Tracy Holmes looks back on the Kiwi riders attempts to qualify for the 1982 World Final in Los Angeles. He suggests that there was one particular New Zealander that the promoters didn't want to reach the big night.
Robert J. Rogers brings us the sad news of the recent passing of former West Ham rider Ron Butcher.
We've found a couple of more pictures of the old Felixdorf track in Austria which we've added to the page. These include the one above of the abandoned pits. We're still not entirely clear on when the track was operational. Charle McKay found a reference to the track in Dirk Riemann's Speedway Chronik book which says it opened in 1955. Ian Presslie came up with the same opening year and says a meeting was staged there in 1991. Anyone able to provide more info?
"Yes, a truly sad and another tragic moment in Glasgow speedway. Was also present on this most tragic night at Hampden Park, and occasionally flicks past my speedway memory. Having lived many years overseas I do lose contact with the day to day of the sport however some of the magic moments seen at Hampden, and there were very many, happily dampen this tragedy. One of my angry recollections was the coverage from the local press, Daily Record, Evening Times etc., giving extensive full page coverage of what happened, and in general to a sport which was largely ignored by them.
Looking back on facts and comments from the article I must also show my deception and perhaps dissapointment of the attitude shown by the promotion of the time, as I very clearly remember Neil McFarlane giving his very emotional discourse / speech at the very end of the meeting, although it would appear that they were already very well aware, for qute a considerable amount of time that Svein had in fact deceased from the tragic accident. It ocurred on the entrance of the first bend where Svein clipped the rear wheel of Martin Ashby and was hurled head first, into the then very solid wooden, safety fence None of this of course bears much relevance and will most certainly not alter history. Fond, and on this ocassion in particular, very sad memories, and on reflection a very bitter taste indeed of cinicism from the erstwhile promotion. The show must go on. "
"Good work Peter! Indeed a very sad night for Charlie and it was reported he had a slow puncture in heat 15. He was 2nd behind Trevor Hedge at the time but lost a point to Brian Brett, managing to hold off Bob Andrews. I always think that Charlie just may have done what Gordon Kennett went on to do in 1978. While not good enough to win, he may have upset the apple-cart enough to take the silver medal, on his debut. From Plechanov, Fundin and Briggs ? Yup, he was on that kind of form and really was that good. Sadly, we will never know! Monk was not the only 'Top Man' to miss that years World Final. Spare a thought for Sverre Harrfeldt who went to the European Final in CZ on Sunday, to find that the meeting had been held on Saturday! The Norwegian Federation had given him the wrong date!!!"
"I remember this British Final very well and while I was a supporter of Ken McKinlay he should have been excluded. The other reason I am going to let you know that Nigel Boocock should have been British Champion instead of Briggo because Boocock was leading Briggs half a lap to become British Champion until that misfortune when Boocock had an engine failed which cost him the British Championship and Briggs went on to win the meeting, most unfair but that's speedway. "
"This is an excellent read from Kenny. I met him when me and Jason Pipe were running the Cleveland Bays speedway team and he was a gentleman and he met up with his old adversary from Teesside days Henry 'Rule Book' Atkinson as he was known at Berwick! Interesting comments about when he finally left Berrington Lough."
"Speedway will always be in debt to Matt Jackson, Hugh Vass and John Somerville for the wonderful 'The Speedway A-Z' riders' biographical work. It's essential reading for EVERYONE with an interest in speedway's most essential ingredient - the guys who actually get on the bikes."
"It's a remarkable tribute to Svein that nearly 41 years after his tragic death, and considering he rode here for such a brief time, that so many people still remember him with such fondness and sadness at the same time. I was there at Hampden that night also and the place was just never the same afterwards, which was hardly surprising. Don't think that anyone who was there will ever forget it."
"Saw Bill and his troup in 1967 or 68 at the showground in Rapheals Park after the Romford Carnival. They did various tricks including riding through a tunnel of fire. I was so impressed I applied for my provisional bike licence the day I was 16 in 1968 and I've been riding bikes ever since. Off to work on my Varadero in a few minutes (and I'm 60 Now!)"
"Thank you Peter. This piece is a real gem and I'm so glad you took the time to share it with us all. To discover his life outside speedway was real treat. It's great too that guys like Svein are not forgotten by the Speedway world, far from it in fact. Cheers !!!"
"Jack never won a world title, but he was a great entertainer and people loved to see him ride, and was also a willing hand with the up and coming young rider. A wonderful man and sadly missed. If we had more characters like Jack in speedway today the sport would be better off. "
"As a young lad watching Southampton speedway, I seem to recall Charlie Knott the promoter enticing the great riders of the day to ride in second half events, I am sure Jack and Norman Parker, Vic Duggan and other great riders from the then first division were amongst them."
"I remember you from the days at Gisborne many years ago. It would of been at Allan Hessel's a few times gathering for celebrations after the speedway. I remember Tom Sweetman also but everyone else escapes me. This morning I was sorting through so old photo's trying to organise them. The was this small shot of you. My memory isn't that flash these days but it was taken the night when one of the guys ended up in Gisborne Hospital and a few of us snuck in so you guys could see how he was... So this morning l thought the internet is a good research tool, and thought I might just take a look. Angie"
Pictures from the very impressive Ostrow track in Poland. The photographer was Zdenenk Flajshanz.
The London Speedways forum is now entering its fifth year. It covers many aspects of the sport in London from 1928 onwards, and currently features the London area tracks at Lakeside and Rye House.
Its data includes teams from the start of league racing in 1929, test match and championship data affecting London tracks, as well as many team photos - and more.
Visit London Speedways at londonspeedways.proboards.com
"Great article on Svein Kaasa. Ii had never heard of him as a rider but stories like that show the risks that EVERY rider of all standards and abilities take in entertaining the fans and that fans favourites are not necessary the number 1 superstar all of the time...great but sad story,."
"Hi peter, good, well informed column with info. about Svein which I'm sure not many Glasgow fans were aware of. He had always been a rider who due to his short time as a Tiger, not much personal information had been known and even less photos were available."
"I was working on the track staff that night and it happened right in front of me. The only slight change I would make as I recall. Martin was riding quite wide and appeared to lock up. Svein hit him quite hard not just a clip. Svein's bike went verticly airborn and appeared to come down on top of him , snapping the handlebars on the top of the fence as it did so. I ran on the track and lifted the bike away from him. A very sad night. He was a really nice guy and was always happy to chat away with the track staff."
"I spent many happy Seasons watching Ken at Leicester. A great 'gater' and had a classic style. He was our top Man for many Years. After retiring he worked near where I live and often saw him....Always with a smile on his Face!!"
"What a fantastic idea, your daughter obviously has a lot of talent and you must be very proud of her. The drawings are that good that I managed to name them all, (except the 30s) without looking at the names. I'm not an Ipswich fan, though Tiger John did ride for my team Halifax Dukes, for a couple of seasons and he was always very fast round the big, banked shay track and was one of my favourite riders. I went to Foxhall a few times in the 80's and I'm sure I've seen all the Ipswich riders on the picture at one track or another. I have got to like Chris Louis contribution to sky coverage as well, he talks in a really knowledgeable, down to earth way."