While the previous article explained the variations of off-road racing, this one covers a few remainders of off-road racing and some other formats of motorcycle racing like Flattrack, Speedway, Ice Speedway, Top Fuel Drag and then some!

Enduro

Enduro to endurance racing is what Motocross is to road racing. Therefore, Enduro is the off-road variant of endurance racing. This discipline focuses on the endurance of both the rider and the machine testing the consistency in the performance of both. The most traditional form of endurance racing is Time Card Enduros. In a traditional time-keeping enduro, riders leave together in groups or rows, and each row starts at a certain minute. In these type of events, the participants have to complete lap (usually longer than 16 kms) which is predominantly off-road. The lap often takes the competitors through forests and such with natural obstacles and varying terrain.

The aforementioned lap is made up of varying stages and the target is to complete the lap in exactly that time. There are penalties for being both early and late. Speed Stages are also a regular part of Time Card Enduros where the fastest time is needed. The usual length of these events is 4-5 hours but there are some events that are run over the course of a few days. In the latter, maintenance work is needed which is to be carried out within a limited time window or while the race is running.



Major events in the enduro calendar are the World Enduro Championship and International Six Days Enduro in addition to some national events such as the event governed by AMA. The World Enduro Championship (WEC) was started in 1990. The championship is run under the FIM and generally consists of around eight or nine Grands Prix spread around the globe. These events are split into two days (and two different races), from which points towards the world championship are awarded.

The International Six Days Enduro is one of the oldest off-road events in the FIM calendar. It is being run since 1913! The event includes riders representing their countries forming national teams in the process. This event is often referred to as the "World Cup of Enduro" or the "Olympics of Motorcycling". The World Enduro Championship and several other championships currently categorize enduro motorcycles into three classes; Enduro 1 (100 to 125 cc two-stroke or 175 - 250 cc four-stroke), Enduro 2 (175 to 250 cc two-stroke or 290 - 450 cc four-stroke) and Enduro 3 (290 to 500 cc two-stroke or 475 - 650 cc four-stroke). The motorcycles are similar to off-road motorcycles with slight modifications pertaining to the nature of the sport i.e. making it legal for the public road portions.

Hare Scramble

As we mentioned before, Hare Scrambles can be referred to as the spiritual predecessor of Motocross. Hare Scrambles differ from Motocross in the manner that these kind of races are usually run on natural terrain. And that is one of the most difficult aspects of the sport because the track may not remain the same. Also, a hare scramble can vary in length and time with the contestants completing multiple laps around a marked course through wooded or other rugged natural terrain.

The winner is the contestant who maintains the highest speed throughout the event. Hare scrambles start the race with a staggered starting sequence. Once on the course, the objective of the competitor is to complete the circuit as fast as possible. The race consists of wooded areas or open fields. The natural terrain tests the riders' abilities to navigate through obstacles such as creek beds, logs, hills, mud, rocks and ruts. Some trails are cut to 30 in (760 mm) or less so motorcycle handlebars will not fit between trees, requiring special skills to navigate.



The usual categorization of the participants in a hare scramble is determined by the skill level of the rider and the displacement on the engine on their motorcycles. Many hare scrambles categorize rider ability in three categories, A, B, and C, A being the highest skill level. The engine size thresholds in hare scrambles are; 0-50cc, 66-85cc, 85-100cc, 124cc-200cc, 201-250cc, and larger than 250cc. There’s also another criterion, which is age. Once riders reach a certain age, they are eligible to enter the “age classes” although they are not forced to: 30+ (30+), 35+ (Veteran), 40+ (Senior), 45+ (Super Senior), 50+ (Master), 55+ (Silver Master), 60+ (Golden Master). The age classes are then categorized by the skill categories as well, for example Vet B or Sen A.

Rally Raid or Cross-country Rally

In essence, a rally raid event is a long enduro race but referring it as just that, is not enough. One of the most challenging and arduous of all disciplines in motorcycle racing, rally raids are also one of the most popular events around the year. The length can vary from 2-3 days to as many as 15 days and the total distance covered in these kind of races can be anywhere from 600-700 kms to 5000 kms!

The terrain ranges from sandy dunes and forest roads to mountain roads and dry river beds among others. And because of this, this discipline is known to test skill in navigation in addition to the driving skill and endurance of rider and motorcycles. The most prominent and well-known event on the calendar is the Dakar Rally, also referred to as the toughest rally in the world, which lasts from anywhere between 10-15 days!



Even though many different kinds of vehicles like 4x4 racers and buggies, we are only going to focus on the motorcycles or the Moto class of these rallies. The Moto class is divided into three groups. Group 1 is comprised of Marathon motorcycles which are mildly modified production motorcycles which are further divided based on the engine size i.e. greater and less than 451cc. Group 2 Super-Production bikes which are modified substantially more than Group 1 motorcycles and are sub-divided similarly by the engine capacity greater than or less than 451cc. Group 3 is reserved for Quad-bikes with division based on the engines which are either more or less than 500cc.

In addition to the Dakar rally, there are other notable events like Silk Way Rally, Merzouga Rally, Rally of Morocco and Baja Russia Northern Forest (taking place entirely in snow) amongst others. In addition to these, FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship and FIM Bajas World Cup are the most prominent events on the rally raid calendar of a year.

