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Everything posted by tmc

  1. OK, a million different views have been expressed about the cause of British speedway's steady decline towards the abyss and what has caused it over the past 30 years or so, but let's cut to the chase and get to the point. Forget stupid nonsense such as the black & white helmet and the tac sub rule (where and when it should be applied) - they are not compelling reasons in themselves why most clubs are running at a loss, even some who would have you believe they are doing everything very well (see you, Glasgow). There are very clearly a number of factors which, when combined, have broken the camel's back. But, for all speedway's ridiculous self-inflicted damage by self-serving promoters, some problems are unique in a speedway sense and are beyond the BSPA's control. No-one seems to want to even mention it, but speedway fans are feeling the pinch more than anyone. We know that through our business. Talking generally, whether supporters' income has been reduced due to unemployment, their benefit allowance cut, or they would rather spend what relatively little disposable income they have on other things, the harsh reality is speedway is losing out. The promoters can't continue to charge more for less, it's totally illogical and will only end in tears. So let's state no more than SIX good reasons why British speedway is in such a perilous mess (and, by definition, what needs putting right). We can start another thread with six things that would IMPROVE British speedway another day soon, but let' s start by recognising the problems before looking at possible solutions... All I would ask is, please be realistic . . . WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG? 1 2 3 4 5 6 BSPA, you might want to take note . . .
  2. HERE COME THE . . . NORWEGIANS In the next issue (84) of Backtrack, Martin Rogers will be looking back at the Norwegian riders who competed in the British League between 1970 and 1990.in the 70s & 80s... Alongside the main piece will be a section of supporters' comments about the Norsemen who raced in the UK during that era, so please either post your personal recollections, anecdotes, memories or opinions here or email us at: editorial@retro-speedway.com Remember the big names: Sverre Harrfeldt, Reidar Eide and Dag Lovaas, plus Einar Kyllingstand who kept the flag flying during the 80s. And others who enjoyed spells of stardom in the BL: Oyvind Berg, Odd Fossengen, Edgar Stangeland, the unlucky Rolf Gramstad and Tormod Langli. But we are also keen to read your thoughts on their fellow countrymen who spent less time in the spotlight . . . the tragic Svein Kaasa, his replacement at Glasgow Kjell Gimre, Ulf Lovaas, Ove Olsen, Jan Gravningen, Tom Godal, Sigvart Pedersen, We look forward to hearing from you ASAP – respond and you might well get your name in Backtrack! Thanks, Tony Mac
  3. Oldest Survivng World Finalists

    We have interviewed Jim Airey for the next issue of both Backtrack and Classic Speedway magazine.
  4. Many thanks to those who took the trouble to contribute.
  5. Promoters wasted the vast majority of it on riders, who in turn spent it on super-fast equipment and engine tuners.
  6. The most depressing thing about comparing UK speedway with all these other 'minor' sports is that we have no chance of ever attracting a rich benefactor in the mould of Kerry Packer or Barry Hearn, etc. Speedway's 'Sugar Daddy' for the past 20 years was Tony Mole, and to a lesser extent Terry Russell, and they have both effectively thrown in the towel. Matt Ford is still hanging in there but for how long....?
  7. Well said, Rob. The BBC, nor any other broadcaster, owes speedway nothing.
  8. 2017-18 WINTER EDITION Welcome to issue 39 of our quarterly magazine BELLE VUE: 50 Memorable Moments Belle Vue celebrated a remarkable 90th successive season of racing in 2017. Rob Peasley looks back at the brilliant all-star Aces’ pre-war team and the exploits of arguably England’s finest-ever rider, the 'Wizard Of Balance' Peter Craven. Jack Parker, Bill Kitchen, Ron Johnston, Ken Sharples, Henry Long, Dick Fisher, Soren Sjosten, Ivan Mauger, Dent Oliver, Eric Broadbelt and Ken Eyre also feature in this look back at the pre-70s Hyde Road era. PAYNE and GLORY – the Arthur Payne story In a new interview, John Chaplin catches up with former Australian and Birmingham star Arthur Payne, who progressed rapidly from Division Three unknown at Tamworth to the top flight in just three seasons. PHIL the POWER – Phil Woodcock interview Phil Woodcock became an instant star with second division Romford. Paul Hiscock spoke to the former Bombers No.1 who launched his career in his native West Country. BORN SHOWMAN Doug Nicolson recalls the life and times of former promoter Ian Hoskins, one of the sport's biggest publicity-seeking showmen who did more than anyone to put Scottish speedway on the map. HOMES OF BRITISH SPEEDWAY: WEST HAM Custom House opened its doors to speedway in July 1928 and remained one of the sport's great bastions until the bulldozers razed it to the ground in 1972. We look back at the history of this large venue in the docklands heartland of east London, where star riders included: Tiger Stephenson, Bluey Wilkinson, Tommy Croombs, Arthur Atkinson, Eric Chitty, Malcolm Craven, Wally Green, Aub Lawson, Cliff Watson, Jack Young, Bjorn Knutson, Ken McKinlay, Sverre Harrfeldt, Norman Hunter, Malcolm Simmons, Tony Clarke, Olle Nygren, Christer Lofqvist and Kevin Holden. GENTLEMAN JACK David Beresford catches up with Jack Lee, one of speedway's unsung heroes who was in at the birth of British League Division Two and went on to become a respected team manager nurturing future stars. MISSING MEN – why nothing's new The 2017 Championship season ended in a state of flux, with rained-off meetings leading to hurried rearrangements, star riders opting out of prestigious individual meetings, some staying in Europe rather than returning for league meetings, others flying out to Australia before completing their fixtures and some dubious claims of riders being unable to ride due to illness or injury. But, as Doug Nicolson ponders, was it any different in the 'good old days'? . . . Plus . . . Antonin Kasper and Les Steward obits, WSRA dinner pics, Crossword and full-page Bradford (1954) team photo. To order this single issue or subscribe for the year (4 issues) for as little as £16 (UK), please visit: www.retro-speedway.com
  9. Kelly Moran How Good.?

