GOLDEN HELMET CHAMPIONSHIPS     p.GH1



     Golden Helmets, as well as Silver Helmets, Golden Gauntlets, etc, were often presented as trophies to competition winners at many tracks by the promotional companies during the first days of speedway in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s as 2-man match races between the star riders were extremely popular with the large crowds of the boom years. They were a coveted prize: some were gilt, some silver plate, many assay-marked, a few the real thing. At an auction sale in 2004 in Australia the trophies of Frank Arthur included several hall-marked silver helmets, a 9-carat gold Golden Gauntlet and 9-carat Golden Helmet, (above,) which alone sold for $A10,000.

 
  Frank Arthur receives the Golden Helmet, 1928       The ISL Golden Gauntlet                       Vic Huxley and the Silver Helmet, 1929
                   


  Golden Gauntlet: " Black leather racing gauntlet decorated with square 9 ct gold panel decorated in relief with a 9 ct gold winged speedway rider, astride a motorcycle, and seven 9 ct gold panels, 2 engraved with the winners' names of 4 preliminary races held at various English speedway venues including White City, Harringay and Wimbledon and another engraved "SEASON 1928 WON BY FRANK ARTHUR", the gold panels London 1927, makers mark of Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. Ltd." 
 
Below is listed the full range of Golden Helmet and equivalent

  competitions addressed on this and subsequent web pages :
-

 Australian Golden Helmets  (pre-war)
 Englsh (ISL) Golden & Silver Helmets
 Scottish Gold Helmet; Scot. Silver Helmet
 S.American (ISL) Gold & Silver Helmets
    English Gold & Silver Trophies;   Scottish Gold & Silver Trophies
     Australian GHs (pre- & post-war)    New Zealand GHs 
                                    ~~~~~~~ 
 British Match Race Championships
           -  Gold, Silver, Bronze Helmets
    Heathersfield (Sc) Gold Helmet; Teesside (UK) Silver Helmet
    Eastbourne  (UK) Silver Helmet;  Staffs. Silver Winged Helmet 
                                      ~~~~~~~ 
 Zlata Prilba:
  - Czech  Golden Helmet of Pardubice
                   Zlata Stuha,   - Gold Ribbon

  - Slovak Golden Helmet of Zarnovica
                                        ~~~~~~~ 

1925 - 1938
1928,  1929
1928 - 1939
1929 - 1931



1931 - 2015





1929 - 2015
1975 - 2015
1959 - 2015

,

 

       p.GH 4  









                                      p.GH 5 


 Austrian    Golden Helmet
 Australian
Golden Helmet
 Belgian
      Golden Helmet
 Danish
       Golden Helmet
 Dutch
         Golden Helmet
 German     Golden Helmet
 Polish       
Gold/Silver/Bronze Helmets
 Slovenian/Yugoslav
Golden Helmet
 South African 
Golden Helmet
 Rhodesian       Golden Helmet
                                         ~~~~~~~
 Denmark(+Gy) Gold  Bar; Gold Bear (Lg.Trk)
 Bremen (W.Gy)      Golden Key
 Meissen(E.Gy)       Silver Steelshoe
 Cradley (UK)          Golden Hammer
 Lonigo (Italy)          Golden Gala
                       ~~~~~~~ 

1960 - 2005
1993 - 2009
1981 - 2015
1929 - 1953
1950 - 2015
1929 - 1931
1961 - 2015
1978 - 2008
1928 - 2015
1953 - 1975

1959 - 2011
1959 - 1988
1973 - 2015
1977 - 2015
1980 - 2006

p.LT   

  p.GT   

 ADAC (Gy)         Long Track,  Gold Helmet
 ADAC-Palz
(Gy) LongTrack,   Silver Helmet
 Teterow
(E.Gy)  Grass Track,  Gold Helmet
 ADAC  (Gy)         Grass Track, Silver Helmet

