velodrome was used by the Great Britain track cycling team as their exclusive base for their final preparations for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It had previously been used by the team for the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.

Peter Jarman

Peter Edward Jarman, a former Motorcycle speedway rider who started as a cycle speedway 'kid' in the 1950s and graduated to the motorised sport of speedway racing at training track Rye House, Herts.

Royal Spanish Cycling Federation

The Royal Spanish Cycling Federation or RFEC (in Spanish: Real Federación Española de Ciclismo) is the national governing body of cycle racing in Spain.

It covers the disciplines of road racing, track cycling, cyclo-cross, BMX, mountain biking and cycle speedway.

The Federation is a member of the Union Cycliste Internationale and the Union Européenne de Cyclisme. It is based in Madrid.

Sidewinders Speedway

The Sidewinders Speedway is a junior Motorcycle speedway that was opened in 1978 in the semi-industrial Adelaide suburb of Wingfield in South Australia. The Sidewinders U/16 Speedway Club Inc. was founded two years earlier in 1976 by Graham Baker and Roy Bitmead, with help from Rowley Park Speedway riders Robin and Kym Amundson, and their father Bill. As it was then, Sidewinders goal is to promote and develop speedway through its junior ranks with riders aged 4–15, something that had rarely been done in Australia to that point. Once a rider turns 16 he or she then move into the senior ranks.

Prior to the opening of Sidewinders, most Australian Solo riders came into the sport with a background in Cycle Speedway (in Adelaide this was usually through the Findon Skid Kids cycling club) or through Scrambling, including local Adelaide hero John Boulger who during the 1980s and 1990s was a strong supporter of the speedway (despite having retired from riding in 1983 to move into first the Sprintcar, then the Speedcar ranks), lending his experience, including two Australian Championships, nine South Australian Championships, a World Team Cup win, and two World Final appearances, to up and coming riders.

Trevor Hedge

Trevor John Hedge (born 3 August 1943 in Diss, Norfolk, England) is a former international speedway rider who reached the final of the

Speedway World Championship in 1970. He also won the London Riders' Championship twice in succession in 1969 and 1970, and won the prestigious W.D & H.O Wills Internationale in 1969.

Before taking up speedway, Hedge was a cycle speedway champion.

Wales National Velodrome

The Geraint Thomas National Velodrome, previously known as the Wales National Velodrome, in Newport, South Wales, is an indoor arena located in the Newport International Sports Village, Lliswerry. The Velodrome's facilities including a covered 250-metre Siberian pine track, a function room/dance studio, free weights room, fitness suite, a drug-testing room and a multipurpose indoor sports arena.

It has seating for 500 spectators. The Newport Velodrome hosts the Head Office of Welsh Cycling and Newport Velo Youth Cycling Club is based at the centre.

An outdoor cycle speedway track is located at the Velodrome.

The Velodrome was used by the British track cycling team for its pre-event holding camps ahead of the 2008, 2012 Summer Olympics and 2016 Summer Olympics.It was announced in August 2018 that the velodrome would be renamed after the UK's third and Wales' first-ever Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas.

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