A synopsis of a new speedway novel by Michael Hansen, set in 1977 against the backdrop of the new silencer regulations.
Don't forget the upcoming Long Eaton Speedway Reunion, which will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Invaders' National League championship. The event is on 14th March and full details are here.
Tony Webb is working with Gordon May on his memoirs and would love to hear from anyone who has any memories of Gordon. Gordon made the Comet speedway and grasstrack frames and is now 85 years young. Tony can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
"The terrible Accident that took Ken Le Breton, (I knew his family) happened right in front of me at the Sydney Sportsground. I was only a schoolboy at the time, but I'll never forget it, Ken Le Breton was my hero at the time. Also sad for Eddie. "
"Unfortunately unless amalgamation is done under PL terms, it isn't going to work. All we'll have is a re-run of 1995-96 with the ex-EL teams keeping the good riders with the ex-PL teams struggling for riders. There also isn't enough riders to go around at the minute anyway!!! Second problem is the mid season split. The PL tried it in 2011 and basically due to weather problems we had A fixtures not run in time and last minute arranging of B fixtures with some teams having to postpone matches as they couldnt get anyone to race!! No one could publicise fixtures in advance as they didnt have enough notice. That was with 14 teams, I dread to think what would happen with 23-24!! If the first problem could be overcome, a conference system like American sports might be easier with say 4-6 divisions. Therefore fixtures could be arranged before the season starts with play-offs to decide the title without relying on mid season splits. "
"Very good points in this article, but its all been said before, do the promoters take any notice, well the answer is No, The reason its costs money, and no tracks is making any real money. But surely it's time the these in power in our started talking up the sport. speedway on TV, is good to a point, but I feel it's as put no extra new comers to any track. Just look at the next meeting you go to, standing room in all parts. Another large crowd they say every week on TV, and the is little or nobody there. Promoters need to stop fighting each other and Promote the sport."
"Wow! Another great article from John Fray! This progressive and practicle answer to speedway's challenges is so simple. The system that he advocates has been used over many years in Oxford University's College Leagues for Rugby Union and is definitely a winner. In that system the teams can vary so much from season to season that one team can be at the top one season and near the bottom the next purely because of the varying standards of the students who consistently come to and go from the University. At the half way point the top teams swap with the bottom teams from the next league up which ensures an almost level playing field in the secdond part of the season.
There is a similiar system in the rowing competitions except that if you bump the crew in front you move up by swapping places. If you are bottom and fail to bump you swap with the top team from the next league down. This provides 'Head of the River' after a few days of racing. To take it another step, players who play rugby for the University team are not allowed to play for their College teams until the 'Cuppers' comes round. This is the local term for an FA Cup style competition when all College sides enter although there is seeding system. Would this work in speedway? The league system definitely would. The Knockout Cup would need some thinking - Grand Prix stars not in the league but in the cup? Surely worth a try?"
"I have thought hard about John Fray's 'North-South Divide' article, struggling to find a reason to contradict it somewhere. But the reasoning he puts forward are so well-balanced that there is nothing so far as I can see to be contradicted. One must hope that those who guide speedway at the top take time to reflect on the points put forward. More importantly, I feel that the article should be forwarded to the BSPA for them to read, think about what is suggested, and where it is practical go about putting them into place. A well-wriiten, thoughtful article."
"Georg Traunspurger (correct spelling) was the referee (Sedzia in Polish) at the Slaski Stadium, Chorzow, Katowice in 1973. Jerzy Szczakiel deserved to win the World Title on the day, particularly as he and fellow Pole Pawel Waloszek team-rode Mauger into third place in heat 8. The heat 19 incident did rob Grigori Chlynowski (USSR) a place on the podium as he was good enough to beat Szczakiel in heat 15, something Mauger did not manage throughout the meeting. The crowd there was immense, but being a completely open stadium, the atmosphere did not compare to a full-house at a Wembley World Final."
"Alan Molyneux? Was looking at the lad drinking from a can in centre thinking Norman Hunter but he would surely have been riding himself as the pic of Ray Wilson would suggest that being the same era."
