Celebration of Speedway 2020 Report
It was windy, there was rain, but also present were hundreds of speedway riders, officials and supporters. The occasion was the World Speedway Riders' Association's Celebration of Speedway at Paradise Wildlife Park on Sunday 23rd February.
Given what the weather conditions have been like for the last few weeks (should that be months?) we did, to some extent, have a bit of good fortune. Apart from a sudden downpour at approximately 12:30, people were able to look at the outside exhibits without giving the appearance they had walked through a car wash.
The bad weather did mean that some would-be attenders cried off at the last minute, but speedway people are a tough breed and there were folk present from far and wide - including former World No 2 and Hackney star Bengt Jansson, who had travelled from Sweden.
The WSRA president for 2020-21, former World Speedway Champion Egon Muller, came to the event from Germany and his presence was truly appreciated by everybody.
Egon was due to undertake a 20-minute signing session at noon but, such was the demand for his signature, he was signing photographs for 45 minutes as the queue stretched half way round the marquee.
There was no question of him putting down his pen when the allotted time slot had expired. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and carried on signing and chatting, until everyone had been satisfied. He must have had writer's cramp.
In the afternoon in the marquee, Egon was presented with his chain of office by outgoing president Mike Broadbank. Broady also presented Egon with a magnificent framed WSRA presentation pack to mark his achievement of becoming the 1983 Speedway Champion of the World. Following that, WSRA chairman Bert Harkins presented Broady with a framed certificate to mark his year in office.
Everyone was delighted to see Peter Craven's widow Brenda, together with her husband Leon Leat and son Robert at the Celebration. Brenda and Robert went on stage where Bert Harkins handed them a beautiful presentation pack to mark Peter's achievement in being crowned World Speedway Champion in both 1955 and 1962.
Despite the blustery conditions it was a wonderful day where all speedway people were able to meet up with friends who, in many cases, they hadn't seen for years.
The stallholders seemed to be doing good business and there was enormous interest in the outdoor exhibits, particularly so around the pits area, where pits marshal Richard Greer allowed the bikes to be fired up every hour, on the hour.
Top announcer Craig Saul did a magnificent job as Master of Ceremonies in very difficult conditions. Most of his work had to be done on an off the cuff basis and only a person with his presentation skills would have been able to handle it.
After three or four years of excellent weather for the Celebration it was inevitable that sooner or later we would be faced with some inclement conditions, so let's hope this was a one-off and that the sunshine will return for next year's event.
I would like to put on record that the Celebration of Speedway and the availability to visit the National Speedway Museum would not be possible were it not for Peter Sampson, his family and his team of workers at Paradise Wildlife Park. I'm sure I speak for everyone Peter when I say: "Thanks a million."
The eagle-eyed Karl Fiala spotted more than 80 riders, officials and press present at PWP. They are listed below.
Alan Diprose, Alf Hagon, Barney Kennett, Barry Bishop, Barry King, Bengt Jansson, Bernie Collier, Bert Harkins, Bill Wainwright, Bobby McNeil, Chris Chaplin, Chris Norris, Chris Pullen, Colin Pratt, Craig Saul, Dave Fairbrother, Dave Harvey, Dave Jamieson, Dave Johnson, Dave King, Dickie Hubbard, Doug Wyer, Drew Kemp, Egon Muller, Frank Wendon, Garry Stead, Geoff Bouchard, George Major, Gerald Smitherman, Gerry King, Glen Belcher, Grahame Atkinson, Graham Miles, Graham Tattersall, Hugh Saunders, Ian Clark, Ian Gill, James Easter, Jeremy Doncaster, Jeremy Luckhurst, Jim McGregor, John Jack, John Payne, John Wainwright, Julian Parr, Julian Wigg, Karl Fiala, Lawrence Hare, Lee Kilby, Luke Bowen, Martin Goodwin, Martin Hagon, Martin Widman, Martin Yeates, Melvyn Soffe, Mervyn Price, Mick Fletcher, Mick Hooker, Michael Lee, Mike Broadbank, Pete Saunders, Peter Sampson, Peter Schroeck, Peter Seaton, Peter Tarrant, Peter Thorogood, Peter Wrathall, Phil Kynman, Phil Ranson, Richard Greer, Robert Craven, Robert Henry, Robert Price, Ron Jones, Ronnie Correy, Roy Carter, Russ Osborne, Sam Hagon, Sam Norris, Steve Hone, Steve Piper, Steve Todd, Ted Ede, Terry Broadbank, Tony Hurren, Tony McDonald and Troy Pratt.
This article was first published on 1st March 2020
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