Motorcycle Grasstrack is a form of motorcycle racing which typically, in its current form, takes place on a flat track consisting of two straights and two bends usually constructed in a field.[1][2] It is one of the oldest types of motorcycle sports in the UK with the first meetings having taken place in the 1920s.[1]

History

In the United Kingdom, kidney-shaped circuits were sometimes used to include a right hand bend, and undulating hillsides were also used to increase the challenge for riders.[1] The events traditionally occurred after haymaking and before harvesting season on newly-cut fields.[1] Postwar grasstrack circuits included "permanent" venues such as Brands Hatch and Mallory Park which were not simple oval shapes, although solo motorcycle races were run in an anti-clockwise direction. Later, these were converted into tarmac circuits with races using the more common clockwise direction associated with modern roadracing.

In the modern era, it is generally similar to Speedway with races usually taking place over 4 laps from a standing start. Unlike Speedway, which has 4 riders per race, Grasstrack racing can have many riders in each heat and the circuit is normally longer allowing higher speeds. Grasstrack has three solo classes, 250 cc, 350 cc and 500 cc together with three sidecar classes; left-handed 500 cc and 1000 cc (turning left) and right-handed 1000 cc (turning right).

The British Grasstrack season usually starts in early spring around the Easter holidays and runs through the summer/autumn months. More spectacular racing takes place at larger roped tracks including the Poacher and ASTRA Champion of Champions and Grand Slam meetings in Kent and in particular the most exciting meeting of all at the famous Rhodes Minnis circuit.

The pinnacle of the domestic Grasstrack season is the British Masters Championships. This official ACU championship is where the British champion is crowned in the mainstream 500 cc solo and 1000 cc right hand sidecar classes. Many famous Speedway riders such as 1976 world champion Peter Collins started their racing careers in Grasstrack. Some Speedway riders continue to take part in national Grasstrack meetings when their schedule permits. Grand Prix road racers John Surtees and Gary Hocking also began their racing careers in grass track competitions.[3][4] Other competitors from the postwar era included now-famous names such as Bernie Ecclestone and Murray Walker.

In Europe the same sport is often called Long Track racing.[5] This is exactly the same setup as British grasstrack which has tracks normally around 600–800 meters in length, but is held on the continent with tracks up to 1000–1200 meters in length and with speeds reaching 90 mph – 100 mph. The machinery used is the same as are the riders.

Grasstrack Motorcycles

Grasstrack racing motorcycles look quite similar to Speedway machines but there are different engine capacity limits for each class. In the UK there are classes for 250 cc (normally 2 stroke engines), 350 cc and 500 cc bikes (usually 4-stroke engines).[1] Unlike Speedway bikes which have no gears, Grasstrack bikes usually have a 2 speed gearbox.[1] Both Speedway and Grasstrack bike have no brakes.[1] The only other main difference is that speedway bikes have no rear suspension and are shorter in length, usually by around 10–12 inches.

Also there is a class called Pre-75. These are bikes that have been made before 1975. The three classes in Pre-75, are 250, 350 and 500 cc.

As well as solo racing, sidecar racing is also quite popular and often very spectacular. There are mainly three recognised classes, 500 cc (using solo 4-stoke engines) and two 1000 cc classes (using stock road bike engines). Again, they all run on methanol, and the 500 cc class and the 1000cc Lefthand sidecar class run anti-clockwise around the oval track, and the 1000 cc class clockwise. The reason behind the difference in direction is often asked, the main reason being the origin of each class. The 500cc sidecars having been developed in mainland Europe, where drivers drive on the right of the road. The 1000cc sidecar has been developed in the UK where road users drive on the left. Therefore, the sidecar wheel is always found on the nearside of the vehicle.

The fastest recorded oval lap record is held by UK's Kelvin Tatum MBE at Rastede (1000 m Grass/Sand surface) in Germany at an average speed of 144.31 km/h.

Junior Grasstrack racing

Riders can start in Grasstrack racing at a young age (6 years old in the UK). Junior Grasstrack clubs cater for riders with motocross bikes as well as Grasstrack machines.

Organisation

Whilst there are several Grasstrack racing clubs in the UK, the sport is regulated by the governing body of British motorcycle sport, the Auto Cycle Union (ACU) who organise an annual British championship.

British Championships

The British Grasstrack Championships take place at two separate events. The 250 cc and 350 cc solo, 500 cc sidecar and 1000 cc Left Hand sidecar championships take place at the ACU British National Championships. The 500 cc Solos and 1000 cc Right Hand Sidecar Champions are decided at the ACU British Masters Championships. Qualification for the National Championships are by way of a National Gradings List. There is a British Masters Qualifying event held to determine qualification for the British Masters Final event.

