31st MAR 2012
Out west there was a speedway event that caused a bit of fuss every now and then. As it was occasional most locals didn’t mind it going on compared to the daily roaring of the lions over at the nearby zoo. Here, the thrumming of the idle engines and the throttling of the gas excited all the families that had come to see the 67th FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship at Western Springs Stadium. The event pitted 16 international motorcycle racers against one another in a competition to see who was the fastest at the speedway. The 413m speedway track was mainly dirt with the surface a bit damp and loose which helped the racers slide on their bikes when banking corners. The kick spray of loose dirt followed the racers as they powered through the course. At the starting block, 4 racers lined up for each heat each spaced a couple of metres apart, and before they shoot off into the circuit a procession of racer chicks perform a choreographed dance for the audience. With tight racing suits and matching mono-colour to each racer the chicks did a routine with whirling umbrellas to the song “Club Can’t Handle Me”, “Wild One” and many others. The 25 second routine was then cut short and the announcer called out the names of the racers as they revved up their engines. The race official does the last checks and then lets them speed off. The course lasts for 4 laps with the 3rd being signaled with a yellow flag with a black cross (for the last lap signal) and the finishing line waved with the familiar checkered black and white flag. The whole 4 laps could be done in 1 minute (5-10 minutes between heats), which made the heats run very quickly so having 20 heats sure showed plenty of talent with each racers getting 5 goes racing different opposition. Racers go in an anti-clockwise direction. For nearly all of the circuit the racers leaned on their bikes and steadied the banking with their left foot which slid over the dirt track. The footwear they use must have been very abrasion resistant to have it dragging the whole way. The winner’s songs played to the cheering and clapping audience as the announcer chimed in with the winner’s name. The ranked finishes in the heats (1st=3pts, 2nd=2pts, 3rd=1pt, 4th=0pt) meant point accumulation towards the speedway knockout stages so that 16 racers get reduced down the top 8 semi-finalists. Heat 21 and Heat 22 were the semi-final knockouts stage for 8 racers going down to 4. Then Heat 23 is the Big Final for the last 4 racers to decide the World Championship title. An American took the title with a Pole being runner-up and a Dane being 3rd place. The tournament had been well received and added much spectacle for the people watching it. We just hope that the lions don’t start complaining about the noise and fuss humans make.