David Walsh looks at gambling this week - admitting that he's gambled on speedway, horse racing and greyhounds at some point over the years. Regular visitors will now be familiar with David's style - so enjoy, endure or ignore as you see fit!
Here's more on Malcolm Roe's twin carb bike - a bike that could have been built in the 70s had twin carbs not been banned. There's also proof that the bike actually runs.
Lotus FI GP race suit worn by FI star Kimi Raikkonen during the 2012 season is to be auctioned on eBay next week to raise funds for the Alan Wilkinson appeal fund.
This incredible donation - authenticated by the Lotus F1 GP team - from Kimi Raikkonen will be auctioned on eBay, though if a significant bid is received at TheAlanWilkinsonStory@hotmail.com it could potentially be taken off auction.
As a guide, a similar suit was recently sold at Bonhams for £2500
Alan Wilkinson commented, "It still humbles both Jean & myself that people haven't forgotten us and continue to support us. It is amazing that the Lotus F1 Team have heard our story and decided to help."
The Alan Wilkinson Story: From 2 Wheels to 4 autobiography is still available by cheque/PO - made payable to 'The Alan Wilkinson Story' - for £18 (£15 + £3 P&P) from Ian Corcoran, 15 Browning Drive, Warrington, Cheshire WA2 8XL
Our last edition of the year, so time for us to thank everyone who has contributed to the site this year, with apologies to anyone we've over looked:
* Ian Adam
* Bob Andrews
* Darren Ashman
* Allan Baker
* Dave Beecroft
* Nigel Bird
* Ivan Blacka
* Jim Blanchard
* Neil Burrows
* Neil Burston
* John Chaplin
* Peter Colvin
* Ivor Craine
* Philip Dalling
* Andy Dixon
* Zdenek Flajshanz
* John Fray
* Graeme Frost
* Arnie Gibbons
* Dave Gifford
* Ian Gill
* Ian Harwood
* David Hensby
* John Hyam
* Jim Henry
* Tracy Holmes
* Dudley Jones
* Geoff Langley
* Lee Lawrence
* Denise Lyons
* Gillian Marks
* Tony McDonald
* Paul McHarry
* Charles McKay
* Adrian McKinlay
* Mark Meynell
* Ken Nicholson
* Dave Parker
* Nick Pattison
* Ian Presslie
* Malcolm Roe
* Peter Roebuck
* Robert Rogers
* Maureen Schooling
* Jeff Scott
* Sebastian Jan Sojka
* Simon Stanley
* Harry Susemihl
* Paul Tadman
* Dave Thomson
* Stuart Towner
* Richard Watson
* Tony Webb
* Christian Weber
* Bob Wilson
Thanks also to those who submitted their 'Dream Team', took part in our 'All About You' feature or left feedback on articles.
"When the crowds were big at Newcastle (70s) you were standing shoulder to shoulder and spilling your cup of tea, the riders were looked upon as film stars. After the meeting had ended folk used to block the way out of the showers so they could see a glimpse of their hero, I remember Tom and Joe Owen having to push like hell just to get to their car, and having a crowd outside Ron Henderson's house when he was here. Not anymore most riders now can walk through the crowd and no one even looks their way, it has totaly changed to what it was. The smell of castrol R, the noise , the speed, etc."
"Re: Nazhip's enquiy about a Russia team riding at Belle Vue in 1945. Yes, Nazhip you have the date and result correct. All the riders came from Britain , Australia a nd Canada. There were no American or Russian riders present. In Britain and the Commonwealth there was an official day of celebration of the end of World War 2 in Europe, called "Victory in Europe Day". This was 8 May 1945. The names given to the teams at Belle Vue were probably in honour of the Allies in World War 2, to celebrate at the speedway. In the links to this site you will find The Speedway Researcher. The complete race results of the match are on the site. "
"I just read the article on Steve Luxton's Garage Mahal III, the excellent photos by Ivan Blacka show the interest and dedication both have to the sport of speedway, they deserve all our respect and thanks for such a super tribute to speedway and the "Falcons", which are Steve's Hero's. Great Article."
