A Matter of Opinion....Ron McNeil....01/03/2003
Former 'Mike Man' Ron McNeil shares his thoughts
I think the comments pages of most speedway web sites sums up the problems speedway has in the "real" world and that is not enough support to sustain ANY venue in the UK. Why do I make this sweeping comment? Simple, I have stood on the centre green of tracks as far apart in size and looks as Odsal (Bradford) and Elfield Park (Milton Keynes) and the one thing common to both venues was a complete lack of support.
When Speedway started in Milton Keynes in 1978, everybody that went that fateful night either went because they 'USED to go to speedway years ago' or wondered what this new fangled sport was about. All were very disappointed because it poured down and instead of cancelling the meeting, which would have been the sensible thing to do, they continued and treated the "PAYING" public to a farce of gigantic and, it appeared, far reaching proportions. Speedway in MK suffered from that point on because most thought that if that is what speedway is ALL about then it 'aint worth it'. They stayed away and NEVER returned.
Having worked with the promotion, although that probably is NOT the right word to use because most didn't have a clue how to and even less money to do it, I understand the difficulties of preparing a track only to see rain clouds forming about an hour before the gates open. But that is typical British weather and has always been but to hear some folks talk you would think that was the cause of the problems when in fact it is the fickle speedway "supporters" who sit at home and ring the track and ask if it is worth turning up to which the reply is ALWAYS a resounding 'YES'.
I well remember a story some years back of a rider who before setting off on a long trip to a venue for a meeting rang a fairly well known, at the time, track shop operator who had a mobile phone and was asked by the rider what the weather was like at the track. He replied "I am outside the main gate and it's P*****G down". The rider then phoned the promoter and asked the same question and was told "Of course you should set out, why not, the sun is shining and there are NO PROBLEMS with the track". He dutifully set out on the journey stopping every so often asking the same question of both each time and getting the same replies. When he arrived at the track the first words the promoter uttered were "you won't believe it but this rain has JUST STARTED" and that was after the rider had endured a two and a half hour journey.
Now if the people responsible take that sort of attitude with their riders, what chance do you the supporters of being treated differently, after all it's your admission costs for that rained-off meeting that pay the rider who turned up and couldn't ride because they still have to be paid and that responsibility falls to the home promoter in the event of a rain-off, little wonder he wants you to turn up and come in regardless.
So next time you grumble about rising costs, next time you grumble about rain-offs, just remember that you are ALSO responsible for the state of speedway today because YOU allowed it to happen.
Finally, as if that wasn't enough, I have just visited the "ONLY OFFICIAL" speedway site on the internet, that belonging to the B.S.P.A. the sports governing body, to check out this years news and found that 90% of the site refers to details for 2002 they have yet to publish 'official" notices of this years GP series even though these FACTS have been available by the F.I.M. since the beginning of the year, just as well KandySoft and others like Dave don't rely upon them to provide information else you wouldn't get all those useful speedway paraphernalia when you need it because they would still be waiting. So if the B.S.P.A. can't get it right, and let's face they never have yet (EH! Briggo), what chance the rest of speedway.
My answer: Very Simple: USE IT OR LOSE IT just like I have here in Milton Keynes, at Bradford when I lived in Halifax (OH and Halifax) and Middlesbrough where I last "worked". If you want to know how passionate I am about speedway take a look at: http://www.borobears.co.uk/.
See you there
This article was first published on 01/02/2003
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