Speedway in Kualar Lumpar 2007/08
Ivan Mauger, six times world speedway champion had gone into promotion with great success after retiring from racing. Always a visionary, Ivan could see the potential for South East Asia to be included in the FIM Speedway World final series with the growing interest in motorsport in the region. Before he could put his own plans in operation he had a surprise invitation from the Malaysian Motor Sports Organisation and Competitors Association in December 2006, a call to help them set up speedway on an International standard, the very thing he had in mind.
At the same time the Government of the City of Kualar Lumpar were experiencing a serious safety and social problem with young motorcyclists racing around the city streets and suburbs. In 2006 the Minister for Sport came up with a radical scheme, again enlisting Ivan's help.
The Sports minister's plan which he put to Ivan was to eventually build a motorcycle speedway at Bakur Jillia People's Park, they would supply smaller speedway bikes and encourage the youth to race on a track instead of the city streets. The grand plan was to have a full international meeting by October and eventually a round of the world championships.
To start the process they would build a practice track on the outskirts and Ivan was appointed to oversee the building of the tracks, organising the bikes and running the training schools. Ivan spent 10 days a month in Malaysia from April to November working on the project.
There were 260 applicants for the first session in May 2007. Ivan recruited a former UK National league rider as assistant coach, Linden Warner a former Suffolk boy who had raced for Mildenhall, Ipswich, Hackney and Birmingham and was now a KL resident was the man.
Things happen fast in Malaysia and by September the new stadium was ready to FIM standards. The go ahead authorities had purchased all Ivan's long track stadium equipment from New Zealand and the project was ready. Ivan and Linden had groomed a number of Malaysian youngsters on smaller bikes. The government were so impressed they instructed Ivan to purchase 12 speedway bikes from the Jawa factory
To draw the crowds and bill the events as international, three New Zealand riders Sam Taylor, Andrew Aldridge and Ricky Wells were invited to be resident riders. The addition of Japanese rider Hideaka Oti and Englishman Linden Warner completed the International content. The meetings consisted of races for the smaller bikes and the youngsters advancing to full Jawa speedway bikes as they progressed.
Meetings were held well into 2008 with world class presentation and great trophies being donated, then the bombshell dropped. The Sports Minister lost his position and the three year Government support was withdrawn as the new sports minister was not in favour of the scheme.
Ivan battled on but there was not enough spectators to keep the show running. There was no shortage of young Malaysians wanting to ride but no bums on seats and once again speedway in Asia came to a halt.
It is the author's opinion that speedway today would be in a better position today if the visions and creation of international ties by Ivan Mauger on a global scale had come to fruition.
This article was first published on 28th March 2021
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