"It has been great seeing the photo's of The Garage Mahal III taking shape so soon over the winter, after version II was packed into boxes with the house move. We may not have had speedway in Exeter for the past 7 years, but The Former Exeter Aces Cycle Speedway no 1 beeeeyy is most certainly flying the Flag for the Falcons and Speedway in general on the other side of the pond-Keep it up Joey :)"
"This is nonsense to suggest this article is about our sport. The somewhat inaccurate references to poll tax are simply an excuse to express a political view and it matters not whether ir is good, bad, right or wrong, this is not the place for it. If David has any real ideas for increasing speedway's revenue let him make them in a practical way, keep the rest for his party conference (whichever that is!)"
"Derrol Keats. Remember the night he came a cropper at Armadale and it was a fabulous introduction to speedway for our new lady doctor who was an A & E specialist. Limping off the track Derrol was asked by our medic if he was OK. "I've hurt nothing but me a..e love" he grimaced. Needless to say her face was a picture too but she took it all in good part. "
"The recent question by Robert Rogers, 'what about the singing speedway riders?' brought to mind my well-worn copy of Johny McNeill's unforgettable recording of, 'I Wanna Be Like Ivan Mauger'. I immediately went to my storage room and dug through my dusty pile of 45-rpm discs until I found it (see accompanying photo). There was also an American speedway rider in the late '60s called Sammy Tanner who once recorded a song about himself, titled (owing to his diminutive stature) 'The Flying Flea'. I wonder how many other speedway riders have moonlighted as crooners?"
The latest on the situation at Cowley and the efforts being made to save the former home of the Cheetahs.
Here's something a little unusual - a chance to see the race-jacket design of the California Poppies. Thanks to Jim Henry and Roy Allison.
We're sad to report the passing of two former riders in recent days. Tony Armstrong who raced for Crayford and Hull has passed away in Canada where he had lived for many years. Boleslaw Proch the former Reading rider has also passed on. Boleslaw was the Polish Under 21 champion in 1974. Tony was 66 years old and Boleslaw just 60.
"An amazing restoration here, that Neil has done to Jack's bike. Mint condition it looks. Jack's smile was a mile wide in the photos, I bet seeing that bike brought some good memories too. Good work Neil, what an achievement & labor of love. Preserving speedway history. "
"I rode in 21 meetings for Nelson, it was a tight little track on the back straight about three feet from the fence was the stadiums perimeter wall, it would never be allowed today to be so close to the fence, but luckily no one ever hit it. The ground is still empty today, nothing has been built on it, there are no houses too close to the track and if I ever win the lottery I would love to put a track back in there. Guess i am dreaming."
"The Hudson was originally flown to Sir william Robert's Aircraft Collection at Strathallan in Perthshire. Lionel van Praag's name was listed as part of the display but with no mention of his speedway connection. It would have moved when the Strathallan Collection was sold at auction. I still have the auction catalogue somewhere. Pleased that this link between speedway and aviation has found a suitable home.
" I will never forgive the Pughs for selling up, it was a way of life for many Cradley folk, Stadium was nowt to shout home about, but the Track and the Fans, were and are something else, always remember Big Sammy Messr shouting out when Eric Gundersson was introduced "Come on Me baby" first time I ever heard the expression. Going back to my earliest recollections of Cradley, Ivor Brown, Alan Totney, John Hart, Harry Bastable, and some Challenge matches; Browns Bombers V Warrens Wolves, through Triggy, Bernie, Johnny Bright up to the end of the line, too many heroes to mention here, Yes you took away our Stadium, but you will Never take away the memories."
"Thank you guys for the kind words, I can't wait to get things 100% again and post some more pictures! I'm working on a grand (re)opening party in march and plan on fetching Ivan down for the weekend to cut the ribbon! 2013 looks like it will be a busy year with visitors and all are welcome as always, even the Poole fans! Cobra!"
