"As a Londoner at one time there were so many tracks to visit. Alas not even Rye House or Lakeside are now operating. (Hopefully RH will revive with a more realistic management). It was a great opportunity to see riders like the late great Ronnie Moore. Memories flood back thinking of the period.
My personal favourite was George Newton; past his best by then through serious ill health but for excitement unequalled in my experience. A leg-trailer, of course, along with Oliver Hart and some others I can't recall. (Incidentally am I imagining things or is leg-trailing making a come back?).
Orthadox riders that come to mind are Jack Parker (and his match race pension), Vic Duggan the King of Harringay, ruthless Tommy Price who would make Nicki Pedersen look like an angel. Bill Kitchen the ultimate team man, the immaculate Jack Young, Bruce Abernethy with his scary face mask, spectacular Alan Hunt.
It would be interesting to add to the list but the brain isn't what it used to be. Any suggestions please?"
"I agree Dave. Shivers are still there. I am not an expert on engine positions but lay-downs were tried years ago and did not catch on. I am not sure why they are now universal. As for attracting the younger generation, the track I attend most is awash with family groups in the stands from babes-in-arms to teenagers. Some of the children have their own trundle bikes and whizz around the place with considerable skill. In addition there are young riders on 50cc (I think) machines practising after the meetings as well as slightly older lads (and one lass) on bigger bikes. So maybe where I go is exceptional but I hope it isn't. "
"I was there that night. Never could understand why the track staff did not water the track before the fans did. You could not see the riders such was the amount of dust. As for Peter Collins as a winner, don't think so, Ole Olsen was too good for everyone."
"Thanks for the NSS images_m. What a great race track this has become. Delivers excellent racing week in week out. Go there once and you cant help but be impressed. The BSPA and Speedway GB really should do more to promote this fantastic facility and race track. If Carlsberg did Speedway they'd be at the NSS."
"I'm sad to report that my great friend Dave Slater passed away recently at the age of 88, Dave was a rider for Rye house speedway team in the 50s, he rode bikes up until his 80+ years and was an active member of the AJSMOC, he built some excellent single engine bikes in the flat tracker style, at the age of 76 he bought a new Harley Davidson sportser which he liked but always prefered his Matchless single, it was fitting that two of the specials he built out of auto jumble parts were ridden to the service on the day of his funeral. R.I.P Dave we miss you lots!"
Tracy Holmes looks back at the clashes between Peter Collins and Ole Olsen during the 1975 season.
Thirteenth California-in-England Reunion.
Friends of Speedway are pleased to announce the date of the above reunion to be held on Sunday 14th October 2018 from 11am to 4pm at the Country Park, Nine Mile Ride, Finchampstead, Wokingham, Berks, RG40 4HT, where the speedway took place.
There is an hourly bus service, number 3B from either Reading or Bracknell Rail Stations and stops at the entrance to the park.
All are welcome to attend and bring any memorabilia that you may have or of interest to others.
Details from Stu Towner on 020 8397 6599 or 07860 135939 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A message from John Hyam [ email@example.com ]
"I would appreciate information on Gil Goldfinch's cousin John, who was a photographer and in the mid-1950s in my brief spell working at 'Speedway Star' co-operated with me on various photographic feature. I especially remember working with him when we did 'Rider At Home' features - among those featured were Ron How, Graham Warren and dear old Phil Bishop."
"Was very interested to see the article on speedway. My grandparents, parents and my brother and I were keen supporters of Raleigh up to 1953 when we all immigrated to NZ.
My dad became friends with a lot of the riders as they used to come into the Eastern Cafe (on Eastern Avenue in Romford) which my grandmother owned. We became good friends with Les McGillivray and his family, and after the speedway used to go to his mum's house (Mr and Mrs Mac) . Lovely people.
When Les had a bad accident my grandmother paid for a new bike for him.
I can still remember running from the gates on a Saturday night to claim a seat in the front row. On our birthdays us kids got a ride around the track on our favourite riders bike. Great memories. Maurice Dunn and Julie Benson the New Zealanders visited us when we went to NZ. I think on one occasion Jack Unstead came to visit us as well. Maury Dunn was killed in an accident in a power boat not far from where we lived.
