"I am guessing I'm of a similar age to Mr.Pickles so have seen it all over the years. The reason for the declining crowds and lack of media coverage is down to the way speedway authorities run British Speedway. The promoters by their very title are supposed to promote speedway not the supporter.
As Mr.Pickles points out, the product hasn't changed, it's still exciting but when you have a sport that's run by promoters who restrict competition (maximum team averages) then speedway supporters, myself included are not going to bother. No other team sport penalises teams for doing well. They've always held the belief that if you have too stronger teams with large score lines supporters are going to stop going. It's never occurred in other sports, your Manchester Uniteds, Michael Schumakers, Serena Williams's, didn't have people not going to watch them just because they kept winning, in fact with football, some premiership ship clubs will charge more for tickets when they're in town.
Back in the early seventies Belle Vue won everything, when they were in town crowds went up. Like all supporters of any sport they will support their team through thick and thin. When you have riders signed for several teams it makes speedway a joke (Chris Harris the best example), this is why media won't give it the time of day with coverage.
Polish, Swedish, Danish and Russian leagues have seven riders that would all be heat leaders in this country. Why is it that Tai Woffinden doesn't want to ride over here or represent his country, yes, British speedway promoters. Until British promoters get their act together and let each team put out the team they can afford you'll just have your die hards going, no new supporters.
Another example of their incompetence is they will sign riders but the other leagues they ride in get first call on their services such as the case in the fours when Peterborough's Jack Holder was given permission to ride in a Polish fixture. When you have somebody being sued for something really stupid the saying is "only in America", now if a stupid decision happens in sport the saying goes "only in Speedway".
Promoters need to wise up, promote the sport, you have to invest to make make money and be successful, another relevant expression is "if you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys."
"Love hearing of people's memories of this grand old stadium. I am currently making a replica model of the main stand and would like to talk with people who sat and watched the action from there. If they could please get in touch to exchange info that would be amazing. email@example.com or call/ text me on 07742 024414 and I will respond..."
"Special days and memories. I was luckily enough and blessed to of once ridden around the old Vue, and was simply in awe as I rode around. Speedway has never been the same since the ending in '87. Thanks for the photos - brought back so many memories. Now with a tear in my eye. "
"In answer to Chris Maybury regarding the death of racing at Plough Lane, I agree it has been obvious for a long time that the GRA weren't interested. One of the reasons I stepped in, in 1987 to give it at least a reprieve. But the greed of football (and some politicians) is still the reason that the roar of the bikes will never ever be heard at Plough Lane again. The current Mayor of London originally said that the application by AFC Wimbledon would be thoroughly looked into, but under pressure from his political friends in Merton, the deal was waved through. The last I have heard is that everything has now been held up because an individual has now applied to have Wimbledon Stadium Grade 2 listed (I wish him luck!). While that is going on, no demolition can take place, but having visited the place last week, it's now a very sad and sorry sight indeed."
"One of the great announcers was at Middlesbrough for many years . Bernard Gent. He was also the same at Middlesbrough F.C. He did a meeting at the M.P.A! A true gentleman. Of today's I have warmed to Redcar centre green man Roy Clarke"
" I had the pleasure of seeing Bjorn on many occasions at Southampton, he and Barry Briggs were unbeatable at times. I remember a meeting against Norwich at Bannister court, Bjorn was behind Ove Fundin on the last lap, Bjorn opened the throttle and overtook Fundin on the last bend to win. The best race I've seen in my lifetime.he was simply the best."
"The author deliberately ignores a painfully obvious truth when trying to lay blame for the demise of the stadium on "the greed of football and politicians". The fact of the matter is that the owners, the Greyhound Racing Association, have no wish for speedway to exist at Plough Lane (Dingle Brown will confirm that) and in 2017 greyhound racing is now an unpopular, dying sport that is propped up only by the gambling industry. The stadium has been allowed to decay for ten years and the area needs re-generating badly. Neither greyhound racing or stock car racing or (sadly) speedway, can now guarantee the crowds or the funds for that. The building of a new new football stadium by a club run by its own local supporters can ONLY be beneficial thing for the area."
