Last night I had the chance to watch the Swedish FIM Speedway Grand Prix on HD Theatre. It was my first time to see a complete speedway event.
What a cool race — the speed, color, action. A very action-packed format with lots of four-man, four-lap heat races, everybody full-on sideways, diving in and out. Excellent racing.
I’ve been aware of speedway since I was a kid, and I remember Bruce Penhall’s World Championship runs in the early ’80s. Later Penhall partnered with the caricaturish Eric Estrada in the ’80s TV series CHiPs, when he replaced Larry Wilcox during the 1982 season.
That was kind of a big thing, having a motorcycle racer on a popular TV show. Sorta like when little Ricky Nelson grew up on Ozzy and Harriet and went on to become a popular singer. C’mon, you all remember “Garden Party“, right? Well, maybe not…
Back to the subject — Speedway. Never saw a full race, just pictures in magazines and the occasional video clip. But watching the whole event in HD on a big screen TV was quite the show. I have to say it’s a pretty ballsy thing. Some young Russian kid won the main event after the only American competitor fell out of the semi-finals with a flat rear tire (there were some big ruts in the surface of the temporary track.)
I’d love to see a big-time speedway race in person. I googled speedway racing and found that it’s popular mostly in the northeast and, of course, California. But there’s a little track not far from my old home in Atlanta — Rutledge Speedway in Rutledge, GA — that has a short track and TT races and is supposed to hold some speedway now and again. Wow, for 15 years I lived less than 50 miles from that track and never knew it existed.
If you’re lucky enough to get HD Theater via cable or satellite (I don’t) be sure to check the guide for upcoming FIM Speedway Grand Prix races. It’s a blast BTW, American Greg Hancock finished 4th overall in the 2009 Championships.