LONG TRACK RACING


EUROPE
- German LT championships
- Austrian LT championship
- Czecho(slovak) LT chmpshp
-
USSR & Russian LT chmpshps
- Estonian LT championship
E
- Ukraine LT championship
- Turkmenistan LT chmpshp
- Romanian LT championship
- Hungary LT championship
- Netherlands LT chmpshp

SCANDINAVIA
- Finland  LTC        - Norway  LTC
- Sweden LTC        - Denmark LTC
- Nordic/Scandinavian LT Chmpshp
AUSTRALASIA
- Australian LT Chmpshp
- Australian LT Grand Prix
- New Zealand LT Chmpshp & GPs
AMERICA 
- US national and regional LT Chmpshps

- Canadian LT Championship
UNITED KINGDOM
- British Long Track racing.
- Sand Racing Championship


LONG TRACK RACING
    Under the FIM designation of “Track Racing,” covering Speedway, Long Track and Ice Racing, Long Track racing in mainland Europe and Scandinavia embraces competitions on grass, dirt and sand surfaces, with track lengths of the latter generally in the region of 1000m, (v. 425m. maximum for speedway.)
    The World Championship GP series, with rounds in France, Holland, Germany and Czechia, (- see 'World Champions' page for details of Long Track world champs, - also Long Track European Champs - ,) includes tracks of grass and sand, - termed Langbahn or Sandbahn in German - , and with laps of a kilometre or more speeds can average over 140kph per lap, (90mph ave.) Often on Trotting tracks or horse race tracks, similar races are held in Australia and New Zealand, where Ivan Mauger set a world record average lap speed of 144.66kph back in 1986 which still stands.
     Much Long Track racing on the continent takes place on Holy Days and holidays, and in Germany it's more popular than speedway. The competition may be one of just 2 or 3 ‘track’ meetings, (or even the circuit’s only event,) that the club holds in a season and so is often staged in conjunction with the local authority on a big scale alongside other festival activities, drawing large crowds. Such big events, - speedway or Long Track - , generate sizeable Appearance moneys which attracted top speedway riders from the UK on many Sunday afternoons prior to the removal of the Iron Curtain and the opening of the Polish speedway league to British riders. (The name Mauger can be seen throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s amongst many lists of winners.)

     In Holland a national Grass Track championship has been staged continuously since 1956, it being the most popular form of track racing in the Netherlands. But after the pre-War championships, - raced on grass - , the first national titles in the '50s were staged on sand tracks until the grass title was re-instated. Winners of these Dutch Long Track Championships can been seen appended to the table of Dutch Grass title winners on the Grass Track page of this website.

    The UK-staged 'British Sand Racing Championship' does not equate to continental "Sandbahnrennen", (which can be a sand dressing on worn grass or a deeper bed of sand on earth.) Raced on the Channel Island of Guernsey, the event takes place on a sandy beach at low tide; see below.

Above,  Jorg Tebbe,  2015 German Long Track champion

GERMANY  &  AUSTRIA


Germany
    The German national Long Track Championship has been dominated since 1988 by Gerd Riss with 10 wins, and Robert Barth with 6 successes. Prior to their time Karl Maier won the title 8 times and Egon Muller 6, pre-unification. All four riders have appeared in speedway World Finals and/or SGPs, (Barth only in SGPs,) with Muller emerging as speedway World Champion in 1983.

    Prior to unification an East German Championship was also held, and early champion Hans Zierk had the most successes with 7: he later gained wider fame as an engine tuner par excellence for many top international riders, both Long Track and speedway, from Briggo thru to Gerd Riss.

    Riss, (seen rt,) from Bad Wurzach in Wurttemberg, also dominated the Southern German Long Track Championship with 12 wins between 1988 and '2009, but in the Northern equivalent competition it was Egon Muller that amassed the greatest number of championship wins, - 14 over a 22 year period. However Muller's accumulated total of 25 successes across all the above tabled championships (plus 'Grass Track' wins on the preceding page,) failed to approach those of Riss, with a staggering 46 titles. The Swabian finally retired aged 45 after sustaining extensive leg and body injuries which resulted from a crash in the French round of the 2010 LT Grand Prix series.

    In 2014 Erik Riss, younger son of Gerd, won the German National title: he also took the World Long Track Championship at his first attempt, the youngest ever winner at 19 years old. ( photographed in action, further down the page.)

