"The letters about Odsal brought back loads of memories of the 40s & 50s, derbies with my team from over the border, yes the Aces. What riders both teams had Parker, Oliver, Lawson, Long and later Craven, Sharples & co. Of course Bradford had the Clakes, Eddie Rigg & the last geuine leg trailer Oliver Hart. On bank holidays it was Hyde rd in the afternoon, then hightail it over the tops to Odsal, then we always had the ceremonial burning of Johnny Hoskins hat. I could go on & on about those days which i'll never forget, that's all for now folks!"
"Went from 1961 till 1975. I remember Peter Craven, Jim Yacoby, Billy Powell, Dick Fisher, Soren Sjosten, Gordon Mcgregor - loved to watch them at Halifax Dukes, Sheffield Tigers. I remember great races for golden helmet between Peter Craven and Ove Fundin and i loved the riders championship at the end of season and would love to know what Eric Broadbelt my favourite rider is doing now."
"Well reading the first of the feedback Robert, you've certainly got people on your side.(Me included) No true supporter wants to see Speedway die. As Steve Baker says we need one person in charge, without any affiliation to a particular club. Well in my opinion the man for the job would be IVAN MAUGER. He's got plenty of Backbone. The main problem would be convincing Ivan to take up the post. I don't know if Ivan reads this website, if he does it would be interesting to see if he would take on the job.
Regarding the junior leagues (Alan Robertson) I think we still need them Alan, while kids with natural talent (Max Clegg and Oliver Greenwood come to mind) should make it, there are other riders who take time to develop and the junior leagues will help with this.
(Gary) I'm in total agreement with you regarding the National League for British riders only. But they should be restricted to 2 or 3 seasons in that league only, then they should make the jump to the second tier of Racing (or what is now the PL) After 3 seasons a rider should be able to know that he's either going to make it or not. I think Robert as opened a can of worms and I think this whole Speedway Revolution thing is going to provoke alot more talking points over the coming weeks. I look forward to it!!"
The World Longtrack Final was staged 26 times, eventually being replaced by a Grand Prix style series. Tracy Holmes looks back on those one-off events in this light-hearted history of the series. This is a PDF file that runs to 54 pages, so no shortage of reading material in this one.
If you've similar works that you'd like to make available to the speedway community then get in touch.
"What an absolutley STONKINGLY, BRILLIANT IDEA!!!! Robert. But don't stop there while you're at it get rid of these RIDICULESS END OF SEASON PLAYOFFS AND THE BARMY POINTS SCORING SYSTEM FOR MATCHES. All that is needed is 3PTS FOR A WIN, 1PT FOR A DRAW AND 1PT FOR AN AGGREGATE VICTORY. All Individual meetings raced over 20 heats and the RIDER with most pionts over 5 rides is declared the winner. That's been the trouble with SPEEDWAY over the past 20 odd years forever changing rules and regulations. Haven't the Powers that be never heard of IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T MEND IT!! Now I'll had my own idea, no FOREIGN riders is the National Lea gue. Brits only. Thats how England ruled the Speedway world in the 70's Division II riders coming up through the ranks, onto the World Stage. Now Robert, the hard part, convince the people who run the sport. DON'T LET THIS IDEA DIE!! Iam sure along with a lot of other supporters and I bet riders are all for this IDEA."
"I agree with a lot of what Robert Rogers has posted. I have always felt the solid strcture speedway needs is the return to the old 13 heat format. Rebuild the sport by reverting to the 13 format, it stood the test of time and would cut off two heats from struggling clubs' wage bills. I don't know if the idea of a junior league will work - didn't we have similar in the late-80s/early 90s? I agree with having one big league.
