"I quite liked Kirkmanshume Lane, although by the time I paid my first visit the backstraight spectator accommodation had been demolished and, yes, some parts of the remaining facilities were certainly down at heel.
It is a couple of years since I visited the new National Stadium. It is magnificent and the racing, whether seen live or on television, is excellent. But I missed the ability to drift around the stadium, which has usually been permitted at speedway tracks. It was possible to stand on the bends or the back straight and still get full access to the grandstant bars. These were a meeting place for a significant number of former Belle Vue riders (and riders from other tracks). I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Powell, Arthur Wright, Peter Williams, Jim Yacobi, Roy Pecock and others. "
"I've enjoyed Tracy Holmes' pieces on the BLRCs.I was interested in the comment from Frank McLean about the crowd being down on previous years. I've just published a piece on "The Decline of British Speedway" suggesting it started somewhere in the mid-80's. However maybe it started earlier.Tracy asks the question "Had the magic already started to fade?" Whatever the truth about the dates, the 64000 dollar question is why did it fade? The subject of future articles no doubt."
"Remember this meeting very well as my wife went in to labour in the early afternoon (we lived about 6 miles from Hyde Road) and off to hospital we went. My daughter entered the world at 6pm and I spent around couple of hours there and then got myself off to Belle Vue arriving at heat 9. Quite apt that Les C won as I was originally a Leicester lad and still a Lions fan. Fourty years on and I was taking Kerry my daughter to Torun for this year's GP to celebrate her 40th until Boris put a stop to it by sticking Polska on the quarantine list and we couldn't go because of self isolation (over £600 down the swanee)."
Jeff Scott is back with a second book devoted to the traveling circus that is the Speedway Grand Prix series. It's a follow up to last year's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Speedway Grand Prix, this time covering the 2019 season.
Some pictures of Sheffield's Owlerton Stadium that were taken by Robert Brocklehurst in the 1960s.
Friends of Speedway (a non-profit making organisation who are proud to part sponsor the British Youth Speedway Championship) are pleased to announce the 79th edition of their magazine the Voice which is packed full of interest and enjoyment. This issue is a huge 28 pages, which will keep your interest for hours!
In this issue Charles McKay says 'Of course it's legal' and 'We are following official advice.' Sue Towner on her Soapbox again plus pens a review of the Dave Jessup book. John Hyam on Squire Split Waterman. Roy Delaney looks at Here and Then. Slider says, 'The time to Panic is Now! Stuart Staite-Aris speaks of Alf Mattson. TAG Allison reports on Reg Luckhurst's attempt at Spanish speedway. Plus more to keep you interested.
Available from Friends of Speedway; 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP. Please send your cheque for £12 made out to the above for four issues of the Voice to Stu Towner at the above address or ring 0208-397 6599/07860 135939 for more information.
"Nice summary, including the stats, of an event that maybe hasn't always got the visibility in the UK that it deserved, as it quite clearly *is* a big open meeting. And it's brought to mind those years, especially in the 70's, when there would be tons of open meetings, which were always a good indicator of which riders were really at the top of their game that season."
"My brother in law used to take me to see the Aces on a Saturday, Sandor was my favourite as he once sat me on his bike, a Jawa and asked me would I like to ride it, I of course said yes and told me to come back when I was old enough. I was 10 and I'll always remember him. "
"What I didn't know then I know now about all these riders when I burst upon the scene in 78 just how long of a head start they had on me. Powderhall was a great Stadium to track was tricky but once you learned it it was a fairly good track. The stadium was better than most British League tracks in the 1st division. I have to give my thanks to the Scottish people without them I would have never had a Speedway career. "
"I was lucky enough to get to know Toby really well through my association with Jimmy Nilsen and Per Jonsson in the 80's and 90's. He was massive influence on both their careers and was always there to support at important meetings. Dave has captured the way Toby talked perfectly It was like hearing Toby all over again. I will always remember when he came to our hotel room during the 2 day world final in Amsterdam. We had a box of beer in the room and over the space of an hour Toby opened about seven separate cans as he forgot where he'd put the last one so opened another. We forgave him for that as his stories of his life and riding career had us laughing he was great company. He died much too young."