Austria
    In 1936 Austria ran a 'Motorcycle Track Racing Championship' over 4 rounds concluding at the Krieau trotting track in Vienna, (a dirt course still in equestrian use today.)
Other venues included both grass and dirt surfaces. Races for 250cc, 350cc and 500cc classes were staged, though only the 250 and 350 championships were given official status by the national authority, the Supreme National Sports Commission of Austrian Automobile Clubs. Perhaps because of political unrest the next known championships weren't until the early 1950s when Fritz Dirtl, 3-times national speedway champion and the 1949 winner of the Czech Golden Helmet, proceeded to add 3 consecutive Long Track championships to his score.  A number of championships were also staged in the 1960s.

                   Below, action from Vienna-Krieau;    a 1953 programme ;    Fritz Dirtl, LT Champion, 1952-'54


 German Long Track Championship Finals:
      
E.Gy 1952 Panitzsch                     W.Gy 19984 Muhldorf                    E.Gy 1988 Lubbenau              Gy. 2012 Pfarrkirchen


            

Herxheim Germany 1990, World Long Track Final.

4 Wigg,  12 Schofield,  11 Maier,  8 Lausch,  3 Loram,  7 van Direk


ADAC GOLDEN HELMET

   The German automobile association, ADAC, have annually since 1956 on a rotational basis at tracks in the North, South and central Germany, put up for Long Track competition a Golden Helmet trophy. Although in the last decade the trophies, new each year, have been well distributed, including a Danish, Dutch and British winner, Gerd Riss has totalled 8 wins over a 20 year period. Other successes were gained by Manfred Poschenreider 5 times, Alois Wiesbock 4x, Josef Hofmeister 3x, Ivan Mauger 2x, Wigg 2x, Tatum 2x, plus speedway World Champions Knutsson, Lee and Muller. In 2013 Englishman Andrew Appleton took both the Gold and the Pfalz Silver Helmet, below.
                                                                        1978 ADAC GH, Altrip
.


ADAC-Pfalz Sandbahn SILVER HELMET

     A prestigious Open International Long Track competition, the ADAC-Pfalz Silver Helmet, - "Silberhelm" - , has been held annually in Herxheim, Germany for over 50 years and has always attracted star speedway and Long/Grass Track riders for the much-coveted trophy. Periodically Herxheim is nominated to hold the annual ADAC Golden Helmet competition, (above,) when it substitutes the regional ADAC's silver headgear, the last occasion being 2015 and won by Jonas Kilmakorpi.

     Historically, Josef Hofmeister and Manfred Poschenreider each had 5 wins in the early years, until international participation in the form of Don Godden, UK, and Ole Olsen, Denmark, made its impact in the 1970s. Again Gerd Riss dominated another track competition with 11 wins from 1988 onward, interrupted only by Brit Kelvin Tatum in the early ‘00s with his 5 wins. Other successes were achieved by Simon Wigg and Marvyn Cox from GB, and Hans Nielsen of Denmark. 

  
               above: Gerd Riss,  2009 Herxheim ADAC  Golden Helmet winner




Herxheim

As well as 2 variants of its Long Track course, - 1000m. and 963m. - , Herxheim has 2 speedway tracks, 283m. and 190m. in length. The photo right illustrates the size difference between speedway and Long tracks. The smaller speedway track is used for training. The 963m (inner) Sandbahn presents bends of 2 different sizes in order to test riders abilities and make for greater spectator appeal.





       below: Manfred Poschenreider, 1968 European Sandbahn  (= World LongTrack) Championship
   
  
From the mid-'60 on Manfred Poschenreider had an amazing decade of Long Track successes, winning 3 consecutive World Championships (then termed the European 1000m Chmpshp,) and 5 rostrum placings,  3 West German national Championships, 5 ADAC Golden Helmets and 5 Pfalz/Herxheim helmet successes. 
 
   
                  Simon Wigg (below): Like fellow World Champion Poschenreider 30 years earlier,
                   demonstrating the importance of aerodynamics necessary for Long Track speed.
  
                  Erik Riss,   2014 German & World Long Track Champion                

 EASTERN EUROPE & USSR STATES

CZECHO(SLOVAKIA)
12-times Czech speedway champion Jiri Stancl added 6 national Long Track titles to his collection whilst in more recent times Zdenek Schneiderwind (photo rt,) also achieved 6 championship wins. The competition has been 'open' to non-nationals in latter years.


USSR / RUSSIA
Long Track championships for both the collective USSR states and for the state of Russia have been raced for annually, as they have for speedway championships. Both Tarabankov and Klytchkov have done the double, taking the Russian and the USSR LT championships in one season, and Vladimir Gordeev has won a speedway and an LT championship in the same year.


