"Good reading, Ian. Speedway's biggest problem - given the sport's desperately low profile, it may be insurmountable - is almost the entire GB population being unaware of what it is. Partly through changes in how the various branches of the media cover sport (now, everything but football struggles to get a mention), speedway has become, at best, a forgotten sport.
Your 16,000 weekly aggregate attendance observation speaks volumes. I've lost count of the number of times, in recent years, that I've mentioned speedway in conversation with a casual acquaintance, only to be met with a blank look. Even those living within a few miles of a track (quite an achievement in 2023, I know) can be completely ignorant of speedway. Of how many sports can you say that?
In common with several other minority sports, speedway really needs to bring in a disinterested party (or parties), from outside, without prior knowledge or prejudice, to examine thoroughly its problems and recommend positive courses of action. That's going to cost money - something the sport doesn't have, unfortunately.
Speedway's long-standing failure, even during the 'good' times, to develop venues it owns and controls is now biting it on the backside, big time. Too many clubs are at the mercy of ruthless landlords who, understandably, want to maximise revenue from an asset. As things are, speedway is not a money-generating option.
On the subject of football, incidentally, most clubs in the top tier of the National League (tier five) are now fully professional, along with a number in the tiers below. "
"Following on from my mention regarding the film "There is another Sun", have recently come across a 1937 film on Talking Pictures, "Cotton Queen. This not only includes footage of the Belle Vue amusement pa rk, but also a good few minutes of the storyline featured footage of speedway action from the Hyde Road stadium. Not sure if "Cotton Queen" has been covered previously on this section of your website, but certainly worth another mention anyway, at least so it can give the opportunity for fellow speedway fans to look out for a future screening on Talking Pictures."
"I raced at the last ever meeting at the ONLY real Belle Vue, but sorry guys, I was on the dark side... I raced Stock Cars, but I loved this place, I was brought up in Gorton so the whole complex was magical. I had the pleasure of working at Belle Vue as well. How Manchester let something of the likes of Belle Vue die, I'll never know - or forgive them for that matter. I've been inspired by the photos to try and make a 1.76 scale model. I'll post it if I ever get it done... you know what life is like... best laid plans etc. Brilliant site."
Pictures of the new home of the Workington Comets. Such is the rate of progress with this new development, that these pictures from last week are already out of date, with additional seating appearing on the first bend this week.
"Great article with many useful point. My top changes are: A better all round fan experience = comfortable, modern and clean stadiums, and value for money - right now you get just over 15 minutes of actual racing (tapes up to chequered flag) for around £20 - That's not value for money IMHO. As I've said many times, and Ian points it out, millions of people have never even heard of speedway, so that's a good starting point, but you have to have an overall plan, and someone from outside the sport needs to oversee it, else it'll fall back on self-interests. Never say never! "
"An excellent and deeply thought out article from Ian Davey. The problems facing speedway in the UK at the moment are very deep rooted, but over the years many missed chances have been and gone. Even today some simple but effective things could be put into place but aren't. This may sound silly, but ITV's "Tipping Point" features regular prizes each day "courtesy of so & so". Why not 2 VIP tickets to the Cardiff Grand Prix each year? The prizes are given on a regular basis, it would cost nothing for say 100 tickets to be allocated this way, and would give speedway a very cost-effective boost on prime time ITV every day for a set period.
If we don't take every opportunity we can to promote our beloved sport then the downward spiral will inexorably continue. When my generation are finally gone the number of young people taking up the mantle will surely be that much less and our sport will end up even less than a "minority" sport. Hard to believe that 40 short years ago Wembley was packed to capacity for an enthralling World Final, and surely there is now evidence that the writing is on the wall if no action is taken very soon."
"Interesting follow up article by Ian. Usually when anybody discusses the topic of British speedway it is compared to football. Where as football just needs a bit of land for a ground and is usually located within easy reach of public transport with the lower teirs regionalised and played by amateurs speedway is expensive and too risky to compete as an amateur plus for supporters tracks have been and are located in places not easily accessible by public transport, examples Eastbourne, Mildenhall and Iwade. In the old days youngsters would have raced in the second half on second hand bikes and leathers and progressed into the team as they improved.
