As soon as the motorcycle started to develop, it inspired man to try and race these new motorized machines. The fascination was fuelled by the fact that for a number of years the motorbike was the fastest form of transport on the planet, so new land speed records were being created.
Other modes of transport that were quicker have emerged over time, but this has not stopped enthusiasts from following motorcycle racing. The fact that so little separate the rider from potentially life threatening crashes makes the sport a great spectacle to watch.
The first race to be run was the 400km road race that was held in France in 1900, and from 1907 the Isle of Man held its first Isle of Man Tourist Race. This event has been happening ever since and it sees 10,000 riders compete in the event each late May and early June.
The first week is for practice around the 38-mile course, and the second week sees a variety of different races taking place. The competition is not known for the feint hearted, and over the years 146 riders have lost their live on the narrow roads.
Few road races like this survive today because of the health and safety implications, with many of the races now being held in man-made stadiums. The most popular races are the Motorcycle Grand Prix which are held not on road tracks but in closed off stadiums, and these events are well attended by thousands of spectators.
There are three classes for different sizes of engine. There is the Moto3 for bikes with 250cc single cylinder four stroke engines and the Moto2 for the 600cc engines. However, the MotoGP is the highest class of racing with the bikes having 1000cc four stroke engines.
The season consists of 19 races in 16 different countries. As well as competing to win each race, the riders are trying to pick up points that goes to the overall championship trophy that is presented at the end of each season.
These races use motorcycles that are on sale to the public, however Superbike Racing uses bikes that are highly modified to reach the highest speeds. The bikes can have engines as large as 1200cc and the manufacturers target success in the World Championship series as this always results it huge increases in sales of a certain bike.
One of the most popular motorcycle races away from the road is speedway. The races are held around an oval circuit with the track consisting of either dirt, loosely packed shale or even dolomite. The riders use the surface to slide their bikes around the corners.
The races are relatively short with 4 laps being completed. During a meeting, there will be as many as 15 different races with riders picking up points from each race, and then at the end of the event the riders with the top points will be the winners.
This is modified from country to country. In the United Kingdom the races are based around teams with each meeting being a contest between two teams. In each race each team will enter two riders, and their points go toward the team scores. At the end of the meeting one team will take the match points that will go into the league table.
There are many other different motorbike races in the world today. Sidecar racing is popular, as is ice racing and cross country. There is a definite link between the motorcycle and the thrills that are gained by those that are able to ravel at great speed. This is reflected by the large numbers of spectators that attend these events.