ESTONIA
As well as hosting the Soviet Union's LT championship the Hippodrome in Tallin also staged its own national Long Track Championship. Local boy Rene Aas, (photo rt,) runner-up in the U21 Speedway World Championship in 1990 (ahead of Tony Rickardsson in 3rd place,) took his country's LT title in the following 2 years and went on to join Sheffield Tigers in 1993. (He is now domiciled in the UK.)



EAST GERMANY
The former communist East Germany Long Track champions are listed above with West Germany + the unified state. Only once in the decade of the '50s did Hans Zierk (photo rt,) fail to win the East German LT title. He relocated to the West in 1960, taking NBM titles and subsequently became famed for engine tuning, including for Briggo, Wigg, Tatum and Riss.


ROMANIA  &  HUNGARY
Romanian Dirt Track championships were held in the early years of motorcycle sport at Baslov and Bucharest, including at the  ¾-mile track in the capital's velodrome. Nicolae Ionescu-Cristea (seen rt, #3,) was a 4-time winner.
.
It is believed that Tivadar Zamecsnik won a similar Hungarian Track Championship in 1932, but information on racing in the Magyar state at this period in time is limited.


UKRAINE  &  TURKMENISTAN
Little is known about Long Track racing in these 2 former USSR states. One time Ukrainian Ice race champion Vladimir Forostyanya relocated to the central Asian country of Turkmenistan around 1980 and proceeded to take 6 national Long Track championships there in the subsequent years.





Leipzig E.Gy, 1952                 Gornja Radgona,            Marianske Lazne, CZ            Mar.Lazne CZ, 1983   
   World LT Chmpshp          Yugoslavia, 1977, 1983               World LT ¼F                  Czech LT Chmpshp     

 SCANDINAVIA

FINLAND
    Long Track racing in Finland and a corresponding national LT championship was established well before a speedway national championship, - 1936 v/v 1955 - , and the championship has been held every year without fail since '36 other than the war years. (Results of the 1975 final were declared void because of a rule infringement.)

    Jari Kortelainen has been the most successful rider with 7 titles gained between 1988 and 2001; Timo Laine (photo rt,) took 6 titles between 1962 and '72.



NORWAY
    Here also Long Track racing has prominence, the Norwegian LT championship having been established in 1932, the same year as a speedway championship. There was a lull in the '90s but in the present century the championship has been upheld. Jon Odegaard in the '60s & '70s had 6 national successes but the record of Leif 'Basse' Hveem (
photo rt,) is unsurpassed. He dominated the post-war scene and took 8 national Long Track titles plus 8 'Nordic LT Championship' wins (in addition to 9 speedway nationals,) between 1946 and 1957.



DENMARK
    The Danish Long Track championship was initiated shortly after their Northern neighbours but has fallen from the sporting calendar over the last decade, primarily because of the closure of Long Tracks such as Charlottenburg and Korskro, - Danish club SM Gandrup holds its DMU-status Long Track meetings across the border at Jübek in Germany: see p.GH5 for Gold Bar and Gold Bear LTs - , and because of the pre-eminence of speedway following the nation's international successes on the shorter tracks. Former Cradley and Belle Vue rider Kristian Praestbro was a 5x LT winner in the 1970s but outstanding amongst Scandinavian title holders is Kurt W.Pedersen (photo rt,) who dominated the regional scene from 1959 to 1969, i.e. after Hveem's retirement, with 11 consecutive championship wins. KWP had rides with Norwich in 1961 but was unable to show the same form on The Firs relatively smaller 425 yard circuit that he was capable of at home, even though he was also the contemporaneous Danish speedway champ.
   1953 Long Track Chmpshp, Aarhus Trotting track.

SWEDEN
   Sweden's Long Track involvement at national level has been more spasmodic: there were national championships staged pre-war, whilst the 1981 final was stated to be the first official event and the competition in the two preceding years at least having 'unoffical' status. Former Monarch and Heathen Bernt Persson (
photo rt,) won that first post-war official, with the last in 1995 an 'open' event won by Norwegian Gjermund Aas, (making him a unique triple winner across the region by taking the Long Track championships of Norway, Finland and Sweden in turn, plus the combined Nordic title.)




NORDIC CHAMPIONSHIP
   First raced for as early as 1926, data on this event though thus far incomplete, does show the early superiority of Engstrom (DK) and Hveem (NY) pre- and post-war, and the Finnish and Norwegian predominance over the last decade through a number of various riders.

(Rt: Bjorn G Hansen, Norwegian LT Champ 2011,'12,'13; Nordic LT Champ 2011.)

Nordic LT Championships:
1949, Odense DK;                       1959, Aarhus DK;                  2005, Billund DK;           2008, Jubek GY (for DMU)


 AUSTRALASIA

Australia and New Zealand Long Track championships
                   
& LT Grand Prix,  (incl'g 5-mile Chmpshps.)


