Philip Dalling reports from the recent social evening that reunited members of Long Eaton's National League winning side.
The latest edition of the Old Time Speedway Journal is now available. Tony Webb recalls his spell as a junior rider at Rye House and John Hyam writes on the mystery of Ron Johnson's two deaths. You can download your free copy from here.
"I have to agree with Tracy. It hacks me off when people have a pop at Jerzy Szczakiel. Anyone who knows anything about speedway will understand his history and that he was anything but a flash in the pan. You don't beat a world class field in two world finals by fluke and to even consider that to be possible is naiive at best. Further, when the greatest of them all, Ivan Mauger, says he was a class act, it's safe to say he was a class act. Ivan knows a thing or two about speedway."
"Garry Middleton. the posting by Bob Stanford was most interesting. As many readers would know I researched the life and times and published the book Garry Middleton Fact or Fiction in 2010. Garry's family helped me, Garry's eldest sister is a neighbor. What Bob has posted is in line with the family's version. the product was used sucessfully by Garrys mother for her Arhritus."
"I have to agree with John Chaplin's comments about ill-informed presenters, Charlie Webster being the case in point. I have no issue with the presenter's gender - Julia Bradbury was excellent - but the lack of knowledge of the sport in Ms Webster's case is truly embarrassing. Even worse, she does not appear to be capable of learning on the job either. Also, can we please get rid of terms artificially imported from other sports -'Pit lane, paddock and straightaway' for example."
"Re: Philip Dalling's comments on the Sky presenters and interviewers. He doesn't mention how inept Charley 'Mumbles' Webster is. I have always queried the necessity for a woman in the pits, especially a woman who knows nothing about speedway. The football people would never send someone - male or female - who knew nothing about the sport or the personalities they were to interview. Sorry if this sounds chauvinistic, but unless someone knows what they are doing they shouldn't be there. It does the sport no good."
"I had in my youth always wanted to see the massive 500 yard plus track and by chance in 2013, found myself on a train from Adelaide to Freemantle which went right past the Showground. Am curious to know if the railway was around when Peter's photo was taken."
"I meet Garry in the early 80's. He had rented a room from my girlfriend at the time who lived in Northridge California. He had formed a Corp. called the Amerasia Corp. The Company imported a product called ADS which was sold for a number of ailments including cancer. As the Company grew and became more succesful he moved his opperation to Nevada where he set up a medical dispencery to treat people. When the AMA got wind of this they did what they could too shut him down by issueing warrents for his arrest. Garry and I became close friends and he lived with me for a short time. Before the trail Garry was able to talk his attorney Patrick Hillings Ex-Congressman to have his passport that was being held by the distric attorney releast. Shortly after Garry left for the UK and never returned too stand trail. I know this for a fact as I had invested in the corp. and was also listed in the law suit."
"I first supported speedway in 1960 at Liverpool. This was the first year of the Provincial league and Liverpool were not a good side and struggled big time when captain and number Brian Craven broke his leg. The promotion made a number of changes around May and June and Dave Dodd was one of them. He joined from Poole when they were looking to make a play for he league title. After a tricky start Dave began to blossom particularly at home and made some high scores. In fact he was involved in one of the best races I ever saw in a second half final with Edinburgh's Willie Templeton but for the life of me I cannot recall if he won! I am sure he did not come back in 1961 to England and do not know if he raced here earlier than 1960."
Stock Car fan Stuart Calvert has started a petition aimed at restoring motorsport to Odsal Stadium in Bradford.
Thanks to all who have asked whether we'd be updating the Programme Generator to reflect the new Elite League race format. We've now added a new version that reflects the changes made, but the old version is still there for those Premier and National League fans out there.
Sad news from John Hyam:
"Audrey Loak, the wife of Wally Loak, passed away peacefully, on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at their home in Bedford. Wally is best known as the pioneer of audio speedway recordings. He started his work in that direction in 1964. I am sure our thoughts and prayers are with Wally Loak at this sad time. RIP Audrey Loak"
"Televised speedway is a challenge for any TV producer, camera people and the presenters. Sky league and Eurosport GP coverage is excellent. The camera work is especially first rate, it really does bring the sense of speed the daring and the skills of the riders to our screens. Where it needs a rethink is the time spent between the heats. Any supporter will tell you that part of the joy of our sport is the friendly banter that happens on the terrace between races so instead of just talking to the riders why not talk to the fans. Interview a few most will have something to say and will always make a comment on a good race. As a real treat what about inviting some veteran riders to give their views with even some clips from the old days. "
"My memories of Powderhall. It was a very tricky track to master with it's very long straights and it's tight turns with deep dirt. It took at lot of skill to ride that track but once you had mastered it Powderhall was beautiful to ride. I really enjoyed my time riding that track and without it I don't think that I would have learned what I did in such a short time in British Speedway. It was better than most 1st division tracks at that time. The stadium was beautiful."
"We're the NL serious about opening Plymouth, St Austell, Rayleigh or Leicester? All had closed in the preceding year, having been unable to make PL racing pay. Surely there was no possibility of any of them making a go of NL racing. I'm interested in Mike Parkers plans for amalgamation and equalization. Do you Have any details of his equalization proposals?"
