There are new owners of the former home of the Oxford Cheetahs. Meanwhile the "Save Oxford Stadium" continue their campaign to bring back speedway one day, this time backed by former skipper Lee Smethills.
Here we provide some answers to questions raised about the part that Fred Gray played at Liverpool Speedway and Ainsdale Sands.
Friends of Speedway (a non-profit making organisation who are proud to sponsor the British Youth Championship - formerly the Under 15's) are pleased to announce the 63rd edition of their magazine the Voice which is packed full of interest and enjoyment. This issue is a big 24 pages, which will keep your interest for hours!
In this issue David Telfer gives his inevitable views on all things speedway in general; John Chaplin talks of Ivan Mauger's Gold bike; Charles Mackay takes a look at the speedway regulations and the confusion therein; Roy Delaney gives an insight in to Cycle Speedway competitor, Bill Withers and the Rye House Dinner and Dance of 1964; John Hyam talks about George Pepper; Slider gives his own imitable views on the current direction of travel of speedway at present; Editor Stu Towner reports on the Eleventh California-in-England Reunion and Sue Towner discusses inconsistent refereeing. There is much more too to keep you going for hours!
Available from Friends of Speedway; 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP. Please send your cheque for £12 made out to the above for four issues of the Voice to Stuart Towner at the above address or ring 0208-397 6599 for more information.
" I totally agree...I cant see how it still goes under the banner of "Elite". It has got weaker and weaker over the years, and I'm sure it wont be too long before Sky TV offloads it. The days of 2 top heat leaders, are long gone, and the teams are so unbalanced. Bring back the days of Hancock & Hamil and Adams & Rickardsson."
"I totally agree, the Elite League is on its last legs. I am a Belle Vue fan but would gladly watch the Aces in the Premier league.There needs to be big changes brought in for the Elite League to survive."
"I was there for first one and comments made then over the tannoy was indicating that it was the biggest sporting secret in Melbourne! Think the organisers should employ the Glasgow promotion next year with a reasonable budget and I will bet the crowd would be nearer 40k !!!!"
"I think that your correspondent is correct in suggesting that Speeway spread its wings. There are a lot more potential tracks out there. As an example of what can be achieved Berwick's entry into speedway was looked upon with incredulity. How could a small town on the very borders of England last more than a week or two? Well, that was half a century ago and it warms my heart to see them battling on. There are lots of lower league football clubs whose grounds are potentially suitable, to the benefit of both football and speedway. How about Dagenham & Redbridge, recalling the 'Daggers' of pre-war? Surely a new location can be found at Barrow, and Hull. Oxford still exists, Norwich is a natural home for speedway. With a little more marketting Newport could have prospered. Surely there must be several locations around Bradford/Halifax. There must be potential venues around Exeter, and there must be potential at Weymouth. How about the Liverpool area? It could be done...."
"It would be nice to have a GP in Florida; however, first choice for a USA round, should there ever be one, should go to southern California, which has always been the main centre of American speedway. California also has produced five individual world champions who have now won nine titles! "
"I remember going there with Middlesbrough on a Bank Holiday Monday except it wasn't a Bank Holiday in Scotland. On an absolutely boiling hot day there was more supporters from Teesside than there was from Glasgow. I reckon no more than 150? The water cart was getting its supply from the the river close to the track and it hadn't been cleaned out but they were watering the track with this brown slurry that stunk of something pigs do. The first couple of races were a complete farce as riders struggled to acclimatise and it wasn't only Steve Lawson that came to grief, Geoff Pusey did too and there was an awful stench. Obviously the riders from both teams weren't happy as the dust soon took priority. After a handful of races it became obvious the home team were not really up for it and Middlesbrough ran out winners by 54-23pts if memory serves correct? They got to August and Eastbourne were visiting and made numerous complaints and the track was closed down and all their results expunged from the records. "
"Like many of your contributors, many of my childhood memories are linked to Liverpool 'Chads'. My father was Fred Gray. I was brought up believing he was a one time team manager, but reading the published history of the team, he does not get a mention.
The only reference to him I have found, is the 'Ainsdale Speedway Training School' organised by Charlie Oates (my godfather). My father is listed as one of the instructors. I would be interested to know if anyone has any info about his role at Liverpool.
One of the only pieces of memorabilia I have, is of my dad, in a white coat, starting a speedway race. I have always assumed this to be at Stanley Road but after reading John Jarvis's account of the Ainsdale events the photo could easily have been been taken there. Once again any info would be gratefully received.
There were always family stories being recalled about people and events surrounding speedway. Reading the stories on the website, give mention to many of the names linked to those stories. This has brought all the stories flooding back. I was born in 1946 so I was too young to remember any of the events even though I was apparently present at many of them.
One of these was a trip to Ireland. My dad apparently took some team members to ride in an event there. I don't know if it was for a proper match or simply a promotional exercise. Does anyone know? "
"Ove Fundin quickly made a name at Claremont Speedway in the Fifties. We would get into the Claremont Showgrounds through a hole in the fence or hidden in the back seat of the family car and it was worth it to see solo champions like Ove, Chum Taylor, Ken McKinley, Aub Lawson etc duel. Ove was the talk at our Graylands primary school and meeting in the street and everyone wanted to be a Ove Fundin although we wanted our Aussie guys to do well. We enjoyed seeing Ove compete at Claremont (Western Australia) and he deserved his world championships. Thanks for the memories."
David Pickles suggests its time for speedway to be more ambitious and attempt to break into new markets.
Thanks to John Fray for keeping us up to date with the speedway adverts in the Oxford Mail. These are being placed by the "Save Oxford Stadium" group and Martin Dugard is the subject of the latest one. Click on the picture to see it in a readable size.
"The good thing about Etihad Stadium as a speedway is that the pitch size is made for Australian rules football so its large enough for a good size track (346 metres) rather than the smaller tracks sometimes seen in converted football stadiums used in SGP. They did a very good job of it IMO."
"I along with a friend used to follow Oxford Cheetahs, we used to go all over the country with them until I left Oxford in 1969. We knew Arne very well, he was a gentleman as well as being a fantastic speedway rider."
"its a good team Martin! For me I think Reidar Eide led the revival in the early 70's - the first top liner to agree to come to Somerton Park for a while. Anders Henriksson was pretty sensational at the new stadium, less injury prone than Craig Watson. And of the originals Jon Erskine and Peter Vandenberg were good, both ironically stayed with Mike Parker in moving to Wolves. Its hard to pick just 7. And you are right it was heartbreaking to drop Alby Golden but he had become a liability away from Somerton."
"That Russian Film is called Closure of the Season and was released in 1974, and I've nicked all this blurb below from the speedway fiction website"
"In the mid-Seventies, when speedway was enjoying a golden age in Britain, the sport reached a peak of popularity in the USSR and it was unsurprising that one of Moscow's biggest movie studios should employ acclaimed writer Andrei Bitov to produce the screenplay for a film set in the world of Russian speedway. 'Closure of the Season' tells the tale of three former schoolmates who have fallen in love with the same girl and who meet each other at the local speedway stadium. The film relates their different stories."