My dad used to go to a lot of the meetings with Les in different areas of England. We travelled to Swindon, west Ham, New Cross, Birmingham, Wembley, St Austell, Long Eaton, Wolverhampton, Hackney, Harringay, and a few more. I have all the badges from those clubs.
Would look forward to hearing from anyone who also was a speedway fan in those days. They were marvellous memories of my childhood. "
"Public Interest. Most of the minority spectator sports have something in common which generates public interest. Nearly all of them involve sports in which anyone can (or can imagine) themselves participating. Speedway does not lend itself to this advantage. Gone are the days when there was a cycle speedway track on every street corner. Is this a possible factor which contributes to our woes? Be glad to hear your views."
"Wow this is amazing and means so much, thank you everyone for sharing, I should have some photos coming soon which I will be able to share. Sue, you wouldn't believe it, nearly 20 years had gone by and ironically I have just got back in contact with Edwards son, Uncle Richie (Andrew), and have provided him the link to this page, in hope of rekindling past history. Thank you again. I still have not had the time to create a website and upload all the wonderful material people have sent to me, but when I do, I will be sure to let you all know. "
"Handicapping. We already have handicapping when under penalty. More often than not the handicapped rider starts at the back and stays there. What pleasure we are expected to get from heat leaders theoretically passing inexperienced reserves baffles me. The result would be the same anyway in this theoretical system. Agreed some races are processional but many are not. Track preparation and design providing more than one racing line would be great help. "
"Very interesting article, and one of the few with a new angle, and backed up by data and not just opinion ("Bring it back to Wembley" etc.). This discussion may well go on for a long time. For example, of all the qualifiers that went towards getting to a World Final, how many of these were exciting, how many of the races really counted etc. I'm sure that TV money has something to do with having a GP series as well. Amongst the major motor sports, Speedway was unusual in that it kept the one-off World Championship for a very long time, so perhaps it was just time to fall in line with the rest of the world. Actually regardless of the standings, i.e. the winner is known before the last GP, I think all of them are eagerly anticipated."
"Great fun mate. This is for those who say ... If Dave Jessup had won his four remaining heats after his ef in 1978, I would say he should have won the Gold Medal. But he did not, beaten by Gordon Kennett in round 5. Then he lost the Bronze Medal run-off. That, for me says his first round ef did not cost him the World Title. And Chorzow was not Jerzy Szczakiel's home track. Cheers !"
"Great article re Arena first match. I was at the meeting as Clerk of the Course. Had that position for 4 seasons then took over the announcing from Dave Lanning and was announcer for 25 years having to give up due to failing eyesight. I miss speedway, it has been part of my life since I was 5 years old. I was asked to go to the final meeting and I closed the meeting and the life of speedway there. My voice was the last heard and I was honoured to be asked to do that - sad as it is."
"Great articles, love speedway, used to watch Arena Essex. We want a speedway team near or in London, the capital city and it has no speedway. Watching the Polish and Swedish speedway, it makes you salivate for a London team, would be nice if we could have speedway at the London stadium or Spurs new ground, instead of that American football, but money talks..."
"Thanks Steve, for voicing your discontent so eloquently, I am sure your comments reflect the thoughts and opinion of the silent majority. I was an avid fan until 1973 when I moved to Canada. Now my speedway fix is restricted to "youtube" and an occasional trip to Cosa Mesa when visiting my daughter in LA. It sounds like the British promoters could learn a lot about putting on a fast paced and entertaining show from the Oxleys."
Thanks to Harry Susemihl for pictures of this brand new track in Hungary.
Can you help Luke Eaton? [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
"I'm searching for information about my grandfather who rode speedway in the 1930's, his name was Maurice John Murdoch, pictured here on his machine. He was from the Taree area and rode along with Van Pragg and Jack Pattman, any information would be appreciated."
"Press coverage is key. So many minority sports get full page reports in the dailies. A swimmer, for example, gets a medal and is given the treatment. Nothing wrong with that but we have World Championship success and hardly a murmur. I wonder if it is because of popular particpation.
