New Zealand this week, for these pictures of Rosebank in Auckland. The photographer was regular contributor Harry Susemihl.
Nostalgia fans might like to check out a new feature on the Hackney Speedway website. They are replaying the entire 1968 season week by week, complete with that week's programme and the meeting results from Speedway Star.
Jim Henry and Glynn Shailes are looking for pictures of the following riders to complete a Swindon related history project: Wayne Freeman (Aus), Alan Sorensen (Aus), David (Bobo) Valantine (NZ) and Trevor Chamberlain - Can You Help?
"Nice memories of Glasgow Tigers vs Birmingham at White City when Ian Hoskins hired Kitao, the Yogi to try to help the Tigers beat the Brummies. I was a wee Glasgow schoolboy at the time and remember Don Wilkinson using that sledgehammer to break a concrete block on Kateo's chest whilst he (Kateo) lay on a bed of nails. Rumour is that in the bar after the meeting, when Kateo had a drink, he leaked like a sieve! Ian Hoskins always had different Interval Attractions to keep the fans at Glasgow and later, Edinburgh interested each week, something much missed these days. "
"Yes he has covered it well but I would like to add that the price to get in is far too high for one, let alone a family, but also for me the tracks in Britain are poor, today's bikes are faster making so many of Britain's tracks one line only. I find watching racing from overseas better than at home."
"I couldn't agree more with David Pickles about how football is 'automatically' seen as being the most 'important' sport whenever there is a conflict of interests with other sports over the siting and use of venues. And as for calling it the beautiful game...whoever came up with that rubbish. The whole thing is unsporting crap driven solely by money. Speedway, and indeed all forms of motorsport, require real skill and bravery. Get it wrong badly enough in either and you will pay with your life; it tends to concentrate the mind somewhat. Which is why these are the sports I follow, not 22 overpaid idiots kicking a pigs bladder around. Sadly, I am in a diminishing minority and I do not think any amount of 'swimming against the tide' will alter the direction or strength of that tide. I am only amazed that Wimbledon Stadium has lasted as long as it has. The price of land in London should have seen it turned into a shopping centre or something years ago, and now things like the LEZ are banging the final nails in the coffin. So, Stock Car and Hot Rod fans, enjoy it while ye may. Sooner or later it will go the way of all flesh and the last remaining oval racing venue in the capital will, I fear, be gone to join West Ham, Hackney, White City, Harringay and all the rest."
"Re the Mauger-Davis first corner incident in the '77 Intercontinental Final at White Ciry, of course all-4-back would have been a perfect resolution. BUT in those days if a race was stopped somebody had to be excluded. There were no all-4-back rulings then. The way I saw it Davis did no wrong, while Mauger came right across and into JD."
"I can't believe it is nearly 34 years since I saw Ivan win his 6th title in Poland. I used to be at Hull Vikings every week but I was a big fan of Ivan before he come to ride for us. I still have my ticket to that meeting. I was over the moon a few years ago when he saw me & recognized me! The same when he turned up at Craven Par k one Wednesday night in Hull. So wonderful to see names from the past that I remember. Ivan Mauger will ALWAYS be my Speedway Idol."
"Interesting that Keith included Alastair Stevens. I remember him from Rye House, where he rode in the last meeting of 1984 and you could see he was special. Len Silver offered him a place in the 1985 Rockets team there and then, and he grew steadily through that season. By the end he was riding as a heat leader and beating the likes of Gordon Kennett at Eastbourne (Kennett didn't like it one bit). I think he finished with an average just over 7. Len Silver then sold Rye House to Ronnie Russell, but Stevens was retained for 1986 with big hopes. It never really happened though, as during that winter Stevens fell through a roof at work and broke wrists, ribs, you name it... I think brain damage was feared too. He did get back by the start of the 1986 season, but just wasn't the same - rather than the natural style he had on the bike, he seemed to be fighting it all the time. He averaged about the same (7 or so), but just wasn't the same. Without that accident, he would have gone on to be every bit as good as other Rye House 'products' Marvyn Cox and Andrew Silver."
Keith followed Oxford Cheetahs for many years, but finds room for one Swindon Robin in this selection of vintage favourites.
The Speedway Researcher website are offering some vintage programmes and photos for sale to cover costs. You can view a list of the items on offer here. Offers in writing to Jim Henry, 90 Greenend Gardens, Edinburgh EH17 7QH.
Speaking of Jim, he'd like to pass on his thanks to Alan Pennington (and Alan's friend Paul) for valuable recent assistance in tracking down results from Stoke's Sun Street era.
