Racing Tip List for Speedway Riders
First, check out Stan Bradbury's Speedway Handbook
Readers have added their speedway knowledge.
(Jan. 24, 2001)
I have a couple of things for your "Racing Tip List" that you may or may
not want to include.
When I was a kid, I was racing flat track. First minicycles and then
motorcycles. I was a fast middle class rider but never an expert.( The
experts at the tracks I was racing were the likes of Kenny Roberts, Gary
Scott etc, and then later Mamola, Lawson, Rainey and a hundred others. Mid to
late 70s southern California flat track.) I didn't care, I was having too much
About 1988 I wanted to get into speedway and I was talking to some of the
old day fast guys about "learning" to go fast. More to the point about
learning to back it in to the corners. All of them said that the only way to
learn how to back a motorcycle in to a corner was to do it. They ALL said
that the way that they went in to a corner on a half-mile or quarter-mile was
to hold the throttle open all the way into the corner until after the back
end came around, and then to back off and steer in with the throttle.
I have seen a lot of riders try to learn by trying to go a little faster
and a little faster and ten years later they were still trying.
So when I was on my way to my first ride on my speedway bike I had an idea
of how to learn what I wanted to learn. I got on the starting line, revved it
up and dropped the clutch. Without cracking the throttle I rode it into the
turn. After I picked myself up off of the ground, I repeated step one. Then
again. The fourth time I made it all the way to the back straight. The fifth
time to turn four. And so on until by the end of the day I was doing three
and four laps at a time and the only time I was cracking the throttle was as
I was starting to learn how to steer with it in the middle of the corner.
(Fighting it every inch of the way.)
My riding buddy was a new to first division rider and he was tracking like
he was on a rail. He had a new frame and a fresh motor and I had a fresh
motor but a tired frame.(He said this happens when a used bike like the one I
bought is crashed and straightened a couple of times, it gets springy.) He
let me try his bike at the end of the day, (very brave) and like magic, I put
down four very good laps, backing it in, steering through with the throttle
and powering out with the front end dancing up the straight and all the way
in to the next corner for four laps.
So in conclusion,(dang this got long) the way to learn how to go fast is
to "Go Fast"...pick yourself up and do it again until you can do it without
the picking yourself up part. And also to make sure that your frame diamond
is fresh and that your seat bolt that holds the front and back halves of the
frame together is VERY tight.(that is why such a strong bolt is used) I have
since found that there are many things that will make a speedway bike not
"want" to turn, but without these things first, you probably won't have
enough fun to even get to any of the lesser things.
Like wheel and TIRE balancing and trueing, tire pressures, gearing,
weighting the bike, steering with body weighting...
So like I said earlier, I don't know whether or not you will want to pass
on my "Crash Course" in riding...but I hope you do, because for me, riding
was WAY more fun from then on.
Some Guy From The Old School
My name is Eric Carrillo, I have been Junior Speedway for a little over
season. All of us know how hard it is to find a place to practice. I have
asked many of the top racers that I have come into contact with and asked them
on what they would do different if they knew what they knew now and was to
start all over again. ( 90%) said the same thing "PRACTICE " We finally found
the place of our dreams. I was riding at this private speedway practice track
yesterday and the tip I would like to share with who every reads this is that
"YOU HAVE TO WANT IT" If you want it, racing will come to you naturally. Of
course a proper set up that you need for your riding style always helps. I
found that the more I keep the rear wheel spinning the easier I could put my
bike where I want it. I have read all of the tips on your page. Thanks for
having such a great site Kim!
Keep that rear wheel spinning Eric "COYOTE" Carrillo E-mail: Teamcoyote@aol.com
I read, with interest, the comments regarding ignitions. I have
successfully modified the ignition system of virtually every current make of
speedway engines. Riders tell me that the engine characteristics are improved by
removing the flywheel type generators and replacing them with an external
ignition system. The throttle response appears to be smoother and the engine
response time quicker. The starting characteristics are also vastly improved.
For speedway use, the intensity of the spark can have a noticeable effect. A
high intensity spark, on a grippy track with soft tyre compounds will give a
lot of drive, but if the tyre compound is hard and the track is slick, then
this combination will probably give you permanent wheel spin and no drive.
