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45 Years a Racer
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Ronnie's Newcastle Nightmare
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Value for Money?
By Andy Gallon

I've just been catching up on your website after several months without looking at it and was interested by the debate over the cost of speedway and the value for money it provides. As someone who finds themselves watching fewer and fewer meetings each season (just four so far in 2008), I would say the following:

(a) The quality of the racing is everything. At far too many tracks, there simply isn't enough passing or any real possibility of seeing some;

(b) Speedway claims to be a family sport. I'm not married and I don't have any children, and even I regard it as too expensive considering what you get for your money. Goodness knows how families pay to watch the sport regularly;

(c) The (modern) lack of proper second halves is a rip-off;

(d) Programmes. These are, mostly, a joke. Lamentable content, poor design, high prices. Compared to issues produced for 'major' sports, speedway programmes are dire. A plea to promoters: stop using the A4 format for programmes. It renders them almost useless;

(e) I want to see seven pukka home riders taking on seven pukka away riders. So, let's have proper team squads and scrap guest riders and the rider replacement facility;

(f) Speedway's biggest Achilles heel has always been that too many clubs do not own their stadia and are at the mercy of the landlord. It explains why many of the facilities are embarrassingly scruffy and amateurish. Who wants to watch anything in a dump?;

(g) A way has to be found to make speedway cheaper for the riders. The bikes today contain too many 'faddy' and wholly unnecessary add-ons. We need to get back to mechanical basics. Simple machines for a simple sport;

(h) I fear the media, other than local outlets, will never give speedway a fair crack of the whip. It's not (and I speak from more than 20 years' professional experience) regarded as a serious sport by journalists.

 

This article was first published on 24th July 2008


 

  • Ian Muir Martin:

    "Just a couple of points about an EXCELLENT summing up of Speedway. First of all Andy there are some FAIR Tracks around. I am a Redcar Supporter and we do see some very good racing at the South Tees Motor Park - so you cannot tar all Promotors with the same brush.

    I agree 100% with you about the Programmes - why sell an A4 Programme that does not fit the average Programme Board - Stupid. I also agree that if you see how much you pay per minute of action (about 15 minutes at a normal Meeting) then Speedway is expensive - however - Speedway machines are also expensive, Fuel, Rider's Pay, Maintenance of Track, Marketing etc. ALL cost money. All in all I think for this day and age - the cost is fair enough at most Tracks.

    Where I most certainly agree with you is that the development of the actual Bikes themselves has, to my mind, caused more trouble than enough. By and large the shape/length of Track has not changed in eighty years - however - the Bikes themselves have got faster and faster. It is, to me, no surprise that we seem to be having a lot more injuries these days than in the past.

    I think, and I know it will be controversial, that the Bikes are now way too powerful. The Sport will learn eventually that you can only go so fast on a Speedway Track. SPEED DOES NOT IMPROVE THE RACING - and it is RACING we want to see - it is the skill of the Riders that do that. I think that the Sport needs a total re-think. If necessary EVERYONE should go back to the old two valve engines. In the old days there were not as many injuries (Rider safety should be paramount), the engines cost a lot less to buy and maintain and the EXCITEMENT (which sells tickets) was in many ways greater than it is today. Certain Motor Sports are always striving for more speed but Speedway lends itself to watching skillful Riders racing each other in an enclosed environment. THERE IS ONLY SO FAST YOU CAN SAFELY GO - I think we have passed that point NOW. REMEMBER - IT IS THE RACING THAT COUNTS - NOT THE SPEED."

  • Happy Monarch:

    "Just found this site, I would make the following comments in response to Andy Gallon's opinion.

    a) Come to the Scotwaste Arena and watch the Edinburgh Monarchs, only beaten at home by Elite League opponents all season, they can't gate but boy can they cut back. Big scores don't mean boring racing.

    b) Try watching football, twice the price for an adult, don't know many football clubs that let kids in for free. You could argue that there is only 15 minutes (15 - 1 minute races) entertainment in a meeting, but many other sports are like watching paint dry.

    c) Most promoters are hamstrung by curfews or restrictive licensing by local authorities which restrict the time for second half races.

    d) I've seen a few this season, thought on the whole they were value for money, I don't imagine that there are a lot of full time club officials in speedway, there can't be much time between meetings to prepare and print programmes.

    e) Who's going to pay the wages? how are riders meant to fund equipment? Sppedway must be one of the few sports where you can bring in a guest and know that he will be trying his best as he is paid per point so if he doesn't score he doesn't get paid. Rider replacement at least protects home track advantage.

    f) This contradicts b), if you want better facilities it's going to cost more at the gate. I go to speedway to see racing not to admire the stadium. It's family orientated, no crowd segregation, good humoured banter, informed crowd who don't just enjoy seeing their team win, but appreciate the effort and bravery of all the riders.

    g) Think the engines need to be high compression otherwise they wouldn't slow down when the throttles shut, can't run on petrol due to high compression, all parts are homologated to ensure a level(ish) playing field. Ignition systems provide reliability and various charecteristics for different track set ups.

    h) Totally agree very little local / regional coverage, not aware of any articles on Scottish BBC or independant channels, unbelievable that there is no coverage of a team that has just won Premier League, Premier Trophy, Premier Play-off and Scottish cup, on local TV. Then again maybe it's better that it's kept a secret for true supporters!!"

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