"We started watching Hull Vikings when they opened on 1971, and as a treat (I was 8) we got taken to see or hero Reg Wilson rding for Sheffield. I can stil remember how open mouthed we were at Jim Airey hammering round that track - I don't think I have ever seen anyone faster. Owlerton is a sad sight despite recent 1st-bend "improvements" (which have taken away standing capacity) - all the back straight is closed to spectators and the bank of seating in the main stand is long gone. "
Doris Lambert inherited an old scrapbook filled with speedway photographs when her Dad died in 1984. A recent house move forced her into a clear out and she was keen to ensure that her Dad's book went to a good home. Thankfully she has passed it on to us.
Thanks to Doris and her Dad, we can bring you some great autographed photographs of the New Cross Rangers team of 1936.
"Hi. Still bored with Covid? We have now needs lists for meeting details in the UK 1933 - 1939 on The Speedway Researcher web site. Any help to fill gaps would be welcomed. On a different note - the visits to Argentina in the pioneer days by riders from Manchester are available on The Speedway Researcher website. The credit for this very fulsome record as to go to George Carswell who worked with Bob Ozanne. Much of the information has been drawn from contemporary sources in Argentina which George has had translated into English. This is an amazing bit work which deserves to be better known."
"Sverre rode the outside at Custom House like no one else - it was his 'Home' if he gated send or third you would hear the crowd shouting 'Come on Sverre' Dad would say 'Wait till he gets to the outside - 'He'll win' - HE DID - Saw him once at The Shay in Halifax [Baking about 5-6ft from white line to fence - Sverre got 13 from 5 rides - just got straight to the fens THEN turn left and flew down the straits - could never understand how he did so well at Wimbledon -when he came to Custom House - he must have thought 'Wow' now I can show them - HE DID - his races were worth the admittance cost."
" Congratulations on gathering all this historica information on speedway. At 85 never expected to see a photo of myself at 20 participating in speedway racing. I am now a competitive cyclist and currently the South African and provincial road and individual time trial champion in my age category. Good luck with your future endeavors. "
"Lovely story. Dave Gifford is my long lost cousin. His mum Evelyn was my Dad's sister. I am now 65. I don't think I ever met Dave.. Before I was married my surnam was Addley. If you are still in contact with him please send my regards. "
"Newspaper article in 1933 states Arthur Handley - Ace Handley - was a dirt bike rider in Liverpool, UK and had travelled with the team to Australia. No date given. Arthur - Ace - was Wall of Death Rider 1930 - 1938 until his untimely death in Jamaica in 1938. Alan Mercer and former Wall of Death Riders have greatly helped me in obtaining information about my great uncle. Is Arthur/Ace Handley noted in your records? Thank you."
"Bob Sanford's account is correct. I attended the same church with Bob and Gary in Van Nuys around 1984, and we became friends. I was a public relations professional and tried to help them. Gary was being villainized in the news media. There was an aggressive district attorney that was looking to get reelected, and he was pushing the agenda to prosecute Gary and Bob over ADS. Bob, I still have the New Testament you gave me signed by Porter Barrington, who wrote the master outlline, and who's wife successfully used ADS until her family made her stop. Gary and Bob were good guys.
The story of how Gary came across ADS is fascinating. Gary called me late one night and said he was leaving the country, would never get a fair trial, and did not want to go to jail. I didn't blame him. Last time I ever talked to him. He was so fun. He loved the circus and took my son and I to a circus where he arranged for me to be the guest circus master. I still have the picture he took of me on the circus stage. Rest in peace, sweet Gary!"
"What an excellent article. I saw this World Final meeting on telly and remember the clash between Szczakiel and Mauger. I'd known nothing about the quality of Polish riders except Zenon Plech. At that meeting Ivan Mauger was the best rider on display and watching the run-off he had the speed and ability to pass Jerzy, however Mauger made a misjudged move resulting in him falling, it was Mauger's bad luck not Jerzy's good luck, especially as he was leading at the time.
It would have been argued that as it was in Poland he would have had an advantage because there was a lot of controversy at that time that riders from communist countries were said to be state sponsored with the best bikes and that track preparation would have been done to suit them. It been said about any sport that sometimes you need a bit of luck , he was in the right place at the right time and should be acknowledged on his merit for being World Championship.
