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tmc

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  1. tmc

    John Chaplin

    Very sad to hear this - John has been a highly valued and dedicated contributor to our Classic Speedway magazine since its inception in 2008. A brief tribute appears here: https://www.retro-speedway.com/homepage
  2. One per issue would be fine, Steve. It's good that you take an interest and actively get involved.
  3. The latest issue (91) is out now and here's a taster of what is inside . . . ISSUE 91 (March-April, 2019) SON OF MY FATHER: TONY & BARRY BRIGGS RICHARD BOTT catches up with Tony Briggs, who recalls the painful aftermath of his career-ending crash and explains why helping current riders to avoid a similar fate – and worse – has enabled him to make an indelible mark on the sport his famous father once dominated. In the second half of our main feature . . . How hard must it have been for Tony Briggs to follow his world famous father? TONY McDONALD put the question to the legendary Barry Briggs, who shines an insightful light on the obstacles that he is convinced hampered his son's speedway ambitions. BACKCHAT Q&A with Martin Rogers Introducing a regular new feature where you, our readers, have the chance to fire questions at our lead columnist. As one of the most respected promoters and administrators of the Backtrack era, no-one is better qualified to respond to questions about the burning issues of the 70s and 80s. Among subjects up for debate this time are the effects of the four-valve revolution, promoters who benefited from dual track interests, second-halves and the BSPA's World Final share-out. MR also reflects on what he considers to be the promoters' decision he most regrets from his time in the sport. THAT WAS THE YEAR: 1975 ANDREW SKEELS turns the clock back some 44 years to another great summer for the mighty England team. He also recalls how track conditions overshadowed Ole Olsen's second world title success and why new and returning teams helped the two domestic leagues to thrive. DAVID BILES – Exclusive interview One of the most popular riders in Poole's National League era and also a young star at Weymouth, David Biles tells PHIL CHARD why he was a reluctant hero and decided to quit while still a star heat leader at 22. NEWPORT: 50 Memorable Moments ROB PEASLEY looks at the South Wales club that was at the heart of the four-valve revolution in Europe, led by Australian great Phil Crump at a much-maligned track that even some of the world's best didn't relish visiting. Wasps and Dragons favourites featured include Torbjorn Harrysson, Sandor Levai, Tommy Johansson, Neil Street, Reidar Eide, Phil Herne, Steve Gresham, Brian Woodward, plus NL stars Mike Broadbank and Jim Brett and those who were prominent in the last era at Hayley Stadium in Queensway Meadows from 1997 until the club's sad demise in early 2012. ONE TRACK MIND DOUG NICOLSON looks at speedway's 'lifers', riders of the 70s and 80s who spent their entire career at just one track. Such loyal one club men include Bernie Leigh, Les Owen, Martin McKinna and Mike Caroline, plus those who rode for different clubs but under the same promotion – the likes of Eric Boocock and Norman Storer. THE WRITE STUFF – RICHARD CLARK There is much more to the long-serving former editor of Speedway Star than denim jeans, a thirst for Guinness and a carrier bag full of vinyl Bob Dylan albums. In this first of a fascinating two-part interview, TONY McDONALD traces Clarkie's path from school rebel to Star man. WORLD LONGTRACK FINALS of the 70s In part one of our review of speedway's 'bigger brother', ROB PEASLEY looks back at the early history of the FIM competition won by some of tracksport's all-time greats. Ivan Mauger, Ole Olsen, Anders Michanek, Egon Muller and Alois Wiesbock all claimed the 1,000 metres title in the decade under review. To buy this single issue or subscribe, please visit: https://www.retro-speedway.com/
  4. Thanks, Steve. We hope many more readers (even non-regulars) will fire their questions at Martin in the issues to come. If you have a question relating to speedway in the 70s and 80s that you would like Martin to answer, send it to us at editorial@retro-speedway.com.
  5. Not shooting in the dark. The closure of four teams since last season, with others looking ominously precarious, shines a burning light on the sport's obvious problem: promoters are paying riders more than they can afford.
