The Slovak Golden Helmet of Zarnovica
The Golden Helmet of Pardubice competition has been run since 1929 and has been a prestigious motorcycle event in Eastern Europe and wider since its early days, with over 70 riders from as many as 18 different countries participating pre-war, and attendances of over 120,000 post-war and 100,000 for its 1960s resurrection following the years of communist suppression. Having commenced as a grass event on the famous 2.4km(1½mile) Pardubice steeplechase course the event transferred to the cinder speedway track of a purpose-built adjacent course in 1964.
The table below, - colour-coded for ready analysis - , shows that despite many attempts by star name New Zealand World Champions Briggs and Mauger, they failed to capture a Golden Helmet. (A new unique helmet is presented every year for the winner's retention, as well as a full Jawa speedway machine.) Ole Olsen, however was successful on a record 7 occasions during the 1970s, with local hero Jiri Stancl pushing him hard through the same period, - only once did these two not take the trophy over a 13 year period ! (Note also Stancl's record in the national Czech championships over this period, - 12 speedway and 6 Long Track title wins ! ) In more recent years Australia has provided the winner 8 times through Ryan Sullivan (2x), Leigh Adams (4x), and Jason Crump (2x).Above right : 1935 programme, GH #.7
At the gate for the off:- 1947, 1968, 2008 Track action:- 1947, 1968 (Briggo), 2008
Jiri Stancl & his 5 GHs Igor Plechanov, GHs #.16 & #.18
Run in conjunction with the Golden Helmet as a junior event on the opening day, the Golden Ribbon contest was initiated in 1975 and also gives juniors a qualification route to the senior competition.
The Golden Helmet Of Zarnovica,
The Zarnovica Golden Helmet, though a newer competition than that of Pardubice has nonetheless been raced for for over 50 years, though never matching the status of its neighbour in its Czechoslovak sister state. The cinder track was built in 1953 when initially a 'Silver Helmet of Zarnovica' was first competed for.
The Golden Helmet competition began in '59 in nearby Banska Bystrica, relocated to Zarnovice in 1962, and has been raced for every year since 1969. Though an Open Invitation meeting it has not attracted the same calibre of riders as Pardubice, being predominantly from the Eastern Communist Bloc. Only in 1992 with Armando Castagna's success, was the winner not from an East European country.
A triple winner of 3 annual competitions gets to retain his Golden Helmet. Thus far Czech heroes Jiri Stancl and Anton Kasper jnr, each with 5 wins, in the '70s and '80s respectively, have claimed a permanent helmet.