"I've only just found this interesting site. I met Fred Strecker and Charlie Shelton a few times in the 1960s and 70s, with Charlie living down Roseberry Avenue, a little cul-de-sac of houses at the side of Nottm Forest ground. He had been a school friend of my father, who was born in 1908. I think that Fred's real family name was Streicher, and it was Anglicised to Strecker in order to avoid anti-German hostility during WW1.
I last met him in the late 1960s when he sold a friend of mine some American side-valve vee-eight engine parts from one of his pensioned-off and derelict stock cars, stored in an overgrown yard in the Lady Bay area of West Bridgford. Charlie Shelton was in the Nottingham papers a good few years ago, when builders working on his house found a live WW2 incendiary bomb jammed in the rafters in the roof-space.
My connection to vintage speedway, which I usually call 'Dirt-Track Racing', is that I owned and restored a 1929 Scott Speedway Model, a 498cc twin-cylinder, water-cooled, two-stroke bike. Frank Varey and Allan Jefferies were VERY successful on Scotts, but no-one else seemed to have the necessary skills to handle the quirky machines. I'm currently restoring a 1929 Isle-of-Man Senior TT works Scott, but that is quite a different story, and off-topic for this site !"
" It was good to see the riders from the past. Really missed the sport. Myself was a junior rider, started 1976 and really enjoyed it.The only sad thing was I was in the race which Stuart Shirley was killed. Great to see Jacko and Finch. Please let me know of any planned reunions."
"Could someone please tell me the theme tune at the start of the races who was it by ? Thank you. PS. I have lovely memories of the old track, one of them was practice nights there when I had my speedway bike at 16 years old and watching the likes of Andy Smith, Chris Morton and Peter Colins . Top days :)"
"I go back prior to 1975. I started out at West Row back in 1972 and was part of the very first team formed by Barry and Bernie Klatt. Are there any photo's that you either have or could get from track action back then? I have a team photo that includes Mike Lee as a 16 yr old"
"Anyone got memories of that 1973 World Final, I " WAS THERE " as they say, as a fanatical speedway fan in 1973 , at the age of 17 , went through my own devices to Katowice that September . Posting this comment after reading week on week great feedback on the nostalgia of years and meetings ( and proper presentation of those meetings of the past) but hugely frustrated and annoyed and angry that current custodians of the sport seem to me do not understand what is required to bring this fantastic sport to a greater audience in any way, shape or form.
Recognition that the world has changed from 1968 ( my 1st Meeting, Newcastle 46, Hackney 32 if memory serves me correct ) to 1973 to today. However, whilst I don't wish for black leathers again, I do wish for someone to take an absolute control without any vested interest, to take the bull by the horns and address once and for all the big picture and provide blueprint going forwards that everyone buys in to that will see us in the years ahead as prominent as we were in 1968/69/70/71/72/73 in the national consciousness. Sorry, but I end on a personal note, the travelling road show /circus that is the GP is a joke and if not addressed will be known as what circuses are now known as ."
"It was interesting to read about Crystal Palace and seeing my fathers name with the others. He raced at New Cross as well. When the war ended and racing started in 1945 he was a pit Marshal at meetings and I used to meet the riders."
"Keen collector of all old stuff about Custom House Stadium. Love reading and researching about the stadium itself. Would love to see such things as the pics of the demolition etc and views under the stands etc! Would love to be contacted! email@example.com"
"Wow! Found myself agreeing with every word written by Dudley Jones re the problems facing speedway right now. Trouble is, the article had so much commonsense contained in it I'm doubtful if the people in charge of the sport will actually pay any attention to it. The monotony of Grands Prix, and watching the same invited riders make it a complete turn off for me, while like he says second halves provided something a little different for spectators and, most important, helped develop junior riders, who these days are extremely fortunate if they can find a junior team in the third tier. The nearest junior track to us in Scotland is several hundred miles away so what chance have we got of developing new talent?"