 Roden 
(NL)       Grass Track, Golden Helmet
 Klein Krotzb'g
(Gy) Grass,  Golden Pheasant
 Bodensee 
(Gy)        Grass Track, Golden Apple
 Zweibrucken
(Gy)    Grass Track, Silver Rose
 Poznan  (PL)           Grass Track, Golden Helmet

1933 - 2015
1954 - 2015
1958/'74-2015
1966 - 2015

1967 - 2015
1961 - 2010
1972 - 1991
1963 - 2013

1932 - 1962

  The First Golden Helmets - Australia

     The practice of racing for valuable speed/race-linked trophies started in Australia, where A.J.Hunting and his Olympia Speedway companies presented gold and silver trophies across the wider range of 'speedway' motor sports starting in 1925 with the Maroubra Golden Helmet at the steeply-banked 1-mile concrete bowl, Maroubra Speedway outside Sydney NSW. Winners included Cecil Brown (6x) and Sprouts Elder, (5x) as American riders dominated. Hunting extended his ventures to dirt tracks in Queensland with the opening in 1926 of Brisbane Exhibition Ground Speedway (the “Ekka”), followed by Davies Park Brisbane in 1927..

From their oil-company sponsors the Ekka GHs were known as the 'Veedol Golden Helmet', (1926/27, left,) and the 'Castrol Golden Helmet' (1932 -'38); at Davies Park the GH became known as the 'ACUQ. GH' (Auto-Cycle Union of Queensland,) and was raced for extensively between 1927 and 1931 when holders included Vic Huxley, Frank Arthur, Billy Lamont, Dicky Smythe, etc. amongst a role call of over 40 defences. A list of all winners can be seen in the table below, (noting that there were also Golden Helmet events subsequently staged at most other speedway promotions such as were operating at Sydney NSW, Perth WA, Melbourne Vict. and Adelaide SA: see Supplement.)

The usual practice, in Australia then and later in England after Hunting's arrival in 1928 and the setting up of ISL (International Speedway Ltd.), - though there were variations with time and amongst other promotions - , was that the race winner, as holder, received weekly paid prize money whilst he continued to defend his title, - £15/wk initially at Maroubra, (equivalent to £750/wk in present day terms,) £5/wk at Ekka in 1926 - , and the valuable gold or silver trophy was then awarded outright at the end of the season to the top point-scorer. Such a regular monetary element was copied (but monthly) post-war to the British GH MRC when it was introduced in 1946, and the end-of-season holder continued to receive a reduced figure throughout the winter.


Aust. GHs  Pre-War (non AJH) + Post-War GHs                                NZ GHs (pre- & post-war)

             

Pre-war English & Scottish Gold & Silver Helmets:

  -  England, 1928, '29

    On arrival in England in 1928 Hunting set up International Speedway Ltd, (ISL) and commissioned the manufacture of 8 precious metal trophies to replicate his Aussie prizes, (see full list in Supplement below, with race winners.) The Golden Helmet was then raced for, over heats and a Final, (sometimes with Semi's,) on a rotating basis, alternating with the Golden Gauntlet and other Silver prizes including the Silver Helmet, at each of ISL's 5 tracks throughout the season. Winners received a cash award at each Final and held the Helmet as long as successfully defended, when at the end of the season it was awarded outright to the best overall point-scorer.

    Frank Arthur took both the Gold and Silver Helmets, as well as the Golden Gauntlet and Silver Sash, along with their cash prizes of £200(GH), £150(GG), £100(SH), £100(SS) whilst Vic Huxley took the other 4 lesser Silver trophies that year. Arthur had been the winner of the prize trophy at the May opening night of each of the promotion's London tracks, and despite an early end to the season for him after fracturing his collarbone at Hall Green in August and returning home to Australia he had still topped the list of the 4 big ones, returning with £2,000 (= £100,000 in present day terms) and 31 trophies!

