Regular contributor Bill shares his memories and thoughts on the sport. His favourite rider of all time is his old mate
Dave Curtis is working with Mark Woods of Race Bitz on new fairing designs.
The illustration above show how bikes could look in the near future. The picture on the left is an original photograph of Jason Crump
taken by Michal Szmyd and the picture on the right is Dave's artist's
impression of the way forward. The theme is a Red Bull sponsored rider and machine. You can click on either picture to see a larger version.
Graham Bates is looking for logos of defunct clubs - Can You Help?
"A minor Point, Tony `the Tooth` Clarke,
left the Hammers at the end of the 1970 season, going to Wembley, and as both they and the Hammers did not ride agin in 1972, Tony was no longer
a West Ham second string!"
"To continue the Briggo 1972 discussion
further, firstly thanks to Chris Stockwell but not my clip, I just pointed out where it was. Secondly, If you look again at the footage Briggo
loses speed and straightens up. He's already off the white line and Bernt Persson is still going at full racing speed. Persson simply races
into the gap that Briggs has left. If he causes Briggs to fall it's not because he somehow speeds up (surely as a racer he's already going as
fast as he can) it's because Briggs slows. Barry Briggs was a pretty uncompromising rider himself, and often used the expression
"leaving the door open". Have a look at this film from the 1958 final about a minute from the start - YouTube clip"
"A lot of very happy memories came flooding
back when I saw Bill's photos. I was a 13 year old spotty youth when the Lions raced in my home town and my Dad took me down to Love Street
as often as possible. Last year, 2009, I met up with former Lion Mike Fullerton when I was in New Zealand and I must say he was an absolute gentleman.
We talked about the old days as we sat in my hotel at Auckland Airport and we laughed until the tears were just about streaming down. Considering
we had never met and the fact that it was some 33 years since I had last seen him race in Paisley, we hit it off straight away. A great guy and a
top bloke who I will be meeting up with again at the end of October this year, 2010, as I stop over in his home town of Auckland for
a couple of days. "
"What a shame that speedway has left London. I think
we should all get a petition going to bring back speedway to London after all we have lost major venues like New Cross, West Ham and Hackney to name a few.
I miss them. RIP speedway, that will be the future if we don't do something."
"In the latest Speedway Plus Plus Points you have a
photograph of Peter Craven in New Cross colours holding the Tom Farndon Trophy sent in by Robert J. Rogers. The caption underneath says "Craven
won the trophy at New Cross in 1959 - hence him wearing the New Cross racejacket in this snap." While this is indeed the case, it should also
be pointed out that in 1959 New Cross ran a short season of open meetings including a few challenge matches. The New Cross team was
a scratch team which differed each week and was made up from riders from other teams. Peter Craven in fact rode at least three times for the
Rangers that season, so he wore the orange and black at a number of meetings other than the Tom Farndon Trophy meeting."
One of Olly's favourite speedway memories was being involved in track construction for the 1981 World Final.
Robert J. Rogers has sent in this photograph that ties together two of our recent topics - Peter Craven
holding the Tom Farndon trophy. Craven won the trophy at New Cross in 1959 - hence him wearing the New Cross
racejacket in this snap.
The Speedway Researcher magazine are still looking for some details to complete comprehensive records of
all meetings. They have provided PDFs of the information they are lacking for the 1946,
1947 and 1948 seasons. If you can
fill any of the gaps then contact them via their website.
Derek Jol is trying to complete a collection of Coventry programmes - Can You Help?
Stephen Chambers wants to know if there's a train station close to the Slany track from which it's possible to catch a train to Prague
- Can You Help?
The Redcar Bears Supporters group have recently revamped their website. The
group generate funds for the club and individual riders.
"Is not the real point about the one off
World Final that it was the focal point of the speedway year. All the arguments that a one off does not allow for the exceptions do not overide
this. I also remember a comment on the commentary to the 1981 World Final DVD about Dave Jessup's machine failure to the effect that riders should
have everything perfect for such a night, and, is anyone saying Bruce Penhall was not the "real" champion that year? Would Bruce or anyone else
have been held in such high esteem if they won on the basis of GP points? The fact is that GP champion has the same status as the old one off
champions and whilst that holds good there is little point in saying it should not be so. In our sport as in anything it is perception more than
fact that is the final judgement."
"When the Danes do well it's
80cc two strokes, the Aussies we all should be on 125cc four strokes and the Americans in the 80's British Speedway should have gone out and
built 3/4 scale 200cc or is it 250cc bikes. British speedway has every opportunity to create talent, truth is British speedway has the best
system to bring up new talent it just abuses it instead of embracing it. You want to learn to powerslide a bike ride a grasstrack bike in the wet.
A huge number of talented riders have come out of the ranks of junior grasstrack. Several times the whole English speedway team have been grasstrackers.