"There seems to be cofusion about who the referee was for the 1973 World Final at Katowice. Peter Hunter (SpeedwayPlus 2.2.14) states the referee was Polish, as does the Wikipedia entry for the event, however this Polish referee is not named. Contemporary reports have the referee down as Georg Transperger of West Germany. "
"I think you're mixing up Fiora with Sean Courtney in some of these grand old pics. Here's what I think: 1. Correct. 2. Brett Saunders (w), Mark Fiora (r), Roger Lambert (b). 3. Other two riders are Tony Rizzo (r) and Michael Irving (w). 4. John Walmsley looking stylish, Wilcock (w) and I think Sean Courtney (r). 5. Brett Saunders in white. 6. Again I think Sean Courtney behind Jeffrey. 7. Ditto 7 above. 8. It is Tony Rizzo. Paul McHale didn't ride in the meeting, Rizzo took his place in the programme. The meeting took place on Friday 27th July 1984, Stelrad Monarchs running out 44-34 winners."
"2) White Brett Saunders, Blue Tony Rizzo. 3) 3rd Rizzo 4th Michael Irving. 4) 3rd Sean Courtney Out of Shape John Walmsley. 5) White Saunders. 6) Red Sean Courtney. 7) Red Sean Courtney. 8) Tony Rizzo."
"I have some names for the unidentified riders on the Edinburgh v Barrow pics. Pic 2, white is Brett Saunders and blue is Roger Lambert. Pic 3, blue is Tony Rizzo, white is Michael Irving. Pic 4, yellow is John Walmsley, red is not Mark Fiora its Sean Courtney. Pic 5, white is Brett Saunders. Pic 6, not Fiora with no helmet colour, its Sean Courtney again! Pic 7, in red, once again, Sean Courtney. "
"Just found this web site. I was there Wonderful day. (Not sure my wife liked so much) Best memory... Nigel Boocock reading the lesson at the start of proceedings (it was a Sunday) and seeing Frank Varey with his Scott. He seemed to be a lovely man. Still got the programme."
Ray Davidson has uncovered these great old pictures he took at Powderhall in 1984. They are from an Edinburgh Monarchs versus Barrow Blackhawks challenge match. Can you help identify some of the riders?
Details of Tony Webb's new book on A.J.Hunting. Webb promises that several long held speedway myths will be debunked when the book is published on1st March.
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 52nd edition of their magazine the Voice which is packed full of interest and enjoyment. This issue is a big 28 pages, four more than usual which will keep your interest for hours!
In this issue David Telfer gives his views on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year; the Elite league make-up; Chris Harris back in the GP's and news of SKY Sports. Annette Maybach gives her thoughts on the coming season. 'Slider' gives his views on the new season, and TV coverage. Charles Mckay looks at GP earnings and speedway on TV figures. Sue Towner reports on the impact of Air Fence rules and using youngsters at reserve in the Elite league. Roy Delaney with two historic stories. John Hyam on the career of Mike Tams. Bert Harkins on the Celebration of Speedway Day. Editor Stuart Towner reports on the California-in-England Reunion and much more too.
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.
"Part of the ground occupied by Nelson Stadium has still not been built on to this day. What is more amazing is that the riders numbers painted on the boundary wall can still be clearly seen 40 years after the last meeting."
"Jack, there was no bricks sticking out on the turns. it was concrete that was laid to stop the stockcars from chewing up the track. this is what you saw. The shale just would not (stick) to the concrete, we tried and tried but with no joy. The Nelson track-fence used to get a lot of bad reports. there also was other tracks in the second division that also got bad reports but the home team riders just got on with the job. My late father Derek was the manager under Mike Parker promotions at Nelson. he made his money from the stockcars. but speedway lasted 3 years then they moved to Bradford. Stockcars (helldrivers) still raced there for a few more years but the stadium had to go for the new motorway, the land at this moment is still there empty just the pits wall and the red brick wall down the back straight still remain. The riders numbers on the wall is just about the item left to say that the Nelson Admirals speedway had raced there."
"Remember going to both matches and couldn't believe how we could be as bad at Berwick as we were at Edinburgh!! In saying that, our record at Berwick that year wasnt very good. A few team changes, including bringing in Colin Farquharson, Keith Bloxsome/Jim Beaton and using R/R for Grahame Dawson changed our fortunes. "
"Holds the world record speedway attendance at somewhere between 120,000 and 130,000 for the 1973 World Final. From what I've read and seen, the Polish referee made sure that Jerzy Szczakiel wasn't the only Polish rider on the podium with a ruling from Heat 19 that was pretty disgraceful....."