In the days just after the war speedway crowds were comparable with all but the major football clubs, but where I lived there was a cycle speedway track on many plots of waste ground where anyone could have a go. There was popular participation. Not possible these days of course but it is a major change in how the sport is brought into the public awareness.
As for handicaps, I am not a fan. I don't see how contrived 'racing' would have any credibility. There have been many example of handicaps when a rider is required to start off 15 yards. Even when the penalised rider is a heat leader he just ends up at the back more often than not.
There is also this obsession that the powers that be have about close scoring matches. There are many examples of one sided scores where the actual individual races have been excellent. And anyway whoever complains when your team gets a 5-1. Theoretically 75-15 could be an very exciting meeting. There is only one other sport where it is considered proper not to win by as much as possible. What next? Shall we give every team that plays Manchester City a two goal start?
Unfortunately there are problems with our sport. It certainly needs someone at the top to see beyond thier own self interest and 'take one for the team'."
David Pickles advocates the appointment of an independent thinker at the top of the sport.
The 70th issue of The Voice magazine is now availalble from Friends of Speedway. It includes an obituary for Jim Gregory along with articles on charity, Ron Johnson, Vic Collins and other topics. Available from Friends of Speedway; 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP. Send a cheque for £12 made out to the above for four issues of the Voice to Stu Towner at the above address or ring 0208-397 6599 for more information.
"I found Ken's article interesting and I agree that speedway needs to market itself a bit better. I'm not sure if newspaper advertising is the answer, especially in the sports pages. It needs to seek potential supporters who are not into other forms of sport.
Maybe BSPA needs to consider a UK wide campaign promoting the exiting elements, its family / supporter friendliness, rider approachability. Speedway needs to get a good and informative "roadshow" to take round town centres in areas within reasonable travelling distances of speedway stadia.
Maybe it needs to get a skilled wordsmith to write up articles to send out free of charge to a whole range of family orientated publications extoling the virtues of speedway. (eg Womens's magazines, kids comics, company inhouse magazines, biker magazines.) with a spin tailored to the publication.
What about a central BSPA agency pulling together a weekly / monthly DVD with the best races of the period and giving these free of charge to local TV stations / network stations (obviously this needs to encourage folks to watch the regular events shown by BT and not cut across it).
What about handing out fliers which require contact details (email addresses etc) which, if handed in at the turnstile at any track after payment of admission, is entered into a raffle for (say) admission cost cash prizes to be handed out by the meeting presenter after (say) the penultimate heat. I'm sure speedway fans can come up with other ideas to promote the sport and it might be interesting what these ideas are!! "
"What Speedway needs is from somone outside the sport to take a good look at it, grab it by the scruff of the neck and say 'This is what needs to be done'. The basic product has always been good, the sport just needs kicking up the backside. "
"As the author of the Neil Street book I invite constructive input. Jock states there are mistakes. I contacted many people for input and the names are all listed. Invitations were sent to everyone I knew. The book was approved by Phil Crump and has been read by Bob Street and many close friends. If there are mistakes that detract from the spirit of the contents these can be noted in an Eratum in all future copies until such time there is a reprint.There was a deadline and there were several people that came back after the deadline. If I am provided with a list I will ensure they are noted. Neil had so many friends there will be different points of view, but overall I thought we gave Neil to credit he was due."
Mark Dell pays tribute to Kelvin Mullarkey, the legendary Rye House Rocket who passed away recently.
"He was a character, a great competitor, a fantastic captain for the Rockets and at times a controversial opponent."
Many congratulations to Speedway Plus contributor Peter Colvin for his starring role on the BBC's Eggheads programme this week. Peter single-handedly defeated the quiz experts in the final showdown, winning the £7,000 prize pot for him and his fellow Glasgow Tigers fans. Even better news is that the team have generously gifted £2,000 of their winnings to the Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund. Well done to all involved.
"Firstly can I say how pleased I am that we have a book on my good friend Bill's life. There are however several "howlers" I've spotted already & that's just in the previews! It's a pity that Carole, Graham, Andy or Bills brother Bob did not read the copy prior to it's publication. So please don't take it as fact because that what it says it in the book!"