There's been a few stories of riders where luck, both good and bad have played their part for World Champions, Dave Jessup when a 15p clip caused him to breakdown and lose the World Championship and Sam Ermolenko where if you watch the race when Hans Nielsen was excluded for bringing him down it appears just before the incident Ermolenko's bike seemed to be slowing/cutting out, whatever your view on what counts as luck you cannot take away that the people we've talked about deserved their Crown.
Another rider with a similar story to Jerzy's and perhaps by most to be a 'lucky' World Champion is Egon Muller, winner in 1983, won in his native country Germany, he did not win a medal in any other Individual Speedway World Championships. It is alleged that he had more practice than the other competitors and the track was prepared as a long track (he was World Long Track World Champion 3 times, an honour shared by Mauger). Unlike Jerzy, Egon Muller had some British League experience riding for Coatbridge and Hull.
A reason that people perceive Szczakiel and Muller as lucky/not worthy World Champions is that most World Champions would have been dominant in British Speedway the years they became World Champion. A good example of this is Anders Michanek, won practically every British tracks individual meeting in 1973, World Champion in 1974. R.I.P Jerzy "
"Fantastic article, Tracy, one of your very best, clearly bringing your passion for your favourite, Jerzy, to the place that it deserves, and setting the record straight, once and for all. The record books will always say 1973 World Speedway Champion, and the story behind the story has done his career justice."
"Ian, interesting reading. Yes 2012 was looking good re the new Norwich Speedway but as you say it came to nothing and as Trevor Hedge stated they missed the best chance to restart since 1965. Ove agreed to ride my JAP as a publicity stunt to promote the start up at any track we could fix it up with. I had arranged Poole, Ipswich and Somerset before plans collapsed. Such a shame.
I liked the older way of speedway, the spotlights on, riders coming out on track looking for their bike as they fastened their helmet, gas goggles down being pushed off by two chaps in boiler suits. the chrome, the noise and smell. I think the promoters stopped all the razamataz because they thought there were too many chaps [all volunteers] from the chap who pushed the bikes out onto track, the helmet colour chap, the pushers off getting in for nothing, Now they ride straight out of the pits, all the razamataz gone."
"Really enjoyed the article. While Terry Betts may have been in dispute with Norwich at the start of 1964 , wasn't he banned for nine months by the SCB for missing meetings at the 1963? This led to a number of approaches from Provincial League teams, including Glasgow, all of which he rejected. Was Ove Fundin considering retiring at he end of 1964 or at least no longer coming to the UK and had he already told Norwich about this? Might have influenced the decision to sell the site as crowds were likely to fall off badly if he didn't return. Still a sad day when The Firs closed. "
With tyres very much back in the news, it seems a good time to bring this 2009 article from Colin Richardson back to the top of the site. He expertly explained some of the technical changes to machines and tyres over the years.
Thanks to Dave Hobson for this magnificent shot of the 1973 BLRC trophy. Ivan Mauger was the winner that year and this forms part of the collection at www.ivanmauger.net
"Possibly my favourite ever meeting. A large contingent of Glasgow Tigers fans gathered in the small stand on the 2nd bend and it was shaking with the volume of noise coming from the Tigers fans, who hadn't had too much to celebrate in recent times. Jimmy Mac did us proud that night and his rostrum place was well and truly deserved, and he was cheered every inch of the way there as we celebrated well into the night."
"Re: 'Suitable for crimewatch' -
1933, Lismore, NSW. Well known speedway rider, Arthur Kidd (18) shot at his wife Una Kidd with intent to murder. After an argument Kidd met his wife in the street and fired at her with a sawn off pea rifle
A sawn off pea rifle, whatever that might be, was also the weapon of choice in 1941, when former speedway rider, Roy Hindle (38) was charged with the murder of William James (22), son of an MP at South Maitland railway works.
After a series of arguments between the two colleagues, eye witness, Thomas Griffiths, said Hindle fired at point blank range. In s defence Hindle said he only meant to frighten James.
"Re your article on Olsen and his less able team mates, you haven't got a clue what it takes to team ride. First of all you have to be a good waiter then have the nuts to ride faster round the outside, sometimes on difficult tracks. Then he had the gall to say 'I win the race, it makes my score look better' and that goes for all his ex team so called mates."