Brought up on big leagues back in the 70s, I really enjoyed the mid-nineties revival. Nothing is as boring as seeing the usual sides on tv every other week. Who wants to see repeat matchs two or three times a year. At least a bigger league, as Robert Rogers' piece hints, would give more variety - and more variety could even mean persuading stay away fans to attend their local track more often. Less visits would mean less chance of seeing the likes of Holder and Ward, which would make local fans wanna stump up their hard-earned cash when they did arrive in town. "
"I agree, for me to move forward, the Elite should have a fuller programme and for clubs to remain competitve adopting a Polish style squad system where a team could name 3 no 1's but only use one, this would save on guests and rider replacement being used, as many riders are overcommitted anyway. So yes a revolution is in order, some say this may not be financially viable, as Poland gets far bigger crowds that here, riders should accpet if they cannot fully commit, the clubs should be able to contract them on an as and when contract, say a small retainer with an arrangement whereby excpenses are covered and the rider earns his wages by points scored, with may of the top racers coming over here have their flights paid for and have 'hired' help to look after their bikes whilst they jet around the world, I am sure together promoters and riders could work something out instead of letting the sport die. I agree the Elite League needs to be week in week out, hence the reason why fans and clubs are opting for the Premier as an alternative. "
"Some very thought provoking comments here. I think everyone agrees that the Elite League is Elite only in name and in need of drastic overhaul. Having watched speedway at all three levels, I personally feel that the more consistently entertaining racing is provided at PL and NL level. My suggestion is to retain a two league structure, but to apply the following changes: - Teams in both divisions to be built to the same points limit. - A 0.25% increase/reduction on averages at the beginning of each season (i.e. a rider moving into the top division from the lower one would receive an initial reduction in average, whilst a rider moving in the opposite direction would see their average increased) - A rider represents one team only; no doubling up - Two up, two down relegation every year, decided by top/bottom four two leg play offs - Additional KO Cup competition to be introduced along the lines of the FA Cup, i.e. one-off match rather than over two legs, increasing the prospect of giant killing! Consequently, a team could define their own level of ambition according to their crowds, financial position etc.
For example, there'd be nothing to stop an ambitious, well funded lower league side from signing a couple of top flight riders in a bid to gain promotion. Similarly, a less bouyant club could choose to remain in the lower league and cut their cloth accordingly, content with the prospect of still seeing some top riders race at their circuit - and maybe experiencing a decent cup run - without committing financial suicide. Sky could cherry pick from any match in either league, e.g. promotion/relegation issues, local derbies, David v Goliath cup match.
I don't pretend that these suggestions present a solution to all the problems speedway has to address but I certainly believe it would add to the entertainment factor. I appreciate that teething problems would be experienced initially but it should be viewed as a long term project that could be refined in the ensuing years, not simply a quick fix that is abandoned after a year or two. And if certain top line riders choose to desert Britain for greater riches abroad then so be it. I appreciate that the career of a rider is short and can potentially end at any given time, and they have every right to make their money where and while they can. However, it would be nice to think some might show some loyalty and gratitude towards the country that gave many of them their first break when they were embarking on their careers, long before the likes of Poland and Sweden had even heard of them!"
"First Class article. I'm sure if your idea was adopted, we'd see more British riders coming through, which would be good for the sport. There are to many foreign riders in the British leagues. My local track Leicester track a token Brit in Lewis Blackbird, the reat of the team are full of Swedes,Danes and Finns. How about the new British under 19 Champion, he's Danish!? Regarding 1995/96, the only reason this didn't work was the selfishness of certain promoters who wouldn't realise riders to help equal out the strengh of all teams. If they had done so, 1995/96 seasons who have been a blueprint for a better British League. Well done Robert, I am sure there will be more people in favour of your idea than against it."
"Robert, I agree whole heartedly with your idea's as I feel if nothing is done soon our sport will just fade into oblivion. When the British League was formed in the sixties it was the sports saviour as it was slowly dying at that time. It was quite a radical step at the time, but it did rejuvenate the sport and I feel, like you, now is the time to do something similar. The only problem is, there is no one with enough backbone to actually go ahead and do something before its too late. It seems to me the BSPA make decisions not for the benefit of the sport as a whole but purely for their own clubs benefit. I think the only way forward is to put one person in charge, without any affiliation to a particular club and whatever decision is made by them, every club has to abide by it. This, I believe, could make your revolution a reallity and move the sport we all love, forw ard to a brighter future. "
Robert J. Rogers suggests the time is right to restructure the sport - 'One Big League' being the key suggestion. Is it time to look at that once again or are the memories of 1995/6 still too fresh in many minds?