Speedway teams should join forces with their local grasstrack clubs. British speedway should kick down some of that Sky money to help pay for field
rental etc. What British speedway needs is a strong grasstrack scene closely aligned with good speedway training schools. The talent will rise
to the top, it always does. A Ton of riders came out of the L.G.T.J.R. combo with Belle Vue Monday Nights, Ellesmere Saturday morning plus Crewe and
Stoke training schools too. Malcolm Roe former 1970's L.G.T.J.R. member."
"What a scream, well written and surely the
voice of most supporters, certainly mine. I reckon you could help fill these blank pages you speak of -please- Got me remembering an occasion when
Tigers were at Coatbridge, many years ago (not being more specific) the metal pulley from the starting gate broke and required a welding repair. This
happened about two hours before the meeting started. Jimmy Beaton, the promoter was doing 'handstands', Jimmy was well known for his antics,
Alun Rossiter has no chance when compared to Jimmy and referees. Anyway I digress, I volunteered (as in the Army) to take the pulley to a
friend, some ten miles away in Glasgow who had the necessary welding gear. I was driving a Morris minor (remember them!) at what then was breakneck
speed. The reason that I can remember the incident so well was because during my return with repaired item the brakes on my car failed. No time for
RAC, AA or any type of repair, so I drove to the stadium for about six miles traffic lights and all, using only the handbrake. Nothing
else mattered. The meeting started on time leaving me with a lifelong experience of how speedway riders feel when grasping for non existing brakes.
I now travel some 200 miles round trip to support 'The Tigers' hopefully in a car with working brakes. "
"I have great memories of Linlithgow
training track. I used to race with Blair Scott, Barry Campbell and a few others at Shawfield and remember doing the Les Collins junior testimonial at
Linlithgow in the 90's. I miss racing very much and got distracted with other things in life that were happening at the time and would love for a
second chance to try it again. I remember having a bad crash that day in the race with Barry Campbell and Stuart Coleman and have been trying for years
to source a video on this meeting, if there is one i would love to find it. I still return to Ashfield now and again but it brings back memories of what
I could have been so tend not to go a lot."
We know from our 'All About You' feature that many of you wish you'd seen Peter Craven in action. Dudley Jones was
lucky enough to see him ride a number of times around the long-lost Firs Stadium in Norwich. Here he shares his memories of those
nights from his youth.
Jim Henry has asked us to correct a commonly repeated myth that appeared in the first version of this article. Peter Craven did not
start off a handicap in his final race.
Bill Elliot was going through his collection of Paisley Lions programmes and decided to send us some of the pictures
featured within. Martin Mauger has also sent us photographic evidence of the night the track had to be widened mid-match
to meet the minimum size requirements.
Gavin first saw the sport at Poole and his favourite rider of all time is another famous P.C.
THE VOICE, No.36 The 36th edition of the Voice, the official journal of Friends of Speedway, is now available. Editor Stuart Towner and
Treasurer Sue Towner preside over 24 pages packed with articles from various writers concerning speedway matters past and present. Sometimes
controversial, sometimes blunt, but always interesting and guaranteed to brighten up a dreary winter's afternoon. By joining Friends
of Speedway you will also be making a vital contribution to the development of under 15's speedway racing to which FoS were proud to have
contributed �500 in season 2009. Every new member is another step forward so come and join us and do your bit to help maintain the
future of British speedway racing. To join Friends of Speedway and receive your four quarterly copies of the Voice please send a cheque
for �10, made payable to Friends of Speedway, to Stuart Towner at 117 Church Lane, Chessington Surrey KT9 2DP.
Vladislavs Bikovskis is a scarf collector looking to extend his collection - Can You Help?
My introduction to speedway was in 1948 when staying in London at a family friend's prefab (that was a thrill for a start!). My father had seen speedway
pre-war, and took my brother and me to New Cross. The stadium was packed, and the match was against Bradford. I was convinced that the riders had
overdone it as they hurtled into the first bend, and would all finish up on the ground! When I opened my eyes they were half way up the back
straight! I loved the smell, the noise, the sight of those skeletal bikes with no mudguards, crash helmets (remember we never saw a motorcyclist
on the road wearing one then), sparks flying from the steel shoes, and the plumes of black cinders from the back wheels. My brother and
I demanded to be taken back the following week when Wimbledon were the opposition.
I've since realised that the film "Once a jolly swagman"
was filmed at New Cross that very summer, and the first race shown on that film was shot from just about where we stood in the main stand, so it
very much captures for me my first impressions. I must say though, that entry to the first bend looks much tamer now compared with modern day
racers who throw the bikes in sideways with the throttle on. Returning home to Chelmsford we made a few visits to Rayleigh over the next
two seasons, and in 1950 when Tippy and Arthur Atkinson took over at the Weir, we became regulars. My brother and I are still Rye House
Rockets supporters and our children and grandchildren are also speedway fans."
"From the looks of your
article Great Britain does not have a chance at ever competing with the likes of the Danes, Swedes, etc. once the only few British
riders left retire. Everybody is too worried about making money than joining forces for the good of the sport. That article raps it up in a nutshell."