"Loved Tracey Holmes' comments on the 1982 Overseas Final when Bruce Penhall was "alleged" to have thrown his race against fellow Americans to ...ahem...assist their progression to the next stage. The only crime he was guilty of was making it so obvious that he was doing so. The practice had been going on for a long time before that meeting, and there are still instances when in big meetings riders will...er.... not put in the same effort as they do in other heats. Penhall was the darling of so many supporters that it came as a blow to find that he was simply no better or worse than many others in assisting team mates and/or colleagues when circumstances permitted, he simply made it painfully obvious what was going on, and for that, in some perverse way, maybe he deserves a little credit for highlighting a practice that had been going on for a long time"
"Has Speedway plus ever done a feature on Speedway Announcers? Many of them added considerable enjoyment to a meeting with their humour, professionalism and delivery. My four favourites were Maury Jardine(Rayleigh), Jack Knott (Southampton and Bristol) and also Ted Sear(West Ham), who I worked with during my years there and finally Ken Tozer (Wimbledon). What memories do other Speedway Plus followers recall of the men behind the mike?"
"I was very interested to see the pictures of Glasgow riders in the Bill's Pictures sequence in April. In particular that of Joe Crowther who, when I knew him, had retired from riding and was responsible for maintenance at Blackbird Road, Leicester for both speedway and greyhound racing. He was the official hare controller at race-meetings and I was the racing manager, this was 1962/63. I don't recall clearly but I have a feeling Joe may have been the team manager of the Hunters for some time. With his wife he lived in the bungalow which was situated at the back of the terracing on the back straight.
It was through Joe that I met Ken McKinlay,whose workshop was at the stadium. By coincidence Ken and I both moved to West Ham from Leicester in 1964 and we often had a chat together at Custom House. I also noticed that one of the Glasgow Tigers team photos was actually taken in the greyhound racing kennels at Blackbird Road. They doubled up as the pits on speedway nights!"
"I was only about 11 when he raced for us at Powderhall, always had time to sign autographs at the gate at the pits and no one will ever forget him smashing the exclusion light when he didn't agree with the ref. One of my first speedway heroes. A wonderful rider. "
"It is the morning after the Grand Prix at Cardiff. I have to confess that I have never attended a GP round at Cardiff (or anywhere). For a few days I contemplated going to Cardiff yesterday. I live only a 35 minute train ride from the home to the stadium. I found it difficult to know how to get a ticket 'on the day' but, ultimately and having looked at the list of riders, I just could not get the enthusiasm.
I have to say that it is several years since I attnded a match, in fact since Newport closed. If Somerset rode some other night than Friday then I would support them.
I mused this morning about the GP and whether I should have gone. Ultimately I cannot get too much interest in a competition from which the vast majority of riders do not get a chance to participate. I have been warmed by Greg Hancock's performances however. I guess I shall have a nice coffee and remember those nights of long ago when riders fought through level upon level of knockout competition, a true test of greatness, to those wonderful knockout finals. How wonderful to be able to close my eyes and see Fundin & Briggs, Craven & Collins, Gundersen & Neilsen.
How wonderful also to recall those who never won but distinguished themselves, people like Ken Mckinlay, Nigel Boocock, Terry Betts and John Louis. Ah well, I shall continue to hope that, some day, we will again have a proper world championship where the winner can truly be called a world champion."
Further magazine and book scans from Bill Hamlton's collection.
Today marks the 47th anniversary of the Lokeren road disaster that claimed the lives of Peter Bradshaw, Martyn Piddock, Gary Everett, Malcolm Carmichael, Phil Bishop and Henrikus Rommoes.
You can read more about the tragedy in our articles on Lokeren.
"I remember seeing both Les and Ronnie Moore riding in Shelbourne Park Dublin in the 50's as a lad. The Wimbledon team used to come to Dublin on a Sunday and ride as the Shelbourne Tigers. Used to go every Sunday with my family, pity it didn't last longer. I'm an avid fan of speedway still and watch it regularly on TV."
"I went to Swindon speedway during the second half of the 1950's. My first meeting was at Leicester in 1955. But my home team was Swindon, as we lived at RAF South Cerney. Every Saturday my brother and I stood waiting for the bus into Blunsdon. Ray used to stop and give us a lift to the track! He was such a lovely man, and when my father went on a course in Hereford, he called in on Ray. He wasnt a big star, but he was our star, to my brother and me."
"I met Peter Craven just the once over 50 pears ago and shortly before he tragically died. He was riding for Belle Vue at The Firs, Norwich, and as my mates and I were walking back to the exit after the event finished, we walked past the pits entrance and there stood Peter surrounded by supporters holding out programmes for an autograph. I took my courage in both hands and joined them. I can honestly say I have never met such a kind and modest fella since. And it goes without saying, a great speedway rider - never saw another rider lay a bike over so far! When the match was Norwich v Belle Vue we all waited in eager anticipation for the heat in which both Fundin and Craven were involved. Those clashes were always exciting to watch. Ove is still going strong in his 80's now. Like so many others I wish Peter was."