  6. Well, as I suggested, IMMEDIATELY reducing team numbers from seven to six would be a good place to start to address the chronic rider shortage, so there's one short-term way of easing a major problem. No riders worthy of a team place would be out of work - not for long anyway.
  7. Then let's agree to disagree. Forget atmosphere, crowd levels, publicity, sponsors, national media coverage, relative lack of counter-attractions, and all the other things that the 70s and 80s had going for them, I will never accept that the GENERAL standard of racing in British speedway today is superior, or even close to being on a par with, what it was in the 70s and 80s. They really are planets apart. It's not even an argument. You could argue that the wider availability of good quality shale very much helped contribute to the entertainment value back in the day. But whatever it was, BL and NL racing, the actual excitement factor, was far superior - IN GENERAL - than what the Elite & Championship leagues produce today. End of.
  8. No, the standard of racing in British Speedway (BL & NL) generally WAS better! It really isn't a myth. Nothing to do with atmosphere. Please tell us where you watched speedway in the 70s & 80s?
  9. Where did you watch speedway? Fans, at Belle Vue in particular, would no doubt disagree. To see PC and Mort in full flow, using all the mutliple lines Hyde Road offered to a genuine thinking racer, was a sight to behold. Ditto Hackney (my track), where Bengt Jansson, Barry Thomas, Bo Petersen, Dave Morton and Zenon Plech, routinely scored points from the back by using the throttle AND their brains to pass opponents. Ditto Sheffield, where the Morans would miss the gate and pick their way through the field, almost at will, when the Owlerton track was well prepared. Ditto at King's Lynn, where 'Mike the Bike' in his prime would usually outwit and pass any opponent quick enough to beat him from the start. Ditto.... at most tracks and fans of the old (Div 2) National League will bear me out here. Examples are endless. Yes, of course, there were a lot of predictable heats won from-the-gate back in the day. As there always will be. It's the nature of speedway. But, by and large, there were many more opportunities taken, especially in the pre-1975 four-valve era, for lesser lights to shine at the occasional expense of superstars. Not so now.
  10. The five-page interview with Rob Godfrey in this week's Speedway Star certainly provides food for thought. Firstly, we can only take what we see quoted at face value and perhaps he said more which couldn't be included for space reasons. Benefit of the doubt. While I don't profess to know his background or what he does or doesn't do for the sport today, I've never spoken to the man, there are a number of points raised that I'd like to respond to and are worthy of further critical analysis (sorry to waffle on and hope you stay awake till the end!: SEMI-PRO OR AMATEUR? Rob alludes to, if not quite advocates, the idea of British speedway becoming semi-pro in the future, which (as I suggested in another recent BSF thread) it needs to do NOW in the short-term if it is to survive with any credibility left. He effectively spells it out just why this is the case when referring to the recent demise of Championship treble winners Workington. And the nail is well and truly smashed on the head in a separate, much smaller, item in the same issue of the Star in which Workington promoter Laura Morgan reveals that running the second tier club has cost her around £750,000 in total and that another injection of £75,000 would be required simply to run this year, when Comets would surely expect to incur at least the same loss, if not more given how hard it would be to repeat their 2018 triple. Later in the piece, Rob cites his own Josh Auty as one rider who "seems to make it pay" competing only in one league. If Auty can, who don't many others? As long as promoters keep paying them collectively more than what turnstiles and sponsorship income, they will continue to spend (waste?) money on expensive machinery, engine tuning, mechanics and fancy transport. Only the promoters can stop this happening. FULL-TIME PROMOTERS The question of professional promoters is a double-edged sword. Rob says that of the modern day regime, "not one of us needs to do it". Therein lies one problem: rightly or wrongly, they are not running their clubs on a full-time, 24/7 basis and don't depend on the sport for a living - unlike the likes of Fearman, Ochiltree, Silver, Dunton, Wilson, Thomas, Mawdsley, etc in days gone by. It was their livelihood - yes, of course, there were less counter-attractions competing for fans' money and - but they still had to work hard for it. For many (if not all) of today's ilk, speedway is a hobby