End of June, beginning of July, Great Britain hosts more great motorsport events than you can shake a dipstick at.
Plus there’s that thing with rackets and balls and strawberries and cream. And the one with blazers, rowing boats and fourteen pints of Pimms. What will they think of next?
But we were sensible. We avoided the crush and the crowds and headed straight for Wales. Together with 40,000 other fans. Millennium Stadium Cardiff was the venue. Gladiators were the draw. The FIM Speedway Grand Prix the event.
As you may know, we recently were sent to Coventry. Not as a punishment but to witness first hand the insanity that is speedway (check out the ‘Gone in Sixty Seconds’ article). How else can you describe riding a bike that accelerates faster than a F1 car? Has only one gear? And no brakes!!
If that mix wasn’t heady enough, put sixteen riders on methanol fueled bikes inside an Olympic sized stadium, along with some of the most fervant race fans in the world and the atmosphere really buzzes. The racing is pretty spectacular too…
The British Grand Prix is actually only one of 12 rounds of a series that takes place in Europe and also heads down under too. But the meeting in Cardiff is the probably the blue riband event in the calendar. The way Monaco is to F1. Yeah OK. Monaco and Cardiff? Not much in common except on this occasion the weather…
The other factot that makes this different from normal meetings is that most of the time these riders are team players. Like footballers. But in the FIM World Championship they’re only look after No.1. Racing for themselves, their own glory and the title of World Speedway Champion. So not a lot at stake then.
This year’s competition saw four riders capturing the attention of the fans. Current World Champion Greg Hancock. Young pretender Tai Woffinden. Australian Chris Holder and current bad boy of the bunch, Nicki Pedersen, who was recently on the receiving end of an irate Greg Hancock’s flying tackle after having had a coming together at a race meeting a fortnight previously.
But in a reverse of what was to happen in the other British Grand Prix taking place at the weekend, while the favorites showed strongly for most of the event, in the final heat it was Danish champion Niels-Kristian Iversen who came through unexpectedly to scoop the crown, with Chris Holder keeping the faith in second and Peter Kildemand taking third.
With each heat taking around 55 seconds for four laps, the racing was, as expected, fast and furious all evening with a great atmosphere made all the more electric by taking place under a closed roof. The universal booing for a rather unpopular Nicki Pedersen also added a certain frisson to proceedings!
Whilst it doesn’t reach the decibels of pre-hybrid Fromula One, the sound level inside is pretty mighty, so much so that the firework finale at the end seems fairly low key!
If you get a chance we’d really recommend you give it a try next year, tickets are already on sale so that shows you how popular it is. With a great view of all the action, a guaranteed dry seat (can’t say that about Silverstone), it’s a great event that any petrolhead (and their family) will enjoy. In the words of Arnie – we’ll be back.