"I met peter in 1976, I delievered car spares to main dealers in the Nottingham area. He used to beg large wooden crates from me to use to send used car parts back to oz. He was Australian team manager and I went and met him at White City. I was supposed to meet him afterwards but the victory celebrations were a bit hectic. We met a few weeks later when he wanted more crates. He was a great character, lean and fit looking with a great sense of humour, it was an honour to have met him"
"The first meeting I went to at Belle Vue, was in 1965 . It was the first year of the British League and we lost to Glasgow Tigers. Dick Fisher had been injured the previous evening at Wolverhampton and didn't ride. I went for the next 10 years or so, sitting in the small stand above the supporters club on the back straight. As others have said - the BLRC nights at the end of the season were just something else. Supporters from every team in the BL, all mixed together and from what I experienced never a hint of trouble just friendly banter. What was it with visiting supporters and being by the starting gate - I admit we did the same thing if we went to other tracks. Happy days!"
"I thought Mark could have been as good as Gary Havelock if he had stuck to it. I used to love watching him at Cleveland Park when he first started out. Mark, Steve Wilcock and Martin Dixon were 3 of the best heat leaders I have seen ride together in 47 yearrs watching speedway."
"It has been said that Gary's racing death was inevitable because he did not know when to settle for second place. Some of the best races I have seen in over 60 yesrs of watching speedway were between Gary and Malcolm Shakespeare at Long Eaton. Every racing death is tragic, but Gary's was, like Craven and Jansson's, somehow soul destroying, leaving the sport much poorer as a result."
"Sorry, but can't see the significant tie up between board racing and speedway. Board racing,to my mind, is a pure speed event focussed on straight line speed. It was probably a very good way for bike manufacturers to showcase the speed and reliability of their machines. Board tracks, saucer tracks and even the banked concrete tracks like those at Aston Villa and Celtic Park of the (pre war UK) are interesting in themselves but not, in my opinion, in a speedway .context.
I find references to events staged at trotting tracks, with their loose surfaces, mostly sand, much more interesting and think these are more significant in the pioneering days for speedway. The motor cycle magazines of the pre-war (W W 1) do gives these events a bit coverage and the odd photos often appear to show a shower of material being thrown up by the back wheels. would love to hear of any of events like this you come across in your researches Brian. Despite my comments re board tracks, do keep up the good original research work."
"Been a member of sim speedway now for three years and I've enjoyed every minute of it. Well worth getting involved with if you have some time to spare. When I say time, no more then an hour is needed, but more depending how involved you wish to get. Always nice to have new members."
"As a sim speedway manager for the last 3 seasons I have to say it's compelling, can't wait for the week's results and the number crunching when re-declaring. Having experienced a league win and now battling relegation it's chock full of highs and lows. Don't worry if you're a newbie the forum website is fully interactive and there's loads of good advice and help. I love it !! - Let the Bullets Fly (Bottesford Bullets race at the Bullet Arena, North Lincolnshire)"
" Gary rode at Exeter on the Monday where I am sure he scored a 15 point maximum which I was there to see. He died tragically 4 days later after colliding with a lamp standard I understand at Wolverhampton. He had been brilliant that evening at Exeter. It was a terrible shock"
If you've ever fancied running your own speedway club, but don't have the endless supply of cash you'd need, then Sim Speedway could be up your street.The guys who run the game are always looking for new players. Here's a bit of history on the game and details of how you can get involved.
"Enjoyed your article. May they r.i.p. Think I saw them all including West Ham visit Exeter, my home. Sverre was great as many of the other guys, of course. Simmo was brilliant around Exeter as was, Phil Crump, Mike Lee, Gordon Kennett and others too many to name, but they live on in my memory box. Would love to have gone to the Custom House."
"Many thanks to Bill Hamilton for the Glasgow posters. May 15, 1971 was my one and only visit to Hampden Park. I, along with 3 friends left Hackney after their usual Friday BL match for the long trek north for a Saturday night meeting. We left Waterden Rd around 11pm, stopping a couple of times overnight on the way. I seem to remember snow as we approached the borders around 9am Saturday morning, but Glasgow was just drizzly.
