Select your language

Road Racing History Hengelo

During a members' meeting in the early 1960s, it was once suggested to organize a race in Hengelo. The well-known road races have resulted from this.

1967 - 1969

It took until 1967 before the first race was held. The first races were organized on August 19 and 20.

Straw bales were bought in France to protect fallen riders. The straw bales in Hengelo and the surrounding area were too small. About 10,000 visitors came to Hengelo on 20 August. The association was satisfied and the visitors, riders and press praised the races and spoke of an awesome road race. The current name, Varsselring, was given to the circuit in 1969.

1967: start 50cc, J. Zoombelt 34, H. van Beek 7, L. Foekema 58
1971: Barry Sheene 36

1970 - 1979

During the first three years, only national races were held on the Varsselring. In 1970 the races became international. Press from England and Germany was also present during the first edition. Like the Dutch press, they were positive about the races and the organisation. The number of GP riders who started in Hengelo grew and grew. In the first half of the seventies, for example, Barry Sheene, Jan de Vries, Jarno Saarinen, Teuvo Länsivuori, Kent Andersson, Bruno Kneubühler, Takazumi Katajama, Anton Mang, Dieter Braun and Wil Hartog were at the start.

In 1975 there was a conflict between the HAMOVE and the KNMV regarding the program. When a solution was eventually found, it was too late to contract riders, so HAMOVE stuck to its position: no races in 1975.

In 1976, the first race took place in the spring, on Easter Monday. It turned out to be a fantastic move by Hamove, because that day the association welcomed double the number of spectators than usual. More than 20,000 paying visitors came to the road races.

A record that stands to this day. During the award ceremony, which took place in the evening at hotel Leemreis, Takazumi Katayama showed that he could do more than motorcycle racing. He played guitar for the audience.

In 1977, 1978 and 1979 the weather played a major role. It was cold and wet. Due to the cold and wet road surface, there were also many falls. The English actress Joanna Lumley 'Purdey' gave the ceremony in 1978. She was so cold that she said her teeth were frozen. Despite the very bad weather, 16,000 visitors still came to Hengelo in 1978.

Some of the riders who raced in Hengelo in the second half of the seventies are Jon Ekerold, Bruno Kneubühler, Pekka Nurmi, Marcel Ankone, Pentti Korhonen, Alan North, Alex George, Jack Middelburg, Takazumi Katayama, Churijo Tateno, Anton Mang, Jack Findley, Tom Herron, Boet van Dulmen, Reinhold Roth, Eero Hyvärinen and Hans Spaan.

1973: 250cc race
1972: start 500cc (foto: J. Burgers)
1981: Takazumi Katayama - prototype Honda

1980 – 1989

In 1981 Hengelo was world news. Takazumi Katayama was present in Hengelo with a prototype Honda four-cylinder. The motor reached a speed of 22,000 revolutions per minute. However, it was not a success. Neither during training nor during races. That despite the presence of six Japanese technicians.

The following well-known riders have all ridden in Hengelo in the first half of the eighties: Chas Mortimer, Pekka Nurmi, Jon Ekerold, Seppo Rossi, Eero Hyvärinen, Alfred Waibel, John Woodley, Alan North, Jack Middelburg, Boet van Dulmen, Hans Spaan, Gustav Reiner, Hans Müller, Jean-Francois Balde, Martin Wimmer, Greame McGregor, Graziano Rossi, Greame Crosby, Christian Sarron, Anton Mang, Manfred Herweh, Harald Eckl and Bruno Kneubühler

It became increasingly difficult for the organization to get GP riders at the start. Especially the riders who are active in the 250cc and 500cc class. That is why an alternative was sought in the mid-1980s. The organization ended up with the sidecar class. In 1985, the entire top five from the 1984 World Cup were at the start. The starting money for these riders was the same as for two 500cc GP riders. The top five from 1984 were: Egbert Streurer and Bernard Schnieders, Werner Schwärzel and Andreas Huber, Alain Michel and Jean-Marc Fresc, Rolf Biland and Kurt Waltisperg, Derek Jones and Brian Ayres. The riders knew they had to come to Hengelo, to make a fantastic show of it.

1985: Egbert Streuer, Werner Schwarzel, Alain Michel, Rolf Biland, Derek Jones
1985: Reinholt Roth 43, Niall Mackenzie 45, Harald Eckl 42

In 1987, two riders from the village of Hengelo were at the start for the first time, namely Gerard Slotboom, who lives nearby the circuit and Marcel Menting from Keijenborg. Just like Doetinchemmer Harald Massen, they rode in the Yamaha TZR cup. Just like in the mid-1980s, the sidecars remained the major crowd pullers in the late 1980s.

