European LT/1000m chmpshp
- German LT championship
- East German LT chmpshp
- North & South Track champions
- ADAC Gold + Silver Helmets
- Austrian LT championship
- Netherlands LT chmpshp
Czecho(slovak) LT chmpshp
- Hungary LT championship
- USSR & Russian LT chmpshps
- Estonian LT championship
- Ukraine LT championship
- Turkmenistan LT chmpshp
- Romanian LT championship
- Finland LTC - Norway LTC
- Sweden LTC - Denmark LTC
- Nordic/Scandinavian LT Chmpshp
- Australian LT Chmpshp
- Australian LT Grand Prix
- New Zealand LT Chmpshp & GPs
- US national and regional LT Chmpshps
- Canadian LT Championship
- 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 500m - 1000m, (v. 425m. maximum for speedway.)
The World Championship GP series, with rounds commonly 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.
The European Long Track Championship was a forerunner of the World Long Track Championship, staged initially in the immediate pre-war years, and without FIM recognition until 1957, when it was termed the European 1000m Championship. After the World LT title was established a European Grass Track championship was initiated, see Grass Track page for detail.
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
A European Long Track Championship was first staged in the hugh Strahov Stadium, Prague, a 672yd. (614m.) track with a sand surface in 1937. Winner was Austrian Martin Schneeweiss, with West Ham riders also having succeess, but hostilities stopped racing until 1947, when the Hammers pair of Malcolm Craven and Canadian Eric Chitty topped the rostrum, with future 3x winner Leif 'Basse' Hveem third. Germans Josef Hofmeister and Manfred Poschenreider went on to each score hat-tricks after the FIM formalised the event as the 1000 metre European Championship, subsequently to become the Long Track World Championship in 1971. (Only limited information is known of the immediate post-war events, revealed only in 2017: research is ongoing.)
Lt.>Rt, Eric Chitty, Basse Hveem, Karl Killmeyer, Malcolm Craven.
GERMANY, AUSTRIA & NETHERLANDS
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.
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.)
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
Dutch national 'Motorcycle Track Racing Championships' pre-War titles were mostly on grass, some on dirt, but when the competition recommenced in 1950 the KNMV sanctioned no Grass-Track but instead ran “Long Track” competitions in the above years. The more popular Grass championship followed, and continues to the present day. On the Alkmaar track Tinus Metzelaar took 4 titles in the first five championships.
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German Long Track Championship Finals:
E.Gy 1952 Panitzsch W.Gy 19984 Muhldorf E.Gy 1988 Lubbenau Gy. 2012 Pfarrkirchen
4 Wigg, 12 Schofield, 11 Maier, 8 Lausch, 3 Loram, 7 van Direk
ADAC GOLDEN HELMET
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
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.
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
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.
Erik Riss, 2014 German & World Long Track Champion
EASTERN EUROPE & USSR STATES
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.
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.
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.)
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
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.
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.
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'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.)
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.
Nordic LT Championships:
1949, Odense DK; 1959, Aarhus DK; 2005,
Billund DK; 2008, Jubek GY (for DMU)
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
(Data in this table is a duplication of results on 'America' page.)
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.
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
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.
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
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
Prestatyn 1969 Motherwell 1972 Chasewater 1977 Hereford 1977 Haldon 1979
Chris Pusey & Peter Collins, at Kendal 1972
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- BRITISH SAND RACING CHAMPIONSHIP
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.
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