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The Winged Wheel

The Winged Wheel Trophy

The recent question about the origins of the 'Winged Wheel' trophy and the subsequent claim that it was made by Split Waterman prompted a number of people to respond. Here are their thoughts, tales and recollections.

 

Tracy Holmes

The Winged Wheel was built in 1958. The cost was between 300 and 350 pounds. It was designed for the 'Sunday Pictorial' by their Editor at the time, Colin Valder, their artist, Lewis Abrahams and their Sports Editor, George Casey. The building was done by John Taylor and made in Birmingham.

The tyre was carved in wood by a craftsmen friend of Split Waterman's and cost 80 pounds. The tyre from which the mould was made belonged to Cyril Brine and used by himself at the World Finals of 1950 and 1951. The wings are solid silver.

Unfortunately today, the plaque has the World Final winners from 1936-1977. And Jerzy Szczakiel's name is mis-spelled. When Ivan Mauger loaned it to the Canterbury Museum for his exhibition, he did not want them to know that it was not from 1936. He wanted them to think it was a pre-war relic!! But I gave them all the details!

You can see it in the museum on Ivan's website. But it is sad with very little story behind it. When it was given to Ivan in 1978, it was great for him but tragic for Speedway's World Final. But then speedway has always shot itself in the foot.

Many years ago, Ivan loaned the Winged Wheel to our Vets club for a display. I got to bring it home for a couple of weeks. What a boyhood dream come true!! Sadly, it was in poor condition. Tarnished and pieces of the 'tyre' broken off. But with hours of polishing, it soon looked great and I found most of the missing pieces in the box.

Tempting as it was to souvenir one or two, I glued them all back. With a black pen, I then coloured where a couple of others were gone. And yes, when all alone, I fullfilled a childhood fantasy and stood behind it, raising my hands and pretending it was me at Wembley, with cameras flashing in my eyes and to the cheers of 90'000 screaming fans, I was champion of the world. All the others could do, Briggs, Moore, Fundin, Craven, Knutson, Mauger, Olsen, Szczakiel, Michanek and Collins was to look on and wonder just how this was possible?! I had beaten them all and the Winged Wheel, Speedway's most famous trophy was mine as a reward. Then the wife came home and it was all over. But what a memory!

 

Robert J. Rogers

From the book "The World Championship Story" written by the late Ernest C Hancock who was the manager at Rye House in the late 1960's and early 1970, and Ron Hoare, there is a full explanation of the "World" Trophy.

From George Casey, who was the Sport Editor of the Sunday Pictorial who used to sponsor the final. "This Magnificent Trophy consisted of a wheel used in a Wembley Final, a hand carved wooden tyre and a pair of wings attached to the World together with a plaque bearing the words `Speedway Championship of the World-Sunday Pictorial Trophy`, also a plaque for the insertion of the winners names, all mounted on a base".

The wheel was used by Cyril Brine (Wimbledon) in both the 1950 & 51 Finals.

The wooden tyre was carved by a friend of Split Waterman (Harringay, Wembley and West Ham). The reason for a wooden tyre is a rubber one would perish and tarnish the wheelbase.

It would seem it was held together by pins so the trophy could be taken apart for cleaning.

The trophy was designed by the editor of the Sunday Pictorial, Colin Valdar, the artist Lewis Abrahams and George Casey.

The trophy was executed (?) by John Taylor of Ely Place and made in Birmingham (does not say by who). The Wings, World and Plaques are Solid Silver. It cost £350.

It misses one vital point; it does not say what the first final it was used at, but from Maurice Jones book, `World Speedway Finals a History from 1929`, it states " With the demise of the `Sunday Dispatch`, a new sponsor was found, the `Sunday Pictorial` who presented a brand new Trophy.