    With Australia being acknowledged by most as the birthplace of speedway many of the showground tracks that ran speedway would, by size at least, constitute being 'Long Tracks', i.e. greater than 440yds or 425m. As early as the mid- 1920s "5-Mile Dirt Track Championships", national and state, were being contested, - 5 laps of a 1 mile circuit, in various classes - , in which Billy Conoulty on his Douglas (below left,) had many successes.

 
                             Billy Conoulty  1925                                                          Chris Watson  1995

    However the first modern day Long Track Championships were staged post-war at the 1-mile Port Pirie track in the state of South Australia, (designated 'Australian 5ml. Motorcycle Speed Championships', and with an 'Unlimited' top class which often featured 1000cc bikes alongside JAPs and ESOs,) where UK-based Provincial Lge riders like Geof Mudge, Ivan Mauger and 3x-winner Jack Scott were successful champs.

    In the last 20 years, on shorter alternating venues, - Port Pirie became a ½ml. track from 1967 onward - , Long Track championship meetings have again been staged, pulling in international LT riders from Europe including World Champions such as Simon Wigg, Kelvin Tatum and Gerd Riss, most frequently for promotions of national Championships and Grand Prix run by former champion Ivan Mauger, and coupled with similar events in New Zealand.

    The most successful Anzac over this period has been Aussie Chris Watson, (above rt,) who has taken 6 Oz Championships and GPs as well as 3 New Zealand titles over a 20 year period between his first in '89/90 and his latest in NZ in Nov. 2010. (See also the Australasia page.)

                                             
  Australian Long Track Championships,     Port Pirie 1991                           Bathurst 1995

      Aust LT Grand Prix,
           
Canberra 1995             Tamworth (NSW) 1998          Shepparton (Vic) 1999.      NZ Lg.Trk GP Ch'ch 1996

 AMERICA:

  USA  and  CANADA 

   (Data in this table is a duplication of results on 'America' page.)


USA
Whilst the above competitions are principally ½ mile events, (800 metres,) a few Long Track championships have been at ¼ml. venues as the majority of US speedway tracks are a mere 1/8 mile, (200 metres,) and hence anything greater is perceived as Long Track. Ascot Park in Los Angeles had both ¼ml and ½ml circuits and the promotion has staged race meetings on consecutive nights on alternate tracks. Bikes are rarely the extended frame of European machines but are the standard speedway frame and used on all size circuits. Long Track racing today is almost exclusively in Ohio at the Canton and Wauseon tracks promoted by former champion Scotty Brown.


CANADA
As part of Canada's Flat Track racing programme Long Track championships were established in the '80s. After 2000 the championship events were incorporated into the Speedway 'Series' championship, (see 'Alternative Championships' on the America page.) Speedway champions Len Dillon and John Kehoe dominated the event and added the Long Track accolade to their collection of championships.



GREAT BRITAIN     - Long Track Racing
                                          - Sand Racing Championship
.
  - LONG TRACK RACING

     No Long Track national championships have ever been established in UK. Several Long Track ventures were initiated in the UK in the 'seventies following initial stagings in North Wales and Kent, - listed below - , though none were British championships as, despite claims in some publications, such a title was never established.

    Promoted as Long Track meetings as opposed to grass track racing, (though Astra MCC used the term 'Speed Track' for the Lydden meetings), most were run by, or in junction with, local motorcycle clubs, with surfaces varying from grass, sand, shale, or crushed limestone, and were held to attract both the top speedway riders and, hopefully, the travelling speedway supporters: other clubs continued their meetings as Grass Track competitions but with the added participation of world class speedway stars and continental grass/long track riders, e.g. at Ludlow and Driffield, where Ivan Mauger had successes in 1975 and '80. (These are not included here: Grass Track champions are listed elsewhere. n.b. Hereford, in '76 ran the "Grass Track GP", in '77 the "Long Track GP", in '78 the (official) "European Grass Track Chmpshp".)

 (Lt: Ole Olsen at Prestatyn,1969; note hub brake and 3 levers.)
    In more recent times, since the LT World Championship became a GP series in 1997, the UK has staged rounds at the grass circuits of Abingdon(2x) and Collier St. Tonbridge(2x) between '98 and '03, but it is the 1000m Skegness 'Lincolnshire Poacher' course that claims the fastest UK circuit, and which hosted the 2011 European Grass Track Championship.


Prestatyn 1969             Motherwell 1972             Chasewater 1977               Hereford 1977               Haldon 1979
 


Chris Pusey   &   Peter Collins,  at Kendal 1972

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
.

