"In a lifetime of watching speedway I don't think any rider has excited me the way Ken McKinlay did. To watch him was to watch an absolute master-craftsman at work. Only Leigh Adams can be spoken of in the same breath when when we discuss 100% immaculate machinery and immaculate riding styles.
Apart from the things mentioned in Dudley's article Ken was a master tactician who won races with his brain. The classic McKinlay tactic was to sit slightly behind and outside an opponent until the final bend then as the opponent drifted wide to try to shut Ken out on the final run in to the finish, Ken would switch lines in the blink of an eye an slip through on the inside to take the win. He was also the best team rider I have ever seen. These days we tend to measure a riders greatness by his World Championships and Ken was fractionally below that level but as a captain and a team man he ranks among the very best."
"Firstly to the person who wrote this article, thankyou very much! Jack is my grandfather, I never met him and have only heard a very few stories of him from my Nanna (Sheila Biggs). It's fantastic to find a little more about his success and my family history. If anyone would like to share any stories or memories about my grandad Jackie Biggs, please email me and let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org"
"Ah nostalgia! In the late fifties / early sixties, I lived nearby in Marionville Road, and I used to go regularly to both the stock car racing and the speedway at Meadowbank Stadium. In fact I could see - and hear - the stadium from my bedroom window. I also had (and wish I still had!) my Monarchs Supporters Club badge, with four year-bars.
Not all good memories, though - Health & Safety and the lawyers nowadays would have a field day with the "safety" arrangements at the stadium at that time. In September 1956 (aged 10) when at a stock car event there, I was hit in the face by a largish piece of a black Ford V8 Pilot that was involved in a collision with another car on the south-west bend of the stadium and which then part-disintegrated, and I came within quarter of an inch of losing my left eye. I still have the scar and chipped eyesocket bone as a permanent memory. Nowadays the Strict Liability laws and a hotshot injury lawyer would really go to town on a case like that, but in 1956 I just got my 15 minutes of fame in the local evening paper, had a week in Leith Hospital, and then got on with my life. Nice to see the old photos, though."
"My dad took me as a nipper in the late 60s early 70s. Boocock, Boothroyd & Younghusband - fantastic Saturday nights :-) The smell of the fuel the noise and the grit in your face! Always remember a rider flying over the fence and onto the concrete terracing at the north end - he ended up with concussion and a broke thumb!"
"This is where it all started for me. My dad first took me to see Bernie Persson and the rest of the Heathens team as a five year old. So many fantastic memories of the place and the teams that rode there. After all these years it still hurts to think that the track is no longer there. Hopefully one day another speedway venue will appear in the local area. If its half as good as Dudley Wood was it will be something special. Ommer Um!"
"For sure it was not Colin Horton's fault. He took on an ailing club with no fans, he tried to turn it round like he did with the Panthers but like the Panthers, Oxford had no fans. I know Colin well and I know about the sleepless nights he had and the threats from people who know nothing about the hard work and money pumped into both clubs, you back stabbers should bow your heads in shame. I knew nothing about speedway until I met Colin and I have never met anyone who put his personal wealth into these clubs for no thanks from the fans. Short memories I think. Even I remember that win a few years back, you fans wanted to know him then, that's all I have to say"
"My wife,Julie, and I met Neil on a number of occasions, most noteably at Peterborough after a meeting. He talked to us about track preparation and tyres in a way that showed his depth of knowledge of speedway and his concern for the sport and riders. A true gentleman of whom we can say that we feel the better for having known him."
"Thank you for your insight on dad Dudley. A few things I would like to add on a personal level that is a step away from his league career in England and Scotland. Dad won individual honours that I can't even begin to get my head around, it is to be remembered that he raced from '49 to '75 so it is impossible to tally everything that he acheived.
One thing I do know is that he won the Midland Riders championship 3 times, the first rider to do so and I also know that was a big deal to him. His career in australia from '52 to '72 is also too big for me to comprehend. He won state titles here and also the Australian solo championship in '64 with places in both formats on other occasions. Then there is the England/GB and Lions stuff to consider, he captained and managed those too. Sit down with Nigel Boocock, I think himself and Dingle Brown would give you a true insight into dad, along with countless others.
My biggest thrills are dad collecting me from school one day in Perth (Western Australia) with the jap in the back of the pick up, it was a friday afternoon and we were going straight to the big Claremont circuit for the evenings racing, it was 1971 and I was 8 years old and dad was swamped by the entire school! Chaos... another nice thing that happened a few years ago was John Titman locating the '64 Australian solo championship trophy and returning it to my brother John.
I also have vivid memories of Scunthorpe in the early mid 70s, dad/us driving into the Q.P. stadium with the old jap hanging out off the mercedes 220s and being swamped by fans. Even in later years when we went to Coventry and Cradley as spectators I could never quite get my head around the amount of people who just wanted to say hello to dad, shake his hand and just to think they had seen him. I understand now why people love speedway so much. It's done a lot for a lot of different people, riders and fans alike. Thanks again."
Organiser Bill Elliot reports from the recent reunion of the Paisley Lions. Many of the former favourites were able to attend in person, or join in via the wonders of Skype. Pictures are courtesy of Fiona Crawford.
Details of Kelvin Lapworth's latest project - this time providing opportunities for young British riders with the hope they'll progress to National League standard. The Mercia Vikings will be competing in the Midland Junior League and need your help.
Tony McDonald tells us what we can expect to find in the winter edition of the excellent Classic Speedway magazine.
Keith Hanley has copies of the London Speedway Reporter which he'd like to know more about and which he'd take offers for - Can You Help?
'THE VOICE', No.43 '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 43rd edition of their magazine the Voice which is packed full of interest and enjoyment. This issue is again 32 pages - a real bumper issue that will
keep your interest for hours!
In this issue David Telfer gives his views on many aspects of speedway including his ratings on Sky Sports matches; Annette Maybach gives her thoughts on it too; John Chaplin
writes an Obituary on Ron How; Sue Towner ponders on a rule change on points and a report of the Youth meeting at Iwade; Charles Mckay gives a view on fixtures over
the three leagues plus one on Health and Safety; Roy Delaney gives the facts on Dicky Case; the Editor gives a review of the Sixth California Reunion and Bert Harkins
an insight to the Celebration of Speedway next year and much more!
Available from Friends of Speedway, 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP.
Please send your cheque for £10 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'.
"Thanks for the information on the London Fours, filled in a gap in my infomation, will correct my History of the Hammers."
"Thanks to Ivan Blacka for the excellent pictures from the recent USA vs. Rest of the World meeting in California. The action photo, in particular, was like a trip to the past. Too many speedway pictures today are taken from outside the fence, with a shutter speed so fast that the tyre treads and spokes are frozen as thought the riders are in stationary poses (see the Speedway Grand Prix website for endless examples). It was quite a treat to see Ivan's photo, taken from the centre green, with the wheels and background blurred just enough to give a sense of motion and speed. This is the way most speedway pictures used to look. The prominent national flags on the riders' body colours, so rare today, provide a final touch of nostalgia. "
"Dudley, the defining article on HurriKen-I didn't see him at his peak, but I certainly remember him in his later years as a West Ham Hammer, and then as a Scunthorpe Saint, at all times leaving a team all the better for his time as a member of it!"
"How nice to see the photos of Mildenhall. Good stadium.
I have only been there once or twice but I always have a soft spot for them and their 'potato patch'.
Amazing to think that the whole thing came about by a few riders illegally using a bit of derelict land for practice when a crowd, and then burger vans, began to turn up.
It saddened me that Mildenhall have bumped along the very bottom of speedway in recent years, with a season with no wins at all, and mid season withdrawal.
This years revival, initially involving one time Ipswich rider Kevin Jolly and leading to the involvement of Chris Louis and Michael Lee, has been great to see. For the first time in 50 years I actually heard a promoter admit to making a profit!
A great side and clearly a well run promotion, who almost pulled off the National League double. Well done to all. By the look of the video clips the fans in the fens clearly appreciate a decent team and organisation.
Let us hope that the glory years will return at West Row. Mildenhall is a nice little town, that obviously appreciates its speedway."
Thanks to Dave Pearson for these pictures of Dudley Wood, former home of the Cradley Heathens. Dave took these pictures in 1977 and 2001. Dave's son Nigel was the announcer at the track when it closed.
This great new painting of Chris Holder and Darcy Ward is the latest work from Jim Blanchard. You can find out how to get your copy - surely an ideal Xmas present for any fan of the Aussies - from Jim's website.
New website Scottish Open Licence Seasons has details of short-lived ventures at Ayr, Ashfield, Glasgow, Motherwell, Cowdenbeath and Newtongrange. Definitely worth a visit if you're interested in the history of speedway.
" Deep in the 909, Berdoo Speedway - IMS. This track is lots of fun to ride.The crew really keeps it up to par and makes it a very enjoyable place to be. With Flanders on the mic calling the meet as it unfolds, this it good old American speedway at it's best. You can find some of the fastest American riders there any friday night during the summer months! "
"Thank you for remembering Ron How. I first saw him riding when I was a teenager but later, living in Buckinghamshire, I happened into his pub where I became a regular for fifty years. He was, by a mile, the best landlord I have ever known, and in sixty years drinking there have been a few, but above all he was a great man who treated everybody in exactly the same warm way. His funeral was, as he would have wished, a happy affair as everybody brought back their memories of this much loved wonderful man."
Pictures of West Row - the home of the Mildenhall Fen Tigers - courtesy of regular contributor Brian Longman.
We've had to add a new section to our links page to include Speedway BG - the premier source for info on Bulgarian speedway. It's not in English so perhaps of limited use to most.
A couple of pictures from the recent USA v Rest of the World meeting. The first is a group shot of all the riders. The second shows Lewis Bridger battling with Bobby Schwartz with Brian Yarrow chasing the pair. Thanks to Ivan Blacka for the pictures. For the record, the USA won 56 - 53.
"Dear Sir The article is not quite correct, I saw the meeting the London fours on 15.10.71 at Hackney . The final result was Hackney 33 Winbledon 24 West Ham 23 and my team the Wembley Lions 17. But I will never forget the fantastic last race win by Sverre Harrfeldt."
"As a kid I would spend much of my time at Indian dunes California . It was a great place to practice and see great riders like the Bass bros. I would like to read more about them as information is limited."
"Steve, yer a leg-end bud. I'm working on mine as we speak."
"Whenever I'm chatting with friends or people I meet through my work, football will often crop up in conversation, I'm not a soccer fan and I always mention that I'm a lifelong fan of Speedway Racing. Very often the person with whom I'm chatting with will remark "Oh speedway! I used to go to....( it was West Ham this past weekend) Oh yes, the smell!!" Then I have to explain that the smell has long gone from the Speedway Stadia, Castrol don't make R anymore, the racers all use synthetic oils these days, and unfortunately those oils don't give off that magical and addictive aroma. It's obvious to me that the smell of Castrol R was a very important ingredient in the whole speedway experience. I'm wondering if some enterprising entrepreneur could come up with the magic ingredient that produced the R aroma. I've tried burning castor oil without success. I'm sure that if the smell of burning Castrol R could be re-introduced to speedway meetings it could even attract more enthusiasts through the turnstiles. OK I expect to get lambasted as an old fart living in the past, but many ex speedway go-ers have expressed the same sentiment to me over the years."
"I have not always been a fan of Matt Ford but I hope he can keep Chris & Darcy together watching them ride is a delight. And as someone a fan for 62 years I have seen them all and I say they are in the top 3 for team riding.So once again good luck Matt Poole, would not be the same without them."