It's All About You... Andy Sheppard
Tell us about your introduction to speedway
My first memeory was of seeing the fabulous Ivan Mauger at Poole in 1974. But I'm sure my Dad took me long before that in 1971. From then on I always believed I was a speedway rider, at home, at school & on my "tracker" (push-bike).
Tell us about your favourite meeting of all time
Quite a few really, but 1 or 2 that obviously stand out is the Ultimate, the 1981 Wembley World Final & the 1994 Grand Slam weekend at Peterborough. I loved that weekend when we had 3 meetings on the Saturday & the Fours finals on the Sunday, with a fantastic fireworks display too.
Tell us about your favourite rider of all time
Michael Lee. Without doubt my all-time favourite. He was my idol before he came to Poole. Such natural talent & ability on a speedway bike. I was thrilled when he came to Poole....but then it all went sour again. Met up with him at a Peterborough meeting last year & told him about how I used to love his racing & he was extremely grateful for that. Good luck Mike, look forward to your DVD.
Tell us about your favourite track/stadium
Naturally..it has to be Poole. It has such a homely feel & the grandstand generates so much atmosphere especially when Pirates do well. The whole stand erupts just like Rangers FC when they score a goal! You are close to the action on the home straight & the 1st/2nd bends are fantastic for taking photos.
What are the best things about speedway?
The raw engine noise, they always remind me of a lion "purring" if you like when the machines are at a standstill. The smell & the speed of the riders when entering the bends. The colour & razzmatazz of the sport as a whole. It really is a "drug" of a sport.
What are the worst things about speedway?
The RULES. Especially the tape touching rule & the double-points rule. It is a tragedy that the "losing" team can have the privalege of having double points just to catch up & then possibly go on to win a Cup match or the like on aggregate, such as has happened this season. Dreadful rule & a sham. Also the state of the toilets for the public. I am embarrased at the state of some of them. At Workington once I had to use a ditch!
What one thing would you do to improve speedway?
Throw out the Rule book & start again & let the riders have their say in it.
Tell us about a rider you wish you'd seen
The late, great Wizard of Balance, Peter Craven. I suppose the nearest you could come to him was another favourite of mine Peter Collins. I was fortunate to see the antics of the truly remarkable Ivan Mauger & Hans Nielsen was a cut above the rest too.
What does the future hold for speedway?
Is there a future for it?? The rules are killing off so many fans without a doubt & so are slick tracks with processional racing. But how long have we been saying that? The sport is obviously booming in Denmark & Poland & it should have been in Britain by now. Since Wembley became unavailable that to me seemed to be the downfall of British speedway in general. I know Cardiff is great but Wembley...well, gone & forgotten now.
Name your All-time Super 7
1. Michael Lee; 2. Hans Nielsen; 3. Kenny Carter; 4. Leigh Adams; 5. Peter Collins; 6. Peter Craven; 7. Joe Owen
This article was first published on 14th January 2010
"I first saw Mike Lee at Newcastle motordrone 1977 riding for England against Australia. He was 17 years old and he was great, I wanted to be a speeedway rider atfer seeing him race. I was 14 years old I did come to England to try my luck in 1990."
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