"Tony I remember you at crayford and your father. I ran Shaleway spares at the time. I now live in Australia where i have been for 30 years. the Crayford days are still very clear to me. I remember you as a very organised and dedicated prospect, in fact I was surprised that you did not make the headway, you had the potential. Nowadays I am a historian and published author and editor for the Australian Speedway vets. Our youngsters come on because they are encouraged from a young age, Britain could learn from Australia!"
"What a witty article by David Walsh, and one that brings back memories of the Shay and Quibell Park. Sadly, he omitted to mention the banking at Hackney which on it's day rated as one of the best tracks in the land. I have a very tenuous link to the Shay as one of my brother-in-laws was a pro footballer and used to play for them, Scarborough, Middlesbrough and Blackpool. He never could understand my love for speedway though!"
"Thanks David for an interesting and thought provoking article. Do you offer advice to any of the promoters and would they value it? Did you ever race at Cliftonhill, home of the Edinburgh for two seasons at the end of the 60s and Glasgow for a couple of years in the mid 70s? It had quite steep banking."
"Its a bit like football, the sportsmen think they are worth all the money in the world and are better than they are at what they do, so they want far too much money, More races may help the sport and better value for money but more races is more pay for the riders less in the pot, just look at berwick speedway £12 to get in is better than £15, back in the 70s we had proper juniors in the break, mind they all had their offs more than once but it was good to see. It all boils down to cash, no good paying £13000 out when you get £10,000 in, "
David saw his first speedway at Custom House, home of the West Ham Hammers. Here are his speedway thoughts and memories.
The above clip is courtesy of Adrian McKinlay and is from last weekend's South Aussie Championship at Gillman. We see Shane Parker and Troy Batchelor (the meeting winner) battling for all four laps.
Leonard Carter is looking for photographs of his Granddad - Jimmy Hipkiss - Can You Help?
Nazhip was asking last week about the GB v USA v Russia match at Belle Vue in May 1945. Perhaps unsurprisingly we've learned that no Russian riders actually took part, it was a representative side made up from local riders. Full details can be found on the International Speedway site.
"We're so proud of our talented and artistic son-in-law. This garage really is a "Mahal"....a treasure trove for Steve's Speedway friends....AND a super place to gather , admire, and talk! (P.S. Steve makes a pretty fantastic broccoli bouquet too!,, :-)"
"Wow! How great to be back in the best on-line magazine on the planet! Yes we were blessed to find a new home this summer and I've been working steadily at rebuilding the "Mahal" and having fun doing so! The new place will house my beloved Exeter Falcons in a "sports bar" style 1600 sq ft room connected to the Garage and frees up space to display more of the collection that is growing with the help from the wonderful speedway family I never knew I had! As always I extend a very warm welcome to any fans or riders that find themselves in Florida and want to stop by for a beer and a chat! Cobra!"
"Great to see the new "Garage Mahal" taking shape. Steve puts so much time and effort into it. It is rewarding to find some one so dedicated to the history of speedway!! Good luck with the new museum Steve and many thanks Ivan for the sneak preview !!"
"I rode at Nelson with Murray and the late Garry Peterson, they used to come to my house nearly every night in the close season and we had a great laugh offten playing my daughter's board games untill the early hours, mousey mousey was a big favourite. Burty was a very funny guy who always had us in stiches on a Sunday, when they came for dinner they would insist on New Zealand lamb. My wife Dianne and I still have good memories of those days in 1968/69. He never once got in touch after he returned home to New Zealand, that was a dissapointment as we got on so well. It was also very sad when Gary was killed he was a nice lad"
"As a 12 year old I attended every home meeting in that fateful season of 1964 when the Firs Stadium in Norwich staged speedway for the very last time. Ove Fundin was, and still is, a legend. In my book no other rider will ever compare with Ove Fundin. He was simply the best. "
Nick Pattison brings us these pictures from a German circuit at which the spectators are a very long way from the action.
The new Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund calendar for 2013 is now available from srbf.co.uk
Nazhip is looking for information on the GB v USA v Russia test match at Belle Vue in May 1945 - Can You Help?
