An air-cooled, 500cc, Czechoslovakian Jawa Speedway bike is all skin and bones. With 75 horsepower and a 187-pound wet
weight, the power-to-weight ratio pulls your arms out of their sockets when you get on the gas. closest-contested motorsports in the world. Now semi- retired, Billy is the coach/team manager of the Hagon Shocks USA World Cup team. Billy was there to keep us from smashing into the intimidating outside wall. He told us to keep an open mind, because the techniques of Speedway were much different from the skills required in motocross. Yes, you need to twist the throttle, but without the proper technique, twisting the throttle will end in the dreaded wall. Billy took baby steps in teaching us about the frail-looking Jawa Speedway bike. He explained the dry clutch, 23-inch rear wheel, tiny forks, strange bar bend and proper riding stance. AS WE GOT CLOSER TO THE TRACK, WE FACED OUR NEXT DILEMMA. WE FORGOT THAT THERE WERE NO BRAKES. STOPPING REQUIRED THE FLINTSTONIAN ACT OF DRAGGING YOUR FEET.
Billy’s first challenge was to teach us how to ride the bike down to the track, which was a couple hundred feet away. First, we needed someone to help push-start the bike since it had no kickstarter and no neutral. All motion was controlled by the dry clutch. As we rode toward the track, we realized that we couldn’t turn to the right because the right footpeg would drag on the ground if we turned even slightly to the right. The left footpeg was no real help either because it was very
We honestly knew nothing about Speedway, apart from watching a few YouTube videos (mostly crash compilations) and having spent a few Friday nights at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds with the gang watching the races. In truth, we thought we were golden. It looked simple: just pitch it sideways, get on the gas and use the brakes coming into the corner. Not a good plan. THERE WAS NO BRAKE, SHIFT LEVER, RADIATOR OR SHOCK AND ONLY ONE FOOTPEG. THERE WAS, HOWEVER, A 500cc CZECHOSLOVAKIAN ENGINE THAT PRODUCED 75 HORSEPOWER.
First, there were no brakes. There was also no shift lever, no radiator, no shock, no starter and only one footpeg. There was, however, a 500cc, high-compression, single-cam, air-cooled Czechoslovakian engine that produced 75 horsepower. If it wasn’t for 1996 World Speedway Champion Billy Hamill, we would have dropped the clutch, rocketed head first into the wall and called it a day. Billy started racing Speedway at the age of 13, and at 16 he got his AMA Pro license. After a few years of racing in the United States, Billy knew that to make a career of Speedway he had to move to Europe. At the age of 19, he got a contract to chase his dream of becoming a World Champion in one of the fastest, shortest and