"Just a follow up on this article, better late than never I suppose. Following the publication of this article I was contacted by Charlie's son and the trophy is back with the Appleby family in England."
"Any more photo's? I believe my father Cyril Dootson used to spend many an hour with Jack filing & drilling sprockets and the like. Amazingly my nephew Scott is racing RS125 whilst I have a more sadate classic 50cc. Cheers "
Speedway fan and keen aerial photographer Mark Meynell recently took a flight over Scunthorpe. Whilst in the air he managed to capture these pictures of two of Scunthorpe's speedways - Quibbel Park and Eddie Wright Raceway.
James Green is hoping that someone will remember his father Des Green. He believes that Des rode at Coventry in the 70s - Can You Help?
"Re: George Pepper: it would appear he did race speedway as far back as 1934. From 'My Story - Eric Chitty' (Stenners 1946) in reference to the 1934 Canadian Championship at the Ulster Stadium, Toronto: "Back in Toronto my own doctor successfully treated the injury. Then it was arranged to stage the Canadian quarter-mile speedway championship at Ulster Stadium. At the last moment I decided to ride. The hand was by no means healed, as I quickly found out. I could grip the handlebars right enough, but couldn't leave go. After each heat that hand was prised from the bars. All the same, I had the good luck to come out on top with maximum points. "In the field were Jimmy Gibb, Goldie Restall, Johnny Millett, GEORGE PEPPER, Elwood Stillwell, Bob Sparks, Buce Venier, all of whom subsequently rode for English league clubs.""
"Fascinating! Very interesting to see Briggo's style versus the rest of the field, and also the number of riders in each heat eat - bit of a bun fight all round :-) I know that the FIM World Pairs tried 6 rider races in the 70's I think, but that's nothing compared to the dozen or so in each race. Great stuff!"
"I received my copy a week ago, together with the Hackney DVD ordered at the same time.
I have watched the 70's DVD during the past week and I have to say that it is superb. Hours of good quality material. I have various broadcast video on VHS that I mean to copy, but this package is a dream. So much of my life is here on these two DVDs, surely a must for all who shared the 1970's with me on the terraces.I take Classic Speedway, and read every word, and I have several of the recent DVD releases (West Ham, Rayleigh, etc), but this is the best yet. Classic Speedway is, in my book, both an institution and a public service to all true speedway enthusiasts.Well done, and roll on Speedway in the 60's, 80's etc."
"Chris Harris has competed in the GP regularly now for quite a few years, so it's wrong to say the Third Division, Amatuer League, Conference League and its present incarnation the National League hasn't produced a regular GP rider! Chris Harris began his League career at Conference League St Austell way back in 1998! Anyway without the formation of the 3rd Division, many present PL teams wouldn't of opened and my local NL team Mildenhall, one of the best value speedway anywhere I think, would definately not reopened!"
"Richard Webb's band The Magoos were playing in the fanzone at Cardiff Grand Prix weekend - and very good they were too. Richard has an excellent voice and the band did some great covers: The Cult, The Hives, Guns 'N' Roses, etc. He mentioned if anyone was from Exeter, apparently he broke his back there? Didn't he also ride grasstrack for a few years as well as Conference level speedway?"
"Happy memories of Linlithgow brought back by the photos. It was a unique wee venue and I organised a few meetings thanks to Alan Robertson making the track available to me. Memories include bizarre ones as follows. We had the disappearing speedway rider in one of the fun meetings I organised. Alan Hartley went into the ditch that ran the length of the infield. Stuart Coleman left the stadium in one of his prangs . He hit the fence which tilted outwards providing a ramp for his flight over the stadium fence. Thankfully Stuart was Ok once we unrolled him out of a strand of barbed wire fence. We had the local cows, probably fed up with grazing, which used to come and watch the racing from the first bend. It is a pity there isn't a training / national league track in Scotland now. "