Sad news this week with the passing of the great journalist John Chaplin at the age of 85. John contributed to numerous publications over the years, including his regular Museum Piece feature in Speedway Star. He also edited Classic Speedway magazine for 10 years and published some marvellous hardback books in collaboration with John Somerville.
John was an occasional contributor to this website, so it seems appropriate to bring some of his work back to the top of the site as our small tribute to him.
In this first article he looks back on the 1950s, a decade he described as one of one of steady but precipitous decline.
"I wish I was very wealthy to the point where I could have the biggest Speedway party ever. I would fly everybody in from all over the world it would go down in history as the biggest party ever. So many great memories from Speedway in England. Who knows this is just a dream and I may win the big lottery one day and this could happen. This is my dream, I hope you all like it."
Tracy Holmes on the 1981 final. He describes it thus - "This meeting was everything a World Championship qualifying round of such magnitude should have been with all the thrills, spills, high drama and shocks."
A couple of speedway fans would like your help:
Steve Baker [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
"Here's a picture of the Aldershot team from 1953 or 54 and I am trying to identify the riders. The only one I know for sure is Tommy Sweetman in the centre and I think it's Bob Bunney on the bike to the left. If anyone can offer any further info I would be most grateful."
Chris Butlin [ Butlinca@aol.com ]
"My dad was a dirt-track racer at Harringay Stadium before the 2nd WW. He was Horace Alfred Butlin but was usually known as Harry. I am pretty sure he raced there in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I have no photographs of him unfortunately. His profession was that of a butcher. If anyone has any record of him I'd greatly appreciate hearing from you."