- European Champions
- Continental Champions - Intercontinental Champions
- "FIM Internationale"
There have been a number of phases when the title of European Champion has been raced for, - inter-War, post-War, and present day. The first known period commenced in Paris at the Buffalo Velodrome in the early 1930s in parallel with the staging there of World Championship competitions and using a similar format, involving riders from UK, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Denmark as well as local stars. In 1932 the event was called the European Cup, but in subsequent years became the “Championnat d'Europe de Dirt Track”. Ferdinand Meynier dominated this with 3 successes out of the 4 stagings in the French capital, being runner-up in the last year, 1935.
giant Strahov Stadium in Prague, (still the world's largest stadium
with a 220,000 capacity,) was the next venue to stage a European
championship, this time with FICM ratification, (FIM's forerunner.)
The intended 1936 championship meeting had to be downgraded at a late
stage, the track being deemed not up to the standard required for
such a high status event, and so was designated merely an Open
International race. With improvements made, including a reduction in
track length from 700m to 614m, (track widening, presumably, - ?) the
European Championship of 1937 went ahead and the 500cc event was won
by Austrian Martin Schneeweiss. The following year, because of
political reasons, no Austrian or German riders were invited to the
competition and UK's Arthur Atkinson bettered his previous third
place by taking the title.
In the 1950s the title was re-introduced within qualifying rounds of the FIM World Championship competition, when continental riders could achieve direct entry to the Wembley Final without having to partake in qualifiers against British and Commonwealth participants. (The forerunner to this title had been the Continental Championship but having the same status, progression-wise, as the new European Final.) Ove Fundin took the title 5 times in 5 different countries, (that without having to participate in the year following his 1956 World Championship when seeded direct to Wembley,) and Swedish riders dominated the rostrum positions throughout the 'fifties. When subsequently Poland staged the event in Wroclaw, (5 occasions from 1960 onward,) it was won each time by a native rider!
the introduction of World Finals at venues other than Wembley
'British' riders eventually had to partake in regional finals on the
continent. In 1970 when Poland held its first World Final British
riders met with Scandinavians and other Europeans in Leningrad, USSR,
where Ivan Mauger became European Champion. After Mauger broke the
Polish hold on Polish tracks in 1975 at Bydgoszcz the title was
discontinued as Australasian rounds and American riders emerged and
it was overtaken by 'Overseas Champions' and Intercontinental Finals.
(The winners of these latter championships are given in Supplement
4, below. American and Danish riders proved the most successful at
this level, taking all but one title in the Intercontinental
Championship during its last 10 years of operation.)
In 2001 the UEM (European Motorcycle Union,) 5 years after its formation, introduced a European Championship in which Final venues and champions have been dominated by former communist states and their riders who are not otherwise involved in the SGP series. (The winner would enter the SGP Qualifier.)
In 2013, with UEM rebranded as FIME, (FIM Europe,) the SEC ('Speedway European Championship') replaced the European Championship with a Grand Prix-style event, having no links with, e.g. no qualifiers to, the World Championship SGP: riders may partake in both competitions. Russian Emil Sayfutdinov, a non-SGP participant, has taken this championship twice, as seen below at the 2015 event.
Emil Sayfutdinov with SGP-riders Nicki Pedersen
and Antonio Lindback, 2015.
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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP
The European Champions Cup, known in the UK as the 'Champions Cup', was an FIM event competed for by the preceding years' national champions. It was introduced to allow nations not otherwise staging any of FIM's big international meetings to have a showcase event. Participation changed after 1991 as USSR and Yugoslavia disseminated and Germany merged, and champions of USA,('91-'93,) New Zealand,('89,) and Australia,('93,) also partook in certain years. Hungarian Zoltan Adorjan made 4 rostrum appearances including a win in 1987.
First held in 1948, from 1952 onward the Nordic Champion was the winner of the World Championship qualifying round that preceded the Continental Championship round. With the formation of the SGP series the meeting was renamed the Scandinavian Final, a qualifier for the subsequent year's Grand Prix until restructuring in 2002. From then on the 'Nordic Final' was a qualifier meeting for the EUM European Championship event. Initial winner of the first 5 Nordic Speedway Championships was Norwegian Lief 'Basse' Hveem, complementing his 8 Nordic Long Track championships, 8 national LT titles and 9 national speedway titles. Following this era numerous Swedes dominated the competition until Ole Olsen took 7 titles in the 1970s, to be followed by his Danish proteges, through the '80s and most of the '90s.
1948 Nordic Chmpshp, Copenhagen, DK 1990 Nordic Chmpshp, Linkoping, SW
Other championships deriving from FIM World Championship qualifying meetings can be found here:-
- Continental Champions - Intercontinental Champions
- Commonwealth Champions - Overseas Champions
FIM "SPEEDWAY INTERNATIONALE "
For the loss of the World Championship Final in 1961 the FIM awarded Britain the staging of a new top level equivalent competition, the "Speedway Internationale" with a prize of the Loughborough Trophy and a brand new Rotrax-JAP (later a Jawa) speedway machine, courtesy of a tobacco company. After the first staging at Harringay the event became the regular fixture for the Whit Bank Holiday event at Plough Lane for the next 20 years.
There were qualifying rounds in the first year but thereafter participation was by invitation, though few competitors were drawn from outwith the British League, - Czech Anton Kasper in 1968 and Japanese rider Jimmy Ogisu in 1970 being just two but neither took points from any other rider! First Fundin in the initial meetings, and then in the next decade Mauger were each successful in taking a hat-trick of wins, with Nordin, Olsen and Peter Collins winning twice.
VENUE; Harringay 1961;
THE BALTIC CUP - Germany, "Ostseepokal"
This competition was an FIM event initiated for speedway tracks bordering the Baltic Sea, (in German, the Ostsee,) during the communist DDR period and continues today, albeit on a more limited, i.e. single venue, basis, (Stralsund having been ever-present,) but still having status in Eastern Europe.
Though riders from the West participated initially, - first winner was a Swede, and former Wolves and Oxford rider Hasse Holmqvist also stood on the podium in 1971 - , in 1972 the communist authorities forbade any further Western sporting involvement throughout the state. After German unification Martyn Cox in 1992 became the first and only Brit to take the trophy, but Aussie Todd Wiltshire, making a European comeback on the continent had 3 Baltic successes alongside his German national titles at the end of the decade. Sandwiching these 3 wins were 3 by Czech Toni Kasper Jr, which were 15 years apart !
THE BALTIC CUP - Poland, "Puchar Baltyku"
communist East Germany, Poland also ran its own Baltic Cup
competition at Bydgoszcz and Gdansk. Initially a 4TT event, sometimes
a 3TT, it comprised club teams from Warsaw-pact countries around the
Baltic, the exception being the Czech team Prague Ruda Hvezda, which
won in 1965 and '66.
Baltic Cup later incorporated Swedish and Finnish teams from
Norrkoping and Tampere respectively. When resurrected briefly in the
'80s it took the form of an individual trophy event dominated by
(B.Cup + Euro.U19 Chmpshp)