After a quick wash and brush up, it was a boozy lunch in a Glasgow pub (I was only 16 but seemed to get away with it) and then on to the meeting at the vast arena, I think a 7.30 start. Hackney were thrashed 52-26, but we did get to meet our hero Garry Middleton before the meeting and an uneventful journey ended back in Stratford around 1pm on the Sunday afternoon. After that, it was a local bus home, an early dinner courtesy of Mum, then bed sleeping soundly until 7am and ready for school the next day. Very happy memories!"
"Bernard Gent was a brilliant and funny commentator, it wasn't the same atmosphere after he left, Tony did well to fill the breach and was commentating at Croft motor racing circuit the last time I was there in 2014. "
"Blimey, this takes me back. How I wish we had the publicity this generated today. I think, and must check it was 1977 I first went, staggered by size of crowd, Thereafter I went to see 'The Dons' every week for a few years. Cyril Maidment offered me second half rides although I never took up the offer. What did speedway miss!! Have to mention, and maybe it was the International meeting but these events declined very fast in terms of attendance and the way they were run. I cannot quite remember and must research it because one such meeting became farcical. Murray Walker, the icon of Grand Prix commented on one meeting and got all his facts completely wrong, such was his interest in speedway!"
"Greg McNeil, now there is a blast from the past. I believe Jack's life was taken at Bendigo Vic. An accident involving Tony Melrose, I believe. I also remember Len Biggs, and he had a son called Alan Biggs, so the name lived on. I can remember buying a Jackson cam (for my JAP) from a person who had a lot of Jack's Speedway gear, but cannot remember his name. I also remember your Brother John, coming to Tasmania with Neil Street, a long time ago, I believe that John was (17) at the time. God to read some posts on here, yes Jack was a legend for sure. "
Tracy Holmes brings back memories of the 1985 qualifying round at Bradford, staged on the weekend the city suffered its darkest day. The Kiwis produced a couple of Mauger surprises in team selection.
The Oxford Mail brought fresh hope to local speedway fans this week with a story suggesting the bikes could be set to return to Sandy Lane. A group of speedway fans are hoping to run the stadium as a social enterprise on a not-for-profit basis. Thanks to John Fray for alerting us to the story and for the picture above.
You can read the full story on the Oxford Mail website.
"Excellent site witch takes me back to happy days watching the racing at Rayleigh Weir in the fifties when Peter Clark and Gerald Jackson provided very entertaining racing, keep up the good work! I would like any information as to what happened to Peter Clark after 1956 as I have no information after this date."
"With reference to the army speedway riders in Germany, my dad, George "Arty" Marsh rode with Eric Boothroyd and one or two others that made it in British Speedway. I am trying to find any photos or mention of my dad. Can anybody help. He was in the Royal Engineers."
"I am trying to find info for a museum display on Reg Smythe, creator of Andy Capp. Reg also created the Speedway character Skid Sprocket years before Andy Capp. I know Reg's cartoons were in Monthly Speedway World from the first issue in June 1949 but I think he was also in Weekly Speedway World before that date. If any one has any of these magazines for sale I would be very interested or even a photo copy. Thanks for any help. "
"I am sure that if the world championship was ever held at Coventry then Ken would have won it . I think I am right in saying Ken won the Brandonapolis more times than anyone and in those days it was a top meeting taking place just after the world final with most of the world finalists taking part. A great rider and a true pro. I remember my first meeting at Blackbird rd and seeing Ken for the first time, it stuck with me for many years. I truly loved Speedway and watching the Hunters, many a great night "
"As an old Leicester Lions supporter I think I only saw Jack Millen twice on the track, once riding as a reserve I believe for Reading at Leicester but I did experience probably the best ( memorable ) speedway meeting of my life so far when I visited Alwalton to see Peterborough v Stoke in I think 1976. My only recollections of the meeting are of Les Collins riding at no. 1 and the black leather clad ' Crazy Jack Millen ' as the second heat leader. I can still picture the scene now when Jack approached the tapes the crowd roaring and Jack diving into the first bend. What a sight and what a character! Sure i have seen riders booed since but not as pure entertainers! Sadly sadly missed and we will never see his like again. RIP ' Crazy Jack'."
"I well remember the book launch with Trevor Davies, Split Waterman, Jim Gregory plus many others and the presentation of certificates to veteran riders. My no 17 on the Suez Lions group photograph 1947. Jim Gregory Photograph page 103, Many happy days."
The 1983 season saw the final World Cup appearance of a Great Dane. Tracy Holmes talks us through the action.
Tai Woffinden's auto-biography will be available from John Blake Publishing from June 22nd. The hardback book will retail at £16.99. Here's what the publisher have to say about it:
"Double Speedway World Champion and former captain of the Great British speedway team, Tai Woffinden is one of the sport's biggest stars.