    Elsewhere in the opening year at least 12 other English tracks had run their own 'Gold' competitions, - Helmet, Gauntlet, Sash or Armlet - , the BDTRA tracks emulating ISL with featured winners such as Sprouts Elder, (a very widely traveled star, including Scottish appearances, who was able to justify his high appearance money,) Oliver and Eric Langton, Ginger Lees and Arthur Franklyn, the latter pair being contracted to Northern-dominated British Dirt Track Racing Assoc'n promoters, - see image-link below for venues, winners and dates.

    For 1929, ISL's second and final year, the two Helmets, the Golden Gauntlet and the Silver Sash were competed for over the season at their 3 London tracks, being the originals loaned back by ISL from Arthurs: the End-of-Season Golden Helmet 'winner' was Vic Huxley, though Jim Kempster had many GH successes.

    Track numbers having mushroomed, a further 28 other English dirt tracks promoted themselves by staging "Golden Helmet" events as well as other gold and silver prizes, - Gauntlets, Sashes, Wings, Stars, etc. - , and though the tenure and value of many must be questionable the status of the winner in the eyes of local fans was not, even though competition at some venues more remote from the London base of the big names, (i.e. ISL riders,) would have been limited. Prominent amongst such trophy winners were Joe Abbott (15+, Preston and elsewhere,) Frank Varey (18+, Manchester,) Frank Charles (13+, in the N.West,) Eric Langton, (11+, Leeds,) but outstanding was Squib Burton with at least 44 successes, mainly at Rochdale, but also at 9 other tracks. (Taken from incomplete 1929 data, - ultimate totals may therefore have been higher.)


                        All ENGLISH 1928
Gold & Silver                                                      All SCOTTISH
                 Helmets & Trophies, (ISL & BDTRA)                           Gold & Silver Helmets & Trophies, 1928-'40
         

 
 

ISL track programmes,  B'ham Hall Green       Belle Vue                     Harringay                 White City, London
                                            1928                        1928                            1029                               1929



  -  Scottish Gold Helmet,
   - Scottish Silver Helmet

     In two phases between 1928 and 1939 races for the 'Scottish Gold Helmet' were held regularly at Marine Gardens Edinburgh and also in '39 at Glasgow White City, (see detail via image-link above.)

The first ever dirt track meeting at Edinburgh's Marine Gardens in May 1928 featured the 'Gold Helmet International Race'. A series of Match Races run over 4 heats, 2 Semi-finals and a 6-lap Final, it was won by New Zealander Stewie St George from Drew McQueen. For the following and all subsequent stagings the helmet was termed the 'Scottish Gold Helmet' and was raced for on 10 further occasions that year, progressing from match races then to 3-man and thereafter 4-heat, 4-man races. A new Golden Helmet was put up in 1929 (left,) when McQueen was successful on 4 occasions but the helmet was awarded outright to Frank Arthur when he took the Marine Gardens Track Championship in August '29. (This trophy, seen left, was a sterling silver 'gold' helmet and was sold at auction in Sydney in 2004 along with other Arthur trophies.)

    In the same year a short-lived Scottish Silver Helmet contest was competed for at Glasgow White City. At both venues the Helmet events alternated with Silver Gauntlet, (Ed.MG '28), Gold Sash, Gold Gauntlet, Silver Sash (Ed.MG '29), Gold Armlet, Silver Torch, Silver Gauntlet, Silver Sash, (Gl.WC), Gold Sash, Gold Torch, Gold Gauntlet, (Ed.MG '30). A new third Gold Helmet was presented in 1930 which on the fourth occasion raced for, on July 19th, was awarded outright to George McKenzie, and which today can be viewed at the Scottish Speedway Museum outside Edinburgh.

    It was 1938 before a Scottish Gold Helmet was again competed for, when speedway returned to the capital. The event continued in 1939, when both venues, Edinburgh Marine Gardens and Glasgow White City staged races for a Scottish Gold Helmet, but in this period it was visiting English and Australian stars who took the glory.

  n.b. Post-war a Scottish Match Race Championship was contested, (1949-'53, and 1964-'76: see Br.MRC page,) but did not involve Helmet trophies. In more recent times a new Scottish Gold Helmet, the Heathersfield GH trophy, was created in classic style and contested initially in 1997 for an 'Open' Linlithgow competition at Conference Lge. level, (see Supplement, p.GH 2.)

