David Pickles latest update on the situation at Wimbledon is slightly more positive than in recent months. Could the London Mayoral election be a significant factor in deciding the future of the stadium?
Thanks to John Fray for this latest advert from the Oxford Mail. Good to see the greatest Cheetah of them all backing the campaign to save the stadium.
BR - "Wow, that was very flattering to say the least! I am honored to have touched lives some several years later! I have always said...Appreciate and respect those who have guided and supported you through the good and bad times...Thank You John Stock for the kind words!!!...BP"
"Interesting in two ways. Your view of speedway & the "cowboys" who run it, is absolutely right. The truth is, it is the long suffering fans like you & I that are too good for speedway, not the likes of Penhall. There were plenty of household names before he turned up - Briggo, Ivan & PC to name three. Penhall was many things, too good for speedway wasn't one. His infamous throwing of a race in 82, his total lack of respect for the Cradley fans who adored him - a love that was clearly one way as he messed the club around for a long period in 82, before his famous rostrum speech in LA. Penhall was many things, but wronged & let down by speedway, he was not."
"Sad loss to speedway, been a lifelong Robins fan but belle vue was pure magic. I remember seeing Martin Ashby ride there in BLRC when finishing second to Ole Olsen. Very sad it has gone, but let's all look forward to the new track and stadium."
"I remember when Graeme came to the UK way back in 1968, and hopped on a 250cc Husqvarna, he immediately got put into the expert's as he was so fast.He won a lot of races back then on it. On a trip to Ireland Cork in 1969 Graeme headlined the meetings winning nearly all the races he entered. Since that time we were friend's and he was my best man at my wedding in 1980. His riding ended in the UK due to Age restrictions on visa's which meant speedway in the UK was over. Spoke recently with him and we plan to catch up sometime in NZ, can't wait for that.A great bloke, true grit. "
With new Belle Vue track opening any day now, how about a nostalgic look back at the legendary stadium it has been built to replace? We have had 15 of these pictures on the site for many years, but here's another 19 and they can all now be viewed at full size for the first time. The pictures were taken by Kathy Hitchen in late 1987.
"There is a cottage industry devoted to questioning and undermining the way certain greats of the sport are remembered but Ivan had a point and all world champions under whatever arrangement and in whatever era could do no more than win titles according to the requirements of the day. Arguably individual event wins are just one other yardstick to be applied to this debate but then so too is a record of consistent supremacy in league racing - which in the Mauger/Olsen years means the British League. Some of those stats are worth revisiting. Incidentally, I think there is a long list of 'old-time' world champions convinced they would have won more titles during the contemporary Grand Prix era!! Clearly, they couldn't all be right about that ..."
"If I was able to go into a time machine and choose to watch riders of the past, "Wee Georgie" would be in my top 3. His exploits as part of the pre-war New Cross side were nothing short of dazzling. In spite of losing the peak years of his career to injury (he didn't ride between 1939 & 1947) George courageously returned to the saddle and entertained a new generation of fans. How I wish we had the like of him now!"
"While the general opinion seems to be against handicap racing none of the contributors actually state a reason why they are opposed to it from a spectacle point of view. Also the opinions seem to come from die hard traditionalists who will stick with the sport regardless. However it is more important to get responses from those thousands who have stopped attending. Did they lose interest because the race result is decided in the first 5 seconds and the lack of excitement due to the rarity of overtaking.
My introduction to speedway was in Australia where team meeting were confined to occasional Test match of Australia against England or Sweden and the program consisted of a mixture of scratch and handicap racing. Even though the final of the scratch race could consist of four evenly matched riders such as Ken McKinlay, Jack Geran , Jack Biggs and Neil Street the spectators preferred to watch the six man 4 lap handicap races with these riders coming from as far back as 260 yards to often win.
On smaller British tracks 260 yards would be excessive but I think there would probably be a good 100 metres difference between the No 1 and No 7 of most teams.
While not going to the extreme of saying League matches should be instantly changed to handicap format I think it should be trialed and a KO cup with all Elite and Premier league teams being included on a home and away basis would be an ideal way to ascertain fans reaction. The tactical element suggested for team building is also another positive for this format and I doubt if it was considered whenever handicap racing was briefly trialed in the past..
The use of different formats has bought fans back to cricket so why not try this approach in Speedway. However the handicap format is just one aspect of what needs to be done to revive Speedway's appeal and other suggestions such as promoting the sport to teenagers are also vital."
" This is yet another very interesting article. None of Tracy's assertions can be contested. As I said recently, in one of my contributions, it is another submission that does rake up some of the old chestnuts, but it matters not. In writing Tracy has also submitted one or two welcoming "straighteners" e.g. Szczakiel was NOT an unworthy World Champion.
The record books clearly show that Szczakiel was an accomplished and consistent international performer. And this was in an era when Iron Curtain riders did not enjoy the best of anything. They never enjoyed, amongst many other things, the liberally available, high quality food, tools and equipment etc. that did their contemporaries from the free World. By doing so subsequent winners had the World at their finger-tips. But as ambassadors of the sport various of them were abysmal. The behavior of at least one was scandalous and one other was hardly ever seen again within international speedway. It is perhaps another reason why comparing riders, from different eras, is of only so much value.
But with direct reference to Mauger I do sincerely feel that if he had have competed within the modern era, as a GP rider, his tally of World titles would have exceeded six. I can think of no other rider who the GP's would have suited more. "
"I looked with great respect at Eric Marchment's post - after 81 years of watching speedway - he first saw it in 1935, one can only accept his support for Ivan Mauger as the greatest rider of them all. It must have been wonderful to have seen the likes of Jack Milne, Eric Langton, maybe Tom Farndon at their peak in the 1930s, then spiral on over the 81 years through the likes of Vic Duggan, Jack Parker, etc to the modern era. With 81 years of watching to his credit, I am not prepared to make claims now for any rider. As I only saw my first meeting at New Cross in April 1946 - a mere 70 years ago - and 11 years less than Eric Marchment, I will not make any claim of a defeatist nature re Ivan Mauger and his placing as the 'best of them all.'"
"Thank you for this article on Kelly Moran. I just wanted to mention that there is a wonderful clip that someone has posted on YouTube of Kelly Moran riding at Eastbourne in 1988. I don't think I have have ever seen such sublime control of a Speedway bike and I hope that it is on the DVD , as I will certainly be buying it."