Following in his late father's footsteps, Tai Woffinden made his name as a notable Speedway rider. Known for his speed on the tracks and his quirky tattoos, Woffinden is a popular figure within the sport.
With a vast amount of titles to his name, including World Champion, achieved at the age of 23, Woffinden has come a long way from his Scunthorpe roots. However, he has not been without his share of struggles. In 2010, Woffinden lost his father to cancer, which, combined with internal issues within his team, resulted in a difficult season. His autobiography will provide an eye-opening insight into the life of one of Speedway's most beloved stars."
"Vic was a Glasgow Tiger for a short spell in 1964. He rode at a number of the Vintage speedway events organised by John Stallworthy at the BMF Rallies at Peterborough. Whist John mentions Vic rode at Rye House in the 1950s, this was Vic's halcyon days as he was one of the top men in the SAL and non league era with the Roosters. I should add that the details of a number of SAL and non league meetings are not in the public domain on the Speedway Researcher site and any additional information would be welcome. I met Vic a few times at Peterborough and once at High Beech and we was always cheery and friendly."
Tracy Holmes tells us about the 1981 World Cup, with the UK qualifying round being staged in atrocious conditions at Reading.
Friends of Speedway (a non-profit making organisation who are proud to sponsor the British Youth Championship - formerly the Under 15's) are pleased to announce the 64th edition of their magazine the Voice which is packed full of interest and enjoyment. This issue is a big 20 pages, which will keep your interest for hours!
In this issue David Telfer gives his inevitable views on all things speedway in general and the Fans Forum; John Chaplin tells of a Ghost Story; Charles Mackay takes a look at the viewing figures and the speedway Brexit; Roy Delaney gives an insight in to Ray Moor; John Hyam talks about Midget Cars v Speedway Riders; Slider gives his own imitable views on the current direction of speedway at present; Sue Towner discusses new EU laws on motor sport having third party insurance and her financial report. There is much more too to keep you going for hours!
Available from Friends of Speedway; 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP. Please send your cheque for £12 made out to the above for four issues of the Voice to Stuart Towner at the above address or ring 0208-397 6599 for more information.
More on the speedway honours debate:
Dudley Jones :
"Honours I would go along with Malcolm Tyrie. Len Silver does deserve a gong for his services to speedway since the 1950s or earlier."
"Re Anthony 's comments re needing to be an Olympic sport: I fully agree but I don't think Olympic sports allow guests or double points if behind !!!!"
Arthur Price has always been blamed for a crash that saw Jim Ryman break his leg. All these years on he's still hoping to clear his name and offers this view of the incident. He'd like to hear from anyone who remembers the crash.
"Hi Dave Oakley, the Long Eaton Cycle Speedways nickname was the Bees and not the Wasps.They rode on a track on Longmoore Lane, which of course is now gone. I had a go myself back in the 70's never really any good but I just enjoyed racing round with my mates. I knew a few of the Bees riders Ralph Doughty, Tony Stokes, Chris Harrison ( who went on to become a top rider). We all used to go and follow the RANGERS (as Long Eaton were known then). Great Days"
"Well done Tracy, Well researched, a moment in time that we all remember and possibly neverr to be repeated. Congratulations."
More on the subject of honours for speedway personalities:
"The only way anyone to do with speedway will be awarded, is when it becomes an Olympic sport. These days, that is as far as they look. "
Ian (Tich) McLean:
"Jimmy Beaton and Steve Lawson. Held Glasgow together for years."
"Barry Briggs was awarded the MBE some years ago. I also think Len Silver deserves an award. He used to be enemy no 1 when I was a Hammers supporter but I have come to appreciate how he has strived to promote Speedway in the London area and not sat on the back of fashionable clubs either. "
"Great to see the riders from the past. I started going to Belle Vue Aces in 1975. What riders PC and Mort were. I would love to see them now riding the new track at Belle Vue. I will be ordering the PC DVD, it will be great to see him on DVD. Glad I found the web site."
"I read David Pickles remarks about no Speedway rider had been honored in the New Years honors List again and I fully agree with him.
This also got me thinking. How many British and Commonwealth riders promoters managers etc not only deserve an honor (and some on this list have) but deserved the ultimate honor of a Knighthood. I will no doubt leave somebody off the list so I ask my fellow fans and followers of SPEEDWAY PLUS, to submit their own list. OK here goes.
