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Motorcycle racing

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Guest britannica.com

There are about as many forms of motorcycle racing as there are of automobile racing. The main types are road racing, trials, speedway, motocross, drag racing.

Road races are held on closed courses, parts or all of which may be public roads. The motorcycle road-racing world championships were established in 1949; in these races, machines are divided into several classes based on engine displacement, from 50 cubic cm (3 cubic inches) up through 125, 250, 350, 500, and 750 cubic cm. Local clubs and organizations all over the world have their own international road-race meetings throughout the year.

Motorcycle trials, which date back to pre-World War I days, are relatively slow, on-and-off highway events of long duration in which speed is not a determining factor. (See motorcycle trial.) Speedway racing, which came into being in the early 1920s in Australia, is conducted on short, flat oval dirt tracks for short distances. The machines used are ultralightweight, with small fuel tanks and small brakes.

Motocross is a type of cross-country race consisting of a specified number of laps over a closed course laid out on rough, natural terrain. Motocross racing was introduced in Great Britain and on the European continent in the late 1940s and early ’50s, and by the ’60s it had become a popular spectator sport. It was demonstrated in North America in the 1960s, and the first regularly scheduled series of motocross events there was held in 1970.

Motorcycle drag racing is an American event dating from about 1950. This type of racing consists of a series of acceleration, or top speed, contests, each between two racers, on a straight, smooth-surfaced course that is one-quarter mile long. Motorcycle ice racing started in Scandinavia in the 1930s and has spread to other temperate-climate countries. It is held on ovals on frozen lakes or on ice-covered stadium tracks, and the bikes use spiked (studded) tires. Motorcycle hill climbs are uphill-road races in which each rider races against the clock, and only one machine is in motion at any time.

Speedway racing, automobile or motorcycle racing on a racecourse or track, usually oval and flat. Both speedway racing and Grand Prix racing, which is done on closed highways or other courses partly simulating road conditions, began in 1906. Speedway racing became the dominant kind of automobile racing in the United States. Speedway racing for motorcycles began much later, originating in Australia in the 1920s. It also became popular in Europe by the 1930s and remained so. The racing is done on small, flat, oval tracks with lightweight motorcycles that have small fuel tanks and no brakes. Tracks measure about 350 yards (320 metres) and have unpaved surfaces of dirt, cinders, grass, or sand. Competition ranges from local to international in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Attendance at such races in Great Britain during the 1980s was said to be second only to that for football (soccer). World championships under the supervision of the Fédération Internationale Motocycliste were held from 1937.

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