Torun GP

Saturdays Grand Prix from Torun in Poland reminded us all just how good World Championship speedway can be, when all of the correct ingredients are in place.

The principal requirement is for a decent racing circuit and the Torun track certainly fits the bill, with plenty of room for passing on the inside and outside as well as enough banking and dirt to enable those outside sweeps. During the Sky Sports commentary, Nigel Pearson mentioned that the legendary Swedish rider Per Jonnson, had played a leading role in the design of the track.

As far as the stadium goes, Torun is every speedway fans dream arena, with each seat offering a perfect view of the track. Saturday was a complete sellout, and the capacity crowd generated a great atmosphere, as the Polish riders raced into the distance to fill every spot on the podium.

With Tomasz Gollob & Jaroslaw Hampel setting the pace so far in this years championship, it could finally be the year that a Polish rider lifts the World Crown for the first time since 1973. Their chances have been boosted by the fact that regular contenders Jason Crump and Nicki Pedersen have lacked their usual consistency, and Emil Sayfutdinov is currently sidelined with a broken arm.

Gollob would certainly be a popular winner and he undoubtedly deserves his place in the record books as a World Champion, considering his efforts over the past decade and a half, since the formation of the Grand Prix series. At 39 years old, many had written off his chances, but on present form he seems to have lost none of his speed and courage on the track.

More great photos from Michal Szmyd.


Aerial View (Part Three)

Completing our look at the speedway tracks of Britain, we come to the National League, formerly known as the Conference League. These tracks are all very small with the obvious exception of the Isle of Wight, which is the longest track in the UK.

Track data from the British Speedway Track Directory

Aerial View (Part Two)

Our next collection of tracks are from the British Premier League which is essentially the second division of British speedway. I realise that referring to the second tier as "Premier" is a complete contradiction in terms, as the word is defined as "first in status or importance." However in the wonderful world of speedway, most people seem happy to ignore such glaring contradictions!

As far as the tracks go, the sizes and shapes vary significantly (even more so than in the Elite League.) As well as the traditional tracks that sit inside a greyhound track, or around a football pitch, there has been a new generation of purpose built, stand alone tracks such as Newport, Somerset, Scunthorpe & Redcar.

While these tracks are sometimes seen as "a track in a field" as opposed to a conventional stadium, they offer more freedom in terms of track design and of course there is the potential to develop a proper stadium in due course. Somerset & Scunthorpe in particular have established an excellent reputation for the standard of racing they produce. It is interesting to see the shape of the Scunthorpe track, as the two corners are completely different, making for a very unusual circuit.

Track data from the British Speedway Track Directory


Aerial View (Part One)

These are the nine British Elite League tracks, as seen from above. The shape and size of British tracks can vary considerably, compared to those throughout the rest of Europe. This is primarily because the UK stadiums are often shared with other sports such as greyhound racing and stock cars. When viewed from the terraces, the actual shape and proportion of the circuit is not always apparent, but from the air, you can see immediately how different some of the tracks are to each other. 

For instance compare the long sweeping corners and relatively short straights of Peterborough with the tight confines of Lakeside where the track is crammed inside the surrounding stock car circuit. Compared with Peterborough the Lakeside corners resemble hairpins. As well as the length and shape of circuits, the surface and camber can also vary considerably between tracks.