King of Speedway Tai Woffinden was awarded the prestigious Royal Automobile Club’s Torrens Trophy on Thursday 7th March 2019 at the Pall Mall clubhouse, London.
In 2018 the British speedway rider raced in to the history books when he won his third Speedway World Championship title and became the most successful British speedway rider of all time, emulating speedway aces Freddie Williams and Peter Craven.
Barrie Baxter, Chairman of the Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee said, “2018 was a fantastic year for motorcycle racing. The Birchall brothers Ben and Tom had us on the edge of our seats with their spectacular showdown victory at the final round in Germany when they secured the 2018 FIM World Sidecar Championship. Leon Haslam won the British Superbike Championship and dominated the whole racing season, taking 15 race wins and finishing 70 points clear of his nearest rival – plus Peter Hickman won both the Superstock and Senior Isle of Man TT races and set a new outright lap record of 135.452mph. All of which were worthy contenders for the 2018 Torrens Trophy. However, the Committee unanimously agreed that Tai Woffinden should be honoured for not only his outstanding racing achievement but representing Britain on a world stage”.
He continued, “To be World Champion in something as demanding as speedway is very special but to do it three times is a remarkable achievement and one that deserves far more recognition than it currently receives”.
Woffinden, who also won World Championship titles in 2013 and 2015 said, “I’m pretty strong in the head but there were times when I was thinking ‘wow, man, this is tough.’ This was my hardest one to date, both physically and mentally”.
Woffinden explained speedway in a nutshell, “It’s pretty much motorsport in its rawest form. We race 500cc motorbikes that weigh around 75kg, and they accelerate faster than an F1 car with top speeds of up to 80mph. The big difference is we don’t have brakes! The bike just has a throttle, clutch and one gear and we race on shale-based oval tracks and you basically power-slide around the corners”.
Former Red Bull Air Race Champion Paul Bonhomme said, “Please pass on my congratulations to Tai. I think he’s completely mad. A few years ago, I had a go around Kings Lynn speedway track on various types of speedway bike and was amused by having no brakes and opening the throttle to go around the corners and closing the throttle on the straights. I’ll stick to low level aerobatics and flying through hangars. I think it is safer…”.
Seven-times Isle of Man TT winner Mick Grant said, “His unflappable approach is an example many of his competitors should try to copy. Last year in Poland he was unfairly excluded for being late to the tapes by a fraction of a second by a very biased referee. (The names I called him wouldn’t look good on his birth certificate). I saw Tai, not kick his bike, and not verbally abuse the referee, but just come out stronger! He is a credit to the sport and deserves this recognition!”
Former professional Grand Prix road racer and current MotoGP commentator Keith Huewen said, “I am absolutely delighted that Tai has been awarded the Torrens Trophy! Speedway is so often overlooked and yet is one of the toughest sports to consistently stay fit enough to take a GP title. Taking three is special!”
The Club’s Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee consists of Chairman and ex-bike racer Barrie Baxter, Royal Automobile Club Chairman Ben Cussons, well-respected motorcycle journalist and TT winner Mat Oxley, commentator and former racer Steve Parrish, Club member Richard Bourne (son of motorcycle journalist, Arthur Bourne, in memory of whom the Trophy is awarded) and Queen of Bikers Maria Costello MBE who has held the Guinness World Record for being the fastest woman to lap the Isle of Man TT course.
To view images from the event click here.