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

A bright and sunny day was ordered for the tenth reunion by the organisers, Friends of Speedway and they were so pleased that their prayers were answered.

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 a BSA from 1928, a Rudge and then through the years with a variety of JAP's, Jawas, Weslakes, a Godden, a Reg Luckhurst conversion and a Mark 1 Street conversion both on a 2v Jawa. Also something different and now a regular feature was an Mk II rotary Norton engined speedway machine and three 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).

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. Now that the track has been cleared of the undergrowth Richard Seal again came in with his machine to cut the grass. This enabled enthusiasts to continue to walk an entire lap of the old track which had been cleared with the councils permission last year. As a reward Richard then rode George Thompson's BSA around the track much to the amusement of the gathered throng.

Quite a few riders were in attendance from the 1950s era which included: Jim Gleed, Pete Rogers, Dave Collett, Ernie Baker, Dai Davies and late arrival John Hammond. Also in attendance were the family of Poppies Captain, Ron Sharp.

Many photos were taken, so many past good times were re-lived, and folk in general 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 18th October 2015

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