- Finland - Sweden - Russia (+Jnr) - USSR
- Germany - Czechia .- Switzerland - Austria
Holland, Canada, - and Gt.Britain
Machinery & Equipment
The Ice Speedway addressed here is sometimes also known as 'Ice Racing' (e.g. by UEM; FIM use the term Ice Speedway; in Sweden it's Isracing; in mainland Europe it's Eisspeedway,) and it covers methanol-fuelled 500cc machinery, most commonly Jawa/JRM. The extended frame bikes are fitted with spiked tyres, (28mm spikes, 150 and 200 in the front and rear tyres respectively,) as opposed to conventional speedway machines and Japanese-built Short-/Flat-track bikes, both of which can be fitted with small studs and, with the former, can permit sliding on bends when competing on small indoor ice skating rinks, - often called 'Speedway-on-Ice'. These 2 alternative forms of ice racing are not covered here, but see Supplement below.
Ice speedway bikes have no brakes and just 2 gears (to facilitate starts,) and racing is staged on frozen lakes, flooded oval stadium tracks or speed-skating rinks, primarily in Scandinavia, - Sweden and Finland - , plus North and Eastern Europe, - Germany, Czech Republic and Russia - , though Netherlands also stages a round of the World Championship Grand Prix, the "FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators" series, at a speed skating venue. ( For Ice Racing World Championships and its GP series see WORLD CHAMPIONS page.)
Finland has a long history of Ice Speedway racing, staging national championships almost continuously since WW2, though with a lull in the 1970s. Antti Pajari was an early Finnish triple ice champion familiar to British speedway followers having spent a season at Coventry before representing his country in the 1960 & '62 speedway WTC QRs. In the '80s Jarmo Hirvasoja scored 5 consecutive wins amongst his total of 7 championships, but he was better'd by the 8 titles gained by Antti Aakko over the past 2 decades. Aakko was also Nordic Ice Champion in 2008 and '10, but against the Russians in the European forum has managed only a bronze medal. (n.b: Finland also stages 125cc Ice Speedway championships as well as Ice Racing (Short-track) championships.)
Aakko in 2012, 8x Champion
Rt: 2011, Finland's 1,2,3: Seppo Siira (3rd), Mats Järf (1st), Henri Malinen (3rd)
has been claimed that racing on ice took place as early as the 1920s
on the frozen lakes of Sweden, but it was in the '30s that Torsten
Sjöberg, with a style recognisable today, the use of long spikes,
and a custom-made ice-bike frame, became their first Ice Speedway
champion and moved the sport rapidly forward in Scandinavia. After
the war an Ice Speedway league was introduced, (and continues today,)
whose teams included many British dirt riders , and annual national
(Shown right; Sweden v. USSR c.1970.)
In the '60s and '70s two riders, Bernt Hornfeldt and Kurt Westlund monopolised the Swedish title with 7 championships each until, in 1980 a new name appeared on the silverware that would recur over the next 3 decades.
Veteran Per-Olaf Serenius, (aka "Posa", below left.) amassed a total of 22 Swedish national Ice championships over 33 years. Racing on machinery tuned by former Wolverhampton and Oxford rider Hasse Holmqvist, Posa, at 69 years of age will be calling it a day this February, 2017. Stefan Svensson (below, centre ) is the current 2016 champ and has taken 7 national and 3 Nordic titles.
Svensson Per-Anders Lindstrom
Champ 2014 Champ, (5x) Nordic Champ 2011, 2012
RUSSIA - USSR
with speedway, Ice Speedway racing in Russia and the USSR started in
earnest around 1960 with immediate concurrent national championship
events, and its most successful ice riders of the time, Boris
Samorodov and Gab Kadirov, also represented their nation on the dirt
tracks, where the former just missed the Wembley rostrum in 1963 with
a 4th place, (to be repeated at Ullevi in the following year.)
Though the USSR fell away from the international dirt track scene it
and Russia has strengthened its hold on the Ice Speedway front. (See
World Championship table.)
Whilst Kadirov had more successes on the World stage, Samorodov won the Russian national title 5 years on the trot along with 4 Union titles, being concurrent champion in '61, '62 and '63. Over more than 3 decades of parallel championships just 3 riders managed the undisputed position of being double National and Union title holder in the same year, - Tarabanko, '74; Bondarenko, '79; Nistcenko, '88 - , the honours being otherwise evenly distributed amongst the ice warriors of egalitarian USSR.
Since standing alone, Russia's riders Balashov and Vitaly Khomitsevitch have each achieved 4 national championship wins, the formers' being consecutive, but both have been topped in the last decade by World Champ Nikolai Krasnikov's 7 state titles.