John Chaplin is another of the sport's prominent historians that now needs some help. He's looking for any information on Mart Seifert (the first President of the old Dirt-Track Riders Association) - Can You Help?
The excellent Speedway Fiction website has detected many parallels between the current debate around the sport's future and one the Speedway Star initiated back in 1977. They have put together a feature looking back on that earlier investigation.
"I certainly wouldn't want want to question Billy Powell's memory re this photo, but perhaps you could ask him if the rider identified in the Aces race jacket as 'a local cycle speedway rider' is in fact Tony Robinson? "
"I couldn't agree more with Tracey Holmes' "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" piece - speedway was awash with world class riders in the 70's and into the 80's, but these days who is there who is actually good enough to get the pulse racing and get you out your armchair and go to a meeting? Whether you cheered them or booed them, hated them or respect them, you had to see them, but unfortunately who is there these days who fits any of those descriptions? Probably why I seldom go now, like so many others......."
"I think Andrew has covered the problem well, now lets hope that somebody at the BSPA will listen, although I feel not much chance. For many of the reasons listed I have not renewed my Season Ticket for my team, but may instead just pop-in for an odd meeting once the weather improves. Again like Andrew said, my heart is still in the sport and have recently supplied information for the new National Speedway Museum, but untill it is brought back to a professionaly run sport, I will only follow via such sites as Speedwayplus. Perhaps new blood will bring the sport back as it did in the early 60's when the sport last nearly died. I think the clue is there is not one team in London, the country's Capital, with the Midlands now Speedway's stronghold."
"Heat 16, 1977 Intercontinental Final. White City. Re-run, 1st Ole Olsen. 2nd Ivan Mauger. 3rd Keith White. John Davis excluded, unfair riding. I agree with Mike Wilson. It was definitely 1st bend bunching even if in THE extreme. With Olsen in front, Davis certainly went off his line and yes, Mauger did what All riders do, came across so when they collided, something had to give. Mauger going down was pure theatre but surely, it had to be 'all 4 back in'. I think most people will agree that both were pretty much equally to blame. Well, who was the referee? Gunter Sorber. Where was he from? West Germany. Who were THE biggest Superstars to ride in Germany on the Longtracks taking on Egon Muller? Ivan Mauger and Ole Olsen !!! So again I agree with Mike Wilson, 'If anyone had to go, it was Davis.' Conspiracy theory anyone ???"
"I have so many memories of Sid and Mick as as a kid they were more like uncles to me and I never really knew they were well known as they were. We had some mad bike races round the block and water fights and even now I go out on the bike think its time we all had a track day. "
"Where (or, more pertinently, why) have the fans gone? For me (and I'm sure many other former speedway supporters), it came down to abysmal value for money. Dull racing, woeful facilities, amateurish presentation, laughable rule changes, the scrapping of second halves, the length of time required to complete meetings, rip-off programmes etc etc. In short, a joke sport. I've attended one meeting in the last four seasons - that was at Leicester and, to be honest, I was bored witless by the inaction on the track. I imagine their crowds are now well down on that first season. If speedway cannot hold on to fans like me (I was a regular at Halifax during schooldays, covered the sport as a journalist in Middlesbrough and made it my business to watch a meeting at every track in Britain), I'd suggest it's in deep, deep trou ble. A shame, but it's simply not the spectacle it was. And yet, because I'm looking at this website, I clearly retain a residual interest!"
"Australian speedway .I was most interested in the comments by Michael on speedway promotion applications at the Ekka. For the last two years I have been researching for a commissioned history on the Ekka 1926-closure. Any application for speedway events at the Ekka have to be submitted to Brisbane City Council by the entertainment licence holder. The Royal National Aassoc. I have spent hours searching the Brisbane City Council minutes, unless I am missing something there has not been a speedway application made in the last decade.
My final chapter in my draft is related to the situation at the Ekka as it stands today. If Michael has evidence of applications made, as he indicates a personal interest, then I would like to know for inclusion in my draft. I do know that a well known, former Townsville promoter was approached by a member of the RNA about two years ago. He was told the RNA would look favourbly at a speedway proposal.The high cost of rental was a negative factor. I am based in Brisbane and can be contacted on email@example.com"
"Interesting reading. My father was Bill Weston, rider before and after the war. He was the stunt rider for Dirk Bogarde in the film Once a Jolly Swagman. Would love to come to the museum. Do you have any history on my father? He rode at Rye House, Eastbourne, West Ham, Hastings, and so on."
