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Interview: Jim McMillan

Jim McMillan

Jim McMillan was a top-line rider throughout the nineteen seventies and is still very active in the sport today.

Wayne Roberts interviewed Jimmy for BBC Radio Oxford's Planet Speedway programme and Jimmy looked back on his racing career and gave an insight into his new reponsibilites.

"My two uncles (Doug and Willie Templeton) raced, I used to be always sitting on my uncle Douglas' bike in his workshop and one December day he came in and said "Do you want to have a go? We'll take you up to Cowdenbeath and give you a shot". So I went with his leathers and bike, his leathers were about 14 sizes too big. We went up there and that was the first time I was ever on a bike.

I started off at Glasgow and we moved from White City to Hampden then we went to Coatbridge. I moved onto Hull then for a couple of years, then I went to Wolverhampton for a few years and then to Belle Vue. I then moved back up to Glasgow in the second division for a year then moved to Berwick where I finished. I wanted to finish while I was still going fairly good, so I finished at the end of the year (1986).

I got a lot of enjoyment out of speedway in those days and I think the riders probably got more enjoyment than they do now, they're all so busy now racing in Sweden and Poland. It was all a little bit more laid back in our day.

I now do machine examining at Wolverhampton and am also the associate of the S.C.B, so I'm in overall charge of the machine examiners. I'm also in the CCP, the track racing commission, and the International Technical Committee which makes all the rules. It's quite good to be involved at that sort of level.

I can be sent anywhere in the world and this year I've had two absolute opposites. In January I was in Finland for an ice racing meeting and last month I was in Italy for the World Under 21 Championships.

I still enjoy the racing and going about I see so many people I've known over all the years I raced. It's really good to keep in touch with people.

I've got a commission from the FIM until 2009 so I'll hopefully be involved until then. I've got to go to the conference in October that's being held in Brazil."


You can listen to Planet Speedway each Wednesday evening at 7pm on BBC Radio Oxford or via the internet. The show is also available through the 'Listen Again' feature on the Radio Oxford website if that time is inconvenient to you.


This article was first published on 2nd October 2006


  • Bill Elliot:

    "Interview with Jimmy Mac interesting but far too short, any chance of a more in-depth version at a later date? Remember him as a fresh faced kid at White City 40 years ago and sure that he would have a host of stories, particularly regarding the the many winters he spent in Oz representing GB."

  • Harry Ward:

    "Funny Jim should mention his Uncle's Willie and Doug. I see there is a bit on them both in this weeks Speedway Star. Nice to see that Jim is still involved in Speedway as too many that actually understand the sport are lost when they retire."

  • Ross Dow:

    "Jim McMillan - What a modest interview for an absolute hero. Jimmy had all the talent to be a world champion, if only he could have gated more consistently and been a bit more ruthless. He had superstar quality without superstar temprament.

    It's great to know that his experience is being used to the benefit of the sport. I would like to be the first to suggest that Jimmy should take over (as soon as possible) track preparation for international events. He was a racer who shone on racing tracks - for the benefit of modern supporters I would like to point out that it is not an offence to provide a track with more than one racing line, nor id it forbidden for riders to pass each other. Ole has tyre packing down to a fine art and has even maaged to reduce some Polish tracks to processional tracks. STOP before we bore the Sky TV public to death!!

    I have great memories of Jimmy Mac and his uncles, Dougie and 'Oor Wullie'. I seem to recall that Jimmy was strongly advised to complete his apprenticeship (sheet metal worker) before seriously trying speedway (aged 21). Good advice from his dad - unfortunately misplaced, on this occasion. How good could wee Jimmy have been if he had started at 16?

    I was a little disappointed that he did not mention big brother, Bill who rode for Glasgow in the mid seventies. Bill drifted between reserve and second string - however I remember the night he scored a maximum!! Unfortunately, a one-off. Bill emigrated to South Africa (I think). Younger brother, Dougie had too much sense and gave speedway a wide berth."

  • Thomas Lewis:

    " Jimmy McMillan, George Hunter, Oyvind Berg, Doug Willie Templeton, Bobby Beaton, Reidar Eide, Bert Harkins, amongst so many others who were a privilege to watch racing in and around Glasgow, Edinburgh and Coatbridge.

    Jimmy McMillan was without doubt one of the outstanding talents of the 70's, and it is indeed a shame that a World Championship Title was not forthcoming. I saw so many fine races where he fully demonstrated his undoubted talent to the full with passing manoeuvres that would be all but impossible with to-days dirtless tracks and over powerful bikes.

    Having now lived overseas for many years I must admit that unfortunately I have lost touch with regular speedway over the years, and that the modern version seen during the occasional visit to the UK, whilst still occasionally very entertaining, does not provide the same level of enjoyment that the sport used to present as an overall spectacle.

    Passing is at a premium, and in keeping with other sports, the riders in general are basically nondescript nice boys. There is really no one to stir up the crowds emotions. How many can remember the scenes of Reidar Eide dominating a race so completely that he could slow down, waving his opponents to catch up with him and then roar off into the distance once again after they had caught up? This event happened involving the Sheffield rider Arnold Haley, during either the Scottish Open or some other individual meeting at Hampden Park. The crown baying for blood as Reidar did the Bad Boy routine, with the crowd eventually erupting as the referee disqualified the Norwegian for un-gentlemanly conduct.

    Good times indeed for a sport that is still a pleasure to watch even though the racing quality is not perhaps what it could be.

    Thanks to Jimmy, and to all the others from the period who provided so much to the sport as a whole, and much enjoyment to me on a personal note."

  • David Norrie:

    "It would be great to have a more in-depth article. I would try and repeat the interview and use someone with a bit more knowledge of what Jimmy Mac achieved or someone who had actually watched him ride for many years that would improve the content greatly. His sweeping from the back passess around the 3rd and 4th bends at Hampden, his performances at Kings Lynn, Poole, Belle Vue, Halifax and Cradley to name but a few tracks when riding for Glasgow. I believe part of the reason he did not achieve higher world honours was the British final always being held at Coventry. It was no passing track and Jimmy was no gater. From a viewing perspective this was great to watch but not at Coventry against the worlds best."

  • Brian Douglas:

    "I used to be a huge fan of Jim McMillan in the days when he was with Hull Vikings and am very pleased to see he is still involved in the sport."

  • Muir Templeton:

    "God rest my uncle Wullie Templeton - r.i.p. "

  • Ewan Todd:

    "Muir, we have met. Have a look on my Facebook for photos and stuff on wullie n dougie,,, real riders"

  • Gary Spencer:

    "One of my memories of Jimmy is together with his two uncles, four other riders, one team mechanic & one team manager arriving at Swindon on a Saturday night having driven all through the night in just two Jaguars with four bikes on each trailer. Could you imagine that from today's riders? "

  • Dave Taylor:

    "Once saw Jim get a 15 points maximum in the Northern Riders Championship meeting at Owlerton back in the seventies."

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