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The Ninth California-in-England Speedway Reunion Report
By Stuart Towner

Sunday 14th September 2014

The sun shone down on the organisers, Friends of Speedway who were so pleased to have such a lovely day for their reunion.

They had organised a line-up of speedway machines to span the over 80 years that the sport has been in existence. The line of machines started with three machines from 1928, a Douglas, a Rudge and an interesting, never seen before such an early JAP engine machine. Then through the years with a variety of JAP's, Jawas, Weslakes and a lone Godden and GM. Also something different and now a regular feature was an Mk II rotary Norton engine grass track machine and two other Grass Track bikes to compliment the display. Various machines were started during the afternoon so that the assembled throng could savour the different sounds from one era to another and the intoxicating aroma of Methanol and Castrol R.

The Friends of Speedway stall was busy with enthusiasts looking for a bargain amongst their goodies on display. All profits generated go to sponsoring the British Youth Speedway Championship series (formerly the Under 15's Championship). They also had a 1970s Jawa speedway bike fitted with a reaction tester which was great fun especially for the children attending to be able to sit on a bike and do a dummy start as if at the tapes.

As part of the attractions there was an organised trip up to the old track where Bryan Horsnell, who used to sweep the concrete starting grid (and it's still there and the only known one in existence) and he told folk about the days of the Poppies as the team was nicknamed then. What was even better this year enthusiasts could walk an entire lap of the old track which had been cleared with the councils permission.

Quite a few riders were in attendance from the 1950s era which included: Jim Gleed, Eric Hockaday, Pete Rogers, Eric Jolly and Bob Andrews all the way from New Zealand. Also in attendance were the family of Poppies Captain, Ron Sharp. A surprise visitor was four-time World Champion Barry Briggs who enjoyed chatting to friends and many enthusiasts in attendance.

Many photos were taken, so many past good times were re-lived, the press reporters were there also soaking up the tales of do and dare. A great day out at a wonderful setting by the lake was had by all.

The organisers wish to thank all those who displayed bikes, some coming considerable distances.

 

This article was first published on 21st September 2014

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