One thing that is made clear from Ian's article is speedway needs to go back to scatch and start again. You cannot maintain a Premiership league with 7 teams, especially with 4 going into play-offs (Scottish Premiership league has 12 teams with 10 teams in the other three leagues). Unfortunately as with any top sports, charities or business's the people running it cannot relate to the people they are providing a service for with speedway perhaps being the worst example where they cannot relate to what the supporter wants.
I keep emphasising the fact that sport is about competition and that speedway has always penalised successful teams with one of the best examples being my 1988 team Hackney where the following year they were forced to lose half their team through team averages. So I can't see anything changing, it will remain the same as everybody will still be out for themselves and relying on somebody to bail them out when things go wrong. It's a shame but I can't see anything improving within my lifetime. Unfortunately I'm lost to speedway as I have no 'team' to support or track to watch it live. Still, if Oxford can turn their fortunes around lets hope others can do the same. "
"Commenting on my own photos after several years: Just look at those skinny boys with their 22-inch rear wheels, straight unsilenced exhausts, nitro-methane, leathers, Barum tires, and Maely steel shoes. God, that was a beautiful period in speedway and motorcycling history. Can hardly believe it was well over half a century ago. I'll never forget Steve Bast and all the other lads from those days. Some are old men, and some are gone, but they'll always be my boyhood heroes. "
"What can I say....one of the best riders of my youth that will stick with me until the day I die. Gary Peterson was a fantastic rider and for me part of a great Bradford team. Gary gave thrills and excitement when ever he rode. You could say that Gary and the Bradford riders got me hooked on speedway, but there was only one Gary Peterson. Style and speed. he was just a brilliant rider who gave 110 percent in every race. Sadly missed. Never forgotten."
"I totally agree with Jim Henry's comments. We've had this discussion on the British Speedway Forum several times, and it disturbs me how many people seemingly want a meeting finished in less than an hour! I used to drive all over the country to watch speedway, and I wouldn't have wanted to do a seven hour round trip for a 45-minute meeting! I also liked Jim's comments about "meeters, greeters, and explainers", as it would certainly help newcomers to the sport to feel involved."
"My parents were huge Speedway fans at the Shay and used to take me as I was growing up, I love looking back over these things and remembering the smell of the fumes as we drove down into Halifax. We have a good collection of old programmes from back then and wondered if there is a market for them today?"
"Oxford had a great season with so many good nights with the Cheetahs and Chargers. The riders all had their moments that made us cheer like made. Nothing comes easy in our sport and we lost a few home matches, but each time by only a few points. We had many last heat deciders that kept us on edge. It was fantastic when we pulled it off. Obviously not so good when we lost. However the size of crowds never suffered they just kept coming. All were happy that we had our track back and teams to support.
It was therefore so good to be at World Speedway Riders Association dinner to see Oxford receive their track of the year award. Thanks go to the Promoter, Team Managers, riders and all the staff and supporters that made the dream come true. We now look forward to the 2023 season with a team to set our hearts beating again and the hope that Coventry, Swindon and Reading can make it back to their tracks again."
"I disagree that a tractor drawing grader can draw more material to the white line than rakers. If you want a decent surface for every race you need rakers drawing in dirt before every heat and for it to be spread by a tractor drawn wire mesh grader. Two to three tractor laps between each heat. Tractors with blade graders, spinning wheel etc going out after every four laps cannot draw in and spread the same amount of shale as 4 rakers (6 at Berwick) going out after every race.
The best dirt coverage by tractor is before heats 1,5,9,13 (and 15).The track progressively slickens off in the racing lines and dirt progressively builds up round the outside before 2,3,4 and so on.
Being a hard grafting raker isn't a jolly. Raking after each race doesn't need to hold up / slow down a meeting. In fact I'd feel robbed if a meeting were over in an hour.
As an aside, the time between races need to taken up by good presenters building up excitement between races. (Say) giving a summary of the meeting thus far and assessing who might do what in the upcoming race. They could encourage home and visiting fans to get behind their team and newcomers to join in and support a rider in the next race irrespective of team they ride for. In this way they might get caught up in on track action rather than just be bystanders who may feel left out of it. Maybe we need meeters greeters and explainers to help newcomers get the most out of their night."
"Just a minor correction, but Bill didn't leave for the UK in 1965, as at that point he was a neighbour of my family in London. He might have visited Australia in 1965 but he was back in London after that date, I know as he taught my mum to drive, when we were living in Brockley. He left circa 1968 and I visited him and Kay in the Sunshine Coast around 2002. He visited the UK once in the 1980's when Kay wanted to visit a relative in Rumania. This was an Iron Curtain country at the time, and the visit distressed Kay greatly. He had a scrapbook that had a cartoon in the UK Times of him racing, with an image of Hitler complaining that Bill was getting more attention than him.. which I think was from 1938. "
"An excellent article. A lot of the points I would concur with. I also attended the Cardiff Grand Prix and the British final. One was very poor entertainment and the other was as good a meeting as I have seen. I will give you a few observations from my time watching speedway, my first match was 1975.
The first is that most fans in all sports are only casual supporters. I think speedway has lost 95% of its casual fans. I think this is one of the main reasons for the decline. Looking at cricket as a comparison. There are an awful lot of fans who are only interested in winning and have very little interest in the detail of cricket. For example I attended a 20 20 cricket match last summer. The entertainment in my opinion was very poor, a one sided game, no contest between bat and ball, team A won because they scored a few more boundaries than the other. I was a long way away, could see little, no interest in drinking and I was totally bored.
Another example I can point to, this time speedway. I attended a match between Peterborough and Edinburgh. A hard fought match with the Monarchs just winning. Lots of overtaking on a very good track. The majority of Panthers fans did not enjoy the match. A fair few probably stopped going because their team could no longer win the league.
My first season was 1976 when I watched Birmingham. The team was poor and so were results, the entertainment though was excellent. Crowd levels dropped a lot from the previous year when the Brummies were winning the league I suspect that I am in a minority (probably a large minority) but look for good racing.
I have been to Belle Vue and I have never seen a bad meeting. The key to me is good track preparation, where the two racing lines inside and outside should have equal opportunity. I have been to a lot of tracks where first out of the gate always wins. I went to Coventry a lot in the late 70's and saw some very boring racing. The team was doing well and crowds were good. What does that say?
The plus points to speedway are:
* On most tracks you can see 100% of the racing
* Most other sports are better on the television, cricket especially.
Some items that I think have caused the decline:
* Lack of atmosphere - Cradley v Birmingham and Coventry v Wolves derbies, to mention a couple were very good
Loss of local newspapers - during the 70's the coverage at Birmingham was brilliant, full back page spread most weeks. As a casual fan you could not miss it. The decline of the Birmingham Evening Mail I am sure prevented the Brummies from attracting casual fans. On the plus side the Express and Star coverage of the Wolves is excellent so casual people in the area still know there is speedway, not the case in Birmingham in my view.
* Loss of Saturday night is massive. Certainly if Belle Vue raced on a Saturday night it would encourage me to go, travelling back over an hour on a Monday just takes too long
* Loss of Terrestrial television - Football just takes over and Cricket has also suffered. May be worth trying to get a highlight package on ITV4.
* Loss of the stars - Everybody had heard for example of Ivan Mauger and Kenny Carter. Very few know Tai which is very sad.
Some items that may improve things:
* Given the limited fixture list I see little point racing in March and October. During June, July and August try and race once a week. Although this is unusual, no other sport expects customers to come every week.
* Look to have the British final with all British riders. Belle Vue may be too small. Try Bradford and pay Tai and Robert the money they want.
* Look to have a couple of major individual meetings on a Saturday during the summer. Try Belle Vue, get all the best riders, it will be a gamble.
* Look to have something above the premiership. Only the really well supported teams, perhaps four teams. Home and away, very high limit. At least three GP riders per team. Try to get it on a Saturday. Charge say £30, get it on television as well.
* Don't stop races and warn riders, just let them carry on and at the end of race just exclude them. Will soon stop riders trying to cheat. Nobody wants to see a drawn out heat. Technology would improve the issue. Same as athletics, if they react to soon exclude.
* Covers for tracks. I know it would not prevent all rain offs but it would stop the track been unfit due to rain for days before. If my local cricket team can afford covers then so can speedway. Nothing worse than driving to see a track which is unfit and it is not raining. "
"As a track raker of many years experience until the demise of Lakeside I feel I should clarify a few points in David Pickles article "Raking Over Old Coals".
From the outset it has to be understood that modern high-revving engines do an enormous amount of damage to the track, compared to the old uprights. We now see great ruts appearing on the start line that just didn't happen years ago. The rules require the start marshal and referee to co-operate in ensuring that the riders get a "fair and equal start " so the riders are entitled to prepare their starting area. Just how much time they are allowed is up to the referee considering all the circumstances. Some referees are stricter than others and arguably there should be a few more exclusion for time wasting at the start.
However if a rider is excluded that results in even more delay while he goes back to the pits and a reserve has to get his helmet and goggles on and get himself out to the start. Also, imagine what would happen if riders were not allowed to fil a few ruts in. One rider gets an advantage off the line and the fans are robbed of what might have been a decent race. It is a difficult problem with no easy answer.
Next we have the problem of delays by riders going back to the pits after a restart. Again this is in the hands of the referee. It is in the referees power to put the two minute warning on straight away do but we forget those times and remember the delays. Sometimes there is good reason to allow more time. For example, if a race is stopped because of first bend bunching it is not a riders fault he has been knocked off, perhaps is a bit winded or needs to make minor repairs to his bike.
That brings us to what I believe is the real reason for long drawn out meetings - there are too many crashes in modern speedway. Modern engines with narrow power bands are very volatile and unpredictable. I was talking to Olle Nygren a few years before he died. He said that in his day he reckoned to do about 100 meetings a season and only fall off once or twice. He said Briggs, Mauger and the others top riders were the same. Compare that to today and I think most riders would be lucky to go a few meetings without a crash let alone a season. I dont want to sound like an old fogey but I really agree with Olle Nygren that modern engines are much to blame for the demise of the sport. They are certainly responsible for the demise of team riding.
I have been at meetings were it has taken 45 minutes to get through the first four or five races because of crashes. At Lakeside the flag marshals always doubled as track rakers. Safety requires meant we have two to each bend although we normally had three. I dont know wher ethe idea came from that they don't exist now, but maybe they are just not seen on TV. The safety rules are that rakers stand four metres behind the white line and in the event of a crash or stoppage the rakers should only go on the track when all the bikes are off and don't touch the fallen rider. The first aiders attend to the rider, the mechanics deal with the bike and the rakers deal with repairs to the track.
Track rakers should go out between races to rake the dirt back, but there is a skill to it. As the dirt get sprayed to the outside by the bikes during racing we tend to leave on the outside on bends one and three, where the bikes are sliding into the corner and rake it back to the dirt line on bends two and four where the riders need grip accelerating out of the corner. The tractor usually brings the dirt back closer to the white line because he can do it more evenly than a raker.
It takes a lot of skill for a track curator to prepare a good race track. Unfortunately there are not many really good track curators these days and it is a bit of a dying art, with detrimental effects on the quality of the racing. There is more to it than just driving a tractor round. Remember next time you see a decent track that the curator has probably been working on it long before the meeting starts and will still be there long after the fans have gone. As others have said, a great sport, but I think the best parts of it are behind us now. "
"Ian Davey has a good stab at what hundreds of others before him have also done - tried to state what has gone wrong with British speedway. And no doubt, those hundreds before him had just as many different opinions, and I count myself amongst all of that, on various fourms and publications over the years. He certainly has a point that, compared to F1, no-one central body seems to be in charge of the sport, which probably hasn't helped. There's always comparisons with other sports, but this can sometimes be divisive.
Given the cost of living crisis, speedway is not value for money, with around 20mins worth of actual action, at best. I've been to Stock Car meetings which give you far more for your buck. Millions (and I don't think I'm exaggerating here) of people in the UK don't even know what speedway is! I await Part 2 with interest, and although we should never say never... It's dead, but it won't lie down."
"Ian, This is a well written and very fair facual summary, so much better than many that are just keen to bash and blame promoters. I will look forward to the second article and hopefully some practical discussion on the future."
"An excellent article from Ian, and one that older fans especially, will echo. Its almost impossible to pinpoint when the rot set in, and looking back its almost impossible to believe that over 92,000 fans packed into Wembley in 1981 for what was to be the last ever World Final there, and yet 5 years later attendances at some tracks had collapsed.
John Berry once told me that his plans to revamp the sport would have worked, whether they would or not is open to debate and I never got the full story, but I think promoters made a huge mistake in 1986 by voting not to at least put him at the head of it. His vast experience could only have done good.
Since those days of course we've had machinery changes, start rules change and quite frankly interminable delays between races all combine to ruin speedway as the spectacle it once was. Of course old romantics such as myself look through rose-tinted glasses as far as the quality of racing is concerned, but I well remember tramping home from West Ham and Hackney some weeks disappointed with the fare on offer, only to return the following week to witness a corking meeting. The product hasn't basically changed since 1928 and to me is still the best sport by far on the planet, but it needs somehow to attract the youngsters and that I'm afraid will be very difficult with the plethora of alternatives on offer as Ian has rightly pointed out.
We have been betrayed in reality by the media who no longer publish the results, and TV companies in particular. The BBC has always made a point of ignoring us, begrudgingly showing highlights of The Internationale in the 1970's but very little else, and ITV really haven't been much better. Sky should hang their heads in shame for not just abandoning us but not even featuring us on their sports news channel any more either. I think the best we can hope for is that current interest and attendances are maintained for the foreseeable future."
"The decline of speedway! Yes , a very sad state of affairs and I look forward to reading Ian's suggestions on what he thinks needs to be done to hopefully get back to something like the glory days. I have posted many comments on this website over the years.
Most sports and businesses reinvent themselves to generate interest to a younger generation. Instances being the 'locals' pub has disspeared and have now become 'Kitchen and Bar', Vehicles are switching to electric, Cricket brought in the 1 day game, Rugby changed the name of teams and have mascots and in some cases cheerleaders, Rugby along with Football has started promoting Ladies teams with television channels willing to broadcast games. British Speedway has not adapted, they brought in play-offs as the Americans do, but even that now is a joke as you have 6 teams in the Premiership (name adopted from football) and four go into play-offs.
The decline I feel is down to three basic facts, speedway has always penalised teams that are good (originally a gate handicapping of top riders, rider control and then team averages) the only team sport I can think of that does this. Promoters never promoted the sport, they relied on papers reporting events and thirdly they never had the foresight to purchase or build stadiums, always renting them.
It's hard to know now how to improve the situation, promoters have never listened to the supporters, they've always been concerned about their own business interests and not as the sport as a whole. The only thing I can think of to improve their lot is to try and sell the sport to television companies or to start a 'British' Speedway channel that people can subscribe to, so you can live pause and record. Of course you need to improve your product which means no limits on teams strengths, you simply run on what you can afford.
My situation is at the moment I have no means to stream and I can't get to see any live speedway although I do subscribe to Premier sports to watch Swedish and Danish Speedway . I look forward to Ian's ideas on how to save our beloved sport. "
"I agree with your comments and wish speedway could provide fans with a meeting each week like we used to have, this is why crowds are down once a month is just not good enough to keep people coming back. I think the promoters need to find a group of ex-riders and supporters to decide on a new rule book and the promoters to rigidly stick to it"
"Years ago I did raking at Rye House plus I doubled up at Hackney whenever there was a shortage of track staff. You were not paid but did get free entry, a programme and at the interval a cup of tea. From what I remember the rules were 5 minutes from the start of one race until the start of the next which would include any track preparation that needed to take place with only a extra time given if a rider had two rides on the trot, starting gate malfunctions or fence repairs.
These days you have to wait for riders to go back to the pits after an unsatisfactory start, wait ages for any air fence repairs (old days you just put the kick board back).
For us olduns who cannot get to watch live speedway the solution is simple, get a sky or virgin box and subscribe to watch speedway, that way you can live pause or record and watch at a time to suit you. I've been informed that you cannot do that if you stream a match which means you are back to watching them take two hours to run a meeting.
These days I am quite happy to record the highlights of the British League matches (when they decide to show a league match) and Grand Prix's on Quest which ironically with the league matches, unless there's loads of re-runs or delays you get to see all 15 heats in an hour programme and I subscribe to Premier Sports to watch the Swedish (Tues &Thurs) and Danish (Wed) where even if there is a delay due to the weather they will still show all the match, even though you do tend to be watching the same riders in both leagues most of the times.
Interesting enough for those who don't follow the Danish league they have 5 riders in a 14 heat format which makes it a bit awkward if somebody gets injured.
Having moaned about all that Speedway is still a great sport. Perhaps they should take a leaf out of footballs pages and have a ladies speedway league, how many of us would watch that?"
"I suspect the demise of rakers was to save on staff costs & free entries. I raked at Powderhall many years ago and I do think that rakers can refresh a surface in.very short time working with one track grader. Rakers have to forget about filling programmes and get out as soon as the last bikes go past.
I do not think the multiple tractors etc move much dirt in towards the white line to be honest. Rakers are better on wet nights as they can get druse Shale on to the slick bits and shift any slop as needed. Might be worthwhile giving rakers a try again - you would only need two at each end if the flag marshals at each bend joined in."
"I think the enquirer answers his own question as Malcolm Craven was the only Craven who rode for West Ham and could have performed at this time. Details of the years the various Cravens rode can be found on The Speedway Researcher web site."
"I'm making a short film about motorcycle stunt riders and am looking to find out more about Bill Deegan's Hell Riders - especially their last years in the late 70s I believe. Does anyone know anyone who was with them, or can direct me to any descendants of Bill, or perhaps knows where I can find photos or videos from the shows? Thank you!"
"I cannot believe the dog track has closed. I have been working away for a long time, but I have come home now . I was talking to my grandsons and I told them we should go. So I checked it out and I could not believe it was not there anymore. I used to go three times a week for years, well it will save me a few quid ha ha"
"A "minor miracle" indeed John. A little while back I published a brief article in the World Speedway Riders' Association magazine ("Tapes Up") about my memories of going to see Oxford Cheetahs when I was a student there. I concluded it by wishing the campaign to re-open Oxford every success in re-establishing one of the most well-known brands in the history of British Speedway, but I have to admit I never thought it would happen. Now it has.
Congratulations to you and your fellow campaigners,John. It's a real boost for the sport and gives hope to Coventry, Reading etc.
In August I'll be returning to see the Cheetahs, exactly 50 years since my last visit, accompanied by a friend who was a fellow student, who I've also not seen for 50 years! Should be a great night. "
Based on the best information available (the Speedway Control Bureau regulations) we've added a programme generator for the new Premiership Pairs competition. Gate positions appear to be decided on heat colours, with the Red and Blue pair being able to place either rider on gate 1 or 3. The same would apply for the white/yellow pair and gates 2 and 4.
We've had a surprising number of requests for a programme generator that can be used while watching the Danish League meetings on Premier Sports. The good news is that we have been able to make one available. Special thanks to Terry Akiens for his assistance with this. We hope to have one available for the Premiership Pairs meetings later in the season.
"My dad, Fred RIGG rode for the DUKES, the Shay, Halifax, West Yorkshire. He was born 1925 and died 2014. I used to watch the DUKES at Halifax when I was 14 but shortly after they went to Bradford ( I think). I have no records of him having rode speedway in the 1950s. There was an Eddie RIGG ( ?) but don't know of him. I would love to find something with his name or details on it. Can you help? "
"Hi Andrew just seen your reply. I have been back watching for about 8 years. One of my daughters got me back in to going, we are in the South Stand as it exits turn 2. That's incredible about your sister and parents - such a small world."
"The Ipswich rider is 1957 World finalist Norwegian Aage Hansen. He is on face book. Aage was reported to have knocked a whole second off the Ipswich track record in an unofficial practice session in 1957 and scored 11 in his first meeting."
Wednesday was a real night to remember in Oxford as the Cheetahs raced back into action at their spiritual home. John Fray was one of those who never gave up hope and was lucky enough to secure a ticket for the grand reopening meeting.
"My wife and I have Grandchildren in NZ and we visit - covid permiting - for 4 or 5 months each UK winter. Having known Fred and Carol since the late 60's we always visit them at their home outside Napier. Fred is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.
I rode with him in a few Grasstracks. During one he rode Bill Davies Douglas. Danny and Lee Dunton, Jim Gregory and John Stallworthy were also riding. Fred has a big collection of Vintage and Classic bikes as well as his last speedway ride, his ESO-JAP.
Last time we visited, his lovely mum Dot greeted us pushing a wheelbarrow full of stable sweepings. She had just finished 'Mucking out' the stalls. Like all true eccentrics she was wearing a nice skirt and blouse, a twin string pearl neclace and wellies! Dot's life had just improved as she had had her cararact done.
Note the singular - she only had sight in one eye! She had terrible trouble convincing the surgeons to do it. If it went wrong, she would have been blind. She, with typical Kiwi forthrightness said " I'm bloody well blind as it is - you can't make it much worse! "
So they did it - successfully. Cant wait until we can get together again, hopefully in 2022."
"Lovely to finally learn more about my Dad, Angus McGuire and his speedway days. He rode with the Liverpool Chads for late 1949 and through 1950. Then with the Fleetwood Flyers during late 1950 and 1951. He loved motorcycles for the rest of his life and could fix any of them."
"In 1971 the Oxford Section of the VMCC ran a Vintage Grass Track ot the Sports Trust playing fields in Kidlington. We had help from the Oxford Ixion MCC, borrowing their ropes and stakes to mark out the circuit, A bumper entry included Bill Davies, Rick (Fred) Timmo, Danny Dunton, Lee Dunton, Jim Gregory, John Stallworthy, Titch Allen, founder of the VMCC, Roger Gagg and yours truly. As well as George Bason with a 250 Triumph! I remember George as a very polite and well turned out chap. He spent a lot of time speaking with Bill Davies and John Browne of Carterton. John Brown was one of the founders of the Oxford Speedway at Cowley pre war. He and George went back a long way. Happy Memories."
"I remember a little about Jack racing at Western Springs NZ with his sister as pusher. I still remember last time I seen Jack he was on top of a steel beam welding at shopping centre in Otara South Auckland. How did I know him? I was in his class at Penrose High School. RIP Jack"
" Such a wonderful thing, to still see, my dear departed Dad's article here still, he passed away in 2012. He loved West Ham, I'm 59 now and used to go in the early seventies, actually just before the ground at Custom House was redeveloped. He was passionate about letting people know about the old days and ways, I remember him telling me how Prince Regents Lane was crowded like a football match on race days in those times. Paints some many wonderful pictures. He was involved in the disaster fund for the West Ham team, when their van crashed in Belgian. I remember talking to Garry Hay on the phone, such a thrill for a young lad! We also met Len Silver at Hackney, when Dad did some advertising for him, I remember, the GO-Hackney pointers! Happy Days, keep up the good work."
"Nice piece about a great meeting, the greatest individual meeting in the world. First time I was there was 1986. I had been racing the famous Dr. Joe Bailey 1926 TT Douglas - Briggo rode it a couple of times - in an International Vintage Road Race at the Autodrom in Most, followed the next weekend by an 11 kilometre tarmac hillclimb at Sternberk. I got on the box in both events - it was a really fast bike - second at most, winner at Sternberk.
I was travelling with my wife, our 3 year old and a twelve week old baby. We got to Pardubice in time for the last heats and the two finals. A very young Tomas Topinka won that year. Many Czechs were interested in the old Douglas and after meeting some enthusiasts and getting contact details for the Zlata Prilba club I blagged a ride for 5 Brit veteran riders on Vintage bikes the following year. The riders were myself, Douglas, Roy Nowell, Douglas, Dave Kirby, Rudge, Dave Sparks, JAP and Dickie Brown, Martin JAP. Rudolph Havelka, technical guy in charge of the Zlata Prilba clubs workshops and a fine rider joined us on an early ESO. We must have put on a good show as we were invited back many times as well as getting a skid at the Lubos Tomicek Memorial meeting at the Marketa Stadion in Prague on the Monday night.
In 1986 I fell off in front of a full Stadium during our race at the Golden Helmet. 60,000 fans - they make for a great atmosphere. I have a picture of my wife wearing Jeremy Doncasters Golden Helmet during the after race party.
Wonderful memories. Your 1938 query, Gunzenhauser started IIRC, but failed to finish. The race for the Golden Helmet was run, in those days, around the racecourse used for the Czech Grand National horse race. IIRC one lap was 4 kms, and ten laps were run. It was very fast and dangerous. There is a memorial garden for the six riders who lost their lives racing there. Franta Juhan, Gunzenhausers teamate under the British designer and team manager George Patchett, won on another Jawa. Gunzenhauser took the OHC model leaving the slower, but as it turned out, more reliable OHV bike to Juhan. In 1996 Franta Juhan's brother and Frankie Juhan, Franta's son, sponsored a Memorial Meeting at Pardubice, won by Todd Wiltshire. The Vintage bikes were there too, and it became the start of the Oldtimer Euro Series of Speedway and Longtrack events of which I and a dozen other Brits became a large part of. Great times.."
"I had the pleasure of working with Bob Leverenz at Radio Rentals in Adelaide. I was very impressed in his demeanour and he had a great influence on my decision to become a freemason. (I went on to become Grand Master 2003 - 2006) His philosophies on life were absorbed and never forgotten. A former member of Glenelg Lodge and the Lodge of Sportsmen. "
"Best wishes to Barry Grindrod. Barry - do you remember Stock Car - The Magazinbe for the Sport, which Geoffrey Kingscott and myself edited for The British Stock Car promoters Asssociation (Charles Ochiltree in effect)? You were the magazine's man at Nelson, as I remember. I also visited Nelson for speedway. If memory serves me right Long Eaton got a rare Division Two away point at Seedhill. Saturday May 3rd 1969. A 38-38 draw. Pete Gay and Tony Lomas both got 11 points for the Rangers. Alan Knapkin with 12 was the top scorer for the Admirals."
"Lovely. seems you had a great time. My first time was at Rye House aged 10 stood by the fence and got smothered in wet cinders, not sure but seem to remember Ronnie More made a guest appearance at Rye House.Thanks for your story. "
"I was PR for the Admirals working full time as a journalist on the Lancashire Evening Telegraph. I used to be big mates with Stu Riley. I lost track of Stu many, many years ago. Anybody know where he is or what has happened to him. Better still are you out there Stu?"
"My father Ernie Deighton rode at Rye House before WW2. My nan Deighton showed me the magazine with my Dad's name in he was known as 'young Deighton', might your old records have any photos or information on my Dad? "
"hi Mike Thanks for your update. have a Motorcycle magazine from the sixties with a photo of your Kermond but it was called a Hynes in the caption. Kermond is a mystery and very little is known after he returned to Australia. I have done a lot of research on Dave Hynes, Huck Fynn and Arthur Payne all mates together. Arthur is 98 and has a good memory."
"Mark Halliwell..only just seen your comment !...you were indeed that person who introduced me to speedway so thanks for that...I hadn't been to any meetings since 1993 but have attended some Belle Vue meetings again this year with my youngest son and been pretty impressed..my sister married ex rider Glenn Doyle and she and my parents have lived in Australia for over 20 years now, 30 years in her case so you could say your introduction to speedway for us changed our lives !"