Rasmus Terkelsen wants to know about a Swedish racejacket that he has acquired - Can You Help?
The new Glasgow Tigers promotion have launched a weekly newsletter to keep fans informed of the latest news. If you'd like to subscribe then send an email request (including your full name) to email@example.com
"I recently received my copy of 'Speedway Superheroes'. An excellent book, it seems to transport me back to an earlier time (long before I first saw speedway). Talking of transport another of my enduring interests is old aircraft. I read 'FlyPast' magazine each month. What is the link? Well, one item is about Lionel Van Praag and his flying career. Co-incidentally FlyPast focussed this month on the Lockheed Hudson bomber/Coastal Command plane from World War 2. It mentions that the example preserved at the RAF Museum, Hendon was delivered to the UK by one Lionel Van Praag. The magazine makes no mention of the fact that Lionel was also World Champion before the war. Happily 'Speedway Superheroes' shows Van Praag in an aeroplane - a Lockheed Hudson, probably the same one that is now restored at Hendon. Small world."
"It's good to see Les Moore, Ronnie's dad, has not been forgotten as a speedway rider. He actually rode for New Zealand in one of the home test series against England in the late 1940s. When he came to England with son Ronnie, Les also had a few second-half rides at Wimbledon. I seem to recall him involved also in a match race against the American rider Bud Reda early in the 1950 season - Les won. Over the 1950 and 1951 seasons, Les also rode in open meetings at Shelbourne Park in Ireland and also in 1951 was a member of the Cardiff league team. Just to clarify - Les Moore died in a road car racing accident not in a speedway meeting in the late 1950s."
"I've followed the development of this awesome museum over the months and would like to commend Steve on the great work that he has done. Any true speedway fan would love to have memorabilia along the lines of Steve's collection but it's a bit beyond most of us. Ivan has also done his bit by bringing the collection to our attention and I'm proud to say I class him as a mate! His remarkable enthusiasm for our favourite sport shows no sign of abating and he has been a great ambassador for the sport. Top marks to Steve and Ivan - keep the stories and photos coming."
"Got to say I am very touched that Steve has used my picture on the banner out of all the riders he could have chosen to get picked really means a great deal. Hopefully I will be able to visit and thank Steve personally...even if he is an Exeter fan!!! "
"I notice that the only time my name is mentioned is the big defeat by Crayford when I was put on loan in the Workington team, never rode in a team before I think I had only done a couple second half rides. Very new to the sport. I had no experience of setting a bike up for speedway . The bike I bought was set-up for large tracks, while Crayford was one of the smallist in the country.
I had no help from the Crayford team nor management unlike other riders I raced with in my junior Grasstrack days the likes of Kevin Smith, Martin Hagon, Simon Wigg, Sean Wilmot. I remember trying to find out the gearing for the away tracks but was always given wrong information. Traveling across the country after working in London just for eight laps around a track for the junior team. In the junior speedway league I was for 2-3 years one of the top scorers . I managed to become the highest scorer in a Crayford debut and still to my knowledge hold it to date This is never mentioned by speedway journalists.
I also designed the programs and posters badges for the club as I was studying to be a Marketing Designer. I worked outside of racing to promote the club and the sport to talking to the fans. I had a engine used by another team rider without my permission while the management looked on. After all this and becoming one of the top juinors I'd had enough and decided to leave a negative team and sport.
Other clubs could bring on juniors but not Crayford I had interests from other clubs as I did very well on other tracks winning more away than at Crayford, but the management wouldn't help me at Crayford. Dave Jessup and Gorden Kennet in the end said they wanted to help me and could see my potential. But too much time had past trying to cope on my own and I left the team and the sport, leaving the way for Martin Goodwin.