"My father was a top Canadian rider for Liverpool in 1959 or 1960. His number was 57 & I was wondering if you have any info on him. I have an old scrapbook with lots of photos from his racing days in England. In fact, I was conceived in England while he was there racing. Hence the name Elizabeth, I guess. "
"Re Jerzy Szczakiel; Hi Peter, I hope you dont mind but I want to comment on your line, "The Pole raced in Katowice like he never did before or after for that matter." Just wanting to remind people or point out to those who dont know that Jerzy won the 1971 World Pairs Final with his partner Andrzej Wyglenda at Rybnik unbeaten. Watch it on You Tube and you can see how he thrashed Ivan Mauger and Barry Briggs in an amazing from the back ride that Peter Collins would have been proud of in the coming years. It's true that his glorious duck at the World Cup Final of 1973 is legendary but these quotes from Ivan Mauger himself, prove that Jerzy was a class act and worthy of the title, Speedway Champion of the World:
"Usually it was easy to predict where the big challengers were coming from but for many speedway followers, Jerzy Szczakiel's 1973 World Title victory was the biggest upset in the history of the sport. All I can say to that is, had anybody seen him at the World Pairs Final in Rybnik a couple of years earlier, when he and Andrzej Wyglenda were unstoppable, they would not have been quite so shell-shocked."
"It is an unfortunate tag for a pleasant, unassuming man who not only was a whole lot better than that reputation suggests, but legitimately earned himself a place in the record books which hundreds of other supposedly better-credentialled riders never achieved."
"Have to admit that I was only going on reports I've read that while not naming the referee, did say he was Polish. I'm happy to stand corrected on that. Szczakiel did deserve to win on the day and didn't need help from the referee (while I do believe Zenon Plech was very fortunate to finish 3rd, that should have been Ole Olsen's). But that day just showed how any of the 16 riders could win the title on that single day. The Pole raced in Katowice like he never did before, or after for that matter. Take the World Team Cup final at Wembley just two weeks later. Last in his first ride, failed to finish his next two and was excluded for breaking the tapes in his 4th. He didn't even get to run his fifth race and as the new World Champion scored a grand total of zero points as Poland came in dead last. Not exactly what they would have expected considering they had the #1 and #3 in the World in the team."
"I've known Bruce since his Cradley days and can confirm that he is indeed as mad as they come! He is however a great guy and I have many memories of Bruce's exploits most of which no one would believe unless they were there. I can also say that Bruce has a handshake best avoided if you need to use your right hand during the next 24 hrs! All in all a great whole hearted rider ,a true Cradey legend and most of all a really good laugh and someone I am proud to say I know."
"To answer the query from 'Nige' re the music played at Hyde Road as the riders reached the tapes for the start, it depends on when he attended the stadium. But I suspect he would recognise 'Theme for the Common Man' which can be heard in various versions on You Tube. Also heard for some years at Hyde Road was the theme from the Olympic Games in Japan in 1964.....Helmut Zacharias' Tokyo Melody....again search You Tube for a rendition!"
"If you mean the old march out tune It's called Blazeaway it's been recorded by many bands (brass & military } it was even played at Liverpool Cathedral at the memorial service for the late Peter Craven. I used to try and teach my mates in the pits Ken Eyre, Wilkie and Soren the rugby words to this great march."
"I can't remember the details of the meeting but I well remember seeing Brian getting a flyer from the gate at Poole with a determined Ove Fundin chasing him but unable to catch him up! The race time was extremely fast and the track record may have been equalled or beaten. Ove always hated to be beaten and told Brian afterwards, with a grin, I'll beat you next time!"
"An enjoyable and thought-provoking read. I too find Sky speedway coverage technically excellent and in general I believe the commentators/presenters are well informed and do a good job. Just two things really irritate me. I could well do without most of the interviews with riders. These can be embarrassingly awful, just as they are in football and other sports, due to a lack of articularcy and, increasingly, a language barrier. Secondly, the intelligence of the viewers is regularly insulted when the commentators rave about 'big crowds'. It is easy enough to focus a camera on a few hundred people huddled together in front of the main stand/clubhouse etc, but the shots of the actual racing cannot disguise the fact that the rest of the stadium is empty. "
"I am 75yo. My father who raced midgets at Olympic Park pre-war started taking me to Maribyrnong Speedway from about 1948. Dad said Bill Rogers was the best rider he had seen but changed his mind when Jackie Biggs returned from England after his first season away. In those days they had handicap raced over 4 laps for solos and Jack was always the back marker. He was often giving starts of three quarters of a lap and still winning. He beat the current at that time world champ Vic Duggan in a match race series and completely thrashed Aub Lawson at the same track. He had the petrol tank under the seat and I believe he was the first to do so. Was I a fan?, ABSOLUTELY. He made speedway solos for me. To see him last in a field of seven in a handicap with a lap to go made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck watching him overtake the whole field. Boy the crowd loved it. I note my son Jim wrote a previous article on this site. I think he was wrong about the cause of Jack's death. My memory of the facts told to me was that Jack fell off and was hit by a novice rider's bike. Probably that is why these days professional riders will not ride against novices and I think that is written into their insurance policies."
"Hi Phil, thank you for your post, yes Mum said it really hit hard for pa that fatal crash and he suffered from it also. I also believe there were rumors that it happened on purpose, however I can say from a psychological perspective, reminiscing on the time I spent with my grandfather and from what my mother recalls, it was not planned or expected. One of my last memories of pa, was when he "thought" he was going to meeting and was all dressed up sitting on the side of his bed when he asked me which sock went on which foot. It would seem his racing days never left him. Apparently the Claremont speedway in WA would not allow pa to race due to the rumors, sadly, however he always remained in contact with his close racing friends. "