In the second half of the eighties, the following well-known riders drove in Hengelo: Reinhold Roth, Harald Eckl, Niall Mackenzie, Frank Wagner, Hans Spaan, Wolfgang von Muralt, Eero Hyvärinen, Gustav Reiner, Bruno Kneubühler, Didier de Radigues, Markus and Urs Egloff, Steve Webster and Tony Hewitt, Steve Abbot and Shaun Smith, Rolf Steinhauser and Bruno Hiller, Wilco Zeelenberg, Jurgen and Patrick van den Goorbergh.

1990 – 1999

Because it became increasingly difficult to organize international competitions, the ONK (Open Netherlands Championship) was started in 1993. In 1994 HAMOVE attended a meeting in Amsterdam. The plan was to start a World Cup Road Racing championship. Both the FIM and the KNMV were not enthusiastic, so the plan did not get off the ground.

1993: start 250cc, Wilco Zeelenberg 1, Patrick van den Goorbergh 18
1999: 125cc race

In 1994 it was last riden on Easter Monday. The statistics showed that more than 70% of the Easter Mondays were rained out and this year was not much better. HAMOVE members had already experienced many successes in the motorcorss, but not in the racing. Mile Pajic (Supersport 600) and Hans Smees (MUZ Skorpion Cup) changed this in 1997. They were the first HAMOVE members to become Dutch champions in a road racing discipline. A year later, Torleif Hartelman, who lives in Hengelo, repeated this again. He became Dutch champion in the Supersport 600 class.

Well-known riders who rode in Hengelo in the nineties were Ralf Waldman, Stefan Dörflinger, Loek Bodelier, Dirk Raudies, Hans Spaan, Alfred Waibel, Patrick and Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Wilco Zeelenberg, Cees Doorakkers, Arie Molenaar, Ian Lougher, Steve Webster and Garvin Simmons, Egbert Streuer and Harrie Hofsteenge, Koji Takada, Stephane Mertens and Jeffry de Vries.

2000 – 2015

In the autumn of 2002, HAMOVE came up with the idea of creating an international class on the street circuit. Contact was sought with two organizations in Germany and Belgium, namely Frohburg and Oostende. They put their heads together and in the winter of 2003 a new international class on the street circuit was there: The 3 Nations Cup.

2003: Startgrid
2005: Hans Smees

Ten Dutch riders competed against ten German and ten Belgian riders. Two races were run in a race weekend, bringing the total to six motos. After organizing for a number of years, the three clubs felt that it had to be more international.

In 2010, the IRRC (International Road Racing Championship) was set up. It was now also possible for other nationalities to participate and the number of circuits that were riden expanded. In recent years, in addition to riders from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, riders from Ireland, England, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Switzerland, Finland, France and Liechtenstein have also participated.

In 2006, an official European (UEM) cup was held in Hengelo for the first time. The European Women's Cup held one of its championship races on the Varsselring. The German rider Nina Prinz won the Superbike race with force majeure. Italy's Chiara Valentini won the Supersport race after Iris ten Kate was disqualified due to a thin racing windshield.

In recent years HAMOVE combines competitions for the IRRC, BeNeCup, ONK and BK (Belgian Championship) with other classes, such as the ICGP (International Classic Grand Prix) and the 50cc Classic European Cup.

All Dutch talents, Michael van de Mark, Jasper Iwema, Scott Deroue, Joey Litjens and Raymond Schouten have ridden in Hengelo. But also Gino Rea and the sidecar world champion of 2012 and 2014 Tim Reeves

2010: ONK Supersport 600
2022: Vincent Lonbois

2015 – Now

In recent years, the prestigious IRRC championship has been the highlight of the international Road Races in Hengelo GLD. There is competition in both the Superbike and Supersport categories on various street circuits throughout Europe. Many international talents flow from this championship, including Danny Webb, Davey Todd, but also David Datzer and Vincent Lonbois.

The race weekends at the Varsselring guarantee action. In recent years we have seen a full program with nine different racing classes. We also see the Benelux Trophy Superbike and Supersport. In this championship every meter is fought on both permanent and semi-permanent circuits.

There is also plenty of entertainment for sidecar enthusiasts with the Northern Sidecar Cup and the Camathias Cup. With a lot of international participation, great fights on the track and a lot of fun, there is a lot of action on three wheels to see. 

Furthermore, we traditionally see the NK Classic IHRO at the start. These old Grand Prix motorcycles are indispensable in the road races of the Hamove. Beside we see also the two-strokes and the Belgian Twin Trophy at the start during the international road races.

2022: 2-strokes

Photography: Jan Burgers, Toon Kannekens, Henk & Damon Teerink