they can indulge (for a while at least) to feed their egos. Unfortunately, the sport in Britain has been denigrated so much over the years that there is no turning back. COUNTING THE COST Rob reveals that winning the league (Div 2) in 2012 cost Scunthorpe 30 grand, suggesting Sheffield probably paid a similar price in their pursuit of honours. Later, he gives Glasgow as a prime example of a club that has the slickest PR machine in the country . . . yet still cannot attract sufficient crowds to meet their running costs. This, in itself, tells you all you need to know about promoters over-paying riders. The sums just don't add up. Yes, of course, riders deserve to be paid handsomely for the risks they take. But no business will survive, long-term, if it continues to ignore the basic rules of life: don't pay out more than you can afford. COMPARING THE PAST As for Rob's line about speedway today being "far, far better than it ever was", provocatively reproduced on the Star's front cover, I reckon thousands of our customers at Retro Speedway would vehemently disagree! To be fair, Rob is duty bound to promote his club and modern speedway in general, and in doing tries to discredit the past and (to paraphrase Harold Macmillan) convince his punters that "you've never had it so good". So we must assume that he never had the privilege of enjoying the likes of great entertainers such as Peter Collins, Chris Morton, the Morans, Bruce Penhall, Michael Lee, Ole Olsen, Jan O. Pedersen, Simon Cross, Malcolm Simmons, Mark Loram (started in 1987) . . . the list really is endless and I've not even mentioned the innumerable BL2/National League favourites who thrilled the crowds week in, week out. If he was talking about the Grand Prix, compared to the old and long-winded World Championship qualifying system, I'd be inclined to agree. The GPs routinely serve up tremendous entertainment and invariably top quality racing, where riders of equal ability are well matched. But comparing the GPs with the Elite League matches I've seen on telly is more often than not chalk and cheese. Riders strung out by half-a-lap isn't entertainment, nor any sort of advert for domestic speedway. From what we read, the point Rob doesn't seem to grasp here is that the days of a reserve or middle order man popping out of the gate and holding a world class rider at bay for all four laps are long gone and now rarer than a truthful MP. Speed, and the riders' unquenchable thirst for it, has helped kill the sport as a spectacle, although here the promoters of the mid-70s must shoulder a lot of blame for failing to nip the four-valve revolution in the bud before it sent costs spiralling out of control and that's where we are today. PROMOTING - HIGHLIGHTS PACKAGE I was encouraged to read of the BSPA's plans for a revamped website with hopes to include free-to-air matches. In the same issue I read that Poland will be airing a magazine-style show every Monday. So it begs the question: why haven't the BSPA done a deal with Go-Speed and all the individual DVD filming companies covering the tracks to put together, say, a weekly 30-minute show showcasing the past week's highlights, complemented by interviews with promoters and riders on current topics and burning issues? Would not a sufficient number of fans not be prepared to pay a nominal 50p or £1 per week throughout the season to cover production costs? The show could be offered as a download from the BSPA site with the same show being uploaded to YouTube a week later (if it hit YT at the same time, there would obviously be no point in paying the small sub). For obvious reasons, these edited highlights would not include any from 'live' BT Sport matches. British speedway desperately needs to harness its relationship with BT Sport if it is to have any hope of attracting a national sponsor, or backers for each of the three divisions (alas, Rob did not mention this failure on the BSPA's part). The BSPA already has the ideal experienced and knowledgeable anchor man/presenter on its pay roll in Nigel Pearson, while two or three of the best people producing DVDs could be tasked to edit the best action clips and interviews. Reality is, though, a weekly highlights download via the BSPA site or uploaded to YouTube probably won't attract one new supporters, especially a youngster who can't take his or her eyes off their smart phone for more than a few seconds. This will sound crazy to some, but promoters' priority should be to do all they can to KEEP their existing supporter base and TRY to win back those who have been disenfranchised over the part 10 years. Forget chasing new, young fans . . . speedway just doesn't cut it with them and very probably never will again. So forget them for now and focus all energies on keeping what you have and winning back the old faithful with fresh ideas, well prepared tracks and a professionally run sport. Only last week we at Retro Speedway were delighted to take on five new subscribers to our bi-monthly Backtrack magazine. OK, five in a matter of days is really nothing. But not in the context of where British speedway is now it isn't. They are five people who enjoyed reliving past memories but are now engaging with the sport again. Facebook is the biggest factor in this: whether you personally log on to FB or not and regardless of your personal preferences (FB, forum or Twitter), more and more of the older generation are signing up to Facebook's social media platform to 'chat' to kindred spirits - and that is where the BSPA should be looking to re-recruit former fans who might be tempted back into stadiums. This is where they will find their target audience. SOCIAL MEDIA Rob again uses Glasgow as his best example of a club that does social media very well. But he is wrong to excuse others clubs for not emulating them, or even going close to doing so, by using costs as an excuse. Having a good mate who runs a successful non-league football club, I can confirm that a good promo video was produced for them for as little as £750 . . . or, to put it another way, the equivalent of what some riders in UK speedway earn in one night. Running good Twitter and Facebook platforms is very inexpensive - all that's needed are the right people to manage and execute it to an acceptably professional standard and who have the imagination to offer what supporters should expect from these services. DOUBLING-UP, GUESTS AND RACE FORMAT While Rob was of course asked about how the rampant use of guests and doubling-up does untold harm to the sport's image, he dismisses very lightly the suggestion that the problems would be eased by cutting team numbers from seven to six and adopting a new heat formula (six-man teams have been used in the past). Am I missing something here? British speedway doesn't have enough riders of a certain minimum standard to staff its three leagues, and yet the hierarchy blindly sticks with seven-man teams even though virtually every club in the land is inevitably soon forced into calling up guests and doubling-up riders. Rob admits: "We don't have a big enough crop of riders without doubling-up, which is what causes all the problems". We know what the problems are, Rob. What we desperately need from people like you who govern and run the sport are solutions and ideas. Six-man teams (even in the short-term, until the young Brits coming up are up to scratch in a few years' time) won't eradicate the needs for guests, R/R and doubling-up but surely it's a no-brainer as at least a starting point . . . or please tell me why it isn't? What disillusions me more than anything when I read comments from promoters in the wake of another BSPA AGM is the chronic lack of ideas and innovation. I mean, why aren't one or two competitions run on slightly different formats and rules? Where's the variety - if not in terms of team numbers, then at least in competition formats? Even the rightly much-maligned England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had the gumption to realise that fans needed more than a staple diet of four-day Championship games and the sport has generally reaped the benefit of introducing two DIFFERENT limited-overs formats, the 50-over one-day league and T20 knockout comp, which are replicated in all major cricketing countries. I'd like to see a promoter come up with something a bit radical and off the wall. Put on a 16 or 20-heat meeting that embraces different sections: team racing and individual events; perhaps throw in a couple of match-races (Golden Helmet & Silver Helmet - remember them?); a few handicap races where the top riders start off the back grid; a 4-heat 250cc juniors event; maybe even a ladies' race (look how much national publicity is afforded to women's football and cricket at domestic and international level ). Indeed, why not run the KO Cup along these lines for a season on an experimental basis? Supporters might actually look forward to attending, because it's DIFFERENT. But with British speedway, it's the tired, predictable same old, same old. Lots of ongoing, familiar problems, very few solutions.
  11. I'll have to read the piece in full later today before commenting but his throwaway line (used as a pull quote) along the lines of today's racing being much better than it was in the 60s, 70s & 80s certainly raised an eyebrow here. He obviously never saw PC - to name just one - in his prime.
  12. tmc

    SPEEDWAY MAIL.

    Indeed, that is what we are now doing in each issue of Backtrack. Interviewees/subjects have so far included: Ian MacDonald, John Chaplin, Martin Rogers and now Don Allen.
