If you’ve never watched Speedway racing before, it’s absolute madness. At first glance, it may look a bit like flat track racing, but while the two are related, they’re not the same thing at all. Flat track racers get luxuries like gears, a rear brake, and an actual suspension. Speedway racers, on the other hand, get exactly none of those things. The latter sport was born in Australia, but is extremely popular in Europe—where 20-year-old female racer Celina Liebmann is about to make history in Prague in May, 2022.
The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) Speedway championship is set to touch down in Prague, Czech Republic for Round Three of the 2022 season on May 28. At the time of writing, that’s this upcoming Saturday. In a bid to hype up interest in (and hopefully grow) the sport, the series’ new promoter, Discovery Sports Events, had the bright idea to bring the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship along for the ride. The first round will kick off on Friday, May 27.
FIM Speedway GP, also referred to as SGP, is the main event. The Under-21 event is now called SGP2, which does most definitely roll off the tongue easier. This event in Prague marks the premiere of the revamped SGP2 event. On the strength of Liebmann’s SGP2 qualifying performance, where she scored six points (and in so doing, outscored a number of Europe’s top riders), the Prague club invited her to participate as a wild card in this inaugural SGP2 event.
Racing runs in Liebmann’s blood. Her dad, Jurgen Liebmann, won two FIM Team Ice Speedway World Championship bronze medals back in 2001 and 2003. Not surprisingly, he’s also the one who encouraged his daughter’s interest in the sport, taking her to see junior events since she was a child.
“My dad said ‘come, we will go to Olching and you can see the juniors’, and they said I could ride. I got on a bike and rode. I did it and my dad has since said ‘I never thought you’d ride for so long and be so successful.’ He is really proud,” Liebmann said in a statement.
The all-new SGP2 championship is meant as a showcase for the next generation of Speedway racers. Think of it like Moto2 is to MotoGP, or World Supersport is to WSBK. It’s a massive chance for Liebmann, and she knows it. That’s why she says she wants to stay relaxed, because that’s when she does her best.
“I know all these guys and I have raced against all of them on the 250cc bikes,” she said. “I am really motivated for Prague. I am really looking forward to it. When I heard the news about my call-up, I was shocked. I was completely over the moon. I never thought I would get the wild card,” Liebmann said.
“My mum had bought tickets for a concert for me and her that weekend, but now I am going to Prague instead and it’s the biggest chance I have ever had,” she added.
For someone who’s been in the sport already for years—as you can see in the video—it's an unmissable opportunity. Here’s to a bright future for Liebmann and the other junior racers looking to make their mark this weekend.