"Very informative comment from Tracy Holmes linking it
to Briggo's crash in the 1972 World Final at Wembley where he lost a finger. Just one small correction. The bike that was launched over the fence
was MINE, not Ronnie Moore's and it sustained quite a lot of damage. (but not as bad as Barry's hand!). That afternoon, my car, with my best
Jawa strapped on the back, had been parked nehind the Wembley pits and, when I came back to the pits, I saw a couple of burly suspicious-looking
characters removing my bike from the carrier. The Scottish-Russian translations didn't go too well but eventually I found out that the Russian
bikes had been stolen and that they needed something to ride that night. I agreed that they could use my Jawa but unfortunatly that was the bike
involved in costing Briggo his injuries that night. Sorry, Barry!"
"Thanks to Ian Harwood for his youtube clip, of Briggo's
1972 World Final crash. Watching it again after all these years you can see that Persson just kept on going and it seemed all he wanted to do was
NAIL BRIGGO. The clip also shows the need for professonal referees, German ref that night, Ge orge Transpurger was a total amature, any ref worth
his salt (ie Frank Ebdon, David Hughes, Tony Steel etc) would have Kicked Persson out. At least Ivan beat Persson in the run off and got Briggo some
sort of revenge."
"My old mate Nick is famous! I met
Nick way back in 1989 when he was an honourary "Pit Bend Loonie" and we have been mates ever since and attended many a meeting together over
the years. He has some very good ideas about this great sport of ours, maybe more people should listen to him!"
"100% agree Roger Johns (Mr Wimbledon).
Tommy Janssons appeal you just had to see the way he rode at plough lane and elsewhere to understand his ability and the reason why people felt
he would have been World champion. Get the book Tommy Jansson (Legend who died young) by Magnus Nystrom. If nothing else it will explain his place
in the hearts of all Dons supporters."
A series of short extracts from the new book by Norman Jacobs and John Chaplin. The book
will be officially launched on 21 February at the Celebration of Speedway at the Speedway Museum, Paradise Wildlife Park.
This one seems sure to be a best seller, so get those orders in early.
David is a Belle Vue fan and was present at the greatest match-race of all time - no guesses as to which classic encounter he means!
Apologies to those waiting for their 'All About You', 'Dream Team' or other articles to appear. We do get round to everything
eventually. As always, all contributions are welcome - see Contact Us page for how to get in touch.
Mark Brighty wants to know about parade music at King's Lynn in years gone by - Can You Help?
Richard Austin reports that speedway is set to continue at Costa Mesa for 2010 at least. Let's hope the venue proves to have a
long term future.
Jeff Scott has put together an interesting article on GP attendance figures - check out his
blog to read it.
"I thought the response by Geoff Langley on this article was excellent however there are a couple more points that he could have touched on. The present GP system does allow fans in many parts of Europe to see some of the best riders in the world each year, under the old one off night this would not be the case. It also must generate a lot more money for the fortunate riders who have qualified, kissed the right backsides, or just got lucky.It might be worth mentioning that back around 1970 that Kings Lynn rider Howard Cole had a superb season capped off with a deserved place at a Wembley Final. I don't think he scored many, if any, points and all he got out of being one of the top sixteen riders in the world was his start money and travel money which didn't even cover the cost of the tyres he used! The old way was brilliant for the fans but it was not as rewarding for the riders as it should have been. I guess the bottom line is that there are just too many ways to look at this topic but until we come up with a system that allows every licenced rider in the world an even chance couldn't we just call it a Grand Prix Championship? "
"My misinformation regarding Chris Bailey's nationality came from a photo caption in the 1971 Webster's Speedway Mirror that says "Not many riders who compete in Division 2 can claim to have won a national title. Chris Bailey is one however taking the New Zealand Championship in 1969-1970". So I'd been under the impression since then that he was a New Zealander. Of course nationalities have never counted for a great deal in speedway. This was the era when Ivan Mauger and Barry Briggs rode for Great Britain in the World Team Cup."
"I agree with my pal Ian Martin, it would be nice to see Scotland represented at international level once more. I well remember the two England v Scotland meetings at Sunderland in 1973 and 1974. Scotland were indeed captained by Doug Templeton, but the England captain was our old friend Bruce Forrester, not Russ Dent as Ian stated."
"Unfortunately due to the current growth in nimbys ie the residents in the area of the Long Eaton speedway circuit this great local institution remains closed as of this day. I do not know if plans are afoot to revive this once great addition to our local history and entertainment, one can only hope that someone has the money and the sense to re-open what would be a lucrative and enthralling attraction to the East Midlands."
"I first saw Mike Lee at Newcastle motordrone 1977 riding for England against Australia. He was 17 years old and he was great, I wanted to be a speeedway rider atfer seeing him race. I was 14 years old I did come to England to try my luck in 1990."