Laydowns Killed the Spectacle
Laydown motors have taken the spectacle out of speedway.
Gone are the days of leg trailers and foot forward riders when going round corners looked spectacular. Now to the casual observer, who will not appreciate the skill required to keep feet up, it all looks too easy and speedway just appears to be four riders going around in circles. After the first corner there is rarely any passing or change in positions and races may as well be cut back to only one lap or even half a lap.
Something has to be done to restore public interest in the sport which has declined from having the second highest spectator attendance of UK sports to the stage where the interest does not even justify WH Smiths stocking that excellent publication Speedway Star on its shelves. Other sports such as Cricket have innovated and the introduction of 50 over and 20/20 formats have been hugely successful whereas speedway has gone backwards even to the point of limiting the number of world class riders who can participate in British League racing with the new 8 point rule.
Presentation needs to be slicker, the time taken to get through 15 heats of just over a minute each is ridiculous and the grader is on the track longer than the actual racing times. As an alternative to the boredom of watching the grader why not have cycle speedway or junior speedway events on inner circuit tracks where races can be held while the grader is circulating. Even try having popularity competitions between local pop groups anything to get younger age groups attending meetings.
Also instead of tracks getting shorter the need us to have wider longer tracks to give riders more opportunity to pass one another.
If something is not done soon speedway will not survive to celebrate a centenary in 2028.
This article was first published on 1st April 2018
"Ivor Craine had it spot on (Laydowns are killing speedway). I don't entirely agree on the "spectacle" front though, to me after 54 years of attending, it still sends shivers up my spine, but the lack of passing and some track conditions, as well as the shoddy stadia, aren't helping matters. I've said before here many times that publicity and promotion are key, and the biggest obstacle is getting the young generation hooked. Despite all our problems, I still say we have the best sport on the planet along with the best and most knowledgable fans. If we all pull together and the weather is kind to us, 2018 could be an excellent year."
"Public Interest. Most of the minority spectator sports have something in common which generates public interest. Nearly all of them involve sports in which anyone can (or can imagine) themselves participating. Speedway does not lend itself to this advantage. Gone are the days when there was a cycle speedway track on every street corner. Is this a possible factor which contributes to our woes? Be glad to hear your views."
"I agree Dave. Shivers are still there. I am not an expert on engine positions but lay-downs were tried years ago and did not catch on. I am not sure why they are now universal. As for attracting the younger generation, the track I attend most is awash with family groups in the stands from babes-in-arms to teenagers. Some of the children have their own trundle bikes and whizz around the place with considerable skill. In addition there are young riders on 50cc (I think) machines practising after the meetings as well as slightly older lads (and one lass) on bigger bikes. So maybe where I go is exceptional but I hope it isn't. "
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