"George Todd, Wall of Death Rider 1929 - 1960s My late father was a famous wall of death rider. One newspaper article in the 1930s said he was a famous London speedway rider. Although he left lots of movie film of speedway the riders are too far away to be identified. Can you tell me whether you have come across him?"
"As the Covid shutdown continues we at The SpeedwayResearcher web site continue to add to the records of speedway racing in the UK. Work is progressing on the more recent era and it is hoped that the 1981 season details will be added in due course. Work is progressing apace on the pre war era but there are still a fair few gaps to fill.
Often we have details of the race 1 - 3 and heat times and are seeking the 4th placed man. Second half details are often a bit sketchy and need to be completed. Can you help us fill these gaps? If the answer is yes - we would love to hear from you.
We currently have list of the information we are seeking for 1938 and 1939 seasons? Hopefully we will be producing needs lists for 1937 in the very near future and a needs list for 1936 is quite well advanced. We are quite happy to acknowledge any help but, equally, we do not disclose sources if you wish to remain anonymous . The Speedway Researcher web site has recently introduced a feature called collectors corner. See the site for details. As ever - any help is welcome."
John Chaplin and Maurice Ramsay put together their own vision of how the 1939 World Final may have gone.
Trevor Davies is set to write a biography of Split Waterman. He is keen to hear from supporters who saw him race for Wembley, Harringay, West Ham, Wimbledon, Southampton, Plymouth, New Cross, Ipswich, Belle Vue or England. It is proposed to include a chapter of riders and fans memories of Split Waterman's riding career. Please contact Trevor via email@example.com
"An excellent piece. I regularly watched speedway in the 90s when I was still living near Derby. And later on - I think it was the 40th anniversary meeting - I drove over from the Peak District in early April with snow piled up on the side of the road from Hartington to Leek. Very sad pictures of the demolition process."
Ray Davidson sent us these pictures back in 2011. They were taken at Berwick's rural home in the eighties. The meetings were Steve McDermott's testimonial in 1989 and the visit of Arena Essex in 1986.
This year's California-in-Engalnd Speedway Reunion has been cancelled for obvious reasons. Hopefully the Poppies will be able to get back together again in 2021.
Friends of Speedway (a non-profit making organisation who are proud to part sponsor the British Youth Speedway Championship) are pleased to announce the 78th edition of their magazine the Voice which is packed full of interest and enjoyment. This issue is a huge 24 pages, which will keep your interest for hours!
In this issue Charles Mckay says 'See you at the speedway in 2020? Sue Towner on her Soapbox, with an update on the progress of young Sam Norris. John Hyam on New Cross. Roy Delaney looks at the famous Hawkeye. Slider says, 'Thank You and Good Night - The Supporters Have Left the Building' plus an Obituary to Stoke Speedway. Ron Jones looks at the birth of Dirt Track racing at Coventry. Revival of speedway at Southampton and Oxford? Plus more to keep you interested.
Available from Friends of Speedway; 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP. Please send your cheque for £12 made out to the above for four issues of the Voice to Stu Towner at the above address or ring 0208-397 6599/07860 135939 for more information.
"Yes it's very sad. Living in London I've made eleven visits to Stoke's Loomer Road over the years, several times stopping off at Alton Towers. I always enjoyed my visits, the journey, the stadium and the racing was good, and had what was probably one of the best track shops around.
The last time I visited there was in 2011 to see Hackney who were based at Rye House in the National League as it was called then.
As the lockdown has eased, people have been working extra hard and being inventive and doing whatever it takes to get their businesses back up and running. With speedway and the BSPA not even attempting to run any form of speedway whether it's individual, three or four team tournaments or even challenge matches people will get used to 'not going.
Pubs have survived and even flurished because as social meeting places they have adapted. I believe British Speedway will spiral even further downwards because people will get used to not going, the thrill of watching a live match will have gone, people will be content to subscribe and watch it live on telly. Unfortunately more Loomer Road's will occur. I've pointed it out many times sport is about competition, not levelling the playing field by penalising the good teams.
Enough said, R.I.P. Stoke speedway and Loomer road, lots of fond memories."