The current ACU British Champions are Zach Wajtknecht (250 cc Solo), Tom Perry (350 cc Solo) James Shanes(500 cc Solo), Josh Goodwin/Liam Brown (500 cc Sidecar), Richard Webb/Jake Pope (1000 cc Left Hand Sidecar) and Rod Winterburn/Billy Winterburn (1000 cc Right Hand Sidecar). The ACU British Under 21 Champion is Luke Harris.

The British Championships are important events, particularly for 500 cc solo and 500 cc sidecar riders. The results of the championships determine who is to represent the nation on an international level for the FIM World Longtrack Championships and the UEM European Sidecar Championships. More recently a World Championship has emerged for 1000 cc Right Hand sidecars. Qualification is determined on results from both the British Masters event and the British Sidecar Speedway Championships. Many 500 cc solo riders race Grasstrack for their profession, therefore a good result in the British Masters is essential.

List of British Grasstrack Champions[1]

Year 250 cc Solo 350 cc Solo 500 cc Solo 500 cc Sidecar 1000 cc Sidecar LH Sidecar Under 21
2017 James Shanes Zach Wajtknecht
2016 Tom Perry James Shanes
2015 Zach Wajtknecht Tom Perry James Shanes No Winner
2014 Zach Wajtknecht Andrew Appleton James Shanes
2013 Cameron Woodward
2012 Cameron Woodward Tom Perry
2011 Andrew Appleton Tom Perry
2010 Richard Smith Andrew Appleton Shaun Harvey/ Tom Perry
2009 / /
2008 Paul Cooper / Rob Bradley/Shaun Simpson
2007 Paul Cooper Glen Phillips / /
2006 Andrew Appleton / Rob Bradley/Shaun Simpson
2005 Paul Hurry / /
2004 Paul Hurry / /
2003 Paul Cooper Joe Screen / Rob Bradley/ Chris Harris
2002 Paul Hurry / /
2001 Paul Cooper Kelvin Tatum and

Glenn Cunningham (shared)

/ Rob Bradley/ and

/ (shared)

Matt Read
2000 Kelvin Tatum / /
1999 Kelvin Tatum / /
1998 Rained off-No Champion / Rained off-No Champions
1997 Paul Hurry / /
1996 Kelvin Tatum / /
1995 Paul Hurry Joe Screen / /
1994 Simon Cross / /
1993 Mark Loram / /
1992 Joe Screen / /
1991 Mark Loram / /Martin Bailey
1990 Simon Wigg / /
1989 Joe Screen Simon Wigg / /
1988 Steve Schofield / /
1987 Simon Cross Martin Hagon / /
1986 Steve Schofield Simon Cross / /
1985 Steve Schofield Simon Wigg /Chris O'Connell /
1984 Steve Schofield Martin Hagon /Chris O'Connell /
1983 Steve Schofield Simon Wigg / /
1982 Steve Schofield Simon Wigg /Chris O'Connell /
1981 Steve Schofield Simon Wigg / /
1980 Jeremy Doncaster Steve Schofield Trevor Banks / /
1979 Trevor Banks / /
1978 / /
1977 No event /
1976 No event /
1975 Chris Morton No event /
1974 No event /
1973 No event /
1972 Peter Collins Don Godden No event /Brian Knight
1971 Peter Collins No event /
1970 No event /
1969 No event /
1968 No event /
1967 Fred Watts Don Godden No event /
1966 Don Godden No event /
1965 No event Don Godden No event /
1964 No event Alf Hagon No event Bryan Rust/
1963 No event Alf Hagon No event /
1962 No event Alf Hagon Alf Hagon No event Bryan Rust/
1961 No event Alf Hagon No event /
1960 No event Alf Hagon No event /
1959 No event Alf Hagon Alf Hagon No event /
1958 No event No event Chris Vincent/
1957 No event No event /
1956 No event Alf Hagon No event /
1955 No event No event /
1954 No event Alf Hagon Alf Hagon No event /
1953 No event No event /
1952 No event No event /AN Other
1951 No event No event /AN Other

The British Sand Ace Championship takes place on Guernsey. The current champions are Zach Wajtknecht and & .

European and World Championships

The FIM, the World's motorcycle racing authority run a World Longtrack series as well as a World Team Cup. Although both events are named 'Longtrack', they often are competed for on Grass. The World Longtrack series competitors must qualify through a series of Qualifiers. Riders must be selected by their nations motorcycling authority. Riders then must compete in Qualifying rounds and hotly contested Semi Finals before reaching the World Longtrack series proper. The World Team Cup involves each team consisting of 3 riders racing each other for points. The top team at the end is the winner. Great Britain are the current World Team Cup Champions.