                                    Edinburgh 1928                                                            Glasgow 1929
                   


Gold Helmets,  Europe and Wider:

  - South America
   After the UK, Hunting went to South America and set up a number of similar high value trophies which were raced for in their 2 operational seasons, - at Huracan stadium in Buenos Aires and at River Plate Speedway also in B.A. The 'Casco de Oro', - Golden Helmet - , was sponsored by the Buenos Aires newspaper 'Critica', and raced for over 4-man scratch heats, semi's and a final, as were the Silver and Bronze Helmet trophies. Sprouts Elder gained the most successes over a squad of chiefly British riders, (as well as in the World's Championship series,) most of ISL's Aussie contingent having chosen to return home for the UK winter, though late season appearances by Max Grosskreutz (1930,) Ernie Evans, Dicky Wise and 'Cyclone' Billy Lamont (1931,) added to the fare.

     Lamont's Silver Helmet, seen below, with inscription, was auctioned in Melbourne in Oct. 2015, along with the similar red 'Enamel Helmet' (below rt.) and other trophies acquired during his racing career. The solid silver helmet fetched over $A10,000, the red enameled brass $A4,000, (and his 1931 silver-plated World Championship trophy $A2,440.)

   
                                                      Billy Lamont's Silver Helmet     and    'Enamel Helmet' of 1931

                                         ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  - South Africa & Rhodesia
          For all South African and Rhodesian Gold & Silver Helmet Championships,
            1928 to date, see Southern Africa page plus SA Supplement S.Africa 


                                                            ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
   - Continental Europe
    In Europe helmets as trophies were also presented at track races, - speedway and Long track - , from 1929 onward, e.g. the Pardubice Golden Helmet, which has had a long almost continuous run pre- and post-war; in Denmark at the 1/3-mile Roskildevej Dirt Track, Copenhagen and its sister venue in Hamburg, Germay; and also for the German Long Track (later ADAC-)Golden Helmet. Post-war others were initiated, including Helmets at Zarnovica in Slovakia (then part of Czechoslovakia,) in 1953; at Herxheim in Germany in 1954; from 1966 an ADAC German national Silver Helmet for Grass Tracks on a rota between circuits in the GFR, complementing the ADAC Gold Helmet.

    At multiple circuits in the post-war Netherlands a Dutch Golden Helmet open invitation series was raced for at the Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam and elsewhere in Holland each late summer but continues now only at Veenoord, though Golden Helmet meetings have been revived in the past decade at Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. The Polish Golden Helmet meetings, a competition introduced more recently in 1961, is thriving, (plus Silver and Bronze helmets are for U21 and U19 young Polish riders,)

    Coming more up to date, the Tetrow Mountain Grass Track in the DDR added a Golden Helmet to its programme in the ‘seventies, whilst Sandbahns and Grasbahns, - Long Tracks on sand or grass courses - , have presented their own forms of high value gold and silver trophies over this period, - see above table for page details and hyperlinks to these Helmets competitions.



Po
st-war Australian Golden Helmets
and New Zealand GHs, pre- & post-war.
Results of these championships, at tracks such as Kilburn, Rowley Park, the Showground and Sportsground at Sydney, Ekka, etc, and the 3 Christchurch tracks, are to be found in tables, image-linked above.

The British Match Race Championship

The British MRC competition for 
the 'Golden Helmet'
was introduced in 1946.
See on : -   Br. MRC   GH   page.
Left: "The Two Champions".
Lionel van Praag
wearing the Australian Gold Helmet

meets British GH MRC holder Aub Lawson

in Sydney for the former's title, Sept. 1950.



More Golden Helmet programmes HERE

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