It's All About You... Richard Tooley
Tell us about your introduction to speedway
I have followed speedway pretty much all my life. My Mother and Father have followed Kings Lynn and Norwich speedway and my Auntie, Uncle and their two daughters follow Eastbourne. My Father started taking me to Kings Lynn when I was a baby and I became hooked. I`ve been now been to more than 20 tracks around the country.
Tell us about your favourite meeting of all time
The British GP at Cardiff in 2007 when Chris Harris won the final coming from last to first passing no lesser men than Leigh Adams, Jason Crump and famously Greg Hancock on the last bend to nab it on the line and also because it was a fabulous meeting with great racing and shed loads of unpredictability. I just wish I had been there and seen it.
Tell us about your favourite rider of all time
Difficult choice, but it would have to be the 2000 World Champion Mark Loram. He was a terrific hard, but very fair racer who would never give up or moan or complain about a dodgy track. He just got on his his bike and tried his heart out at all times for Great Britain and all the clubs he rode for. It`s such a shame that he will never be able to entertain speedway fans all over the world again after his terrible crash in 2007 with Sam Simota at Ipswich.
Tell us about your favourite track/stadium
My favourite track would have to be King`s Lynn, although I also loved the tracks at Bradford, Sheffield and Peterborough. My favourite stadium though has to be Sandy Lane in Oxford. I only ever went there once when they raced Peterboro ugh but it felt like you were walking to a cinema rather than a speedway stadium. I`m also very impressed with Perry Barr at Birmingham.
What are the best things about speedway?
The things I really love about speedway is that it really is a family sport when kids of 2-3 years old with their parents enjoying themselves. I also love the fact that you will sometimes see two rival supporters (i.e. Kings Lynn and Ipswich) talking amicably together and they don`t need to be kept apart like in football. O.k you might find all the away supporters in one place but that is because they choose to stand there rather than because they have to. Also the riders are very approachable for photos or autographs.
What are the worst things about speedway?
The things I hate about speedway are constant changing of the rules such points limits and other needless things. Also there is a very average standard of refereeing, not just in this country but all over the world, not just poor desicions during the meeting but for delaying meetings seemingly for no reason at all and offering either little or no explanation for their desicions.
What one thing would you do to improve speedway?
I wouldn`t change that much but I would bring back the aggregate bonus point because it keeps one sided meeting interesting even though I do quite like the current bonus point rule.
Tell us about a rider you wish you'd seen
I would love to have seen Michael Lee ride when he was at his peak. He was such a natural talent but he was almost too good too soon. I`m not saying his World Championship win in 1980 was a fluke but it was one year where everything clicked for him and he never really found it since because of certain discipline problems . Still a King`s Lynn legend and a great rider in his own right.
What does the future hold for speedway?
It`s difficult to say, hopefully it should be bright with all the great talent that has emerged over the last year with the likes of Darcy Ward and Emil Sajfutdinov plus a lot of others and the resurgence of older riders like Greg Hancock and Tomasz Gollob.
This article was first published prior to October 2002
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