IVAN MAUGER, BARRY BRIGGS, RONNIE MOORE, JOHNNIE HOSKINS, IAN HOSKINS, PETER COLLINS, RAY WILSON, ERIC BOOCOCK, LEN SILVER, NEIL STREET, REG FEARMAN, BERT HARKINS, RONNIE GREEN, DENT OLIVER, JACK PARKER, FREDDIE WILLIAMS, and DAVE LANNING.
I will no doubt remember more once I've sent this feedback. I know some on this list are no longer with us but SPEEDWAY deserves its Knights and all the above should be honored in that way, when you think one bloke got a knighthood for running round in circles and another for hitting a a ball over a net with a tennis racket, there ain't no justice."
Tracy Holmes talks us through the 1978 tournament - when the Scots disappeared and were replaced by the Americans.
Tony Webb has new stock available of his book on the history of "The Ekka". It's available for 30 Aussie Dollars, though overseas postage will push that up to 65 dollars due to the weight of the book. Tony can be contacted via email [ firstname.lastname@example.org ] if you want to get your hands on a copy.
"And so the establishment "Joke" continues. Once again no mention of anything or anyone to do with speedway in the New Year honours list. The continuing absence of any award at all for Tai Woffinden is a complete disgrace. Not just twice World champion, but a prolific fund-raiser for charity, and completely ignored. Surely there is something all speedway fans can do to get together and try to get some well deserved recognition for him, and our beloved sport? Happy New Year!"
"My earliest memory of Dudley Wood was going into the pits at the end of a meeting where I caught the goggles that Chris Julians ( I think...weird Cornish accent to me as a child! ) had thrown into the air at a crowd of awed children. They looked like the ones tank drivers had in WW11 films!. In the early 70's my wife worked in an electrical shop on Cradley Heath high street and was amazed to see Dave Perks come in with Bernie Persson to help buy the Swede an electric shaver. Such was our devotion to the Heathens we named our eldest son Steven after Steve Bastable in 1977. My favourite rider later was Pekka Hautamaki (?) who gave everything he had for the cause...the only rider who caused me to pull my kids away from the fence !"
"It is fascinating reading all these beautiful stories, I am the great granddaughter of Tom Farndon. I visit Tom's grave and find peace there of thinking of my grandad, as his ashes are in Spain where he lived but passed. I'm intrigued when I have gone to the grave someone has left a police badge and VW badge. Would love to know the history behind it if anyone has any information who this could be would be appreciated."
"Mark achieved a lot in his career but he could of gone on to much better things had that incident not happened. He certainly didn't deserve it and since then I am sure no tractors are allowed to drive reverse around the track until riders have entered the pits. Everyone knows that is dangerous and riders do practice starts before and after races so no I don't blame Mark to be honest, he was an experienced rider. I would have too happen to him wouldn't it?
New Zealands last hope in a success in speedway? It really put an end to progression in the sport and slowly but surely christchurch speedway riding has died off when it comes to major competition or any movement overseas. It takes a lot of dedication to race from New Zealand but Mark was always on the top of competition racing in New Zealand during its season and England in New Zealands winter. During 1997 his career was getting bigger and better and his experience the more he gained the better and more competitive and professional he became, which definitely would of made racing in NZ and christchurch better, especially with the visiting overseas competitors that often raced there during the season.
I would of liked to of seen Andy Walker or Mark Jamieson or Graham Hartshorne take a chance for a season or two over in the UK at the time, as far as I know none of them did - possibly Graham ...but they were all very fast and capable riders. Lets hope...it turns itself around somehow."
Tracy Holmes takes a look at the 1976 World Cup. The UK qualifying round was plagued with withdrawals and had a shock conclusion.
The "Save Oxford Stadium" campaign are doing a great job of keeping the issue in the public eye. Their latest advert in the Oxford Mail features quotes from Cheetahs fans. Thanks to John Fray for sending it to us. If you click on the picture you can see it in full size.
The campaign has also launched a fabulous calendar that can be purchased from
Blimey. The Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund will benefit from all copies sold.
"Great story Brian, spent many happy times with Sandor, in Hungary at his sisters, Pardubice, at the garage with a pigs head in the pan, and at his home. Still have a Jawa I purchased from a corner of the garage. A man who always stood his ground, and a friend."
"Interesting to read John Berry's views on Ivan and Briggo missing the Sunday meeting because of an earlier contract agreement. If the boot had been on the other foot, and their commitment had been to race in one of Berry's promotions, would he have been as keen on them breaking their contract with him to race elsewhere? I seriously doubt it!"
