How Big Is Beatrice Speedway? [Answered!]

Located in central London, Beatrice Speedway is one of the largest velodromes in the world, capable of holding 500 race fans. Now owned by Canadian investors, the speedway has been completely renovated and rebranded, and it is set to become the hub of motorcycle racing in Europe.

Constructed in 1907, the venue is best known for hosting the World Championship from 1924–1948, as well as the United Kingdom’s first ever motorcycle Grand Prix in 1949. It was also the venue for World War II air racing, putting it at the centre of an exciting and historic sport.

Though the popularity of motorcycle racing declined in the following decades, Beatrice Speedway continued to host the occasional racing event, most notably the British Superbike Championship from 1994 until 2002. More recently, the speedway has revived its association with motorsport by hosting the annual European Masters Cycling Championships, an event which brings together the best cyclists in Europe from all ages and abilities.

This year – for the first time since World War II – the World Championship will be held at the venue, with the Grand Prix taking place between 23rd and 25th May.

Why Has It Stayed In Vogue?

The resurgence of speedway can be attributed to a variety of factors. One of the main reasons is the sport’s appeal to older generations, as it combines elements of both vintage and modern cars, which makes it accessible to a wider audience.

In the late 1800s, motorcycle racing was at one of its highest points, with teams of up to six racing alongside each other, at breakneck speeds. The thrill of battle at these speeds still excites modern-day fans. For older generations, there is a real nostalgia factor associated with vintage motorcycles, and the chance to see these legendary bikes in action is what has helped speedway to stay in fashion.

The golden era for speedway was between 1924 and 1948, when it became the first truly global sport. Teams from America, Australia and New Zealand regularly came to Britain for the championships. The popularity of the sport can be attributed to several factors. First of all, there was absolutely no question that motorcycle racing was on the road to worldwide domination in the early 20th century. It is estimated that there were over 100 million motorcycles in use worldwide in 1923. The number of motorcyclists globally is now around 400 million. This makes for a truly mammoth audience. Moreover, as previously stated, motorcycles were an exciting new form of transport at the time, and it wasn’t just about racing either – there were a variety of practical applications, from the military to industrial use.

Another significant factor in the revival of speedway is the expansion of the professional league. After the Second World War, there were a number of teams that didn’t manage to finish the season, and as a result, didn’t manage to qualify for the post-war world championships. This led to a year-long gap between the end of the World War II and the beginning of the modern-day competitions. In the meantime, privateers organized friendly competitions, with some of the riders gaining enough points to qualify for the world championship.

With the help of a government fund paid for by the petrol companies, which operated at the time, motorcycle racing was given a fresh financial boost, and this, in turn, helped kickstart the sport’s second golden era. The new era started in the early 1950s and continued until the mid-1970s, with multiple world championships being contested each year. Though technical advances, particularly in the field of engines, have made for dramatically different looking bikes, the essential element that makes a motorcycle a motorcycle is still present: two legs and an engine.

How Does It Work?

Located in Central London, Beatrice Speedway is one of the largest venues of its kind in the world. Its 500-metre long straight makes for a nerve-wracking experience for any motorcyclist, let alone one racing at breakneck speeds. The track is banked at three different terraces, allowing for a slight undulation, which not only makes it more interesting to watch, but also helps with traction, especially in wet weather. The track is illuminated by the sunshine that streams in from the large glass roof above, adding a surreal glimmer to the whole scene.

Though it hasn’t always been the case, today’s motorcycles are mostly electric, with only a handful making an appearance on the track. The only other thing that has changed over the years is the number of riders. Back in the day, a large group of men would gather at the track to participate in the sport, and there would be up to six riders flying around the track at once, with a side-by-side battle being the most exciting part of a race. Though the audience has decreased over time, with children now growing up without knowing what it means to battle for a position on a bike, the excitement that the sport once generated is still present in the hearts and minds of fans today.

The venue also boasts a well-stocked museum, which holds items that belonged to some of the great champions in the history of the sport, as well as a variety of bikes that were used over the years, including many that are on permanent display. Though the museum is closed on Mondays, this is something that you should keep in mind if you visit the venue. There is a small charge to go inside the museum, and this is something that you have to pay for yourself. Perhaps it’s worth it if you’re a true motorcycle fan.

What About The Grand Prix?

Though the World Championship itself is the main draw at Beatrice Speedway, holding a place in the hearts of every motorsport fan, the other event taking place this year is arguably even more exciting. The Grand Prix is Britain’s equivalent to the Formula One World Championship, and it too is being held at one of the country’s most historic sports venues. As well as the World Championship, the Grand Prix will feature a variety of exciting racing cars from around the world, including several making their British debut.

The 2019 edition of the Grand Prix will see the return of classic racing cars from the past, including the Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati and more, alongside the more modern counterparts. Though there are no set dates for the race, it will most likely take place between 23rd and 25th May.

When Is The Next Motorcycle Night?

The World Championship and the Grand Prix at Beatrice Speedway are just two of the major events that the venue hosts each year. Aside from the sheer excitement of attending one of the biggest motorcycle races in the world, fans can also look forward to seeing stars from the cycling world, as well as England’s football team, take on Germany in a Euro 2020 qualifier on 29th September.

Though there are no set dates for the start of the 2020 motorcycle season, there are an increasing number of major events that the venue will be hosting, including the World Series by Renault, which will see several top teams from across Europe go head to head in the French capital. As well as this, there are also plans for the British Superbike Championship, which will be heading to Glasgow for the first time ever, to be held at the venue in early April.

In addition to these major events, the venue also stages a variety of one-off races throughout the year, including the Masters, which is open to all comers and sees the top riders across Europe come together to battle it out on the track, as well as the Beatrice Hospital Cup, named in honor of the hospital’s founder, which was first held in 1905 and pits local riders against each other in an attempt to create a competition that’s been as fierce as ever since.

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