Bikes, camera, action: Speedway Grand Prix 2024




The 2024 Speedway World Championship hits the shale later this month, with series one of an 11-round tournament being held at Donji Kraljevec in Croatia on 27th April.

Fifteen racers, led by current Polish world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik, will contest the Grand Prix series that will again be hosted at several major European cities, including Cardiff on Saturday 17th August.

Although the action will be accessible across major TV networks – including Eurosport and Discovery+ – there is only one place to properly sample the electric atmosphere: trackside.

Catching up with the three British contenders – multi-winning world champion Tai Woffinden from the Sheffield Tigers, blistering Belle Vue Ace, Dan Bewley, and ruthless Robert Lambert, I was keen to understand how they all prepare for the greatest show on earth.

Tai Woffinden and Dan Bewley

Talent-wise the Grand Prix field is pretty balanced. How important is mental attitude, and how do you prepare for the GP, as opposed to an ordinary league meeting? 

Dan kept things as normal as possible: “We ride against the same people in the Ekstraliga in Poland and the Premiership in the UK.” Although he did concede that it is a lot tougher. Robert reflected a similar perspective, but acknowledged that unlike a league match, the focus is entirely and utterly on one person – himself.

Tai – displaying the wisdom of many a Grand Prix campaign – provided a more detailed analysis of his pathway to success: “At this level, it’s all about having the full package – physically, mentally, and mechanically.” Rolled up within these key ingredients are mechanics, the carefully choreographed continental logistics, and not so secret elements of sleep and a nice hotel. He added, with his trademark reflective insight, “There is a much bigger picture than just rocking up to a league meeting. When all those pieces of the puzzle are in place – with a bit of luck – you are not far off.” 

Robert Lambert

Are you superstitious? If so, what routine do you follow and why?

Tai and Dan didn’t disclose any unusual routines; however, Robert reflected upon his personal practice and admitted that he may have become a tad superstitious over the years by engaging with the same ‘left-hand side routine’ with gloves and boots following the regimented regime. Furthermore, he insists on listening to music with Team GB colleague Tai providing the vibes!

Eager to follow up on this disclosure, I asked Woofy to elaborate: “I’m presently working on a Techno-Vibe collaboration with an Italian artist.” An upcoming track will be available later in May, followed by hosting a post-Grand Prix event in Warsaw, Poland, entitled “Explosion”, that will draw an audience of three thousand music lovers; fingers crossed, he will be wowing the UK public too in Cardiff after the British Grand Prix. The talented entertainer and entrepreneur revealed that this engagement is an important part of his alter ego outside the world of speedway, and helps significantly in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, since after a Grand Prix round he is so adrenalized that he can’t sleep until the wee small hours of the morning. Is there no end to his talents? The only way to adequately answer this question is to cheer him, Robert, and Dan on as they race across Europe.

Full Grand Prix calendar:

Round 1 – Croatia, 27th April
Round 2 – Wroclaw, Poland, 11th May
Round 3 – Germany, 18th May
Round 4 – Czech Republic, 1st June
Round 5 – Sweden, 15th June
Round 6 – Gorzow, Poland, 29th June
Round 7 – Cardiff, UK, 17th August
Round 8 – Wroclaw, Poland, 31st August
Round 9 – Latvia, 7th September
Round 10 – Denmark, 14th September
Round 11 – Torun, Poland, 28th September

Title photograph reproduced by kind permission of Taylor Lanning.
© Ian Kirke 2024 & uncredited photographs. 

Ian Kirke

As a kid, and latterly a dad and police officer, I realised that I have an almost endless list of things I want to make sense of. I suspect I am not alone. Hopefully, as a law graduate and post-graduate criminologist, my life observations reflect a degree of authenticity and balance – but I’ll allow you to judge that for yourself. Synthesising humour, grief, horror and hedonism, I think I’m an all-rounder! I am also a frustrated speedway promoter, passionate Notts County fan and part-time philosopher.

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