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Lionel Van Praag

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lionel Van Praag
Lionel van Praag 1946.jpg
Lionel van Praag, 9 February 1946, by Ray Olson
Born17 December 1908
Sydney
Died15 May 1987(1987-05-15) (aged 78)
Greenslopes, Queensland
Nationality Australia
Current club information
Career statusDeceased
Career history
1931–1939Wembley Lions
1947New Cross Rangers
Individual honours
1936World Champion
1941NSW State Champion
1947Victorian State Champion
Team honours
1932National League Champion
1931, 1932National Trophy Winner
1931Southern League Champion
1932, 1933, 1947London Cup

Lionel Maurice Van Praag, GM (17 December 1908 – 15 May 1987) was an Australian motorcycle speedway champion, who won the inaugural Speedway World Championship in London on 10 September 1936.[1] Van Praag's victory saw him established as Australia's first ever motorsport World Champion.

1931 UK Southern League Champion

In his first full season in British speedway, Lionel was a member of the Wembley Lions team that won the last ever Southern League and the National Trophy in 1931.

1932 UK National League Champion

Lionel won the inaugural National League title in 1932 with the Wembley Lions

1936 World Speedway Final

Circumstances

Eric Langton (left) congratulating Van Praag after winning the 1936 World Final Race off
Eric Langton (left) congratulating Van Praag after winning the 1936 World Final Race off

Lionel won the run-off for the Speedway World Championship against Eric Langton in 1936 in somewhat controversial circumstances. The Championship was decided by bonus points accumulated in previous rounds. Despite being unbeaten in the final, Bluey Wilkinson was not crowned Champion. Bonus points accumulated by Van Praag and Langton took them to the top of the standings and into a run-off (match race).

The Match Race

As they lined up at the tapes, Langton broke them which would ordinarily lead to disqualification. However, Van Praag stated he did not want to win the title by default and insisted that a race should take place. At the restart Langton made it to the first bend in front and led until the final bend on the last lap when Van Praag darted through the smallest of gaps to win by less than wheel length.[2]

Controversy

Afterwards, controversial allegations were abound that the two riders had 'fixed' the match race, deciding between them that the first person to the first bend would win the race and the Championship and split the prize money; Langton led into the first bend but was overtaken by Van Praag.[2] Van Praag reportedly paid Langton £50 "conscience money" after the race for going back on the agreement.[2]

Australia

Van Praag was also a successful rider in his home country, though he never won the Australian Championship, finishing second in 1941 (3 laps), 1946 (3 laps), and 1947 (2 & 3 laps), as well as finishing third in 1940 (3 laps). He won the NSW State Championship in 1941 at the Sydney Sports Ground and the Victorian Championship in 1947.

Van Praag also represented Australia in test matches at home against England on numerous occasions at tracks around the country including the Sydney Showground, Sydney Sports Ground, Wayville Showground (Adelaide), Claremont Speedway (Perth) and the Exhibition Speedway in Melbourne.

World Final appearances

World War II

Van Praag was awarded the George Medal for bravery during World War II, when a Royal Australian Air Force Douglas DC-2, in which he was second pilot was shot down, by two Japanese aircraft over the Sumba Strait in Indonesia.[3] Van Praag, a sergeant at the time, and the aircraft captain, Flying Officer Noel Webster helped two colleagues—one semi-conscious and the other a non-swimmer—to shore after spending thirty hours in the water during which they had to fight off several shark attacks.[3][4][5][6] After the war, Van Praag participated in one more speedway championship, but retired in 1950 to concentrate on his career as a pilot.[7]

Van Praag also appeared in the 1933 British film Money for Speed which starred John Loder, Ida Lupino, Cyril McLaglen and Moore Marriott. Ginger Lees, Frank Varey and speedway promoter Johnnie Hoskins also featured.[8]

Personal

Van Praag was Jewish.[9]

In 1990, Van Praag was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.[10]

In 2008, he was inducted into the Australian Speedway Hall of Fame.[11]

Legacy

In 2000, the Australian Capital Territory Place Names Committee  named a street, Van Praag Circuit (ten weeks later renamed Van Praag Place), after him.[12]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Bamford, Robert; Shailes, Glynn (2002). A History of the World Speedway Championship. Tempus. pp. 14–26. ISBN 0-7524-2402-5.
  2. ^ a b c Chaplin, John (1990) Speedway Special, ISBN 0-9515857-0-3, p. 109–114
  3. ^ a b "G.M. for Track Racer: Air Crew of Four Saved from Sharks". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 2 May 1942. Retrieved 29 November 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ Douglas Gillison. Royal Australian Air Force 1939–1942, Canberra, Australian War Memorial, 1962, p. 417
  5. ^ Both Van Praag and Webster were awarded the George Medal; London Gazette, 1 May 1942, p. 1903
  6. ^ Douglas DC-2 and George Medal: the flying career of Noel Webster RAAF GM Amazon
  7. ^ Lionel Van Praag Archived 21 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Adastra Aerial Surveys, 20 June 2002.
  8. ^ "Money for Speed (1933)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 1 October 2008.
  9. ^ Wechsler, B. (2008). Day by Day in Jewish Sports History. KTAV Publishing House. p. 254. ISBN 9780881259698. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  10. ^ Sport Australia Hall of Fame – Lionel Van Praag
  11. ^ Australian Speedway Hall of Fame
  12. ^ Australian Capital Territory Public Place Names Act 1989 Instrument No. 138 of 2000, 16 May 2000

External links

This page was last edited on 6 June 2021, at 19:06
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