Retarding the ignition timing by around 6 degrees may help. A relatively weaker
spark, although probably ideal for a slick track, will leave your engine
underpowered on a deep or grippy track. I have known a rider say " With this
type of spark the best I can hope for is last place, but with that type of
spark I have a good chance of winning all of my races ", and then go out
onto the track and prove the point. During a Speedway race the engine is running
at virtually constant high end revs so there is very little, in comparison,
to be gained from using ignition advance curves.
You don't have to buy the best to be the best. When I first started out,
I was told that everything I had to buy should be brand new.
That's OK if you've got an endless budget. My tip is normally the best people to buy
second hand gear from is the overseas riders visiting your country.
Just about every time, you will end up with the latest gear for half the price of new.
Mainly because they need all the money they can get to get themselves back home...
SENDER=Just some guy!
I'm in need of a tip. I purchased a Laydown Jawa. It doesn't seem to
react the same as the old bike. Do you gear these different? (shorter or
Is there anyone out there with a Laydown that can answer this one?
SENDER=Just some guy!
When using a 'Laydown' motor, you generally take one or two teeth
off the rear sprocket. As a Laydown revs harder this has the effect of reducing
power and increasing drive.
SENDER=Just some guy!
Need another tip......re: trailing link suspension. The bike I bought
has the top shock mount about two inches above the rubber band adjustment plate.
Is this a correct position? If not what is the theory of where it should
From Kim Gregory
Gearing is very important. Not only to get the best
combination of maximum speed
/ acceleration for the track size, but also to steer!
If you find the bike is pulling toward the outside fence coming
out of the turn, change to a rear sprocket a few teeth BIGGER.
The slight increase in power will keep the rear tire from getting
too much traction, and keep you off the fence.
At a recent race at Paris, the surface was very slippery due to
a recent addition of small stone. Most riders used their familiar gearing
for the track, but Chris Slabon used
a much SMALLER rear sprocket. He over geared for the track size,
but reduced the power at the rear wheel, gaining traction coming
out of the corner. He won the event easily. A rider could get near
this result with very careful throttle control, but changing the
gearing is a more reliable way of obtaining this effect.
One more thing I learned this season: There was a rough spot in the
corner that the back wheel hooked up in ( grabs traction, and straightens the
bike out, and sends you towards the fence ). I found that I could blast through
the rough area by just pushing the handlebars down to the left about two inches,
leaning the bike down a little farther.
Keep your body stance the same as you were, sliding through the smooth area,
and pull the bike back up as before when you clear the rough section.
Use the throttle the same as the smooth section.
From: Lucas Morgante E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
To stay up on your bike, go in hard over the ruts (bumbs), keep
elbows up,don't back off around corner or gate starts.
Regard's Lucas Morgante p.s. I'm a junior rider
Track Preparation / Construction
From: Len Dillon
Clay oval dirt tracks are all over the USA and Canada. They are
used for stock car racing, motorcycle flat track, and horse racing.
They can be an ideal speedway track, but are usually too rutted and
have holes that develop in an average race night that would prevent a good
speedway program. I have prepared Niagara Racway's track for many
years and have learned the trick for this type of surface.
Clay tracks must be watered to reduce dust. An even light sprinkle
before every race will do this, but would make for a very long and
slow program. Once clay is wet, it takes a long time to dry, so the
common approch is just to soak it really good before the racing starts.
But clay binds together strongly when wet, and the water does not soak in very
deep with only one watering. If only a thin layer
is wet, it peels off of the dry clay underneath, leaving ruts, and patches
of wet and dry clay.
- The track must be first graded to remove all signs of ruts.
- The water must be added evenly, and heavy, making sure the water truck
does not cross the wet surface.
- If there is any signs of ruts, wait till the track can be driven on
without caking mud on the tires, and grade it again.
- Repeat until smooth.
- Repeat the watering until the wet clay is more than 3 inches deep. Wait
between watering for the track to dry enough that the water truck is not
creating ruts. It usually
takes 6 to 10 hours of repeated watering to get the proper results.
From: Steve "Bad Boy" Lucero
When adding new dirt to a track, don't have it dumped on the track!
It will be impossible to distribute it evenly on the track. Instead,
have it dumped in the pit area, and shovel it onto the track from a
moving pickup truck, so that the new surface is added in layers. It
will then wear off in layers during racing, giving an even surface
through the whole night. The riders will be more confident on it and
the crowd will get closer, more exiting racing as a result.