NATIONAL CHAMPIONS: p.NC3 SOUTHERN AFRICA
Speedway Champions :-
- National Champions,
- SA Open Champions,
- Southern Africa Champions,
- MRC / Golden Helmet Champs,
Rhodesia, N.& S.
- National/Open Champions
- Golden Helmet Champions
tables below list the winners of the 2 principle South African
speedway titles since their inception, plus other championships held
in S.Africa over the same period, some being additional championships
to either or both of the main two, others, - such as the latter two -
, created in response to control body actions and/or to rider
- S.A. Championship, first held in 1935,
- S.A. Open Championship, initiated in 1955,
- S.A. Match Race Championship,
- S.A. Handicap and Open Handicap Championships,
- Southern Africa Open Championship, 1973-'80,
- S.A. Riders Championship, 1981-'88.
proliferation of championships has led to much of the confusion and
errors that can be found in some compilations, whereby a winner of any one of these SA
titles has understandably become cited as an "SA Champion".
It is for this reason, and to aid clarification, that known winners
of the 'other' additional titles, along with venues, have been
included on this web page.
Rt : Alan Hunt with the S.African Trophy, 1956.
1956 SA Chmpshp, Durban 1978 Southern African, Rainbow 1995 SA Open, Corobrik 2014 SA Nat'l Rd1, Walkerville
The South African speedway scene, like many others has experienced its ups and downs. During the 1950s it enjoyed wide-ranging success, practically mirroring the UK scene with its league competition, match race championships, international test matches and National championships. Riders from the UK leagues, including Anzacs such as Briggs, Moore, Mardon, Redmond, world champs Williams, Craven, Fundin and others simply transferred hemispheres to ride in SA. The ‘60s were a quiet time as a consequence of control body disputes and the Republic’s withdrawl from the Commonwealth but the international scene picked up again in the ‘70s as world class riders again wintered in SA. See "Speedway-SA"'s History and Gallery pages for more about the period.
Buddy Fuller and Henry Long were the local king-pins in the ‘40s and ‘50s respectively, whilst English-born naturalized South African Dennis Newton dominated the 1960s and holds the SA record for having most Championship wins, - 5, plus a sixth SA Open win. Equally deserving of mention is Denzil Kent, who, having been an earlier SA Junior champ, during the ‘80s went on to achieve 3 SA Championship wins, 3 SA.Opens, 1 SA.Open Handicap championship and 3 times end-of-season Match Race Championship holder, going through the card in 1985 to uniquely collect all 4 senior titles.
Buddy Fuller Roy Bester (2nd) & Henry Long (1952 SA Champ.) Denzil Kent
Match Race Championship.
Details of the Match Races
throughout the season have been researched and are presented in
the table below, together with format and result details, where
known. While originally only a single leg competition for the Golden
Helmet it was called the 'Wembley MRC': when Home & Away legs
where introduced during the '53/'54 season it was redefined as the
'South African MRC'.
Ronnie Moore receives the SA.MRC Golden Helmet
from Fred Wills
after his win at Wembley in 1953.
n.b. At certain times Eliminators were additionally run to determine a Challenger. Regional as well as track MRC Golden Helmet competitions were also staged in the Union, (as detailed in the SA Supplement, below.) Their existence should therefore be borne in mind when reviewing any MRC/Golden Helmet data from South Africa. Memorable amongst these was the January '53 match race at Boksburg between Ronnie Moore and Roy Bester which was won by the New Zealander 1-0 plus 2 dead-heats in their first and third races.
In the most active period of SA speedway, the early 1950s, local hero Henry Long (left) was well able to compete with visiting world class riders and World Champions like Moore, Williams and Briggs. During the course of 6 seasons he won the MRC 19 times. Barry Briggs twice concluded the racing season as Match Race Champion, the later in the same season but under a different authority (SA.SCB) to that operating Long's MRCs, (SA.SRA.)
20 years later Briggs returned to South Africa as part of the WCSS series but lost his crown to Ole Olsen at Johannesburg's Wembley stadium in November 1975.
Following this revival the Match Race competition in the Republic of the 1970s and '80s was contested on a less frequent basis than originally, during which time Denzil Kent and UK visitor Dave Jessup dominated the MRC.
Golden Helmet, 21st Century
The present day South African Golden Helmet raced for at Walkerville is a straight (i.e. non-MRC) individual competition. Winners listed in the accompanying table are as inscribed on the trophy stand. The first and a more recent holder of the Helmet are seen below.
The Silver Sash was an associated competition for junior riders, (in 1980 it was a qualifier for the GH, when Alan Simpson went through to win both Sash and Helmet.) As an U21 event it was won 3 times by Byron Bekker, who on taking a forth win in 2002, presented the trophy to the next highest scoring junior. From 2012 the Sash has been awarded to the 'B' Final winner of the GH meeting.
James Bruin,1977, Jason Cole 2012
RHODESIA - Northern & Southern.
(n.b. Name changes to Zambia and Zimbabwe occurred
after the events below, i.e 1964 and 1980 resp'ly.)
The limited number of national championships held in Northern Rhodesia and in Southern Rhodesia are as given in the 'minor speedway nations' table of the National Champions page and, with the addition of venues, are repeated here for convenience.
In the 1950s and
again in the '70s a number of Golden Helmet competitions were held, -
predominantly Match Race Championships, though most of those of the
'50s were individual 'second-half' competitions having heats and
finals, and some being handicap events. (Held monthly, these results
are incomplete at the present time.) Bev Bird was the only local
rider able to compete evenly with the riders traveling up from S.A.
In the '70s races were usually one-off single runs and Peter Prinsloo had more successes than did the European visitors.
'The Chronicle', Monday June 11 1956. -
"Bev Bird of Bulawayo won the Golden Helmet at the Showgrounds speedway meeting on Saturday (9.6.1956), the first time a local man has beaten the visiting Union stars for this honour."
"He beat three Union riders to win his heat, and two Union men and another local rider, Bundu Boxett, in the Final."
"Picture shows a Bulawayo magistrate, Mr. G.A. Ade, crowning Bird with the Helmet."
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