Lionel Van Praag
|Lionel Van Praag|
|Date of birth||17 December 1908|
|Place of birth||Sydney|
|Date of death||15 May 1987(aged 78)|
|Current club information|
New Cross Rangers
NSW State Champion
Victorian State Champion
|National League Champion
National Trophy Winner
Southern League Champion
1932, 1933, 1947
1931 UK Southern League Champion
1932 UK National League Champion
1936 World Speedway Final
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 lead until the final bend on the last lap when Van Praag darted through the smallest of gaps to win by less than wheel length.
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. Van Praag's overtake quashed the rumours.
World Final appearances
- 1936 – London, Wembley Stadium – Winner – 26pts + 3pts
- 1937 – London, Wembley Stadium – 7th – 17pts
- 1938 – London, Wembley Stadium – 4th – 18pts
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 he was piloting was shot down by a Japanese aircraft over the Sumba Strait in Indonesia. After the war, Van Praag participated in one more speedyway championship, but retired in 1950 to concentrate on his career as a pilot.
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.
Van Praag was Jewish.
In 2008, Van Pragg was inducted into the Australian Speedway Hall of Fame.
- Bamford, R. & Shailes, G. (2002). A History of the World Speedway Championship. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-2402-5
- Lionel Van Praag, Adastra Aerial Surveys, 20 June 2002.
- "Money for Speed (1933)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Public Place Names Act 1989 – Street Nomenclature, Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, 16 May 2000.
- Lionelvanpraag.com – site selling The Flying Dutchman, a documentary about Van Praag