Basics of Speedway Bikes and Riding
Speedway bikes are fundamentally very simple in design. There is a light frame with the minimum of suspension. The engine is 500cc and runs on methanol. There is only one fixed gear (modified by changing the rear sprocket) and no brakes! The track is a vague oval shape with two straights and 4 bends (I know it can look like 2 big bends but it is considered 4!) and is covered with shale.
These bikes are capable of moving from a standing position to 60 mph is around 3 seconds so there is plenty of power there! To slow down, and get round the bends, the riders pitch them sideways and slide them into the corners, which is aimed at reducing speed while still providing the drive to move the bike forward around the bend.
Basics of a Race (or a heat)
A race consists of 4 laps and typically it has 4 riders, 2 from each team. The rider who comes first gets 3 points, the second rider gets 2 points and the third rider gets 1 point. No points for coming last I'm afraid. You will need to understand rider bonus points at some stage but this doesn't count towards the team score.
From a spectator's point of view, we believe that the great thing about a Speedway race is that you can get a view of the whole track, so wherever and whenever there is some overtaking, you should be able to get a view of it.
Home riders wear Red and Blue helmet colours (the better rider typically has Red). Away riders wear White and Yellow helmet colours (the better rider typically has Green).
There are (invisible) gate positions when the riders line up at the tapes for a heat. They are numbered from the inside (nearest the centre green) from position or gates 1 to 4. Gate 4 is often considered the worst gate (as it makes the rider in line with the longest route around the 1st and 2nd bends) but this is not necessarily the case based on track conditions and the individual rider's style. Some useful basic rules to know are:
When officially called by the referee, a rider must get to his starting position within 2 minutes. If not, he is excluded.
The rider must not touch the tapes with his tyre. If this happens he is excluded, but has the option of going off a 15-metre handicap in the re-run.