"Enjoyed reading the article Tracy. Frank Shuter was injured in a league match at Ipswich on 25 July. He didn't return to league racing until 16 August so this is probably the reason why he wasn't in the NZ team."
Tracy Holmes takes us through the 1975 campaign for the Kiwis.
Methanol Press are running a "buy one, get one free" promotion until the end of the year.
The books available in the promotion are:
978-0-9553103-2-4 Shale Britannia
978-0-9553103-3-1 Shifting Shale
978-0-9553103-6-2 Concrete for Breakfast
978-0-9553103-7-9 Quantum of Shale
978-0-9568618-3-2 Strictly Shale
978-0-9568618-4-9 Born to Rumble
When you order any book on their website they will contact you to ask which second book you would like free.
"Interesting to read about the Stoke track appearing that it was planned to be a lot longer, in fact the plan was that the track could double as a long track with the removal of the safety fence and the addition of an extra first corner on the first turn! "
"re High Beech and man v woman match race. Norrie Isbister raced and beat Eva Asquith at Glasgow White City on 22nd June 1929. ( see Speedway Researcher for details.) It is more than likely they took place at other tracks in this era but have no details to hand. Bradford Autodrome (Greenfields) feature a race between a man and a greyhound and at a grass track venue a rider raced against plane."
This year speedway celebrated the 88th anniversary of what is recognised as the first British speedway meeting in February 1928 at High Beech. After a spell in early league racing, it became a junior track in the 1930s, but eventually closed in late 1949. John Hyam writes of a hitherto unrecorded bid to reopen the birthplace of British speedway in 1954.
"Dudley is quite right, the old Custom House was and excellent place although, as he says, showing its age in later years. Despite it in theory being too big by modern standards in terms of likely crowds for regular meetings (something that can be said for many sport stadiums) the nature of the old contruction allowed the sounds to reverberate around as well as containing the famous speedway smell.
As for the track I am as bemused as Dudley with Jim's comments. Yes wide and fast (because it was a big track) but also very competitive allowing for close racing and overtaking. I do not recall seeing all four riders racing side by side right to the last bend on any other track. The racing standard might have had something to do with the specific red shale but, I understand, most likely also, from the very earlly fifties, as a result of the transfer of Jack Young, not a notable "gater" and needing to race from the back, who insisted as part of the transfer terms that the track was adjusted to make the bends wider and overtaking more possible. I also believe that the Kings Lynn track was based on the design of West Ham.
Unfortunately old films do not really do justice to the racing standard but this is down to the past technical difficulties of filming speedway before the equipment now available existed. Its demise was really just another case of inner city land being worth much more for other uses, not an original story!"
"I was born in Mirfield in 1944 and my father Joseph Wood knew Eddie well. At the age of 6 I was asked to be the team mascot but as a shy boy I turned it down. My brother and I used to go to Eddies garage off Lee Green in Mirfield and sometimes he would give us worn out speedway tyres to bowl along with a stick. As a family we went to many meetings at Bradford and remember the team setting fire to Johny Hoskins hat on many occasions. I think the smell of Castrol R oil will live with me forever.Eddie was my hero and will always be remembered. (ps) still got the autograph book."
"Further to the Roger Gray query concerning his father Fred. Roger might visit the Defunct Speedway website, check Liverpool when open check on Liverpool yearbook for 1949, drill down there is a reference & photo of his father plus pictures of the track marshals which are quite small. The Liverpool Yearbook for 1949 is missing from my collection so wasn't to reference it to support Rogers piece on his father."
Dudley Jones follows up Jim's recent article and shares his own memories from Custom House.
Tony Catherall sent us this picture and wondered if we could tell him more about it. Our trusty Kiwi correspondent Tracy Holmes was able to name all the riders and work out when it was taken.
Back Row: Charlie [ Ray ] New, Ron Johnston, George Allen manager, Maury Dunn, Geoff Mardon.
Front Row: Peter Clark, Trevor Redmond, Ronnie Moore, Barry Briggs.
It would have been taken at Wimbledon, West Ham or Bristol during the 1953 England v NZ test series.
We're pleased to report that Tracy has made a decent recovery from his health problems and we'll be featuring some new articles from him in the near future.
Can anyone help Adam Chester [ email@example.com ] ?
"I was wondering if you could help me with some research?
I'm a life long Poole Pirates fan and I am having a custom Pirates race Jacket made but am unsure on a few of the details.