This was the 1958 final and a certain young New Zealander, the 1957 World Champion, Barry Briggs, won it with a clear 15 points, the great Ove Fundin (Sweden)was second with 13, and our ex-skipper at West Ham, Aub Lawson (Australia) was third with 11 after a run off with a `Hammers skipper to be` Ken McKinlay (Scotland) and Peter Craven (England).

The trophy was presented to Briggo by the World Fastest Man, Donald Campbell OBE

 

John Hyam

I cannot see how Split Waterman can have a claim for the Winged Wheel Trophy to be returned to him. He claims to have made it in his Harringay workshop - that's the first time I have heard this, but in fairness have never wondered who made it. There might be credence to Waterman's claim. I would like to see some verification - it looks to be the work of a master trophy maker. I am surprised to learn that Waterman had skills in that direction.

However, I assume Waterman - if he made the trophy - did it as an ordered job and was paid for doing the work. That would, in my opinion, invalidate any claim he has for the return of the trophy to him. His rights would have ceased when he was paid for doing the job. I assume that he was financially reimbursed for his work.

Waterman's claim looks to be the best kept secret in speedway since 'Vintage Speedway Magazine' revealed many years ago that 1936 world champion Lionel van Praag used to run oversize engines!

 

Dave Gifford

Don't know about Split Waterman's claim to have made the "Winged Wheel" World championship Trophy but I do seem to recall Bob Andrews telling me once that the wheel itself was one of his. We had the Trophy in storage here in New Plymouth, NZ for a couple of years but I guess Sprouts has got it back now although we did hope he would forget where it was. Incidentally, the tyre is carved from wood and I think one of the plaques on it states that Ole Olsen is Swedish! He'd love that.

 

This article was first published on 7th May 2009


 

  • Bryan Tungate:

    "I agree with Robert J Rogers posting about the "Winged Wheel". The only difference I would want is that it was given to Ove Fundin to mark his years he filled a top 3 position in Finals but it was a Sunday Newspaper Trophy so they should have the final say. "

  • Anonymous:

    "Speaking of Speedway's most famous trophy, is this truly the One? Surely another which would have a great claim on that name would be the Daily Mail (?) National Trophy competed for over many years as the speedway equivalent of the F.A.Cup. Many of the struggles, which covered ALL divisions were legend and the pride in the team which won was immense. Later knockout competitions with riveting and imaginative names like "K.O.Cup" have paled. Would it not be a tremendous shot in the arm for our sport for the NT to be taken out of mothballs, if it still exists, and competed for again?"

  • Chris Stockwell:

    "Well it seems I managed to to get a few grey cells working with my questions about the Winged Wheel World Championship Trophy. Thank you everybody who was good enough to write into the Speedway Plus Website. It is very much appreciated by myself."

  • Jim Chalkley:

    "I wonder if the four people who wrote comments about the winged wheel should have contacted Split Waterman first and got his side of the story? Ronnie Moore phoned Split, but it's not for me to divulge what was said! I have great respect for the pair of them, both icons of speedway's past history and may they live for many more years to come and in good health."

  • Dave Gifford:

    "Loved it Tracy mate, I truly loved it. I did exactly the same thing only I missed the gate every time and made five amazing charges from the back!! I guess that makes it more of a fantasy than just a dream."

  • Robert John Rogers:

    "Re Split Waterman, it would be nice if somebody could contact Split and let him know he is still remembered with respect by a lot of the fans, some of which were never that lucky to see him ride. Some of the wonderful stories which he told while writing his column in the Speedway Express, and the stories we heard about some of the things he and his mate Bruce Aberbethy, who looked like brothers (and also wrote in the Express) got up to, would make some fantastic reading. I was lucky that just before he went of to Spain he signed some photos of himself both in Action and on his bike in both Wembley and Harringay Colours (with the Golden Helmet). A couple of these photos can be seen on the WSRA site. Split was mainly a London Rider, riding for Wembley, West Ham, Harringay and New Cross (where he was captain) as well as Southampton and Ipswich in the eraly 1960's. My comments were taken directly from the `World Championship Story` where he was intervied by the late Ernie Hancock, (which many Rye House fans will remember when he was the team manager there in the 1960's) about the history of the Wheel."

