Speedway in Kualar Lumpar 2007/08
Ivan Mauger, six times world speedway champion had gone into promotion with great success after retiring from racing. Always a visionary, Ivan could see the potential for South East Asia to be included in the FIM Speedway World final series with the growing interest in motorsport in the region. Before he could put his own plans in operation he had a surprise invitation from the Malaysian Motor Sports Organisation and Competitors Association in December 2006, a call to help them set up speedway on an International standard, the very thing he had in mind.
At the same time the Government of the City of Kualar Lumpar were experiencing a serious safety and social problem with young motorcyclists racing around the city streets and suburbs. In 2006 the Minister for Sport came up with a radical scheme, again enlisting Ivan's help.
The Sports minister's plan which he put to Ivan was to eventually build a motorcycle speedway at Bakur Jillia People's Park, they would supply smaller speedway bikes and encourage the youth to race on a track instead of the city streets. The grand plan was to have a full international meeting by October and eventually a round of the world championships.
To start the process they would build a practice track on the outskirts and Ivan was appointed to oversee the building of the tracks, organising the bikes and running the training schools. Ivan spent 10 days a month in Malaysia from April to November working on the project.
There were 260 applicants for the first session in May 2007. Ivan recruited a former UK National league rider as assistant coach, Linden Warner a former Suffolk boy who had raced for Mildenhall, Ipswich, Hackney and Birmingham and was now a KL resident was the man.
Things happen fast in Malaysia and by September the new stadium was ready to FIM standards. The go ahead authorities had purchased all Ivan's long track stadium equipment from New Zealand and the project was ready. Ivan and Linden had groomed a number of Malaysian youngsters on smaller bikes. The government were so impressed they instructed Ivan to purchase 12 speedway bikes from the Jawa factory
To draw the crowds and bill the events as international, three New Zealand riders Sam Taylor, Andrew Aldridge and Ricky Wells were invited to be resident riders. The addition of Japanese rider Hideaka Oti and Englishman Linden Warner completed the International content. The meetings consisted of races for the smaller bikes and the youngsters advancing to full Jawa speedway bikes as they progressed.
Meetings were held well into 2008 with world class presentation and great trophies being donated, then the bombshell dropped. The Sports Minister lost his position and the three year Government support was withdrawn as the new sports minister was not in favour of the scheme.
Ivan battled on but there was not enough spectators to keep the show running. There was no shortage of young Malaysians wanting to ride but no bums on seats and once again speedway in Asia came to a halt.
It is the author's opinion that speedway today would be in a better position today if the visions and creation of international ties by Ivan Mauger on a global scale had come to fruition.
This article was first published on 28th March 2021
"Firstly, many many thanks to Tony Webb for a series of fascinating and factual articles on the attempts to get speedway going into Asia, particularly Malaysia in modern days.
I have long thought that Asia, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Singapore, etc could actually turn into hotbeds for our sport, but every time anything is started it always seems to fall by the wayside. Sadly and politically, China is currently ruling itself out of any serious attempt. Who out of us wouldn't want to visit China and view their cultural heritage and maybe see the vast potential for speedway racing there? Sadly, those in charge seem to make it all fall on deaf ears.
The pandemic now has put paid to any hopes of expansion of our beloved sport on a worldwide stage. Years back I thought of a possible Grand Prix at the Stade de France in Paris, where speedway has been held in the past to moderate success. For the next few years, this looks as far as we can possibly go, and dreams of conquering Asia must just be held as that - dreams.
One day though our great and famous historical sport must and will make the breakthrough it so richly deserves. Many thanks to the greatest rider I've ever had the privilige to see, the unique Ivan Mauger, for all his efforts to spread our sport worldwide. One day it will happen and be a fitting tribute to him. "
"Couldn't agree more Tony Webb. Asia in general is a wilderness where our sport is concerned, and I remember the story well 13 years back. Ivan Mauger was a speedway genius at all levels and if the support had continued there is no doubt that speedway would now have a major foothold in that region.
It's a great pity the FIM aren't more outward looking as I firmly believe that China could be the key to success, but it would take much talking with the Chinese Government, and the FIM and the organisers of the Grand Prix series to bite the bullet and simply slot it in, preferably in Beijing for one trial round one year and see what happens. Just out of sheer population and numbers and curiosity makes me believe that a GP in China would be a huge success and would maybe ignite the interest of the press to give our sport the publicity it richly deserves."
"David Pickles re your comments on my articles on speedway in Asia. thanks for your encouragement. I have always believed that if the speedway powers that be had taken advantage of two great leaders, Ivan Mauger and John Berry then speedway would not be in the state it finds itself. Both men had a global appreciation of the potential of speedway far above all others, they were not one eyed for the advantages for their home patch like the Danes and the Poles, they had the vision that it could be a world wide sport without parochial overtones. but this did not suit the establishment who carried on a downward spiral."
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