"Whilst working in Scotland around 3 years ago on
one cold winter Tuesday evening I went to a football match at Cowdenbeath. The Speedway track was still in place, now tarmaced for stock car racing,
40 years after the last Speedway race. You can only imagine how things were but from memory similar to the Shay at Halifax in terms of Track, Football
Pitch and Stands. "
"I really enjoyed the excellent
article on Peter Bradshaw. I loved watching him at West Ham as he was a very entertaining rider and I have often wondered about his background, so the
article on him was very interesting. Tony Webb mentioned that Peter had a classic style very similar to Ken McKinlay, which may well have been the
case in the early days but by the time he got to West Ham he had developed a style that was very much his own, although slightly reminiscent of Gote
Nordin, with his left leg tucked well in, usually right round the white line at West Ham.
He always looked a very classy rider and at the time I
really thought that Peter and Martyn Piddock were the future for the Hammers. For most of West Hams hisory there was always seemed to be
at least one classy Australian in the side, from Bluey Wilkinson to Jack Young and then Ray Cresp and John Langfield and Peter was
undoubtedly part of that hertage."
"Dudley's feedback was most interesting to an Essex boy.
I lived/born at Felsted where I had a building business, I would have come in contact with the Dunmow council, small world!! I renovated several houses,
Dunmow, Hatfield Heath, one near Bettsy's garage . However back to speedway, thanks for the feedback on Pete such a tragedy. There was a pre war
Maurice Bradshaw also from Victoria, wonder if there was a connection."
The second volume of Matt Jackson and Hugh Vass' extraordinarly detailed book is now available, this time covering every rider that
made their British League debut in the 1950's. This includes those who featured in the Southern Area League. Here's our review of a
product that's almost impossible to criticise!
Here are some sample pages from Matt and Hugh's new book. The featured riders are Rune Sormander, Doug Davies, Bill Booth and Harold Booth. You'll see this as a PDF
file that comes in at just over 2MB so it may take a little time to load if you're stuck on dial-up access.
SpeedTube is a video site dedicated to speedway. It's all in Polish but that doesn't really matter
if you just want to watch the action.
"Dave, I suspect you might be in the minority with regard to race times. I think the main interest is in using them for comparative purposes, i.e. so that you can judge the differences in standard between top riders and reserves, between different leagues or from season to season. What has often struck me is how consistent the times are during a meeting, so that they must be reliable to some extent. Either that or they have been made up! (PS Ideally, it is 4 digits that should be announced and not just 3!)"
"Re the track at Cowdenbeath: It was Dick Campbell and my father who made the track for speedway for Jonnie Hoskins. I remember it as I got a lift back to Edinburgh with Dick in a jag. When we hit a ton the door clicked open on to the first catch but went no further. The machine used was a Gallion Grader similar to cats etc used today."
"Fantastic photos bring back a lot of happy memories of probably the greatest purpose built speedway stadiums ever if not the greatest spent many many happy hours there and saw all the greatest riders in the world in the 60s and 70s including the wonderful Peter Craven."
"RE Norman Hunter (Sailor) I thought it was because in a daily news paper the speedway results called him Norman Anchor instead of Hunter and the other riders called him sailor? I might be wrong maybe Norman can tell us?"
Tracy Holmes pays tribute to Geoff Mardon who made a sensational impact
in his first British season - qualifying for the World Final as reserve. Geoff is also
the brother-in-law of Ronnie Moore who featured in this series recently.
"I have a few memories of Pete Bradshaw, some of him riding and once when I met him.
I those far off days I worked for Dunmow Rural District Council in Essex, where I was a civil and structural engineer.
Terry Betts had a garage in the Rodings in our district and Pete and another rider, whose name escapes me, came to our offices one day to discuss aspects of Terry's alterations. Apparently they were working on them.
When I went that way I always called in at Terry's garage for fuel and hopefully a chat.
I remember, a few years earlier, in 1965, after my beloved Norwich had closed and while, having relocated to Essex, I supported West Ham Hammers.
Terry had not ridden in the Stars last season, 1964, but had been persuaded out of 'retirement' for a spell at Long Eaton. This was of short duration ,as he broke his leg after a couple of matches. Speedway Star was speculating as to when Terry would be back for the Archers, but I recall him intimating that he would not be back that year, clearly indicating that he would be with the new Kings Lynn Stars in their first year of league action in 1966.
Terry was always to be a favorite of mine, even after I went over 'to the dark side' many years later, and supported Ipswich.