  • Malcolm Cook:

    "I was a great fan of Split Waterman throughout his years with the Harringay Racers. I had Split Waterman lapel badges and gawd knows what....but that was in the early fifties through to when racing ended at Harringay Stadium. Split was usually paired with Ron How, the team as I recall it comprised of Jeff Lloyd (captain), Jackie Biggs, Danny Dunton, Arthur Atkinson, Jimmy Squibb and at times a rather youthful junior called Alf Hagon. I even remember Olle Nygren being presented to the crowd....he did a couple of laps on his orange painted bike and soon became a favourite with Racers fans.

    It was courtesy of Split Waterman that I, together with two friends, were given tickets for the 1951 World Championship at Wembley....I was ten years of age and cried when Split came second and Jackie Biggs third. The seats we had were behind the Royal Box....never did things by halves did Split Waterman!

    Years later I managed pop star Alvin Stardust on behalf of Michael (Lord) Levy. My office was in the offices of Magnet Records when a young(ish) record promo guy was working. Duing a conversation the young guy told me that Split Waterman was his uncle....the young guy later became very famous, he was of course ace record producer, Pete Waterman!

    As a minor anecdote, or two, I recall a friend and I painting Wal Phillips stock-car prior to the first stock-car meeting at Harringay. It had a dreadful colour scheme of orange and bottle green, it was a V8 Pilot and numbered 5. I also had a good friend who was the commentator at Middlesbrough Speedway, prior to which he'd commentated on scrambling on ITV....his name was Colin Huntchinson and he later became Managing Director of Chelsea FC under Ken Bates, in fact it was Colin who brought over the first Italian star player like Zola etc."

  • Bob Andrews:

    "I have been sent this 'site' by a friend. and the story of the winged wheel, When it was to be made, Cyril Brine was behind it. He had a front wheel that he used in 2 World Finals, They needed a NEW front tyre and there were none about, riders were using trail type tyres etc. But I had one, a NEW one, and Cyril knew this, he asked me if he could borrow it, as he told me they were making a NEW Championship Trophy. "Would I get it back" I asked. "Yes of course you will, we only need it to take a mould off of it." So as I was just a lower ranked rider at Wimbledon at the time, I was all for it, I seemed important for once. I was told to meet at Split Waterman's factory, near Surbiton (I think) He was into Plastic Moulding at the time, and Cyril Brine, Split, myself, a couple of other people (maybe Ted Brine ) chatted over how Split was going to take a mould of my tyre and mount it on Cyril's front wheel. I think Split did a mould, but it was agreed that it wasn't going to work, but the moulded Plastic tyre was sent off to a wood carver in Birmingham ( I think he was a mate of Split's ) and he made the tyre in sections. The tyre was a Dunlop Speedway Tyre, I got it back a couple of weeks later, and saved it till 1960. when I got in the World Final as Reserve at Wembley. So I like to think that I had a bit to do with the building of the Trophy But I won't put a claim in for it. Just look after that Tyre. "

  • Dudley Jones:

    "Interesting to see your correspondents comments on Splits post retirement activities. Split at his best would be one of the riders I would most like to have seen ride, but didn't. I only just missed his final days with Ipswich (my first visit to speedway was about a week after Ipswich folded in 1962).

    I can still recall Split making it big in the press when arrested for smuggling. I think he was driving a Triumph. I was quite amused, they were reported as finding several guns in the car, and he was with his fiancee of around 20 or more years (so they said).

    What a character! Last I heard Split was alive and well in Spain (not I believe the costa del crime). Terry Wogan seems to have been a big fan of Split incidently. One of speedways loveable rogues."

  • Dave McKenzie:

    "The wheel was owned in the first place by Jimmy Grant of Harringay."

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