The first time I ever went to a speedway meeting was 1989 but I was only 6 years old, Gary Allan was my first favourite rider and I'm trying to find out which number he prodominantly wore for Poole in the 89 and subsequent years?
Any information i.e. main sponsors or photos would be super helpful and any other info regarding Gary Allan would be much appreciated as I plan to dedicate the race jacket to him."
"I agree Dave Morton was a very good rider. I went to Britain in 1975 (from Australia) on went to around 90 meetings, and two groups of riders have always stuck in my memory - Doug Wyer, Reg Wilson and Arnold Haley at Sheffield; and Dave Morton and Barry Thomas at Hackney. Of course there were better riders, but those five always produced exciting and memorable racing, which I stil l remember clearly 40 years later."
Tony Webb reports from last weekend's Nigel Boocock and Jack White speedway bike show.
Stewart Parsley sold bespoke painted programme boards from 1986 until 1994 through his Speedart business. If you've still got one then he'd love to see it again. He's got a facebook page or you can send pictures to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
"It is so good to hear eye witness reports because all I have is video and camera angles can be deceiving. I too think that Chlinovski was robbed of a place in the run-off. Could he have won ? Yes but we will never know. We must not forget too that Chlinovski was beaten in his first heat by Vladimir Paznikov. As for 'luck', it all worked itself out in the end. Szczakiel was lucky because when he met Mauger in heat 8, Ivan made possibly THE worst gate of his World Final career. But there was nothing lucky about Jerzy Szczakiel thrashing the defending World Champion by 8 lengths ! Mauger was lucky because Szczakiel also dropped two points. And they both broke the tapes and got away with it. Lets not forget too that Ole Olsen was injured and that showed in his score. A fully fit Olsen could have won that meeting unbeaten. And Plech was lucky too. He should never have been awarded 2 points after falling in his last heat. The result of heat 19 should have stood and that's where we came in. Great to hear from you Slavek !"
"I agree with Ivor in that the crowd was disappointingly small, and that for the second year in a row there seemed to be negligible advertising.
I will note however that the weather in Melbourne on the particular day was appalling, and any person with an ounce of sanity did not venture outdoors. There was also a significant horse race run in Melbourne on the same day, the Cox Plate (this is the second year in a row the SGP has clashed with the Cox Plate - so far it is 2-0 to the horses). This event, which is entrenched in the Melbourne calendar, attracts at least 50,000 people, and dominates the sports pages in the lead up to the event.
That, along with the fact that the MotoGP was on just down the road at Phillip Island, made it difficult for any other sport, particularly a "newish" sport such as a Speedway GP, to get a look in for some free press.
I am not sure how much PR & advertising for the SGP hinged on the potential for Jason Doyle to be crowned World Champion in Melbourne, but would suggest that his off early on in Torun had a significant effect on the promotion of the event. It appears as though there wasn't a plan B.
The premium seats (the $150 per seat) seemed to be nearly sold out. I was one of those sat near the first turn. I dare say that those seats were occupied by fellow diehards, who will travel ridiculous distances for 3 hours entertainment. The lesser priced seats, generally sold to the less fanatical followers of the sport, were where the vacancies appeared.
Having piggy-backed the MotoGP, I was surprised there wasn't more of an amalgamation of the 2 crowds, but would say the weather was a factor in that. A mate & myself had all good intentions of going to Phillip Island on Sunday, but given the weather, we found ourselves taking a ride on the Puffing Billy steam train instead!
For me it was still a fantastic event. Some of the racing was brilliant, and a local win nearly lifted off the roof. Hopefully we will be there again next year."
"I was there 1973 and I can say Szczakiel was lucky and of course riding at home helps him a lot. Referee had something to do with his luck but Mauger on many occasions wasn't always clean with his starts and maybe that was a day he paid back for it.
However the biggest victim of poor, and bad referring was the best rider of the day Mr Chlynowski. In the most important race he overtook Plech and when Plech realised that all his dreams are nearly gone he literally jumped on Chlynowski when he was passing him, I was 50 meters away and I could see all very well.
Polish mass media made Plech champion before final and this young man was under tremendous pressure. Till today I have guilty conscience because the great sportsman was robbed of the title. Mr. Chlynowski in the name of all fair Polish speedway fans I sincerely apologize. "
"London Burgh of Newham deserve to be congratulated on their initiative in replacing street signs and erecting the plaque giving information about West Ham stadium. It is just a pity the Council website has no way I can see for we speedway fans to say "well done". Maybe speedway could celebrate its centenary by trying to secure similar plaques on the site of all known speedway venues in the UK. "