Now I watch Speedway on Sky and hear them talk about the lack of English talent, well now you have some idea why our riders have stopped winning, why they are at the back with poor engine setups. I crashed a lot for trying hard, I wanted to be the best, All top riders had their crashes but most get help from fellow team members and make it to the top, but they're not English. "
"Only saw Derrol Keats ride once on a trip back to the UK at Sheffield. Rode wider every lap until he tried to ride bend two on the race track. Sadly there was a fence in the way. Unbelievable. Kinda like his namesake Derrol Spider Melbin back in the early 60's. Worth the cost of admission though!!!!!! "
"What about the Singing Speedway Riders, West Ham had both Eric Chitty and Reg Luckhurst who realesed a record, I heard Len Silver could belt out a song as well. On a slighly different note (see the Pun!) well done to Lakesdie and Ipswich for their Football match for Lee`s charity, but what about a few more such Matches, with Football having an almost God-Like following, prehaps some of these would get the football fans attending and therfore try Speedway. Lakside could always Challenge West Ham United to a match, then a return leg of Speedway (O/K I accept they may have to be made of Proper riders as I do not think United management would want to risk their Players, but the players could at least attend to get the crowds Interested), and then a play-off Cricket Match!"
"Interval entertainment was expected in the 60's and 70's, but today is vastly different. I would go about promoting speedway a different way. There must be celebrities and pop stars out there who are (or were) big speedway fans. What's wrong with hard-pressed promoters inviting them for a free night at the track for them and their families, everything thrown in, in return for them making a public appearance. I believe that either Jimmy Page or Robert Plant (can't remember which one) are regulars at Monmore Green for the speedway and Molineux for the football at Wolverhampton every week. It's just a thought, but imagine the publicity for our much maligned sport that could be gained. Even mentions on TV during celeb interviews would help. Just a thought, but unless we get the message across that speedway is alive and well (if not exactly thriving) we will sadly die a slow and painful death."
"I remember both Pat Pheonix (aka Elsie Tanner) and Stan Linbergh appearing at Long Eaton Speedway ( one of Reg's promotions) in the mid sixties. Pat came to present the Coronation Street Trophy (won by either Dougie Templeton or George Major, not sure which, memory fades with time) and Stan was amazing, a real live human fireball. I recall the last interval entertainment I saw was at Cradley Heath's Dudley Wood Stadium. When a guy lay in a coffin and blew himself up with Dynamite!! CRAZY but fun.
Would this work now days? NO I DON'T THINK IT WOULD. The cost of hiring a Star would be to much money, and people don't want to see look-a-likes. NO I THINK SPEEDWAY NEEDS TO PUT IT'S HOUSE IN ORDER, IT NEEDS TO IMPROVE THE PRODUCT. There was a time supporters could look into the pits and see what was going on. And a time when fans could walk round the pits and have a chat with their favourite rider get his autograph for perhaps the 24th time, but it didn't matter, you were there with your hero. SPEEDWAY HAS LOST TOUCH WITH ITS FANS, how many times have we read on this very website people saying I remember carrying bike parts into the pits for such and such a rider, it doesn't happen anymore.
This will not of course bring Fans flooding through the gates, it just shows how Speedway used to be a FAMILY SPORT something I NOW THINK ITS LOST So what would I like to see return to Speedway. Every Track have an OPEN DAY on a race day (During a kids school holiday) have all their riders dressed in their Kevlars and race jackets, let the fans walk round the pits let them ask the rider questions, start a couple of bikes up. Get Riders And Fans involved in some sort of competition build a bond. John Turner at Long Eaton used to have fans racing riders over a B.M.X course. Imagine the joy of some youngster who can go around bragging he beat his favourite rider. Then watching his favourite in action, that same night. NO it's not going to fill the Stadium, but it might bring that kid and their family back the next week and they may bring a friend."
"Trick riders doing high jumps and flips on motocross bikes, novelty races of portly, bearded Harley-Davidson riders on their choppers, and local rock-and-roll bands are some of the interval attractions seen today at California speedway venues. In the '70s and '80s, we sometimes saw demonstrations of champion Frisbee-catching dogs, speedway riders having donkey races, and lovely young female fans in bikini contests. Crowds were large in the past, and are relatively small today, and don't seem to be affected one way or the other when such 'show business' attractions are added to the racing. "