Russian 1,2,3, 2013 (Lf-rt.): Dmitry Koltakov (3rd),
Nikolai Krasnikov (1st, with the Vladimir Karneeva 2005 Russian Junior Champion,
Memorial Cup,) Daniel Ivanov (2nd) Pawel Chayka
With the exception of Russian competitors, very few ice speedway riders are below 30 years of age, the reverse of the dirt speedway scene, in fact, of the non-Russians, the most successful are above 40: Gunther Bauer, (Germany) 41; Franz Zorn and Harold Simon of Austria, 42 & 46; Stefan Svensson & PO Serenius (Sweden), 54 & 65 respectively. The Russian exception is due in part no doubt to the existence of supportive training programmes and, since 1987, a national 'Junior Ice Championship', (plus the weather conditions that pertain in the central land mass to give a more extended riding season than elsewhere,) that in turn brings about their successes on the international scene and the Grand Prix series. Nikolai Krasnikov, having taken the Russian U21 title at 16, was able to add the World Championship as well as the national senior title 4 years later when just turned 20.
The first official German Ice Championship was won by Michael Lang in 1993, (when he also took his second World Championship Bronze medal,) and he went on to take another 2 titles. Then Russian-born Vjatscheslav Nikulin, (a 6x World Bronze medalist,) riding on a German licence won the title 5 times, but Sud-Bavarian Gunther Bauer, riding a KLM-Jawa has surpassed them both in two respects: with a 7th German title by 2011, to add to his World Silver medal from 2003.
2010 1,2,3: Stefan
Pletschacher (2nd), Gunter Bauer
(1st), Max Niedermaier (3rd).
Austrian riders including Harold Simon (below, left,) and Franz Zorn (below right,) have regularly operated at world class level with appearances in both the Individual and the World Team Ice Championships, Zorn having made the podium 3 times. Both still made the top 8 in the 2013 'Ice Warriors' World championship Grand Prix series, the only non-Russians to do so. The one national championship staged for the Austrian title was an event in 2008 won by Zorn.
Ice Speedway racing was a healthy sport in the days of the CSSR when Zdenek Kudrna took the national Ice title on 8 occasions. He appeared on the World Championship podium in 1977 and '79, and also reached the speedway World Final in 1979, the year that he joined Exeter Falcons in the British League. He later moved to Birmingham until being fatally injured in a Grass Track event in Holland in 1982. Following partition the Czech championship was an Open event with Western riders taking places on the podium. After a lull the Klatovsky brothers Antonin & Jan have, in recent years emulated their father Antonin Snr, a triple Czech ice champion of the '80s, and together taken 5 titles.
Below ctr: Stanislav Dyk, 4x Champ; Antonin Klatovsky 2005, 2006 Champ;
Jan Klatovsky 2009, '12, '13 Champ
The first Swiss Ice Speedway championship was held in 2000, since when riders Heinz Goldi and Simon Gartmann have taken 5 of those 13 titles at the Flims Ice arena. Goldi's performances have been particularly exceptional as, having lost a leg in a road accident he races with a stump (rather than using his prosthetic limb.)
Heinz Goldi in action ; 2011: Below: Lt, S.Gartmann (2nd),
Stugala(PL), Rt,R.Haring (3rd)
Heinz Goldi, Champion 2005, '06, '10; Simon Gartmann, Champ
For obvious reasons, without a UK track there have been but a few Brits at any one time that have ridden ice speedway, and no national championship that fits the FIM/spiked-tyre style of racing has ever existed. (For indoor events such as at Telford's 'speedway-on-ice' see Supplement below.)
When a Swedish Ice Speedway League was set up post-War a number of National League riders including Ken Adams and Cyril Rogers traveled there to ride for Swedish teams but it was former Sheffield and Ashfield rider Bruce Semmens (pictured right,) that had the greatest success, and he rode widely in Scandinavia, to be acclaimed the best of the UK dirt riders that tried out the spiked sport in those early times.
When Ice Speedway was granted World Championship status for the forthcoming 1966 season the UK's Grass Track champ Don Godden, along with Malcolm Simmons was entered into the initial year's preliminary Semi's in USSR. Ivan Mauger, along with his Newcastle Kiwi team-mate Goog Allen, participated in the '67 qualifiers but failed to progress beyond the entry stage, coming in at a lowly 16th place at Novosibirsk.
