In fact this isn’t the first time the world championships have lost their opening two rounds. This time 30 years ago, the 1980 season-opening Venezuelan round was called off for political reasons – uncertainties created by a change of national government. And round two fell victim to bad weather.
In 1939 the grand prix season ended one race early, for more serious reasons. The 250, 350 and 500cc championships were due to finish at Monza on September 4 but one day prior, Britain declared war on Germany and the Second World War began.
It’s worth adding here that the Nazis took motorcycle and car racing very seriously. National motorisation was a vital component of Adolf Hitler’s plans for war, so he backed German riders and manufacturers in grand prix racing on two wheels and four. In the late 1930s, BMW’s GP riders and bikes proudly displayed their sponsorship logo – the swastika – and won TTs, grands prix and the 1938 500cc championship.
Racing was an important Nazi tool for technological development and for political propaganda, supposedly proving that Aryan engineers and riders were superior to all others.
The Nazis were so keen to contest and also to control motorcycle racing that they sent Joseph Goebbels, their Reich Minister of Propaganda, to attend a 1935 meeting of the FICM (forerunner of the FIM, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme).
Goebbels turned up to meet bike-racing representatives from Britain and a dozen other nations along with Adolf Hühnlein, chief of the Nazi Motor Corps, who spent much of the 1930s at race meetings throughout Europe, greeting each Nazi victory with a Sieg Heil.