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FIM Speedway Grand Prix Preview with American-Born Racing Legend Greg Hancock

Published On:: 26/04/2024

This list of American-born FIM Speedway GP World Champions is short and Monster Energy’s Greg Hancock, has four to his name!

This list of American-born FIM Speedway GP World Champions is short. And Monster Energy’s Greg Hancock, with four to his name – and one of only six racers in the storied history of SGP to win four or more individual titles – sits alone atop that list of Americans.

We switched it on with Hancock, prior to him departing to this weekend’s SGP season opening round in Croatia, and got his take on the upcoming SGP season. But before we get into that, a bit more on Hancock to get the Monster Army up to speed on just how dominant the California native was in a predominantly European sport, one in which he won World Championships from end-to-end in his storied career, from 1995 to 2019.

Here's a few highlights: 

  • Individual FIM Speedway World Championship titles in 1997, ’11, ’14 & ‘16
  • Career 218 SGP starts, 455 heat wins, 67 podiums, 92 Finals and 21 wins
  • SGP racing career began in the United Kingdom in 1988 when Hancock was 18
  • Won the Speedway Team World Cup, leading Team USA, three times
  • Won the World Pairs speedway competition in 1992
  • North American Speedway champion in ’95, ’98, ’00, ’03 through ’06 and ‘09
  • Won the AMA “Athlete of the Year” award in 2009
  • Named FIM Legend in 2020 and elected to AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2022

But probably the coolest thing, especially for Monster Army members ‘of a certain age,’ Hancock, now 53, won three of his four SGP titles after his 40th birthday.

Retiring from racing in 2020, Hancock, in addition to representing Monster Energy, works as an expert consultant with the FIM, which approached Hancock to develop a program similar to MXGP’s academy for young, up-and-coming racers (or, in the U.S., known as SX Futures). Hancock, who did it on his own as an 18-year-old speedway racer in Europe, works with organizations to assist young racers with everything from racing technique to marketing skills.

Monster Energy, with a vested stake in FIM Speedway GP, sponsoring four of the top racers, wanted to get Hancock’s opinion on the series, which begins this weekend in Croatia, and his take on the ‘M-claw Four’ that are set to do battle on Saturday, April 27, at Donji Kraljevec’s Speedway Stadium Milenium.


Monster Energy: Greg, thanks for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to get the Monster Army up-to-speed on this year’s FIM Speedway GP World Championship. To start, talk a bit about your situation now and how it is being behind the world’s top racers rather than in front of them.

Greg Hancock: I’m out of the game now, but I still ride. I just don’t put on the helmet and try to win races. But that keeps me switched on with the bike and equipment as things are moving forward every year – and quickly. From my point of vie I had a fairly long career of trying to win races and, as you get older, you can’t just twist the throttle and beat these guys. They’re quicker and smarter, and they’re not scared. So I stay heavily involved with the game – coaching, mentoring and, mainly, development work.

ME: That’s excellent. We touched on your job with the FIM. Explain that a bit more.

GH: Sure. They’d (FIM) approached me to help them develop a program for them, more or less add another piece to the FIM part. This was to go out and find trainers to train trainers. So like in a smaller country, such as Latvia, I’d work to find experts in the speedway field that could not only teach youngsters track skills, but also other aspects of professional motorcycle racing that are important and, at times, overlooked. Travel, marketing and self-promotion, race career planning – anything associated with racing that you might take for granted, and we work to make sure they understand all of that.

ME: That’s big.

GH: Yes, something that would have been very helpful when I was just starting out. I also work with the FIM on sustainability stuff and environmental issues as well, and work as a liaison between the riders and the FIM. Throughout my career I was very vocal of riders’ rights. We need the comradery, and to work together as best as we can. From implementations to bikes and equipment, collectively, versus costing riders a bunch more money. I can give the FIM a look into things from a rider’s perspective.

ME: OK, let’s flip the page to Chapter 1 of the 2024 FIM Speedway GP World Championship beginning this weekend in Croatia. On paper, Bartosz Zmarzlik has won the last two straight individual championships, and four of the last five. He’s certainly the man to beat.

GH: Yes, Bartosz has won four titles – and he’s 27. I won my first title when I was 27.

ME: Yikes.

GH: But there’s quite a level of changes with Speedway GP. Back when I was racing there were four to five guys that could win. Now, probably ten guys. And that includes all the Monster Energy guys, all of which are pretty much the top four racers that could upset him.

ME: Let’s break down the four Monster Energy-backed racers. Start with Dan Bewley.

GH: Yeah, Dan’s the young, up-and-comer who’s been with Monster Energy now for a couple years. He’s a real hard charger. He has the ability for sure. It’s just a matter of seeing where the hunger is going to come out and show, like it did has at the British Speedway Championships for him, along with wins at the British, Polish (2022) and Swedish (’23) Speedway GP rounds.  