"Information on meetings featuring Sonny Dewhurst can be found on The Speedway Researcher web site. There are A - Z lists of riders iIn most of the track by track files section, which show how many meetings a rider is known to have appeared in any give year. The actual rider details can then be found by visiting the year files."
"I have have been trying to find more about a friend from the late sixties from grass track racing. I've been told he raced speedway in Liverpool in his younger days his names was Sonny Dewhurst his son Stan also rode, any information or stories would be appreciated ."
"With reference to the "Wall of Death" film, mentioned in the OnScreen article, I believe this film is titled "There is Another Sun". It does turn up occasionally on Freeview channel TALKING PICTURES."
"This statement from Tracy really sums it up: "This event would be homed at Belle Vue and would join The Internationale as THE biggest meetings a rider could win in the UK apart from The World Final." I went with my dad to many BLRC's in the '70's and Tracy is spot on in saying that this was a BIG night. But I'd never really thought of it in comparison terms with other meetings, and I can see that, certainly from the inception of the British Leage in '65, the BLRC stood as a 'big 'un' for many years. Under the lights at Hyde Road, end-of-season, packed crowd, best riders in the world bar the odd one or two - fantastic stuff."
"I went to Somerton Park in 1969 for the first in our championship season. Gordon Guasco scored a 12 point max in a 49-29 win then whenTim Stone opened up Hayley Park we went to watch young Martin Willis ride there on several occasions. The sixties and seventies were the halcyon days of speedway in my opinion watching Eric Broadbelt scraping the boards at Poole and winning, top nights."
"Just like to say enjoyed the Bill Andrew article. Remembered him well at Poole giving 100% all the time. In 1968 he held the Pirates together when Gote Nordin went back to Sweden after one meeting, still we found Odd Fossengen that year with his battered old pickup truck and red tank speedway bike. Anybody remember him riding over 2 laps and finishing second with only half of his handlebars, legend! Good times."
"A great article from Alan Pennington. Like him, I wonder now whether I'm going through the motions by watching live speedway. Sadly, the total destruction of Plough Lane, Wimbledon, is now complete and there isn't a track in London or within 50 miles now. This year thanks to the virus we haven't been able to showcase the sport on TV, and quite frankly the Polish stuff without a crowd has been lamentable. I grieve for the sport I love, having spent many happy Tuesday's at West Ham and Friday's at Hackney in the 60's and 70's.
Like Alan, I note the lack of the younger generation at the few meetings I do attend now. Maybe a return to the "old" rules (especially the nonsense at the start - What would Tony Lomas have made of those first out of the gate now?), and the freedom to choose handlebars (remember the wide sweeping cow horns that some used?) would give the sport some of its spectacle back. But, I won't hold my breath.
A once proud and magnificent sport now seems to be slowly dying on the back of political correctness (you aren't excluded now but disqualified), and ridiculous rules courtesy of the BSPA and the FIM which have slowly throttled the life out of it. I shall continue to attend meetings when and where I can, but each year they seem to get less and less important. Nobody though can take away the memories. Thank you speedway for everything."
"Thanks for this brilliant piece which answered many questions for me. I was a 15 yr old Wolves follower at the time and had been to my first meeting at Monmore a few weeks earlier but was not at the meeting where Gary died. I found out the following day seeing it in the Express & Star headline when shopping i n town next day.
It was such a numbing shock I never read the account of the accident.
I became a regular from 1978 with some friends and in one meeting some time after this we were cheering Alan Grahame who was guesting for Wolves that night when one of the older fans stood behind us on the home straight chimed in: "What do you mean 'come on Alan!'? That man killed Gary Peterson!" A woman in their group was visibly distressed and they did not elaborate on how Alan was supposed to have done this. Seeing this piece and attached comments removes the asterisk from Alan Grahame's name for me. Maybe some fans were still traumatised and naturally blamed the survivor in order to cope.
Right up until Wolves were "relegated" to the National League we always seemed one rider short of having a competitive side. I often wondered especially if 1978 would've been quite as disastrous with Gary Peterson alongside Hans Nielsen, Dave Morton and Jimmy Mac and whether he could have emulated his friend Ole Olsen and become Wolves's second World Champion. Or would he have followed Ole to Coventry instead? Alas we shall never know."