"In the latest book about Ivan Mauger ''The Man Behind The Myth" John Davis again comes out blaming Ivan for his exclusion from heat 16 of the 77 Intercontinental final and also as a main reason why he did not qualify for that years World Final. The Youtube footage clearly shows Davis come from grid 1 and move across right on to almost grid 3. In my opinion Davis actually impeded the rider on gate 2 and also clouted Ivan who was only doing what ALL riders do when on outside gates. Davis has been talking about this race for years but surely he has seen this footage and must have softened on his view. Bob Dugard walks the line of the track that Ivan took but what would have been more compelling is if he had walked John's line too....It should have been all four back but if anyone had to go it was Davis."
The national media is currently devoting acres of newsprint and hours of broadcast time to cycling as a sport. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the virtual boycott by the national press of motorcycle speedway, the associated cycle version is failing to share in the limelight. Philip Dalling takes a look at the 'skid kids' and shares three photographs which show the links between the motorised and pedal-power versions of speedway
"Unfortuantely, I have to agree with this article. It may not be dead, but if our governing body and some clubs don't do anything about it, it will be in the near future. I think it is safe to say, Gillman Speedway is the only "Full time" track that runs both classes of Motorcycle Speedway (Solos and Sidecars) in Aus, with the announcement of NSW Kurri Kurri Speedway no longer holding Sidecar events after the 23rd Feb. Peter... Consider yourself lucky, Gillman is in my opinion, an "A class" facility for speedway, thanks to Dave Parker and the team at Gillman, they have put the money, hard work.
Lets have a look outside of Gillman Once again, in my opinion... Here are some key problems Promotion/Advertising - The age we live in with Social Media etc, it's not hard and doesn't cost big $$$ to Promote a meeting - Gillman do it and look at their attendance (remembering the economy) and the class of meetings they hold on a regular basis. I know of several Major meetings outside of SA that have been held in the last 3 or so months, and not a word to promote the meeting, therefore attendance is shot and very little interest.
I'm from QLD, a state that was once arguably one of the biggest states in speedway with the number of tracks and riders. We literally have no club/track that is a "Full time" Speedway club. Yes we have NB, they hold one or 2 big solo meetings every 12 months, but no major sidecar events can be run at this club. Gold Coast closed in 2008, Brisbane Ekka is no longer and will not hold speedway again (we have tried on numerous occasions with the ekka and councils, not going to happen)
Next we move to Maryborough ... Will be very suprised if they hold another meeting there for bikes (away from practices) ... Ayr - Good track, but finances are a key and they hold a handful of meetings a year (and dropping) .... Pioneer park closed ... One good thing is Macs Speedway at Mackay. They have spent 75,000 on making it friendly for bikes... they have announced 3 meetings for 2013 possibly a few more. So that wraps up QLD...
NSW - As i said Sidecars are no longer at Kurri.. so .. ummmm Next track ???? Tamworth? Finances are a problem also and promoting/advertising a massive issue to get the word out. Vic - Olympic Park Mildura, they have dropped massively over the last 5-10 years. Once again, they seem to have no interest. Media - As the article states, No word here on Holder and the World Title, Jason Crump the same, the only Media attention most of Australia get is if there is a tragedy or someone has played up and in trouble. These are just a few key facts, I could go on all day about the problems, I am involved in speedway and it kills me to see the state it is in, holding on to hope, but unless changes are made, it will be no more."
"Bill Kitchen was my all-time favourite rider. I saw him only once at the White City Stadium in Glasgow in 1946/7. This was one of several celebrity races which included Ron Johnson, Wilf Plant and Oliver Hart. Seems like only yesterday, with Bill in the white helmet, Ron Johnson in red helmet. Ron died some years ago in Perth, Australia. Bill Longley phoned in to the ABC Sydney radio programme on Christmas day in 2003, making the comment that, " I don't expect any of your listeners will remember me!" Well, one of them did!"
"Just to clarify the Amateur Dirt Track Riders Club was formed by GO Thornton at Crayford on 16th August 1935, where the club raced for the remainder of that speedway season - Arthur Warwick, Claude Rye, Gus Kuhn and Tiger Stevenson all took an active interest in the Club. Claude Rye presenting his own trophy to the Crayford Club Champion RT Allen in November 1935. The Club moved to Dagenham in 1936"
"I always remember the league final between Swindon and Poole, the final race was between Briggo and Norman Strachan and Norman beat Briggo to give Poole the championship, I know Norman rode his little socks off, but was it a fix? "