What Is Motorcycle Speedway? [Answered!]

There is no other sport quite like motorcycling. It’s an exciting sport that gives you a sense of freedom and adventure. You can go where you want, when you want and how you want. It’s a sport that brings people together and connects them with nature. Many people consider motorcycling to be a lifestyle.

If you are looking for a way to spend your free time, consider taking up motorcycling. It’s something different and its amazing community welcomes new members with open arms. If you are interested in becoming more involved in the community, consider helping out with a motorcycling event or gathering. You will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and connect with nature. It’s a sport that is constantly evolving and changing, and there is so much participation and involvement that it never stops evolving.


Before we begin, I would like to define some terminology that will be used in this article.

Firstly, when I say “motorcycle” I am referring to the two-wheeler with an engine attached to it. These are called motorbikes in some countries and scooters in others. You will not need to own or drive a motorcycle to join the speedway community.

Secondly, when I say “speedway” I am referring to the organized racing series that was first established in Britain in the early 20th century. The races are held at a specific track and have a set number of laps (a lap is a complete circle around the track). The winner is the driver who completes the most laps in the set time. This is like the Indy 500 of motorcycle racing, although the Indy 500 is a bit more high-paced.

Lastly, when I say “motorsport” I am referring to all forms of motorsport, including motorscycling. So, motorbikes are motorsport, as are scooters and any vehicle with an engine attached to it. There are various classes of motorsport, all of which are inclusive and open to anyone, but the general public have an easier time getting involved in motorsport events if they are a member of a motorcycle club.

Why Is It Called “Speedway”?

The origin of the word “speedway” is shrouded in mystery and it has quite a few different meanings depending on the context and the era in which it was used. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following three definitions:

  • Sloping or banked track: “A surface for motor vehicles, typically arranged in a series of long, fast straights with multiple turns and often including one or more very long straight sections” (source: https://www.omgfrance.com/speedway-meaning-5c4b9c941f4)
  • Racing track: “A track for motor vehicles, often arranged in a series of long, fast straight sections with one or more turns” (source: https://www.omgfrance.com/speedway-meaning-5c4b9c941f4)
  • Place of amusement: “A sports stadium or arena used for motor vehicle competitions, especially those involving motorcycle racing” (source: https://www.omgfrance.com/speedway-meaning-5c4b9c941f4)

One of the first uses of “speedway” was in the context of horse racing in Britain. The first speedway races were established in the early 20th century as a way to increase attendances at horse races and to keep the public interested in horse racing. The organizers of these speedway races established a set of rules for the competitions and called the races “speedways” because they were held at a “speed” of ten miles per hour or less. This was a way to ensure that the races were a fair and exciting competition and to keep the interest of the public in the sport.

How Did It Spread Across The Globe?

After Britain established motorsport as we know it, other countries, especially Germany and Italy, saw the opportunity to create their own leagues and establish the sport on a worldwide scale. They saw the popularity of motorsport in Britain and decided to create their own version of the “speedway”, although it was based on the ruleset established in Britain. The first World Championship motorcycling tour was held in Europe in 1929 and is now considered to be one of the most historic and prestigious sporting events. The German Auto Union organized the competition and decided to give it a German name: Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (German Motorcycle Championship). Since then, the event has been held annually and is an example of how the popularity of motorsport continues to grow across the globe.

Classes Of Motorcycle Speedway

There are three main classes of motorcycles that speedway is historically known for:

  • Stock cars (aka. “Closed cars”): These are the old-fashioned bikes with an engine in the middle that were driven by amateurs. They were made of metal and had a sheet metal body. They could reach high speeds but were not very agile or comfortable to ride. These bikes were driven on oval speedways (hence the name “stock cars”) but, in modern times, they are typically found on flat tracks. Their main purpose was to reach high speeds so that spectators could have an exciting show (hence the name “stock cars”). In the early years of the 20th century, stock cars were able to reach 100 miles per hour, but these days it is more common to see them travelling 40 to 50 miles per hour. The term “stock car” is now mostly used as a nostalgic reference to the class of moto­cr ­asis that was popularized in the early to mid-1900s. The original stock cars were designed about a century ago and have not changed much since then. Some modern-day bikes, such as the Indian Scout, still maintain the original look almost exactly.
  • Funny cars (aka. “Open cars”): These are the cars that are equipped with a large sail, which is used to catch the wind and increase their speed. They are heavier than stock cars but are more nimble and can reach higher speeds. They are also more comfortable to ride and have a higher roof that provides better protection from the sun and rain. The main purpose of a funny car is to attract more spectators (hence the name “open cars”). In addition to having a higher roof, funny cars have a windshield and maybe even a side view mirror. Modern day funny cars can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and are considered a faster and more exciting class of bike compared to stock cars. However, historically speaking, funny cars are a relatively modern invention.
  • Modern bikes (aka. “Mopeds” or “Motorcycles”): These are the bikes that were designed after World War II and have an engine that is mounted on the rear axle. This allows for more stability while also increasing the speed compared to the previous classes. The purpose of a modern bike is to provide maximum power as quickly as possible to reach high speeds. These days, mopeds and motorbikes are almost identical in terms of performance, speed and comfort. They are considered the “high-performance” class of bike and are the focus of most motorcycle speedway tournaments. In general, mopeds and motorbikes are lighter and faster than stock cars and have higher fuel economy. However, one of the main differences between a moped and a motorbike is that the latter is typically more stable and comfortable to ride.

Format Of A Motorcycle Speedway

The format of a motorcycle speedway is very similar to that of a horse race, in that there are three main phases:

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