Lokeren was very shocking, and sad. We lost Pete Bradshaw, Martyn Piddock ( a great talent) and dear old Phil Bishop, but we should be pleased that Colin Pratt, Stan Stevens, etc., survived (although Colin, a great rider himself, never rode again).
Terry was a bit like Ronnie Moore, more interested in the team than the World Final. He had the talent to win it."
"I have been to every Cardiff GP and would
have to say that this year's was one of the poorest that I have seen. The new binding agent may have stopped the deep rutting of some previous years
but the offset was a one line, over dry, over slick track and few opportunities to pass. In the years where the track dug up there was only one
line but was less predictible due to bike control issues. Ole Olsen has failed too many times to produce a racetrack to be given further chances.
I liked the story that one of the Australian team (name witheld to protect against repercussion) told in Poland about the WTC qualifier at
Peterborough. Ole removed most of the dirt, graded the track really slick and smooth, then went for lunch. The track staff then replaced the
dirt, regraded, watered then locked the stadium and left complete with tractor keys. Speedway is DIRT track racing and needs consistent grip
to enable overtakes. It is time that the authorities realised this. The group which I travelled to Cardiff with all felt that the atmosphere was
much quiter this year and that there were fewer Polish fans. These facts are related as the Polish supporters are always noisy and enthuastic."
"Cowdenbeath was notable for two reasons - the
furthest North track in the U.K. and that its "safety" fence was a brick wall! The other incident I remember was when Bill Landels fell, but his
bike carried on riderless for about half a lap - quite exciting but very scary for track staff. The stock car track has now closed and relocated to
Fifteen year old rider Adam Sheppard has made a highly promising start to his career, but is
finding it tough in these difficult financial times. Please take time to read this and consider whether you
may be in a position to help him make it to the top.
Friends of Graeme Stapleton will be happy to know that he is now living in his new home. Last year, Graeme came home to find his
home on fire and suffered a heart-attack while trying to save it. According to a close friend, Valmai Ratahi, "it's all finished but for a
bit of internal painting and decorating. There is a double garage purpose built and heated for his beloved 13 Boxer dogs. And these dogs
sleep on beds and couches!!". Anyone wishing to contact Stape can do so by writing to him c/o V. Ratahi, Davies Road, 1 R D,
Coalgate, Glenroy, Canterbury, 7673, New Zealand. Or, e.mail Tracey Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Thanks for a very
interesting and sad article. I remember the night...I was on my way to the pits, like the week before when I had spoken to Gary. I had
got as far as the apex of the turn where he crashed. I remember the stripey top he had on over his leathers. I remember Ole Olsen
walking out and back to the pits with his head bowed. It had a profound affect on me as a young lad but I still had to try my hand at
speedway! My friend and I wagged school to go to Bushbury Crematorium!"
"It brought a lump to my throat looking at the
photos. Every saturday night for ten years we used to travel to the Hyde Road stadium, we used to sit in Block B, in the good old days of Peter
Collins, Chris Morton, Russ Hodgson, Jim Brett - just to name a few! Who remembers the good old derbys with Halifax Dukes and Kenny Carter (RIP).
Ahh well, only distant memories now ! But Bloody good ones !!!"
"I started going to
speedway in 1969 (aged 5) with my Dad. Wimbledon was my team and I'm happy to say that Ronnie Moore was my idol. I distinctly remember
being in the 'pit bend' stand at the Internationale in 1971, with 20,000 fans chanting his name. In one of his last meetings for the
Dons at Poole, he scored 14 points, his only defeat being in Heat 1 at the hands of John Louis, all his remaining wins being from the
back. I still have the programme from that meeting. Oh, and he went on to win the second half aswell, unbeaten. He was the best Team
Rider that I have ever seen."
"Edinburgh raced on Saturdays in 1965
and while Glasgow were Wednesday nights then so Cowdenbeath had the pick of the rest. The stadium was used for training for a spell. The only
two Fife assets were Ross Nickisson and Kevin Russell. Ross had spell at Edinburgh after Cowdenbeath closed but did not return. Cowdenbeath
is the most northern speedway tack in the UK ever. I saw the last meeting."
"Good article. I seem to recall
reading that the track record was held by Bill McMillan' elder brother of Jimmy Mac. One small point regarding the race night -
Glasgow were the Friday track and Edinburgh were Saturday. Fife had a reasonably good grasstrack base and may have provided a
few riders and a reasonably decent level of support if, as Mark suggests, there had been a lower league."
Thanks to Derek Watson who also pointed out the inaccuracy over race nights. The article has been edited to reflect this.