"I was in Sydney when I heard the news that Mal Carmichael had died. I met him in Townsville when he was doing the speedway circuit with Peter Bradshaw. I was only 17. We had a relationship and I followed him to Melbourne. I was smitten, oh the memories. Still think of him after all this time. RIP Mal."
"Difficult early years, then they changed the track and widened the corners. Great racing with George Hunter, Neill Collins, Davey Trownson and visitors like Bruce Cribb. Wonderful to remember Carlo Biagi's testimonial with the Collins bros and Tony Briggs. Not quite Old Meadowbank but near it! "
"I am amazed at the lack of foresight by speedway administrators that has allowed the sport to decline to the stage where it has no public appeal particularly to the younger generation who are so critical to speedway, as we know it, long term survival.
To be at the stage where we cant get a few hundred extra to keep Rye House going where as the sport used to fill Wembley is unbelievable, Most races are processional with no passing or change of position and you can write the result in your program before the start of the race or at the latest after the first corner. Consequently there is no spectacle or excitement compared to the days of the upright engines when bikes were harder to ride and we had contrasting foot forward and leg trailing styles.
To survive spectacle, uncertainty and excitement must be re introduced into the sport and there is only one way to do this handicap racing.
Having spoken briefly to Keith Chapman at a Polish GP event a couple of years ago it is obvious that for some unknown reason the sports administration are totally opposed to handicap style racing and content to let a great sport continue to slide into history without making the radical changes necessary to save it. "
Milton Keynes rider James Jessop share his thoughts on the past, present and future.
A request from Jim Henry [ Jamesjhenry@yahoo.co.uk ]:
"Has anyone the early edition of Speedway News which, if my memory serves me correctly, carried a photo of one of the UK royal princes. Was it the future King George VI then known as Prince Bertie? King Alphonso of Spain was reputedly a fan of the pioneer racesrs. By the way the only enobled dirt track rider was Lord Craigton! As Jack Nixon-Browne he had promoted and raced at Carntyne, Glasgow in 1928. He later became a Tory MP and continued in politics in the Lords."
"This idea has some merit. It would most certainly make the crowd feel involved but could also turn the meeting into a sort of Pantomime with the heroes and villains paraded in front of everyone. Would it also be fair for the top points scorer to find all of a sudden their hard nights work is rewarded with the worst gate? Also you could guarantee which ever country is staging the meeting the odds would be stacked for their riders should they make the semis/finals. Great thinking outside the box though Tracy, keep it up. "
"It seems I'm always replying to Dave Pickles observations. I think the reason is we're of the same sort of age and have always been passionate about speedway. I was going to Rye on Wednesday to see Belle Vue but decided against it. I don't think the fixed race night is the reason for the decline in spectators. A fixed Wednesday race night should have freed up more foreign riders but then they allowed Swindon to be exempt and also limited teams to one 8 point rider.
You have no continuality, having to wait 3 weeks for another home meeting then not knowing how many of your or the opponents team are available. This is the reason people are not going. I've got used to not going speedway and the reasons I didn't bother that Wednesday are the track produces poor racing, and Rye were missing 2 riders who's doubling down Championship teams had priority over their services.
Saturday nights I spend down the pub with my mates reminiscing about the good old days of speedway, not about looking forward to the next meeting. Like most sports you'll always have your diehards who'll go week in week out no matter what but unfortunately in speedway they're not being replaced by new supporters.
British speedway needs to realise sport is about competition where the strongest not only survive but prosper. On a ironic note I hear there's talk about a new northern track opening at the same time there's talk of Buxton closing through lack of riders. Perhaps trebling or quadrupling up or mechanics and promoters races to make up the teams. Perhaps even betting, and although betting on the final score might be illegal you could bet on the number of guests your team will have.