  13. BACKCHAT FROM our next issue (No. 91) we will be introducing a regular new feature called BACKCHAT, where readers get the chance to fire questions at our main columnist MARTIN ROGERS. As one of the leading promoters and most respected administrators of the Backtrack era, no-one is better qualified to respond to questions about the burning issues of the 70s and 80s. They don't have to be just about the tracks at which he promoted, King's Lynn, Leicester and Peterborough. He is also 'up' for tackling all the wide-ranging issues from that special period. So, please email your questions as soon as possible to us at editorial@retro-speedway.com. Type 'BACKCHAT' in the subject line, be sure to include your full name . . . and we'll forward them on to MR. Martin's responses will appear in issue 91 and from then on . . .
  14. ISSUE 90 (JANUARY - FEBRUARY, 2019) Issue 90 is on sale and here's a flavour of what to expect . . . THE MONEY MEN One of many elements missing from modern speedway is the excitement of the transfer market. When the old rider control system was phased out, and a points limit instituted, it soon coincided with a decade in which buying and selling of riders was much in vogue – and, as he recalls here, MARTIN ROGERS was king of the wheeler-dealers. We also list the biggest movers of the 1970-89 period, all riders who were involved in transfer deals in excess of £10,000. SON OF MY FATHER: KYM & IVAN MAUGER In the first of a regular new series, RICHARD BOTT talks to the man who had the impossible task of trying to follow in the tyre tracks of the legend widely regarded as the greatest-ever speedway rider. Kym Mauger, who had spells with Newcastle and Glasgow in the 80s, opens up about life with his famous dad, Ivan. THAT WAS THE YEAR: 1983 ANDREW SKEELS reflects on a year in which double winners Cradley Heath ruled the top sphere, Newcastle regained the National League title, Denmark began a long unbroken spell of world domination, Egon Müller became the home track hero, while Leicester suffered a crushing, terminal blow. SCUNTHORPE: 50 Memorable Moments They were tagged 'unfashionable' and endured many seasons of struggle but as ROB PEASLEY records, Scunthorpe were once led by a Scottish legend and, in more recent times, a future three times World Champion. CHRIS MARTIN – Exclusive interview Not even a bad injury that ended his brief British racing career can spoil Chris Martin's happy memories with Weymouth in the early 80s, when he was 'living the dream'. PHIL CHARD catches up with a former referee, GP start marshal and friend of the Briggs family. THE WRITE STUFF – DON ALLEN As TONY McDONALD and others who knew the creator of the groundbreaking Speedway Stop Press observe, they don't make journalists like this innovative, diligent, honourable gentleman anymore. DAG LOVAAS – Exclusive interview A recent emotional visitor to Oxford Stadium was Norwegian Dag Lovaas, the No.1 for Rebels in 1975, who was making his first return to his former track since riding in an inter-league four team tournament at Cowley in 1976. THE LATE SHOW The British speedway season is officially meant to end on the final day of October. But, as DOUG NICOLSON explains, extensions into November – even for less important fixtures – were by no means unusual. To order this issue or subscribe, please visit www.retro-speedway.com
  15. tmc

    SPEEDWAY MAIL.

    Firstly, sorry that I have only just seen your 16-year-old comment! What a lovely man your father, Bruce Grainger, was. Loved his laid-back approach, great sense of humour and his professionalism when supplying copy and pics during my time as editor of Speedway Mail. Yes, he was one of the first to write AND take his own photos to complement his words. We really looked forward to his weekly package arriving at the Mail office. No email or digital images in those days, of course, so he had to type up his copy (always nicely spaced out for the benefit of our typesetters), print up his pics and then pop them in the post to us. Bruce had a great eye for the offbeat and unusual pic too, so his contributions were always interesting. Attending his funeral was a sad occasion, because his passing came so suddenly (heart attack, if I recall?). He was a great loss to the Mail and I had to be there to pay my last respects to a very likeable, humble guy. While talking of the Mail, we have covered its rise and fall in considerable depth in past issues of Backtrack. But last summer I was delighted to catch up with and interview founding editor Ian MacDonald for our new 'The Write Stuff' column (issue 87), in which we talk to journos who have covered the sport. Ian gave a fascinating insight into the period 1973-78 (when John Hyam worked part-time shifts there) and explained all the issues raised earlier in this thread about the paper's struggles to gain readership and the obstacles it had to try and overcome. You can order this back issue here at www.retro-speedway.com
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