The UEM hold a European Grasstrack championship, where qualification is similar to the World Longtrack. However, the competition culminates in a one-day event. The UEM also holds a European Championship for sidecar competitors. 500 cc sidecar machines from several countries compete in 2 semi finals, and the championship is decided on a one-day final.

List of World Longtrack Champions

World Individual Championship (1957-1970)

Year Solos
2019 France Dimitri Bergé
2018 Germany Martin Smolinski
2017 France Mathieu Tresarrieu
2016 Germany Erik Riss
2015 Netherlands Jannick de Jong
2014 Germany Erik Riss
2013 Finland Joonas Kylmakorpi
2012 Finland Joonas Kylmakorpi
2011 Finland Joonas Kylmakorpi
2010 Finland Joonas Kylmakorpi
2009 Germany Gerd Riss
2008 Germany Gerd Riss
2007 Germany Gerd Riss
2006 Germany Robert Barth
2005 Germany Robert Barth
2004 Germany Gerd Riss
2003 Germany Robert Barth
2002 Germany Robert Barth
2001 Germany Gerd Riss
2000 England Kelvin Tatum
1999 Germany Gerd Riss
1998 England Kelvin Tatum
1997 Germany Tommy Dunker
1996 Germany Gerd Riss
1995 England Kelvin Tatum
1994 England Simon Wigg
1993 England Simon Wigg
1992 Switzerland Marcel Gerhard
1991 Germany Gerd Riss
1990 England Simon Wigg
1989 England Simon Wigg
1988 Germany Karl Maier
1987 Germany Karl Maier
1986 Denmark Erik Gundersen
1985 England Simon Wigg
1984 Denmark Erik Gundersen
1983 United States Shawn Moran
1982 Germany Karl Maier
1981 England Michael Lee
1980 Germany Karl Maier
1979 Germany
1978 Germany Egon Muller
1977 Sweden Anders Michanek
1976 New Zealand Ivan Mauger
1975 Germany Egon Muller
1974 Germany Egon Muller
1973 Denmark Ole Olsen
1972 New Zealand Ivan Mauger
1971 New Zealand Ivan Mauger
1970 Norway
1969 England Don Godden
1968 Germany Manfred Poschenreider
1967 Germany Manfred Poschenreider
1966 Germany Manfred Poschenreider
1965 Sweden
1964 Denmark
1963 Sweden
1962 Sweden
1961 Finland
1960 Germany Josef Hofmeister
1959 Germany Josef Hofmeister
1958 Germany Josef Hofmeister
1957 Norway

List of European Grasstrack Champions

Year Solos Sidecars
2017 England James Shanes Netherlands
2016 England James Shanes Netherlands
2015 Netherlands Jannick de Jong Event cancelled due to accident at practice
2014 Netherlands Jannick de Jong England
2013 Netherlands Jannick de Jong Germany
2012 Germany Stephan Katt Germany
2011 Germany Martin Smolinski Netherlands
2010 England Andrew Appleton Germany
2009 Germany Stephan Katt Netherlands /
2008 France Stephane Tresarrieu Germany/
2007 Netherlands Theo Pijper Netherlands /
2006 Germany Stephan Katt Germany /
2005 England Paul Hurry Netherlands /
2004 Netherlands Theo Pijper Germany /
2003 Germany Gerd Riss Germany /
2002 Germany Germany /
2001 Netherlands Germany /
2000 Czech Republic Germany /
1999 Germany Bernd Diener Germany /
1998 Czech Republic Germany /
1997 No Event Germany /
1996 Australia Steve Johnston Germany /
1995 England Kelvin Tatum Germany /Wolfgang Maier
1994 Germany Robert Barth Netherlands /
1993 England Germany /
1992 Netherlands Germany /
1991 Russia Germany /
1990 Germany Robert Barth Germany /
1989 Germany Robert Barth Germany /
1988 Germany Germany /
1987 Czech Republic Germany /
1986 England Simon Cross Germany /
1985 England Germany /
1984 England Martin Hagon Germany /
1983 Germany Germany /
1982 England Jeremy Doncaster Germany /
1981 England Germany /
1980 Germany Germany /
1979 England No Event
1978 England No Event

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Grasstrack Champions". speedwaychampions.com. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Grasstrack GB". grasstrackgb.co.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  3. ^ Noyes, Dennis; Scott, Michael (1999), Motocourse: 50 Years Of Moto Grand Prix, Hazleton Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-874557-83-7
  4. ^ "Gary Hocking". ozebook.com. Archived from the original on 8 September 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Long Track Champions". speedwaychampions.com. Retrieved 20 March 2017.

See also

External links