Lastly RIP Kelvin Mullarkey, unfortunately characters like him political correctness doesn't allow, with perhaps Nicki Pedersen being the exception. Perhaps that's what's missing, characters. "
"Hello from California, I'm former 2nd Divsion speedway rider, I competed here in southern and central California in the late 70's to the mid eighties and speedway here in California is in pretty dismal shape compared to its heyday back when I was riding and we were sending our best to compete in the British league we still had lots of riders here putting on a pretty good show. I sure hope you all over there in Britain can overcome your issues and bring speedway back to its former glory that the British League has always been in my eyes the epicenter of speedway. The tape rule here in California has been you are excluded if you break the tapes. "
"Hi Terena. Joe Screen was number 17 and Roman Matousek 18. So in the event of a reprieve on the day, Screen was next in line. Per Jonsson had qualified for the meeting but his career had come to an end by injury. From the Nordic Final, Claus Jacobsen had qualified for the Prague Semi as reserve. But he got to take Jonsson's place at Bradford. So had Nagy pulled out a week before, maybe Matousek would indeed have been his replacement. But on the day, Screen at 17 would have lined up. "
"Robert Nagy qualified for the 1994 Inter Continental Final via a different round to the Overseas Final which Joe Screen failed to progress from. So surely had Nagy dropped out before the meeting started, should it not have been the reserve from Nagy's meeting taking his place?"
"Re: Handicapping.. Being a similar age to Dave Pickles we've probably both 'read the book, worn the t-shirt and seen the film' as the saying goes. Handicapping would be a backward step as is with the reverting to the old tactical substitute rule of replacing a rider off form with a better rider.
Every year they muck around with the rules to try and make all teams equal in stregnth in the belief closer matches are going to get these mythical non speedway supporters to start following speedway. Sport is about competition to see whose the best, not to penalise good teams to give everybody an equal chance of winning (Speedway Nations a good example, Poland usually winning the World Cup so lets reduce it to two man teams, thus giving other nations a better chance of winning).
If speedway needs to take a backward step, then go back to 1968, have two leagues, no track sharing, no doubling up, no maximum team averages, riders on contract and loaned out if surplus. That way you could have a workable promotion and relegation where teams are formed on what the promotions can afford."
"Missed the really good Leicester teams but what a great racing tack - really difficult to emulate. Spent a season watching a late Arriving Johnny Boulger, Gary Middleton and the fantastic Ila Teromma (unbelievable at the Riders Championnship at Belle Vue) try to cope with top flight opposition. Fantastic track!,,,"
"Just been in touch with Nathan Murray who was selected to ride and appears in the programme at number 6. Sadly, he was unable to travel due to a lack of funds. So adding to the scorechart; NATHAN MURRAY Q ns."
"John Boyd summed up lack of media attention to British speedway perfectly, it's run by amateurs. Too many leagues with not enough riders, track sharing, doubling up, team averages restricting team strengths. Sport is about competition, speedway is the only team sport that penalises teams that are successful, no wonder media doesn't take notice. The latest is the revamped World Cup, two riders per team, the minimum number of people you can call a team. A great sport being run down by the people that run it. "
"Absolutely right, why did the BBC not comment on the passing of a Motorsport legend? It's shameful of the media to not cover it, just another indication of how speedway is on the media list. If a back room sport like darts can make headlines and attract massive coverage then we need to speak to the people behind the rise in public interest in darts and talk to them about changing speedway's fortunes."
"Perhaps the (two?) exceptions that prove the prevailing rule, actually, Ivan's passing was marked by a full-page obituary in The Guardian, Thursday 19th April, and is available to view on the newspaper's website. The Telegraph also published an obituary which is available online too, though access is subject to a pay-wall."
"David I think you expect to much. Speedway fans which I class my self as, know how good Ivan was. To the press etc he was just a rider. You are right about Lewis Hamilton. But there again Formula 1 get millions of viewers. That is all the TV and media want. Wouldn't it be great to get the results on the news, we need more publicity to push our sport forward.Good for you on getting on t o BBC and ITV."
"Although it's been many years since I have regularly read a daily paper, I believe from posts on Facebook, that at least one of the broadsheets (I believe it was the Daily Telegraph, no less) featured a fairly extensive article as an obituary to Ivan, as well as some of the so-called the red-tops.It's just that they took a while to appear in print after the sad day of his passing....."
"Yes I remember Charlie Monk being almost unbeatable at White City apart from Silver Sash races. I also remember Bengt Jansson going over the 'hump' on the first bend and breaking his leg in 66? And Jim Airey? Takes me back- good times growing up and travelling on the underground from Hillend! "