Billed as the Fourth International Six Days Cycle Race - every day different, every sprint exciting and every rider famous!
It ran at Wembley from Sunday 28 May at 12:05 Midnight (which made it Monday 29th!) to Saturday 3 June. Day sessions ran from 2pm until 5:30pm, night sessions from 7pm until 5am except on the final night which finished at 11pm. There were 12 two-man teams with Arie Van Vliet and Cor Wals being given team 1 - even though Billiet and Buysse had won in 1938.
Comments about the 1939 race made in the 1951 race programme - “One of the stars of the 1938 race was a 23-year-old Belgian rider, Karel Kaers, who weighed 15 stone and stood 6 ft. 2 ins. He set up a track record for the mile distance of 1 minute 50.4 seconds. He was one of the greatest pre-war all-round Belgian cyclists and his turn for victory at Wembley came in 1939 when partnered by fellow countryman Omer de Bruycker, who is still one of the leading "six" riders in Europe. De Bruycker and Achille Bruneel won the Brussels event last November.
Competing in that 1939 race were stars of the past and present. Arie Van Vliet, who contests the special sprint events this week, was competing in his second "six". He partnered Cor Wals, a fellow Dutchman, who had won many "sixes" in this country [surely not “this country” - perhaps it should read “his country”- Ed], and the Seres brothers, Arthur and George, sons of the 1920 World Motor-Paced Champion, were the youngest riders in the race.”
You can read the entire programme for the 1939 event at www.6DayRacing.ca. Reports of the race in Cycling magazine have been traced and are being scanned and OCR converted to text here.
“MARATHON CYCLING Wembley Six Days' Race. LONDON Monday.
After 21 hours the Australian. Joe Buckley, and his French partner, Emile Ignat, were leaders in the Wembley six-day cycle race. Buckley said he was feeling fine and added that he would be somewhere near the winner if still conscious.
Brilliant changing enabled Buckley and Ignat to obtain and hold the lead. Syd Cozens, who rode in the last Sydney six-day race was injured, but hopes to return to the track to-night. At 10 p.m. riders had covered 315.3 miles and soon afterwards Buysse and Billiet lapped the field after the jam and joined Buckley and Ignat in the lead.” Canberra Times (ACT) 31-May-1939
“SIX DAY RACE. AUSTRALIAN IN VAN (Australian Associated Press) LOND0N, May 29.
Joe Buckley, the Australian, and Emile Ignat, the Frenchman, with whom he is paired, are holding the Iead in the six-day cycle race at Wembley. Buckley covered 150 miles in 12 hours. He said he was feeling fine, and jokingly added: "I will be somewhere near the winner if I am still conscious."
Brilliant changing during a jam enabled Buckley and Ignat to obtain the lead. Buckley and Ignat were leading at 9 p.m., a lap ahead of three other teams. Cozens was injured but hopes to return to the track to-night The leading positions and points are: First, Buckley and Ignat 19; second, Vanvliet and Wals (Holland) 130; third, Dekuysschere and Scherens (Belgium) 80; fourth, Buysse and Billiet (Belgium) 23 (above a lap behind), fifth, Vankempen and Pellenaers (Holland) 73; sixth, Kaers and Derbruycker (Belgium) 47 (above two laps behind). By 10 p.m., 315.3 miles had been covered, Buysse and Billiet lapped the field after a jam.” Cairns Post (Qld) 31-May-1939
“JOE BUCKLEY FIFTH. Impressive Riding. LONDON. Sunday.
Joe Buckley the Australian cyclist and his partner Emile Ignat of France finished fifth in the six-day bicycle race which ended at the Wembley Stadium at midnight last night. They were five laps behind the winners - Kaers and Debruyker.
Buckley's riding again impressed the officials and it is considered that he probably will reach the class of riders such as Kaers and Van Vliet. He was the first Empire rider to finish - Syd Cozens and Benny Clare of England being eighth - and he won several final sprints last night. The placings were -
Kaers-Debruyker 1; Van Vliet-Wals one lap behind 2; Buysse-Billiet one lap behind 3; Dekuysschere-Scherens four laps behind 4; Buckley-Ignat five laps behind 5.” Argus (Melbourne, Vic) 5-Jun-1939