The UK continued to have rider representation each year, accumulating more than a dozen ever-changing speedway names up to the mid-'70s, after which time Bruce Cribb, another New Zealander riding on a UK licence, was more often a lone Brit. In the mid-'80s he was joined by participants from other spheres of motorcycling, e.g. road-racers Ian Pratt, Neil Tuxworth, etc. (Perhaps their 'no-slide/low-angle/knee-to-the-surface' style seemed more appropriate, but success was no greater.) Britain's most successful ice racers were Cribb and Andy Ross, both having reached 2 World Finals, Cribb in 1978 (as reserve) and in '88; Ross in 1969 and '70, achieving 5th= place in the Nassjo, Sweden final of 1970. One of several dirt- and grass- riders from the Fens and from Yorkshire that took to ice speedway around this time, - Hughes(Joe), Greer, Wyer, Boocock(Eric) - , Ross was a successful grass track and speedway rider with Peterborough at the time, having been UK 500cc Grass Champion in 1968 before captaining the first ever Panthers side in 1970 and topping their score chart until a broken leg the following season curtailed his riding career.
Photo'd Rt: Joe Hughes, Grass-tracker to Panthers speedway inductee with Ross in 1970, whom he replaced on Ice in '72, subsequently to become major equipment supplier to riders in all spheres.
New Zealand born Bruce Cribb raced UK speedway for more than 20 years, and competed in ice speedway events for a similar, briefly broken, 20 years, from the 1970s to 1989 plus a 1993 comeback as a member of the GB Team in the Berlin Semi-Final along with Steve Smith and Graham Halsall. He is remembered by many in the UK for the lap record attempts he undertook on British dirt tracks, beating speedway record times at 16 venues, often by several whole seconds, cornering at angles never previously seen by British supporters. Today, with Mark Uzzell and Graham Halsall now retired, it leaves only Rob Irwin and Roger Newton taking part in continental events at a local level, lack of support/nomination from the ACU thwarting opportunity. Uzzell found it necessary to live in Sweden to avail himself of rides and practice opportunity: after 20 years of Ice Racing Rutland all-rounder Graham Halsall, the Brit with the greatest continuity in this form of the sport, has given up competing following the loss of a lower leg a few years ago on the road during the course of a rally in Ireland. Ice Brits
Bruce Cribb with Michael Lang Graham
Ice Champ.) Mark Uzzell
The European Ice Racing Championship, resurrected in 1999 after a limited number of events in the mid '60s has, like the World Ice Championship, been dominated by Russian riders who only once have failed to take the gold medal in this UEM event when Austrian Franz Zorn succeeded in 2008. Zorn and fellow countryman Harold Simon have been the only riders to pose any serious threat to the East Europeans in this competition.
The Nordic Ice Championship is, in effect a Swede/Finnish event, the former having had much of their own way with Posa Serenius having taken 8 championships.
The 2012 winner, Per-Anders Lindstrom, is seen right, with Olsson & Johansson, (Serenius having been excluded in the Final after touching the tapes.)
SUPPLEMENT 5 - ICE
Results of other Ice Speedway international competitions can be found HERE,
Doc't.1. - Master of Spikes (Gy), Santa Cup (SW), Sanok Cup (PL) etc.
Also given, - Doc'ts 2 & 3 - , are data on alternative ice race classes outwith that of this page, including the British Open Championship at Telford plus similar USA events.
The speedway-derived Czech 500cc Jawa/JRM engine dominates the Ice Speedway scene, almost exclusively so amongst Russian riders, though Italian GM motors are also popular and both can be found with proprietry tuning and heads, such as carried out by KLM, (former German speedway & Long Track champ Klaus Lausch,) and Hasse Holmqvist (former Wolves & Oxford rider, for PO Serenius.) The successful Austrian built KTM 450cc Short-Track/Motocross engine has also been tried but not seriously adopted.
Such motors were fitted 'laid down' at one stage but most riders have reverted to upright mounting, and also found 2-valve engines more appropriate, as ice speedway motors require a completely different torque characteristic to that of a conventional speedway motor: at start up the rear wheel has no slippage and deft throttle control is necessary, 4-valve power can be too brutal, giving front wheel lift and rider control difficulties. The extended frame bikes are fitted with spiked tyres, (28mm spikes, 150 and 200 in the front and rear tyres respectively,) as opposed to conventional speedway machines
The forces exerted on the extended wheelbase cycle frame are more severe in ice racing and hence a rigid framework is essential, - laydown engines reduce this - , so substantial structures with duplex down-tubes, as seen below, are the norm today. The combined fold-up rear trim and seat moulding makes access speedy and simple, even at the track-side. Rider protection, as well as the usually body armour includes calf and knee pads, - the cut rubber car tyres of the past now replaced with purpose leg mouldings - , and armadillo-type gloves are popular.