 - BRITISH SAND RACING CHAMPIONSHIP
.


    Bike racers in the U.K. have often taken the opportunity to practice on wide open beaches, - Ainsdale Sands in Lancashire gave many Liverpool and Belle Vue novices including the Craven brothers, their first opportunity - , but in the Channel Islands a beach is the only venue for any off-road track racing. Sand Racing had been held on Guernsey beaches since before World War 2, organised by the Guernsey Motorcycle & Car Club who today stage the ACU British Sand Racing Championship for solo and sidecar machines. Local Guernsey boy Hugh Saunders was one of only a few Channel Islanders to have made it into speedway, having practiced sliding on sand at the end of the '60s, before establishing himself at Hackney and Rye house throughout the 1970s. In the '80s Marcus Bisson from Jersey rode speedway for Weymouth and for Poole before winning Sand Championship races in both the 250cc and 500cc classes in 1988.
    When motor racing on public roads was banned in the UK in the 1920s enthusiasts on 2 and 4 wheels turned to sand beaches where flat straights of sufficient length were to be found and speed record attempts and competitive racing of cars and motorcycles became very popular, the latter embracing sprints, trials and circuit events. Both stripped-down road bikes and purpose-built off-road machines competed in club-organised Sand Races on the foreshores of resorts, - where spectator number often reached 5 figures - , as well as in more remote locations, a phenomenon that continued well after WWII. A formal British Sand Racing Championship was inaugurated in the 1970s following an unofficial try-out and the competition continued until 1998 with a full range of solo classes, from 125cc to 1000cc/Unlimited, plus sidecars. In this era multiple rounds were staged principally in the North-East at Wallasey and Southport, the North-West at Redcar and Filey, and the Channel Isles of Jersey and Guernsey. Other clubs, both ACU and AMCA, in Port Talbot, in Lincolnshire, and on the Isle of Man, also staged successful Sand Race meetings. The
Mablethorpe Motor Cycle Sand Racing Club, which unusually runs a winter season of race meetings, is now in its 46th year.
    At the Guernsey MC&CC meetings modified road machines were used originally but in today's prestigious Condor Ferries 'SandAce' competition introduced in 2006, specialised 500cc GM and Jawa 'slider' machines, i.e. in Grass/Long Track frames, are the norm, solo bikes being supplemented in the last five years with 1000cc sidecars at the re-establishment of a 21st
 century British Championship. (Monthly club meetings in addition feature MX, Junior and Cadet classes and a range of 4-wheel categories.)
    In its earlier incarnation, winners of the British Championship included John Whalley and Mike Clarke from Guernsey, Honda-mounted Mike Baybutt, Wayne Holland and Andy Daniels from the NW, but Stockport's Declan Eccles, also on Honda, excelled with wins in all classes throughout the '80s decade and onward.
    For the present day Guernsey one-day championship a
track of approx. 900 metres is laid out by cones, mindful of tidal condition for the day. The field can comprise around 24 solo participants, plus 16 sidecar crews and include many top UK national and international grass track and long track riders as well as local racers from Guernsey and Jersey. Each takes part in four heats with the highest scoring 8 solos and 6 sidecars qualifying for their respective “sudden death” finals. The finishing positions in the finals determine the overall result. 

    Grass-tracker Mitch Godden (righttook all but one of the SandAce titles before moving over to 3 wheels, while south-coast speedway and grass racer Danny Warwick became a 3x ACU champ. In 2013 it was necessary to decide the outcome by ballot with only half of the race programme completed. Warwick, Rodney McDonald and Andrew Appleton were all level, with a perfect score from their two heats when disaster struck and two major accidents on the extremely wet and windy circuit forced the meeting to be abandoned. The current 2016 champion is the former 3x Youth world Track Racing champ Zach Wajtknecht. 

n.b: At places like Weston-Super-mare, Weymouth and Skegness an annual event of a different form of foreshore racing, more often termed 'Beach Racing' or 'BeachX', an off-shoot of Enduro and MX, incorporates jumps and dunes, natural or man-made, lasting up to 3 hours in duration with fields of several hundred riders. These competitions are not addressed here.

     Video. 2012 Championship

              
            
Local Guernsey racer Anthony Bougourd                                                  Guernsey  2014
.


Wirrall 100 Club,  Wallasey 1944                                  1963                                                       1963


           Ainsdale 1950                                                Jersey 1964                                      Isle of Man 1994
.



             Guernsey action

   Mablethorpe, Lincs.' club event, 2015.


      Co. Kerry, Eire

More Long Track Championship programmes HERE



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