Track Racing

Here’s another discipline in motorcycle racing that has a lot of branches, track racing. This is a form of motorcycle racing where competitors race against each other on oval tracks (mostly unpaved). The racing is done between 6-8 competitors (varies) around the track in a counter-clockwise direction for a set number of laps. Multiple races are run as a part of a single event but the rider with the most points in the end wins.

While the length of one lap of the oval differs, the classification of track racing is done on the basis of the surface of the track. Track racing has been popular since 1920s and still remains a popular sport with FIM acting is the governing body. Specialized motorcycles are used in these kind of races and they are generally devoid of brakes and in some cases, run on Methanol. In one of the branches, Speedway, the motorcycles also lack rear suspension. Since the speeds are high and the track unpaved, the skill lies in the ability of the rider to steer the motorcycle through the corner without losing speed. Because of this, power-sliding or broadsiding is a technique common through most types of track racing variants.

Coming to the branches of track racing, the most prominent one is Speedway. These races take place on a flat oval track with the surface made of dirt or loosely packed shale. FIM regulations state that the motorcycles to be used in these types of races must have no brakes, run on pure methanol, use only one gear and weigh a minimum of 78 kg.



The next most prominent type of track racing is Flat Track Racing which many of us are familiar with. The track surface is made up of dirt and is oval in shape but what differentiates Flat Track Racing from Speedway is that the bikes have front and rear suspension in addition to a rear brake. This makes for a different cornering technique than the one used in Speedway Racing. Many Flat Track racers end up moving to road racing. Casey Stoner is a prime example of that.

After Flat Track racing, there is Grasstrack. This race also takes place on a flat oval track which is usually constructed in a field. The motorcycles of this discipline are allowed to have two gears, rear suspension and no brakes. Unlike speedway though where there are 4 riders per race, Grasstrack can have more riders than that per race. It is also referred to as Grassbahn. After that comes Longtrack, also known as Sandbahn, is a variant of Grasstrack and has longer tracks i.e. upto 1-1.2 Km. Though the motorcycles used are the same as Grasstrack, here the same machines achieve up to 160 kmph, and yes, we are still on unpaved roads!

And now comes probably the most difficult and coldest, quite literally, type of Track Racing, Ice Racing or Ice Speedway. The race is just like speedway but is run on ice! Most of the technicalities of Ice racing is similar to Speedway, but the sport is divided into classes for full-rubber and studded tyres. The studded tyre category involves competitors riding on bikes with inch-long spikes screwed into each tread-less tyre, each bike has 90 spikes on the front tyre and 200 on the rear (or more).



In the studded tyre class there is no broadsiding around the bends due to the grip produced by the spikes digging into the ice. Instead, riders lean their bikes into the bends at an angle where the handlebars just skim the track surface!

And a few Others

We have covered almost all the major disciplines in motorcycle racing and a few that are left will be covered in this section. Out of the ones left, Drag Racing is probably the most well-known. Motorcycle Drag racing is also known as Sprints (not to be confused with the new 10-lap Superpole race or Sprint race introduced in WSBK). This format of racing involves two participants who line up at a dragstrip with a signalled starting line. When the signal is a go, the riders race down a quarter-mile (1/4 mile or 0.40 Km) long, two lane, paved straight road.



The winner is determined by the terminal speed (i.e. the speed recorded at the finish line) and the time taken to cover the ¼ mile, and therefore, the rider reaching the finish line first is the winner. The best known form of motorcycle drag racing is the Pro Stock Bike category. Pro Stock drag racing motorcycles have modified frames to suit drag racing but the modifications to the engines are limited. But then, there’s more… there exist drag racing motorcycles that make around 1500 horsepower, from a standing start they can cover the first 60 feet in less than a second and can reach 320+ kmph in less than eighth-mile or 660 feet! These motorcycles are the ones that belong to the Top Fuel category.

This brings us to this rather ‘interesting’ category named Top Fuel Drag Racing. The name of the game is probably derived from the type of fuel that is used to power the machines in this type of racing be it motorcycles, which are crazily powerful, or the Top Fuel Dragsters, which are the quickest accelerating racing cars in the world and the fastest sanctioned category of drag racers, with the fastest competitors reaching speeds of 539 km/h! The type of fuel used in these insane machines is a mixture of nitromethane and methanol. According to regulations, 90% or less nitromethane can be used with the remainder being methanol.



The power generated from these type of engines is so much that the participants need to perform a burnout before the start of the race to clean and heat tyres. Another benefit of doing that is that the burnout applies a layer of fresh rubber to the track surface, which greatly improves traction during launch. All this may seem a bit extreme but then, when your motorcycle makes around 1500 Bhp and the cars make more than 8000 Bhp, nothing is really extreme anymore!

And finally, the last one that we are going to cover, Landspeed Racing, which is, more or less, about setting records and breaking them! In this kind of racing, the participants try to beat the fastest speed ever achieved by that style of motorcycle and type of engine for a timed mile. Most of these kind of events are held on flat surfaces with decent traction (Bonnevile Salt Flats, anyone?) but there are variants that feature trying to achieve the same thing on sand and even ice!