ME: And how about Jack Holder, who placed 4th overall last year in SGP – his top result in three years of racing in the world’s top division?

GH: Jack’s probably the next one who’s got the whole package, along with the ‘nerves of steel’ sort of attitude. He’s also got a personality that can deal with any situation, rain or shine, injuries – he just always seems to get really stuck in and probably was the one who upset Bartosz more than most. But he (Holder) had an injury (hand) that slowed him down. And that guy (Holder) is the one you really gotta watch. He doesn’t need to come out with guns blazing from the first heat. He seems to pace himself, although he’s right there, letting people know ‘Don’t make any mistakes or I’ll be right there on your ass.’

ME: How about the veterans, starting with Tai Woffinden.

GH: He’s the guy we always watch. Everyone does. It just depends on what rider you’re going to get every year. You just never know what’s going to happen with him until the first race. The guy’s got three World titles already. He knows the game really well. And, probably very much like myself, he’s got the ability to go out and smoke everybody all day long. However, you question where he is in life. Because maybe, since he got a lot of success early, maybe he’s been regrouping the last couple years. He’s had some injuries and a couple things that have thrown people off, saying ‘Oh, he’s (Woffinden) done. He’s got other things going on in his life. Music, and all these things that he’s doing.’ However, I’ve known Tai since he was really young and I tend to try to poke him here and there, as a friend more than anything, to remind him ‘If you really want to win, you can.’ I think he knows that and has just really been trying to find himself. And right now, what I’ve seen from him early this year, and in talking to him, he’s back to where he was. He looks extremely hungry. He’s in great shape. He’s talking with a different attitude again – and that’s the Tai Woffinden you’ve got to watch out for.

I’m a Monster guys and I love when all the Monster guys are ripping. And to see Woofy in action, he will be a great leader for the whole crew. It’s like an army. You’re going to have a Monster guy in nearly every heat. 

ME: And last, but certainly not least, last year’s runner-up – Freddie Lindgren.

GH: Freddie’s like the dark horse. The guy just does not stop. He gets to the starting line and works all night long to find the speed, trying to find the right combination for the bike, and might just scrape into a semifinal – and then he comes out on top and finds himself in the Final, and is on the podium every week in and week out. And that’s what it takes to win World Championships. You’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to play the game. And you’ve got to meet your achievable goals. And once you get there, to the Final, it’s wide open. And he’s (Lindgren) seeming to build every single night, despite conditions being rough, sometimes rain, and just crazy. And then he puts up the performance of a lifetime – and wins the thing. So you can’t count him out… yet you can’t predict he’s gonna win. But what you can predict is he’s going to be there right to the end. And if Bartosz makes a mistake, Freddie’s going to capitalize on it. You gotta watch out for him.

ME: Right on. Excellent accounts of Monster Energy’s SGP guys. Shifting gears just a bit… we’ve got a potentially (although likely) record-setting summer here on the dirt ovals in the States. Talk a bit about the AMA Flat Track racing series over here and Monster Energy’s Jared Mees and his quest for a record 10th Grand National championship.

GH: I’ve always been a flat track fan just as a kid. Grew up around it. My dad used to take us. More recently, I’ve been going to some of the events with Kelcey Gordon, who builds the race suits for Alpinestars and the new Tech Air systems. So it’s (AMA Flat Track) become even a little more interesting with Monster’s involvement with Jared Mees (Indian) and the Estenson/Yamaha team. So when I’m there, and I see the Claw, you get even more excited. Feel like I’m part of the family. 

ME: That’s excellent. Beyond speedway and dirt track, what other forms of motorsport do you enjoy?

GH: I’ve become a big fan of the Dakar Rally. Watching and listening to Joe (Parsons with Monster Energy) and following the programs he’s put together and the racers he’s brought in, nurtured. I also enjoy Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Always been one of my biggest loves since I was a kid, since the Super Bowl of Motocross at the LA Coliseum. 

ME: Alright, well thanks for all that, Greg. We could talk to you for hours, man. You set such a good example for the younger racers, and can tap into the history of two-wheel motorsports with the utmost authority. Any parting words before they line ‘em up in Croatia?

GH: Thank you. With Monster, being part of the team for some time you learn that you’re not just a sticker and a paycheck. This is a really big organization, and they do take care of you, and you take care of them. But it’s also a relationship that last a lifetime and, for me, I bleed green. So whatever’s going on with Monster being involved it’s always an eye opener for me.


Up next…

The 30th annual FIM Speedway GP season opens on April 27th with the running of the Croatian Speedway GP at Donji Kraljevec’s Speedway Stadium Milenium. For further information, including the season race schedule, racer bios and timely results, link to: