"My dad worked on the turnstiles, I used to go with him in the early 60's. I loved the atmosphere running round the outside of the track before it opened was a thrill for a child of 8 or 9 waiting for the crowds to come in and the excitement of the crowds. We sang.... 2 4 6 8 who do we appreciate A R C H E R S Archers! "
Details of a fabulous chance to enjoy some free speedway and revel in some nostalgia in the same weekend.
John Louis: My Life in Speedway
JOHN Louis, Ipswich Speedway's greatest servant, is writing his amazing life story and his publisher is inviting supporters of the Witches and our readers to contribute to what promises to be a must-read book.
Retro Speedway will be publishing John Louis: My Life in Speedway in October. John is currently working on the later chapters in collaboration with journalist Elvin King.
In the meantime, Retro would like readers of Speedway Plus to send their own personal memories of 'Tiger' from his time in the sport as rider, promoter and team manager.
The best contributions will appear in a 'Tributes' section at the end of the book itself. Even if you write just a few words or sentences, no tribute will be too small.
Email your comments to publisher Tony McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org before September 1, 2015.
Tracy Holmes on Geoff Mardon's funeral:
The funeral of Geoff Mardon, 24 November 1927 - 6 August 2015. Held on 13 August, Christchurch, New Zealand.
"In the hallway of the Avon Park Chapel in Linwood stood one of Geoff's restored motorcycles and on the desk was a memorial book to sign with a few framed snaps. The 1953 World Final podium, one with Ronnie and Briggo, one from his car racing exploits and one on his road racing days. It was simple but SO effective. Because Geoff never lauded his achievements. He was happy with what he did, end of. And this service reflected the man he was."
"One of his daughters told of her dad's endless patience when the family was on holiday. How Geoff had built a boat and he took them all water skiing. No matter how many times they fell off, he just turned the boat around and got them going again. Friends from the Golf and Bowling clubs shared stories of their happy times together. We were told of Geoff's ventures into the catering and taxi industries and how he with Val, brought up their family, sharing as much time as they all could together. It was a humble celebration of a life well lived. A very good and respectful way to say goodbye."
"Great comments Rob.....and of course Bert ! .........I used to watch the Lions in 1970 and 1971 too.....great memories.......I was only 14/15 yrs old but was mesmerised by it all. Sverre was a sensation from gate 4 yellow/black helmet........I don't recall watching Ove but did see Reider and Gote as great No 1's.......some of the lesser lights contributed too....the likes of Brian Collins and Brian Leonard.....Tony Clarke........and even lesser lights like Steve Bast, Pete Prinsloo and Wayne Briggs.........did get the occasional surprise point or two! I used to travel from Watford and then climb those concrete steps to sit and watch high up on first bend......can still imagine riders coming out if close my eyes and also hear that irritating song 'Chirppy Chirppy Cheep Cheep' ........ Went onto Hackney on Friday nights at Waterden Road when Lions finished...was good but could never replace those wonderful Sat nights at Wembley........"
Sad news this week with the passing of Geoff Mardon following a long illness. Geoff was the first rider from New Zealand to make the podium at a World Final. By way of a tribute, here's an article that Tracy Holmes wrote about Geoff in 2009.
Former riders are travelling from the other side of the world for this event in September. Here's details of how you can be there on the night to welcome them back to Scotland.
Can any of you Aussie experts help Ross Tipler ( email@example.com ) with this enquiry?
"The father of a friend of mine, Val Lovf, told me about his racing at Deagon Speedway as a young man and had a couple of old photos of the track. He has since passed away and his son is now in Melbourne and we haven't been in touch in some years. Val's name is pronounced Luff ... would you have any information on him, the way he was talking it sounded like he was a founder of the track or among the first involved."
"Yes I do believe the result would have been different due to the fact the bike would have played up during the final itself possibly robbing Briggo of even a rostrum position. When you look back at pictures of Barry's bike the term over preparing is not one you could throw at him is it?"
"I can see noise problems here as unless you are a speedway fan would you want to live next door to a speedway track? It doesnt matter that the stadium has been there years, one only has to look at the Mildenhall situation."
We look back to Barry Briggs' preparations for the 1969 World Final and wonder if the result might have been different if he'd left things well alone.
Influx Magazine have an excellent feature on Tai Woffinden available to view and read on their website. Definitely worth a look.
If you're reading this early in the week, then you may be in time to download an interview with speedway author Jeff Scott that was recently broadcast on Talk Radio Europe. Jeff talks about the sport in general and is a fine advocate indeed. He also gives a brief plug for his latest book Born to Rumble. You can listen or download (for a limited time only) here.
Jason Gardner ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) needs help:
"l'm looking for a results grid/league table for the 1985 Anglia Junior League.
l'm after dates and results for meetings featuring Mildenhall.
The yearbook doesn't have anything."
"Rode a Phillips Speedtrack for two years, whilst riding for Aldershot 'Shots' in 1951 and 1952. Cycle track was in the car park of the Speedway track at neighbouring Tongham. Have several photos on the bike, both stills and in action. Great days, fondly remembered. Also interesting, the £10 17 6 price represented six weeks pay, at the time. Wish I still had the bike."
"Best ever rider profile comes from John Callaghan's book 'NL 90' (see 'How to be a Speedway Star' pages 108-111). It contains advice on how to fill in questionnaires of this nature. Sample advice: Favourite chocolate: it doesn't matter in the slightest what you say here, provided you don't express the opinion that the question is silly or pointless. Favourite track: say something that's now closed, because that way you get the benefit of the nostalgia factor and you won't have to prove it next time you visit the track in question... Don't however claim to like London's White City or Bristol - no one will believe you."
"I went to Wolverhampton Speedway last night (Wolves v Poole on 20/7/15). Apart from a visit to Coventry in the 70's (don't remember details) it was my first speedway visit since I was a regular at the Brummies aged 12 in 1947. First thing I noticed at Monmore Green was they were all leg trailers .. the only foot-forward riders were the 'Cubs' after the main event .. (Hope the kid who got hit it the second race is OK) Is trailing the in-thing now .. I remember a few at Brummies meetings on various sides, (all the old riders) but the vast majority were foot-forward."
"Wonderful memories of going speedway on Fridays, my hero was Split Waterman. I used to go with my Dad till he passed away, We also went Wimbledon, Barry Briggs, Ronnie Moore, loved going. Such happy memories. Belonged to the supporters club and had new bar every year to put on badge."
Malcolm Smith's track in Kent regularly hosts amateur and training meetings. Ian Presslie visited for the recent British Veterans Championship, which was won by Gary O'Hare, the former Stoke and Long Eaton favourite.
He may have been a spectacular perforner on the track, but Les Collins may have set the standard for the dullest 'personality profile' ever to be published.
Robert Doran ( email@example.com ) has a query you may be able to help with:
"Can anyone tell me who rode at David Smart's testimonial meeting (Sept 1993 at Swindon) at number 4 with the green edging on the race jacket? I am led to believe this meeting was a 4TT and it may have been an Exeter team due to the green edging."
"I remember Gary Peterson at Bradford in the early 1970's. There was one particular meeting, it must have been an individual trophy meeting, when he came up against Maury Robinson. Gary was on 12 points and Maury was on 11 points and it was their last race of five. Maury had to win to force a decider with Gary and he led the entire race until the last bend when Gary took him on the inside. I was on the terraces in between bend 3 and 4 and I can still see the tyre mark on the grass that Gary made, so determined was he to get the maximum 15 points. Maury Robinson was furious but the ref was having none of it. Interestingly enough, I do recall that on one occasion when Bradford needed a guest rider they turned to Maury Robinson!"
"A real crime this and many other Speedway tracks are gone. I rode round here many many times along with my mates, Dave Brewer, Martin Charles, Keith York (Biffo) we knew all the track staff and the whole experience was just like one big Speedway family. I have Peter Brewer to thanks for such wonderful years and memories as it was him along with his son who took me to this and many more track around the country. PS: They should have built a new Hackney Speedway Track when the built the Olympics stadium. "
John Hyam looks back on the career of this former New Cross man who rode successfully before and after WWII. John was fortunate enough to seen him in regular action, so is well placed to comment on the impact this talented Aussie made.
"It's a shame Jeff stopped writing his books. Jeff doesn't really do the normal question & answer routine, the key to getting the perhaps more candid and realistic comments (having been one of his subjects on more than one occasion) is in his style. He strikes up a relaxed conversation with you and during that chat he will pick his moment. It's actually very clever and makes his books stand apart from other speedway publications. The last time a speedway book made me smile so much was NL90 by Kevin Callaghan & was it Brian Jago? Two lads I am led to believe were involved with the Milton Keynes promotion. Jeff's book's have caused a degree of resentment from the old established guard so he must be doing something right."
"oh no, not another Jeff Scott book ..and worse than that , a re hashed book of already published material. If you've read this drivel once why on earth would you want to put yourself through it again!....a taster?....more like a bitter pill?......but it looks like people may actually buy these or they wouldn't keep releasing them so god knows why but there seems to be a market for them!"
"I did some detailed research on Ron Johnson a few years ago. If the family want a copy of my research I will forward it to them. I would say that Ron was treated harshly by the powers to be. In particular, the 1936 ban when he rode in the US. Other riders were not penalised, it would seem the authorities were out to make an example of Ron."
Swindon's Abbey Stadium is scheduled to be demolished in the near future, with a new track being built on adjacent land. Ian Presslie has captured these pictures so we can always remember how the place looked.
"Following on from my son Joe's comments. My Dad was Frederick Joseph Fearnley born Manchester in 1902. He did have a younger brother but his parents split up when he was about 8 and Fred went with his Mother Clara Greenhalgh while his brother went to live with his Dad. My Father first got interested in motorbike racing when attending amateur meetings on Southport Sands. After a short career as a rider he became involved in promoting at Belle Vue and Middlesborough, also West Ham where the riders wore vests with the crossed hammer insignia. My Dad told me that the speedway team were called the Hammers before the football team adopted that name. As a boy I attended many Speedway events with my Dad and remember the smell of hot Castrol racing oil on a Summer's evening. My Dad was a very successful businessman and the business side of speedway soon took over from racing. He owned a number of Motorbike dealerships in Manchester and London in the 50s and graduated to Ford dealerships in the 60s. He died in France in 1971 when married to his third wife who was a French national."
Tony Webb brings us details of a new speedway museum that is looking for interesting exhibits.
Wayne Perks (firstname.lastname@example.org) is looking for some old pictures, can you help?
"I have a friend who used to ride speedway in Australia in the early 60s and his name is Joe Weichlbauer. He raced in Perth and Sydney.
He moved to England to race for Oxford, Cradley Heath and Reading and has lived here ever since.
Would you have some old pictures of him?"
"What a awful shame that this track will be no more at the end of this season (2015) and a new much smaller track replacing it. Why not keep the track where it was and build new stands if they were in a bad way. As for the houses being built all around the stadium anyway, why does it matter where it is. No because they can fit in more houses. So many memories Since 1967. "
"I was a pit marshal for Wimbledon speedway during the time Tommy rode for the Dons and you could not find a more dedicated rider than Tommy. After every race he had he would ask me the race time, he would enter this in his book (pre computers) along with track conditions, weather, gearing etc. I was at home when one of the junior riders phoned me and told what had happened on his way home from the Sheffield match. I phoned the news desk and they confirmed the terrible news was true. All the track staff who could not travel to Sweden sent flowers and attended a service at the local church at the same time as Tommy's funeral. His family and speedway lost a great man and a world champion in the making. RIP Tommy even after all this time you are still missed by the sport."
"Chris rode for two years for the Isle of Wight. I used to film from the stands (we had another chap Ken who filmed from a platform for sale DVDs) and my film was shown in the bar at the clubhouse afterwards directly from the camera. So I probably still have all Chris's first home rides."
"Was a Rebels and Rye House fan back then (Rebels and Rockets!) I remember my first meeting in mid '76, under the midweek evening lights, the glitter on the breastplates and the dancing girl in white! I was proud of Gordon, but Kai Niemi was my hero, 100% trier and always improving. I only saw the Rebels lose once, as it was away at school a lot. The rumoured Capital Radio sponsorship may have saved us. Awesome stadium. Much missed. Although the BBC have paid my mortgage a few times since..,,,"
"Nigel's funeral was a Who's Who of speedway, they came from far and wide to pay their respect of a much love legend who touched so many lives. Riders, fans, mechanics and writers stood shoulder to shoulder emotions ran high. The sons of legends, Mark Warren, test stars, Jim Airey,John Titman, Jason Crump, Bill Bryden, Bluey Scott, Steve Regeling,Kev Toropie were just a few of the riders, speedway folk young and old all had a Booey story to tell. Rae Mauger, Trevor Harding and Bert Kingston move gave moving eulogies, there was not a dry eye in the place "
"Ron Johnson was my grandfather's cousin, and my dad's idol. My father looked after Ron for many years until his death. I agree with C Blunden. When I saw him at my Dad's second marriage, he was walking fine and did not have a wheelchair, he had a bit of a limp and he was full of life. In fact couldn't keep the old bugger down, he had the time of his life. The London cup he won is in the possession of my brother, because he wanted him to have it. And my brother cherishes it. He may have had his faults, but he was a supreme rider and I hope he eventually gets the recognition he deserves, because he was the best ever.."
"Where do I start? As an apprentice fitter at Shell in Carrington near Manchester I used to go to Hyde Road on a Saturday night to watch Sandor Levai, Norman Nevitt and others beating the rest every week.Then a young curly haired lad turned up at work to start his apprenticeship with me. Peter Collins, closely followed by Dave Morton as a welder/fabricator then Chris Morton and Andy Reid.The number of times that our supervisor asked why they were off work with a cold or a cough that they used as an excuse was legendary, except for the fact that our boss read the speedway results each day and wondered why such sick guys could stil score maximums. I lived in Heatley near Lymm where the smell of Castrol R was always in the air accompanied by the roar of a JAWA or JAP being warmed up by my near neighbours the Collins boys, everyone in our village did Grasstrack or Speedway. Great days!"
One of the big success stories of the 2015 season has been the Glasgow revival. A reported £1,500,000 has been spent so far by the Facenna brothers in revamping the club and rebuilding the stadium.
Here are a bumper selection of pictures from Ashfield to show the fruits of their labours. By way of contrast, there are also a selection of pictures taken at the track in 1999 and available on the site at full resolution for the first time.
A request from Robert Doran ( email@example.com ):
"I wonder if anyone can help me in trying to find the history of the Lancashire Daily Post speedway trophy, which was presented to Preston speedway in 1929?
I believe it was raced for in scratch races during the 1929 season, and I believe up to Sept 21st 1929 the highest scoring rider was Frank Charles, and was it him who finished up with the trophy for the highest points at the end of the season? Please can anybody help with the history?"
"Have found your web page and read all of the replies about West Ham Speedway, I am 56 now but remember going to West Ham with my Family for a British Final but can't remember the year, but must have been between 1968 and closure of the Stadium, as started supporting Swindon Robins in 1967, most certain there will be a programme at my mums so must look it out. From what I remember it was a large track, and the other thing I can remember I think was ship funnels, or was I dreaming, was it close to the docks."
"These photo's are so sad but at same time bring back fantastic memories. I am from Essex but have always followed both Exeter City FC & Exeter Falcons as MY teams since the early seventies as we had family in the area. I have shed a nostalgic tear looking at these photo's, cant stand still, progress etc, not for me, I wish the Old County ground could have been kept forever it was a wonderful place to visit on a Monday night. Mauger, Autrey, Lomas, Holden, etc. I really could live in the past ha ha!! "
"Very saddened to learn of the death of a true gentleman and outstanding rider, Nigel Boocock. Deepest sympathies to his wife Cynthia and all the family. Nigel was one of my boyhood heroes, a spectacular gutsy rider who always gave of his best. A magnificent example to all, who put his club Coventry first, above himself. Rest in peace Booey and thanks for the memories."
"Ove was the greatest man who ever sat on a speedway bike. I saw him win 2 world championships - 1963/ 67. I met him and had a chat with him he was my hero, there will never be another Ove he was the best and a great guy to talk to."
"What memories! I lived opposite the stadium and always watched out for the riders calling at the stadium during the day. We would go early on race evenings to get a place near the tunnel so we could get closer to the riders, and the joy of getting a pair of dusty goggles as a souvenir! And the smell of the engines - still evokes such memories. The record always played was Winifred At well 'Black & white Rag'. Split, of course, was our special guy, although we lapped up articles about Ronnie Moore and Barry Briggs in the "Speedway Gazette". Yes, H & S would have had a field day at Rye House but how exciting. Annual coach trip to Wembley for the World Championship, it was all magic.thanks for bringing it all back. I moved from Harringay many years ago and probably woulnn't recognise it now."
"Very interesting video and commentary on the contrast in riding styles between American flat track and speedway. One of the Americans who is mentioned, Sammy Tanner, was best-known as a flat track rider but also had a couple of years of speedway experience in California. I remember him well at Whiteman Speedway, where my dad sponsored him for a while on a Rotrax JAP and I, fourteen years old, sometimes used to do his fuel and oil and push-starting. He was quite adept at speedway but apparently reverted to sit-down flat track style when he got back on a flat track bike."
" The photograph was taken from the 1st Bend, and shows from the left, the green Fence and advertising boards of Scotsmans Hill, behind the Ambulance were the Vulcan Bomber Cones, to the right of that was the Medical Treatment room, The Green building net to the reddish colour was indeed the changing rooms, coming forwards from the area between the Bomber Cones and Medical room was a slope down to the Pits gate, How do I know all this? Because I was a regular on Scotsmans Hill."
"The Hammers Management twice try to get John, but both times were told politely but firmly, back-off! There is even a photo of 'Tiger' in Hammers colours when he guested for us once, would be nice if somebody has a copy and could post it on the site."
"A very good piece and one I enjoyed. I remember when John started he seemed almost ancient to me, then a schoolboy. I followed his meteoric rise at Newport and subsequently Ipswich. Reading the article I actually found myself beginning to believe that John might have ridden for Rayleigh in the early sixties before joining Norwich. I watched Norwich avidly for their last two and a half years and feel sure that John would have guaranteed the Championship went to the Firs in 1964/5. Who knows, perhaps the stadium might have carried on. I am equally sure that John would have won at least one World Championship, probably more. Lovely article, it really stirred my imagination."
"John Louis did go to Ipswich as a lad before the pre-Berry/Thurley revival. His dad Jack, later a mechanical wizard who helped JL make the transition from scrambling to the shale, took him and his brother Tony. So yes, he would have seen the old quarter-mile circuit, one sadly buried under the tarmac in the mid 1960s. Sport, speedway and life are all crammed with what ifs, and it was an interesting idea to speculate upon what might have been. What actually eventuated, of course, probably was stranger than fiction. The impact JL made in 1970, 1971 and 1972 in particular has few parallels. And he was still very good value when he rode for me at King's Lynn in 1983 and 1984. "
"John Louis is the man who got me interested In speedway! A work colleague used to go to Wimbledon and Hackney and invited me along. I wasn't over keen but she showed me a photo of John in speedway star mag. I was smitten even though I was 17 and he was older and married with two children. Nevertheless that Thursday night he was in an individual meeting at Wimbledon, that night I fell in love with him and speedway. I then proceeded to follow John all over the country and became an ardent Ipswich supporter even though I lived in London. The highlight of my life was on my 18th birthday John snogged me in the Pitts! To this day, even though I'm happily married he is the only man to make my legs buckle!"
"My first introduction to speedway thanks to brother in law was 1966 - 1969. and to see Olle Nygren and The Wimbledon team was a revelation, Every Thursday Night. we used to pack up work in Eastbourne and rush up to Plough Lane to see our Heroes. Thank you Olle !!!!!"
"I can't help you with tracking down the old team but the photograph from the IOM TT brought back a few memories. It's taken on the Queens Premenade in Douglas were I grew up. All the hotels in the background are now apartments. "
Betty Corrie puts out a call to track down some old pals - Ernie Armitt, Frank Howling and Ken Higgs. She also shares some great pictures, from both the pedal and motor powered versions of the sport.
Seven times US champion Mike Bast needs financial help to meet medical bills after suffering a stroke. If you're in a position to help then you can make a donation at
Our old friend Robert J. Rogers is recovering well from his recent health problems and has even turned into a bit of a luvvie! You can catch him on stage over Easter in the Hornchurch Passion Play. Full details on the show's website - www.hpp2015.org. Break a leg Robert! (Not a phrase we'd normally want to see on a speedway website).
"A very interesting story on a man I have always admired. To think, John Louis was still scoring very well for Halifax, his final season, when his beloved Ipswich didn't want him anymore. One of the sports stalwarts. "
"An excellent article by Ian Harwood, which brought back many memories of the early 60's and my beloved West Ham in particular. I like the way it neatly went up to '72 when Ipswich actually took the Hammers licence. Indeed it is fascinating to wonder what would have been achieved by Tiger had he started speedway all those years earlier. Happy days!"
"That's a very interesting debate in regard to what could have been further achieved has John Louis started his speedway career earlier. I often think the same about Harold MacNaughton (speedway start at 37 years) and Tom Oakley (speedway start at 38 years). Both achieved much in limited careers for various clubs (including Southampton) and also won England test honours in lower level test series circa the late 1940s-early 1950s."
"Interesting article on one of my favourite riders of all time who I saw many times through regular spectating at Ipswich and the last 2 years of his career at King's Lynn! Yes it could have happened that way but then again it probably wouldn't have! John Louis had no interest in speedway even after it returned to his native Ipswich in 1969. John only had a go after much persuasion and soon realised he had a talent for it.
A lot of Ipswich speedways success was down to his terrific and quick acceleration through the ranks. I suspect without messrs Thurley and Berrys surprising Ipswich speedway revival in 1969 then John Louis would have never tried speedway and the amazing legacy we still see today at Ipswich with his boy Chris also a similarly successful rider, now running the track, would not have materialised!
I'd be interested to know if John Louis ever spectated at Ipswich when it ran on the outside of where the current track is until it shut in the mid 60's? Had John started riding for Ipswich in the early 60's would the history of the Witches be completely different? Would they have kept going on the big track into modern times? Would one of the best promoters ever seen John Berry, never did become a promoter cause Ipswich speedway wouldn't have needed reopening in 1969? When you look at different events and persons its amazing how different things could of been! "
Join us for a flight of fancy from Ian Harwood. What if John Louis had started riding ten years earlier?
A reminder that the funeral of speedway historian Bryan Tungate takes place this Friday. Marina Carter, a family friend, has been in touch with the following update:
"He was such a special Mulbarton character we wanted to give him more of a send off, as you'll hear if you can attend...
All Welcome, it's Friday 13th March 2.30pm at Mulbarton Church, NR14 8JS followed by wake from 3.15 at 'neighbouring' Mulbarton Sports & Social Club NR14 8AE"
"I was so interested to read about Tom Farndon as my father Harry Alsop was a big friend of Tom. He often talked about him and is buried quite close to him at St Pauls. My father said he did a lot of mechanical work for Tom so if anybody can give me any details on there friendship I would like to hear. I have lived in Australia and New Zealand for the last 40 years and my father told me he was going to come to Australia with Tom but it never happened, quite ironic."
"Well written, I met Ove Fundin, Olle, Bjorn and another rider from Sweden called Ole Heymans in Graz, Austria, must have been in the late 50 or early sixties and lately have watched speedway races on youtube and eventually remembered these names or they came up in my search. Following the sport as a youngster he definitely was my hero at the time, well this is a long time ago and I was surprised he was born in 1933 and Olle in 1928, I was born in 1944 so I assume around 10-14 years of age which makes it around 1954-58."
"As it stands now the Wayville track is definitely too big. Tracks for World Championship events (SGP, SWC etc) are not allowed to exceed (I believe) 425 metres in length. At 510 metres Wayville is more in the Long Track category. Hell, 425 metres even makes the Brisbane Exhibition Ground 25 metres too long. International bike meetings at Wayville that I've attended have always run 3 lap heats due to the size of the track. The track is also wide enough to allow 6 riders per race. I agree the powers to be should look seriously at Gillman. It would be perfect for something like the SCW Race-off and Final, the Under-21 World Final or the Under-21 WC Final, which in 2015 will be held in Mildura. But with a spectator capacity currently at 8,000 it's probably too small for a SGP event. And since the SGP seem to love putting temporary tracks in stadiums it stands to reason that the 2015 Aussie SGP is being held at Etihad rather than at an established track (aside from Etihad having a roof to keep out Melbourne's notorious 4 seasons in one hour weather)."
John followed Newcastle for many years, but now watches from the comfort of his living room. Unsurprisingly, he selects a couple of the Owen brothers in his team.
Edinburgh fans have always been renowned for digging deep to support their club. A new scheme hopes to formalise that into an ongoing arrangement. Find out more at monarchsfanstrust.co.uk
Diane Baker (firstname.lastname@example.org) has a query - can anyone help?:
"I have been trying to track down a short film about speedway.
I went to the cinema in Southampton in the early 60s to see Pat Boone in State Fair and when the short film that preceded the main feature came on it was about speedway and featured footage from Southampton where I was a supporter.
I just wondered if anyone knows of it?"
"I only saw Bjorn Knutsson once, at Brough Park in Newcastle, when he was a member of the Vagarna touring team. He was absolutely awesome and scored a 12 point maximum against a Newcastle team featuring, yes, Ivan Mauger on his own track. I seem to recall he even broke the track record on his first ride on the track. I was lucky enough to see Briggs, Fundin, Nordin, Olsen, Michanek, etc, but Bjorn was just the best. "
"I think this is a great shot in the arm for Australian speedway and I hope that it attracts record size crowds. Etihad was definitely the best choice of venue. And its easy for those around Australia to get to Melbourne with cheap air fares. I also hope that the international riders like Greg Hancock and Nicki Pedersen stick around for a while after the SGP and race in Australia at our local tracks. Other than the the likes of Aussie stars Crump, Adams, Holder, Doyle, Sullivan, Ward, Watt and Batchelor, we really haven't had World Championship riders race here since the Series 500 folded after 2000. Having the SGP riders race on Aussie tracks will definitely raise interest in the sport outside of the die hards."
Cary Cotterman uncovers an odd speedway reference in the Paul Newman film, "Somebody Up There Likes Me".
Details of an upcoming event courtesy of Tony Webb:
Sunday March 15 from 9am until 2pm.
Static display of VSAQ Vintage Speedcars and Solo Bikes at the Indian Motorcycle Museum by kind permission of Darryl White
Indian Motorcycle Museum of Australia.
419 Newman Rd Geebung, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4034
Breakfast and coffee available at the Burt Munro cafe.
From Keith Avery:
"A stalwart of our sport particularly Weymouth speedway passed away last week, Lew Coffin at the age of 93. Although Lew won many accolades in Grass Track racing, over the years he helped nurture a host of young talent both in Speedway and Grass Track during his long career in the sport. Being one of those in the early seventies who attended Lew's training schools at Weymouth I had the pleasure of his teaching, although for myself it would be Grass Track I would follow I got to know Lew, and what a Gentlemen always had time for people to give support and advice."
"In your list of riders highlighted in this video you didn't include John Jackson. Do you expect us to take this video as a serious historical record of the national league over the period in question if Jacko is not included alongside the Owen brothers as the dominate riders of the age? Come on, be serious. "
'Jacko' is one of the many great riders included on the DVD. For a full list check out the Retro Speedway Website.
"The light standards in the centre of the Pinjar Park Speedway are no more. The local club is now clearing land behind the circuit for a new 330 metre oval that should be much better for the sidecars and the senior solo competitors. Fundraising has now started for the project. "
"372 metres (407 yards) in length with a clay surface. Known more as a car track (mostly Sprintcars which are very popular here in Oz), it hosted the 5th and final round of the 2007 Australian Solo Championship with both the round and title being won by then reigning World Champion Jason Crump. It has also hosted various sidecar meetings."
Peter Baldwin has a collection of speedway magazines that he'd like to go to a good home. These include Speedway Stars from 1967 to 1998, plus other spedway magazines - Post, Mail etc, He's based in Washington, Tyne and Wear. Contact Peter for further details on email@example.com
"Great stuff Gareth! I have nothing but respect for Adams and if I may, would like to touch on a few of those other meetings. And I see that Leigh won 3 World Cups; 99, 01 and 02. For me, his winning 4 CZ Golden Helmets makes him one of the all time greats. 99, 2K, 01 and 04. Only Sir Ole Olsen had done the triple before him and no-one has done it since. Also that he won the 09 ELRC and in 90, was second in the World Pairs Final with Todd Wiltshire. I wonder how many times Australia may have won that had it not been blown to bits?! I'm glad for Leigh that when the greats of Oz speedway are talked about, he will be right there alongside them. Here in NZ, all people talk about are the 'Big 3' and Geoff Mardon is ignored. So very happy that will not be the case for Leigh Adams !"
"Love him or hate him...you can't forget him. The two times British Champion was favourite to take world final glory on many occasions. The rogue locked horns with American Bruce Penhall many times in his quest to be the best. Many Carter fans may remember him from his refusal to give up. He wanted to win every race, even if he was riding with a broken leg...
One memorable moment for Kenny's career was at a meeting that was going to be rained off, this particular meeting featured Kenny who was riding with a broken leg. Kenny said that if he could ride with a broken leg, the others could ride in wet conditions. Carter went on to win the meeting, proving he is a rider with character and skill.
The former England team rider had many great races with the likes of 1980 world champion Micheal Lee and Danish rider Erik Gundersen. Carter will always be best known for his rivalry with Bruce Penhall. Whilst riding for Halifax, Kenny asked for a written transfer unless the promotion signed other riders for the team that could score points because he was so good. Kenny's average reached above 11 points at one stage in his career! Of course, Carter is also well known for his death and the events leading up to it, but, although what he did cannot be forgiven, he left an unforgettable legacy in British speedway."
"The images of the Etihad suggest that the action might not be too far away from the terraces. Ok there is an Australian Rules football pitch there which I guess will be a bit larger than a traditional rugby or football pitch. It may be that the track will be larger than that at Cardiff."
Details of a new book from Allan Batt that covers pre-war activity at Christchurch.
Issue 66 of Backtrack is out now and contains some great stuff as always. Martin Ashby is the cover star and there's also a fabulous interview with plain-talking Tony Coupland and a feature on the opening of speedway at Shawfield. Full details are on the Retro Speedway wesbite.
The latest edition of 'The Voice' magazine has also been published. Topics under the microscope this time include Bluey Wilkinson, California-in-England and the upcoming 2015 season. Available from Friends of Speedway; 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP. Please send your cheque for £10 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.
A query for the programme collectors from Robert Errington (Rsouthendian@aol.com):
"Has anyone ever seen a copy of the Programme Nottingham Outlaws v Stoke on 28th May 1979. The match was postponed but the Programme was No 8 and was reported to have been 'pulped'?"
"Yes it is great that big time Speedway stays down under. My only concern is how far away from the action you could be sitting in a stadium of this size as the track will surely be a small one like Cardiff etc."
"As a youngster I remember Millen the Villain at Powderhall in the Monarchs race jacket and he brought such great entertainment to the fans. Unfortunately I didn't know him personally but felt a bit angry and sad for Dave Gifford for making such awful comments. I regularly travel the road where Jack left us in that terrible accident and always have a smile when I pass the exact spot. Crazy Jack brought so much fun to the sport and is warmly remembered by the Monarchs fans."
"372 metres (407 yards) in length with a clay surface. Known more as a car track (mostly Sprintcars which are very popular here in Oz), it hosted the 5th and final round of the 2007 Australian Solo Championship with both the round and title being won by then reigning World Champion Jason Crump. It has also hosted various sidecar meetings."
Norman selects his all-time favourite seven. He includes Darcy Ward and hopes that he'll be back riding in 2015.
It's 40 years ago this year since the Paisley Lions were formed. To commemorate the event a Birthday party is scheduled to take place in Paisley on Saturday 26 September.
A number of former Lions have already indicated that they will be attending, including one who will be flying in from the other side of the world, and the organiser is initmating that any ex riders and fans (of any team) who are interested in attending should contact Bill Elliot, as the level of interest will determine if the event will go ahead.
"Noticed a request for a photo of Mildura in 2015. It is taken from the first turn looking back down the main straight. There is more banking on the track, although the photo doesn't show it. The pits have been moved from behind bends 3 & 4 to now being behind the main straight. The pit entrance is now immediately behind the judging box at the start line. The spectator area also appears flatter, possibly to accommodate temporary grand stands."
"Anyone considered the derelict land out on Fields Farm Road near to Forbes Hole Nature Reserve? No-one is using the site (and it's been derelict for years), no houses right nearby as it's industrialised and right on one of the main roads into the town. Parking wouldn't be an issue as the Industrial units wouldn't be open in the evenings, and traffic could be managed (and a damn sight easier than at Station Road). I would have thought it was a perfect site!"
Tracy Holmes turns the clock back 41 years to recall a memorable pairs event at Palmerston North.
If you enjoyed Arnie Gibbons' series on Speedway's Civil War then you may be interested to read the Shawcross Report that led to the formation of the British League. It's now avalilable on the 1965 page of the Speedway Researcher website.
"Saw Rickardsson race a few times in Australia during the 1990's. The first was at North Arm in Adelaide when he was part of the touring Swedish team that defeated the Aussies 3-2 in a 1991 test series. Also saw him race a few times in the Series 500 (Australian Masters Series) during the mid-late 90's when the show visited the Wayville Showground. He won the inaugural Series 500 in 1995 from Simon Wigg and Sam Ermolenko and finished 3rd behind Craig Boyce (1st) and Ermolenko in 1996. He was every bit as good as people say he was."
"I started going in the mid fifties to Blackbird Road and I have to say it was one of the best Tracks in England. Racing was always good there but the team didn't have much in the way of home Team advantage, as it was such a fair Circuit. Nice to see these Photos again. "
"It's a shame for speedway these days to have so many sub-standard riders, back in the late seventies we had a GB team go to Oz / NZ to do the winter tour. As the Oz scene has died no one cares anymore, If the sport had bog standard motor from the factory untouched for the season unless it blows up then we would see a down turn in costs, no body cares about super fast times just a good old close race for 1st to 3rd, not enough passing like it was in the 1970s, "
"I think you will find that the Wayville track is big. I saw the 500 series there and they cut the laps down to 3 per heat, Reason given was that it was blowing up / making the engines too hot to work with. AGAIN the powers to be, need a good long hard look at Gillman."
"Because of its small size (142 metres or 155 yards), Pinjar Park is used for both senior and junior racing. It also has had a few American visitors in its short life as its very similar to the length of the tracks in California (such as Costa Mesa) where most of the motorcycle speedway there takes place. When at home in Perth (and he's actually racing and not taking time off), Pinjar Park is the home track of 2013 World Champion Tai Woffinden."
"More noted as a car track, regularly hosting Sprintcars, Speedcars (Midgets) and Super Sedans, Borderline has also hosted a round of the Aussie Solo Championship (2007) and also hosts sidecar racing. The track surface is clay and Borderline Speedway is 372 metres (407 yards) in length."
"Re;Australian GP 2015 It should have gone to Gillman in Adelaide in South Australia, it's just the place for great racing, Dave Parker has done wonders to the place and with MA and the council chipping in some money it would be THE place to hold the GP. "
"You can rule the ekka out as it fails to conform to FIM standards and due to the infra structure it is virtually impossible to carry out alterations. The ANZAC stadium was considered but there are transport logistics that rules this one out. The Wayville showground has similar problems to the ekkka to re construct the track to FIM. Victoria has a good base of vintage interest in speedway and I am sure that an inner city location is a wise choice. There are movements to have many speedway related events in the lead up and beyond the SGP date including Broadmeadow on the sunday and Mildura the following weekend."
After years of Danish domination, it was time for another country to take the spoils. Which nation would be wearing the Grin by the end of the evening?
The site relies heavily on contributions and assistance from so many people within the speedway family. In our final update of the year, we'd like to pay particular thanks to all those who have helped us make it through another year. With sincere apologies to anyone we've missed, here this year's roll of appreciation:
* Keith Avery
* Gerry Bates
* Ivan Blacka
* Neil Burrows
* Stuart Calvert
* John Chaplin
* Graham Cooke
* Ivor Craine
* Frank Crook
* Philip Dalling
* Ray Davidson
* Bill Elliot
* Reg Fearman
* Zdenenk Flajshanz
* John Fray
* Arnie Gibbons
* Ian Gill
* Paul Goodwin
* Michael Hansen
* Ian Harwoood
* Peter Heinzl
* Jim Henry
* Gareth Hinton
* Dave Hitchen
* Tracy Holmes
* Peter Hunter
* John Hyam
* Geoff Langley
* Nick Lee
* Gillian Marks
* Tony McDonald
* Charles McKay
* Paul Monroe
* Tom Newey
* Ken Nicholson
* Ryan Penhall
* Seth Perkin
* Ian Presslie
* Phil Rice
* Robert Rogers
* Jeff Scott
* Ralph Smith
* Stuart Towner
* Paul Waites
* David Walsh
* Tony Webb
* Howie Zechner
I'm sure nobody will mind us singling out Tracy Holmes for special thanks. Tracy contributes more articles than anyone else and always manages to raise a smile with his inimitable writing style. Tracy's other big love is classic TV series 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet', if you're ever struggling to work out what he's talking about, then there's a fair chance he's working an Auf Pet reference into the text.
"It was a pity Todd Wiltshire got injured like he did at the 1992 Aussie title at the old North Arm Speedway in Adelaide, that put a halt to his career for about 5 years. I was at North Arm that night and saw him crash. It looked fairly harmless until he didn't get up. And apparently (from what I've been told by others who were there in an official capacity) he would have been ok if not for a light tower located directly behind the kickboard where he hit.
As for Leigh Adams.....the best rider I've seen who never won the World Championship. Won 10 Aussie titles though (the record by 4 over the late Billy Sanders), plus 4 Aussie Under-21 titles, the 1992 World Under-21 Championship and a 3 time World Cup/Team Cup winner. And despite the injury he's reportedly doing well. He's even provided television commentary for World Series Sprintcars here in Australia so he is definitely recognised as an Aussie speedway legend by both the car and bike brigades."
"Thank you for this piece Gareth, I very much enjoyed it! He certainly won THE biggest events he could enter. On top of those 6 World Titles were 3 World Cups as you said, 3 CZ Golden Helmets, 2 ELRC titles and was World Pairs Champion. I never get sick of watching him beat Hans Nielsen and Craig Boyce in the 1994 World Final Gold Medal run-off, genius! A true Mega-Star of the modern era. Cannot argue with him being just as you say, 'The Best' !"
"Australia will finally see the return of international speedway with the 2015 SGP of Australia to be held on an artificial track in the 53,000 seat Etihad Stadium (another one with a retractable roof) in Melbourne.
While I can fully understand Etihad Stadium being chosen to stage the event (which has a 5 year contract), I do find it hard to understand that they are taking the meeting to a city which has had no regular speedway track since the Melbourne Speedbowl shut down in the late 1980's. The Sydney public didn't really show a lot of interest back in 2002 (though a crowd of 32,000 is nothing to sneeze at), but Sydney had not had regular motorcycle speedway racing since Liverpool shut down in 1989. Sure there is the poorly attended Nepean Speedway in the north-western suburbs, but motorcycle speedway in NSW had basically been running out of Newcastle and Gosford for 13 years (with the odd meeting at both the old and new Sydney Showgrounds).
For mine, the better choices would have been to use either the Ekka in Brisbane or the Wayville Showground in Adelaide. Both successfully staged meetings of the Series 500 that ran from 1995 until 1999 and both were known to draw big crowds to international meetings. For whatever reason the Ekka never really got a look in, but Wayville was considered by the SGP management in the late 1990's. Unfortunately they decided that Wayville wasn't up to standard and that was the end of that, though considering some of the venues the SGP has used over the years most felt that it sounded more like an excuse not to have to leave the European/British comfort zone than any valid reason.
But Melbourne, despite having run speedway for many years, has not had one for many years so who knows what the local attendance will be? I know there will be a number of people coming from interstate (Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney) and there will be those who come from overseas....I just hope that the 2015 SGP of Australia attracts a good (30,000+) crowd and shows that speedway in Australia does have a future."
"Update on update; September 19. Vojens International Classic. Vojens, Denmark. I don't have heat details but Collins won with 14 points, beaten only by Ivan Mauger. 1st COLLINS 14, 2nd O.Olsen 13, 3rd G. Kennett 13. Simmons scored 4. So final score; Collins 12, Simmons 7."
"There are more surprises in store when you consider a whopping 15,848 are into knitting, while a measly 314 enjoy going to pubs and nightclubs. Are we turning into a nation of couch potatoes? However, when you consider The Guardian readers are over represented by a factor of 30 and 15 in relation to The Sun and Mirror, then maybe we shouldn't worry too much about the few respondents who like speedway! "
"Just some info. Claremont Speedway opened on 14 May 1927 and had its final meeting on 31 March 2000 making it Australia's longest running speedway. The track was some 561 metres (614 yards) long. It was initially used for bike racing and the biggest star in the early years of the speedway was Sig Schlam. Due to its size it also catered to car racing with Speedcars (Midgets), Saloons and Super Modifieds (which in the 1970's became Sprintcars). The track was a regular host of the Western Australian Solo Championship until its closure and saw many great home grown riders such as Chum Taylor and his son Glynn, David Cheshire and Glenn Doyle. Claremont also hosted the Aussie title of just about every category run in Australia from Solos, Sidecars to Sprintcars, and in 1987 hosted the only official World Sprintcar Championship ever run. Claremont was promoted as "The National Capital of Speed" and with its sheer size few would dispute that claim."
"I found out recently that Wayville was considered as a venue for the Speedway Grand Prix of Australia back in the late 1990's. From what I have been told (by someone who was involved in the bidding process), the SGP management decided against it because they felt the showground was not up to scratch with its facilities (it wouldn't have needed much work to change that and for an World Championship event the South Australian Government would have definitely funded most of that). Considering some of the venues the series has used since 1995 I think that sounded more like an excuse not to have to have to travel outside of Europe for the series than any sort of valid reason.
Pity really because Wayville has a rich heritage of speedway dating back to 1926. In fact, the main arena/speedway still looks the same today (2014) as it did 80 or 90 years ago. Its been preserved extremely well and is one of Adelaide's major outdoor entertainment venues. It's centrally located less than 2km from the CBD and within a short walk (less than 10 minutes) from train and bus services. Just about everyone who rode there loved the place. It's big, fast with wide open turns that allows for good racing. And when they had the international meetings annually from 1986-1999 they always got capacity crowds so the public support was definitely there."
"I lived in Cornwall for 3 years and never missed a Trelawny match. I loved the place. Chris Harris, Matej Zagar, Ben Barker - I watched them all when they were Trelawny Tigers. Very sad when it had to go. Matches against Exeter were always great."
"How it took so long for a Speedway World Championship Final to be held in Australia I'll never know. Not only did we give speedway to the world back in the 1920's but we had some brilliant speedways that could easily have hosted a World Final or two or more....Sydney Showground, Rowley Park, Claremont Speedway, Brisbane Exhibition Ground. But when we got one it was at.....Liverpool, the only major speedway in the country that didn't have a safety fence on the outside of the motorbike track!!!
In 1974 they actually needed special permission from the NSW State Government to build the track without a fence on the infield of the original speedway after the "D" shaped track had a surface change from dirt/clay to asphalt (following the American trend for saloon car racing). I guess it helped that the promoter of Liverpool, Mike Raymond, was also a motorsport television commentator with Channel 7 in Sydney (notably being the lead commentator at the Bathurst 1000 touring car race for over 20 years). He could guarantee first class television coverage for the Pairs Final without any problems. Strange, after the 1982 WF in Los Angeles, LA got a few World Team Cup Finals during the 1980's, but Australia had to wait until 2002 when the SGP series raced in Sydney before they returned. And even then it was a one-off. We haven't had one since, though that will change in 2015."
"It was Malmo Stadium that they used for the World Final in 1961 I believe. I guess that's what you are referring to. The very same stadium where local football team Malmo FF used to play. As far as I know the track they use now was built at a later time."
"Billy Sanders knew after his last ride (another win) that his fall against the West Germans had cost he and Gary Guglielmi the title, you could see in his reaction. He's won his heat yet hung his head on the handlebars knowing that all England needed was 4 points against the Kiwis. Shame really, Billy deserved to win more than one World Championship (he was part of the Aussie team that won the 1973 World Team Cup). The referee at the meeting, Sam Bass, was a police detective and later a state parliament politician in his home town of Adelaide (also my home town). Bass may have been straight as a dye as a speedway referee (I believe his son or brother actually rode solo's at Rowley Park), but for a number of years there were heavy rumours that he was a bent cop...all denied of course and nothing was ever proven."
"Update; June 28. Westernapolis. Exeter. Heat 11. SIMMONS, COLLINS, D. Wyer, K. Holden. Semi-Final. COLLINS, SIMMONS, C. Morton. K. Holden. Final. COLLINS, SIMMONS, D. Morton, R. Eide. So going into the World Final was closer than I thought; Simmons 6, Collins 5. And that makes the final score; Collins 11, Simmons 7. "
"The End of Wimbledon. News, that AFC Wimbledon have officially submitted a planning application for a new football stadium on the Plough Lane site. The application is for an 11,000 seater stadium which can be extended to 20,000. The proposal also include 600 residential unitsm retail and commercial space, and a leisure club. The football club have carried out extensive public consultation over the summer with positive feedback. If approved by Merton council, it would spell the end for any lingering hopes of speedway returning to Plough Lane. "
"Eric & I were old buddies from late 1946 when we started a cycle speedway team in Southall , Middx --- Ascot Aces & later the Southall Hammers . We graduated to REAL speedway. Eric bought a bike ( JAP engine ) which I shared with him just before he went into the army. I decided to buy a bike and we tried out at Aldershot track along with Eric Hockaday. I crashed so many times & removed flesh & bones too often so I quit & left the country! I reconnected with Eric Jolly & Eric Hockaday a little over a year ago & I wished I'd done it sooner."
"re Cleveland Park don't remember him commentating at Cleveland Park - in fact I don't remember anyone commentating! You had a friend who ran the Fiesta and you went to the speedway once. Am I missing something?"
Something rather special this week to help lift the end of season blues. Ian Gill dives into both his memory and imagination in this piece which tells the tale of an incredible meeting from 1973. He imagines how it might have looked through the eyes of the Sky TV cameras.
Chris Morton partnered old friend Peter Collins in the 1984 final in Lonigo. Tracy Holmes talks us through the action is his latest installment of doublespeak.
Thanks to all who responded to last week's query about the true identity of Liverpool's Gary Lindsay. Reg Fearman has confirmed it was Ken Sharples. A 54 year old mystery solved.
Derek Hindle is looking for a copy of a video called "Ronnie Moore - The Legend Lives On". His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Coventry fan Alan Boon has put together a list of demands for the 2015 season that is well worth reading. Check it out on his
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 55th edition of their magazine the Voice which is packed full of interest and enjoyment. This issue is a big 24 pages, which will keep your interest for hours!
In this issue David Telfer gives his inevitable views on speedway in general and the best televised meeting to date; Annette Maybach gives her thoughts on the past season; 'Slider' gives his views on speedway; Tom Newey describes his speedway collection; Charles Mckay reports on Ambulance and Medical cover; Sue Towner reflects on the last season; Roy Delaney says 'just love mouldy old dough'; John Hyam on the Pirates and Midget cars v speedway bikes; John Chaplin on the Second Noel and Geoff Bennett and Editor Stuart Towner reports on the California Reunion and much more too.
Available from Friends of Speedway; 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP.
Please send your cheque for £10 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.
"I was a "pusher" then colour marshall at Sunderland in Jack's early days. While his on track image was macho and agressive, back in the pits he was a guy with a great sense of humour and generosity. I remember him riding at Teesside (Middlesborough) appearing wearing a viking style helmet and black cape in the introductions. He insisted on speaking on the mike while he was being introduced and confidently announced that he was "too good for this place", to a chorus of loud booing from the home fans and cheering from us visitors. He went on to score a 12 point maximum. What a character!"
"I was in the entertainment business for forty-five years, during which I met Colin Hutchinson, the general manager of the Fiesta Club in Stockton. Colin and I became friends and he told me he commentated at Middlesborough Speedway, hence at his invitation I paid my one and only visit to the stadium. Following his managerial expertise at The Fiesta, Colin moved on become managing director at Carlisle United Football Club. His next move was to take over as MD at Wimbledon Football Club, but his main claim to fame was being offered the position as Managing Director at Chelsea FC under the chairmanship of Ken Bates. It was Colin who first introduced such great Italian players as Vialli and Gianfranco Zola to the Premier League, also Dutch ace Rudd Gullet. There is another motor cycle involvement that involved Colin Hutchinson, he was the announcer and commentator for the televised Sunday afternoon scrambling meetings that became so popular in the sixties. "