How Big Is Stafford Motor Speedway? [Answered!]

In the United Kingdom, people frequently get confused when they see a logo with what seems to be a small horse and a large number of bicycles. In reality, the venue is around three-and-a-half miles long and has grandstands that can hold up to 100,000 spectators. It is considered to be one of the Top-5 motorsports tracks in the world.

What Makes It Special?

The thing that makes this venue stand out is that it is a true testament to British engineering and design expertise. The iconic ‘S’ logo commemorates the fact that the track is a gift to the people of Stafford in recognition of their loyalty and support during World War II. The gift was made possible due to the efforts of local businessmen and politicians who wanted to show their appreciation for the local population’s bravery and selflessness during the conflict. The track is also the result of the efforts of former Olympic gold medallist Jim Ratcliffe, who died in September 2018 at the age of 96.

Since its opening in 1947, the venue has hosted royalty and heads of state, as well as seen some of the greatest sports stars the world has ever known. The track has also been the scene of some of the greatest bike races ever held.

How Big Is It?

Stafford is a town of just over 100,000 people, which makes it one of the larger towns in the UK. The town’s economy largely relies on public transportation, with around a quarter of the jobs found in the town being connected with the local bus service (www.safc.com).

According to Wikipedia, the town’s main industry is automotive – with around 12,500 cars registered in the town in 2015 – and aviation, which was previously located at the nearby RAF Staffordshire base before it closed down in 2014 (www.bbc.co.uk; www.dailymail.co.uk).

The track is therefore not only special because of its connection to history and the accomplishments of some of the greatest bike racers of all time, but because it is a physical representation of British ingenuity and entrepreneurship. It’s no wonder that the venue has been chosen to represent the United Kingdom in the Olympics more than once.

Olympics

It wasn’t just limited to bike racing, either. The track was also the site of the 1948 Olympics, where athletes from around the world came together to take on Britain in the 4×100 meter relay. Although Britain came away empty-handed, this was a golden moment for the country, seeing as how most of the venues were repaired or upgraded for the 2012 Games.

There have also been a number of boxing matches hosted at the track, with some of the world’s best boxers taking the stage there. Names like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman all fought at the venue. Unfortunately, as with most historical sports venues, the track’s grandstands were largely demolished in 2009 in order to make way for a modern overhaul that would include new facilities and additional seating. Fortunately, the community rallied together and raised funds to restore the venue in time for the 2012 Games.

Beyond The Track

Even those who aren’t into sports may recognize the track’s logo, which was used as the cover art for the 1975 album, Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll by the band Queen. The logo will also forever be associated with some of the greatest bike racers the world has ever seen.

The track has also hosted the World Poker Grand Prix, an international invitational poker tournament that has become one of the flagship events of the Champions of Poker, an annual series. The Grand Prix has also been held at other locations around the UK, as well as in Europe, Australasia, and South Africa. And for those looking for something a little more low-key, the track also hosted the World’s Largest Chicken Wing Eating Contest, which pitted two-time world champion Fred Martin against eight-time champion Ollie Wood. Each combatant went head-to-head in a battle of epic proportions that left one contestant completely covered in blood, and saw Wood emerge the victor (www.theguardian.com; www.sportster.com).

Since its inception, the track has attracted some of the greatest sports stars the world has ever seen. Names like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman all fought there. Unfortunately, as with most historical sports venues, the track’s grandstands were largely demolished in 2009 in order to make way for a modern overhaul that would include new facilities and additional seating. Fortunately, the community rallied together and raised funds to restore the venue in time for the 2012 Games.

As for the size of the venue itself, the three-and-a-half mile racetrack has been described as follows:

“The track itself is impressive – an ode to British engineering, with its grandstands and iconic ‘S’ logo. The whole thing is beautifully kept and the facilities are very modern. The crowds are very friendly, too, which makes for a very memorable experience. There is something for everyone here.”

– Matthew Symonds, author of Bikes, Booths, and Broadsides: A Cultural History of Bike Racing in Post-War Britain

So, what is the point of all this history?

According to the Welcome to Stafford website:

“The venue is used for recreational purposes as well as being the home of Team RR, a British Superbike Racing team. It holds the Staffordshire County Grand Prix every August. In addition, the track holds the British Indoor Championships in October and the UK’s largest annual cycling event, the Tour de France on the Sunday of each July.

“Stafford was the location of one of the biggest bike races in the world, the 2015 Paris-Roubaix. The route included a day-long trip along the country’s most historic canal, the Grand Union, before heading out into the open air for the remainder of the race. This marked the 101st edition of the Tour de France and the first time it had come to England since the 2012 edition. Due to its size, it was decided to extend the race by a day to make sure everybody had enough time to get a good look at it.”

The Future

The location of the 2020 Olympics in London might suggest that the country is looking ahead to a time when sports don’t play such a crucial role in its society. However, with the country still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, it seems unlikely that a rekindled interest in the games will arise anytime soon.

It’s therefore important to focus on the present and on what the community is doing to make the most of the situation. One of the largest events, which has taken place in the UK since World War II, is the National Sports Day on the third Saturday in June. This is a celebration of all things sporting, which involves sporting events from the moment after breakfast on Saturday until the moment before sunset on Sunday. Events include football, cricket, and rugby matches as well as racing and jumping tournaments. In addition to this, the town’s annual fireworks display, which is set to go ahead as planned, will be one of the highlights of the day (www.britishpathe.com; www.glos-service.com; www.nationalsportday.org.uk).

Next Stop

With all that history, it’s only fitting that you would need a guide to take you around the track. The town’s website provides a useful map and directions to the venue, which can also be found on Google Maps.

Although the economy of the town largely depends on public transportation, with around a quarter of the jobs found connected to the local bus service (www.safc.com), the venues’s location is served by a regular rail service from London and other major towns and cities, with the nearest station being two miles away (www.greatwesternrailway.com).

The guidebooks available at the venue’s gift shop will not only point out interesting historical facts about the iconic ‘S’ logo, but will also give you a run-down of all the upcoming events, making a day of sport even more exciting. So, if you’re visiting or live in the area and are thinking about taking a day off work to spend it at the track, consider yourself extremely lucky as there’s plenty to see and do.

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