"Enjoyed your reminiscences Alan - just one thing Ray Harris -also one of my favourites did ride after Stoke closed, for Newport in 1964 and 1965. In fact Ray scored 7 points at Long Eaton for a Newport away win in 1965 I recall an older speedway fan at that meeting seeing a hectic race with Ray Harris against Ken Adams and saying how great it was to see two old timers giving it their all. I recall that particular race (hitch-hiked up to Long Eaton) - great days and great riders!!"
"Alan's is another sad story of a supporter lost to the sport. Like myself he tells a similar story, a relative or friend persuades you to go speedway and you become hooked. Living in London, Stoke was a track I enjoyed going to, paying many a visit, a couple of times stopping off at Alton Towers with Loomer Road rounding off a wonderful day.
His thoughts on why British Speedway has declined is shared by most of us but I think other factors have contributed, we are told there's not enough riders yet you have track sharing, air fences have reduced the widths of tracks thus reducing racing lines, an example Rye House the last track I was able to get to became poor racing once an air fence was introduced especially when they went Premiership, out to the fence and stay there, no passing unless mistakes were made, ironically Rye had a safer (collapsible) fence than the air fence.
Even if you watched Swedish Speedway on Freeview and Polish on You-tube you were watching the same riders in each league. Fortunately we have the internet with websites such as this where we can share our speedway memories of a time when it was enjoyable, great in these times of coronavirus with self isolating and thank goodness for Zoom and Facebook Messenger. "
Alan has been a fan since the fifties, but fears he has seen has last live meeting now that Stoke Potters are no more. Having seen racing at 74 UK tracks, he's well placed to offer some opinion on the sport.
"Saw a couple of meetings at the Hayley stadium, one against Birmingham the other was the New Year Classic. The Brum meeting had some great racing made even better by the fact that Brum came out on top - this was ridden on a beautiful summers day.
The visit for the New Year Classic was a little different. There had been a lot of rain but the meeting went on even though the track was like a pudding bowl. Racing was very difficult due to the conditions and I had noticed that anyone standing near to the bend three fence got filled in with splattering shale as the riders entered the bend. There were five of us and we wondered around the track watching the racing from different vantage points. I stopped the group at bend three as we chatted. As the riders came round four of us crouched using my brother-in-law as a shield and true to form he got covered from head to toe...as you can imagine we were all very sympathetic.....happy days!"
"Re: "suitable for crimewatch" - Ukrainian Igor Marko who died after a mugging/street robbery in Rivne in 2006. Although over 40 he was still active in the Ukraine. Career highlight was the 1986 European Junior Championship (now called World under 21) which he won from Tony Olsson and Brian Karger. He appeared in Britain in 1990 as part of a USSR touring team."
"Just came across this article. Me and my mate hitch-hiked to Skeggy for a few days back in the 70's. On the Sunday Boston were at home to my beloved Brummies in the second leg of a cup match. We hitched back to New Hammond Beck Road and pitched our tent on an embankment outside the stadium which I think overlooked bends 1 and 2. Our intention was to go into the stadium but we had such a good view we watched from the embankment. We witnessed a great meeting as Boston stormed into a 14 point lead only for Brum to fight back and earn a draw and won the tie on aggregate."
"I remember this meeting has if it was yesterday (not 46 years ago). This was the first time a bunch of us lads (Long Eaton Archers Supporters) had taken our wives/girlfriends to an big individual meeting. We arrived early and went to watch the South London Rangers Cycle Speedway team against a Select Side. An entertaining match, which the Rangers won. I have the program somewhere.
Any way, off to the meeting. My mate Paul's GF (later wife) was a massive John Boulger fan, who fell in his first ride and was unable to continue due to a shoulder injury. It was a great meeting for another Friend (Big Rog) wife, because Peter Collins won it, and she was from Manchester and an Aces Fan.
The fates hadn't finished with us yet. On the way home, the Mini bus broke down. Gary and Tony who drove the bus had to trudge over a mile to the nearest breakdown phone box. After dropping everybody off safely I finally crawled into bed around 5 the following morning. Later I rang my the girlfriend (at the time) Loran up to see how she was, and had to explain to her irate Dad, what had happened to the bus. Any way thanks for reading the story and the memories of an Old Man."