I receive emails on a daily basis from young hopefuls requesting information on equipment, tips on capturing speedway photographs and general information regarding the possibility of getting access to the centre greens at speedway tracks up and down the country.
Unfortunately it is impossible to answer every request personally so I hope that the following information will generally help.
Firstly, it is virtually impossible for general members of the public to gain access to the centre green. This is due to health and safety reasons and insurance purposes. Clubs already have their own track photographer and access is normally only limited to this person, track staff and genuine members of the photographic press. Therefore I suggest that the budding photographer practices from the public viewing areas wherever possible.
Due to their general layout and the fact that a lot of clubs have to accommodate dog tracks between the public and the speedway track,, it is not always possible to get close to the action. Therefore a medium to long telephoto lens is needed - a 100-300mm is ideal. Some tracks allow the public to get closer than others such as Peterborough. At these venues a 70-200mm lens is quite adequate. Always purchase the best quality lens that comes within your price range.
It's impossible to give hints on speed and aperture as this will vary depending on the light available. Generally, to stop the action, try to use a speed of 350th of a second or higher, but don't be afraid to experiment with lower speeds. If shooting digitally, money will not be wasted on film these days. Once the light has gone, please do not use flash from outside the track!
Unfortunately, I cannot give any hints or tips on purchasing specific equipment as I do not keep track on all the other makes of camera equipment available. The best advice once again is, purchase the best equipment that you can possibly afford. Your local camera dealer will be in a much better position to inform you which models will be suitable for your specific needs. I've listed below the equipment that I use.
2 Canon EOS1D MkIII's and 2 Speedlite 580EX flashguns
Apple Mac PowerBook Pro (for travelling)
Apple Mac Dual 1.8ghz PowerPC G5
Dell Dimension 3100 PC (for any non photographic applications)