Home Contact Us Stadia Pix Articles All About You Riders to Remember
DVDs Books Pictures Archive Dream Teams Programme Generator
28/02/2021
2020 Review - Part 4
Still Flying High
Your Feedback
 
21/02/2021
2020 Review - Part 3
Harold MacNaughton
Your Feedback
 
14/02/2021
Olle Nygren
2020 Review - Part 2
Your Feedback
 
07/02/2021
2020 Review - Part 1
Your Feedback
 
31/01/2021
Debut: Joe Screen
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
24/01/2021
Review: Blood & Cinders
Your Feedback
 
17/01/2021
Tai Deserves a Gong
The J.A.P is Modern Art
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
03/01/2021
Snapshots of Yesteryear
Snapshots of Yesteryear
Snapshots of Yesteryear
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
27/12/2020
The Polish Problem
Mauger, Nielsen. World Finals.
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
16/12/2020
Simon Wigg Racing Plus!
 
10/12/2020
Review: Saving Speedway
 
06/12/2020
Great Races of the 70s/80s
The BLRC 1984
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
22/11/2020
Book Review: Dave Jessup
The BLRC 1983
Leif "Basse" Hveem
Your Feedback
 
15/11/2020
When Did it Start to Decline?
The BLRC 1982
Tracking Down the Swagman
Your Feedback
 
08/11/2020
Review: Before Air Fences
THE BLRC 1981
Dagenham
Your Feedback
 
01/11/2020
Review: Who Gates Wins
The BLRC 1980
Owlerton in the Sixties
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
25/10/2020
Doyle's Triple Crown
The BLRC 1979
Your Feedback
 
11/10/2020
New Cross Album 1936
The BLRC 1978
Your Feedback
 
04/10/2020
Sheffield 60s & 70s
The BLRC 1977
John Pilblad
Your Feedback
 


The Family Sport by Rod Young

Castagna
Risager

Speedway meant nothing for a long time in my life. It was a strange and arcane form of motorcycle racing that had very little to do with real motorcycles. In fact, the time when I owned motorcycles was the time when I was least interested in the sport. Speedway was a dead end as far as I was concerned, a throwback to the thirties; it was a moribund sport even when I watched it as a teenager in the sixties. There was something quaint about it then. It was decidedly not John, Paul, George etc and neither was it Mick or Keith cool. A few of the riders, like Ray Wilson, tried to effect a more fashionable look with their hair styles, but most looked like grease backed teddy boys. But at the track you didn't care because you caught the smell of methanol, saw the absurd contortions of the racers and you tasted grit and heard the growl and gunshot sound of highly tuned four stroke engines (the thin scream of two strokes was just about to dominate track racing). As I grew up there were other interests and although motorcycles were a passion there seemed little connection between the sport and my experiences on the road. I lost touch with speedway.

Fast forward over twenty years and one day when I was fed up with the same four walls, on a mere whim, I asked my eleven year old if she would like to see the local speedway team. She decided there was nothing to lose: it would be a late night, she'd get away from her younger sister and I hinted that there would probably be chips to eat.

It took two meetings for her to get the bug. It was against all the odds. Reading were bottom of the league, the stadium is ramshackle and next to the municipal tip, and the best racer on the team was Amando Castagna - who despite his exotic name bore more than a passing resemblance to Desperate Dan with a roll up! She's a sophisticated, smart girl with a mother who wouldn't be seen dead near anything so disgusting as a shale track and certainly not when there are motorcycles on it, so she's not that easily pleased. I don't know what did it but I suspect the fact that the chips were good and hot helped. There were other contributing factors as well. It was a safe place. Not for the riders perhaps, but she felt secure when she queued up for her chips and when she came back to her seat people didn't complain when they had to make room for her to pass. The stewards also teased her in a pleasant, paternal way and when we couldn't ear the tannoy she didn't mind asking the people sitting next to her what the order of finishing was. She also enjoyed the maths and is quicker to add the scores than her old man. She now likes working out probable outcomes from looking at the averages - her mother is an accountant by the way,

We have now moved up to the Elite League - only because we've moved away from Reading. Anyway, Dad was a Bees supporter as a kid and its like going back home for him. Even in the sophisticated Elite there is still something quaint and old fashioned about speedway. It's a place where you can talk to opposing fans and banter with them. And some of the supporters - home and away - look like her Grandma, and others like her friends at school, and there are families sitting together and the only worrying part of spectating seems to be that young boy who is about to direct that air horn at her ear.

As a kid of thirteen, I went to speedway with my brother, walking the three or four miles when we couldn't be bothered to catch the bus. We went on our own and although I would never allow my daughter to do that, I do feel that a speedway track is a welcoming environment even at away tracks. Perhaps that will change. Reading the speedway forums there have been complaints of boorish behaviour and bad language at certain venues. A depressing encroachment of modern supporter behaviour or perhaps a good sign that people are willing to complain and don't want to accept adults behaving badly in front of children - or each other. I am sure speedway will change and will in some ways become more sophisticated. I hope most of that change is on the track to improve safety, and then some in marketing and presentation. What I would like to remain the same though is that old fashioned and quaint feeling I get when I take my daughter to speedway tracks knowing that the mix of people still make it a "family sport".

PS. She likes Morten Risager now and I can't see him with a roll up.

 

This article was first published on 10th May 2005


 

  • Bob Hoskins:

    "A fantastic site that makes you want to come back for more !"

    [ Use Mobile Version ]
     

     

    Comment on this Article | Contact Us | Go Back to Main Menu

  •    Please leave your comments on this article or on the site as a whole