    Shawn was a much more consistent gater, although - obviously - he was also brilliant from the back. His first race against Per Jonsson in the 1990 World Final was a classic.
  10. Kelly Moran How Good.?

    If you can spare five minutes, have a peek at this trailer for our KELLY MORAN RACING DVD... https://youtu.be/oZQHlhnXf_U
  11. Oldest Survivng World Finalists

    Not only is Arthur Payne still with us, he has just been interviewed by John Chaplin for our next issue of Classic Speedway magazine (issue 39)!
  12. Dave Rattenberry Rip

    A great character and part of the speedway 'family'. It was a great pleasure meeting up with 'The Rat' on Tee Mill Tours trips to foreign venues in the late 70s and early 80s, when we'd indulge our passion for speedway and football. I recall him once dragging me off to a Dutch Division 3 football game at VVV. On another occasion in Holland (think indoor speedway was on at the AHOY Arena) we saw the derby, Sparta Rotterdam v Feyenoord, starring the veteran Johan Cruyff and young starlet Ruud Gullit. Dave had a great knowledge of football, as well as speedway, and travelled all over the world to watch the most obscure teams. He'd go to far flung grounds in Africa to watch African Cup of Nations matches. God knows how many grounds he visited over the years - it must have been well into four figures - and I remember once mentioning to him that he should have taken photos wherever he went and turned it into what would have been a great illustrative book. I think he had the good fortune some years back to win a substantial six-figure sum on the football pools, but he never boasted about it. I guess it helped him to get around the world and see places most of us can only dream about, and others we'd never even heard of! Of course, Dave handled sales of Speedway Mail back in the day, and for the past 14 years or so Backtrack and Classic Speedway as well as our various books. I'll always have this image of him munching on a bacon sarnie while chatting about 'The Wolves'. RIP, Dave.
  13. ISSUE 83 (NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2017) - OUT NOW! BIG Moments Drama, controversy, thrills, spills, shocks, great racing, race fixing and mechanical disaster . . .the original World Championship had it all. Tony McDonald recalls key moments from the last 25 years of the individual title race as Backtrack readers knew it. Here come the . . . SWEDES In the latest of his series recalling the overseas imports that ventured to the British League, Martin Rogers runs his rule over the Swedes, included big box office attractions such as Anders Michanek, Soren Sjosten, Christer Lofqvist, Bernt Persson and Tommy Jansson, plus one of his personal long-serving favourites Richard Hellsen. Backtrack readers also recall their memories of Swedish riders who rode in the UK, including the late Leif Wahlmann, Per Jonsson, Jan Andersson, Hasse Holmqvist, Tony Olsson and Roland Danno. Double standards The farcical increase in riders who appear regularly for two different teams, ever-growing use of the Rider Replacement facility and the crazy proliferation of guests has reached epidemic proportions. Doug Nicolson examines the early history of doubling-up. THAT WAS THE YEAR: 1988 Andrew Skeels looks back on another year dominated by Danes, while Coventry and Hackney reigned supreme on the domestic front as British speedway celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. KING CINDER . . . 40 years on Speedway barely gets a mention in BBC Television circles these days but in 1977-78 our sport was central to the plot of a fictional children's TV series viewed by tens of thousands. Rob Peasley sets the scene and speaks to several ex-Rye House riders who took part in filming of King Cinder. CRAYFORD: 50 Memorable Moments Deft throttle control and a good racing brain were two vital ingredients riders needed to thrive in the tight confines of the tricky London Road track. ROB PEASLEY looks back at the Kent club's stop-start existence in the second tier and recalls the impact made by star riders such as Mick Handley, Geoff Ambrose, Tony Childs, Laurie Etheridge, Alan Sage, Les Rumsey, Paul Woods, Steve Naylor, Barry Thomas, Trevor Banks, etc. OPENING TIMES – Castleford 1979 Recalling the two-year Castleford experiment in 1979-80, Andrew Skeels talks to Kevin Clapham, the man who rode most laps at the short-lived West Yorkshire venue. Ex factor – the free passes debate continues In our last issue Tony Mac advocated free admission to UK tracks for all ex-riders who have ridden for at least one season in British speedway and readers, for and against the idea, had their say too. This time, Martin Rogers responds from a promoter's viewpoint. To buy this single issue or take out a subscription for just £22 per year (UK), go online at www.retro-speedway.com Thank you.
  14. Peter Collins Article

    At last, some sense.
  15. In My View By Phil Rising

    There probably are more than 101 things that need sorting but isn't it the averages - and manipulation of them - that are at the root of many of the shenanigans, relentless swathe of team changes in mid-season and other problems that currently beset the sport in the UK?
  16. In My View By Phil Rising

    The minimum/maximum points limit should be scrapped and a much simpler A, B & C grading system introduced for SIX-MAN teams. As there is a shortage of riders, adopt a new race formula tailored to six-man teams (it was used before back in the 60s, I think). Put riders into three different categories, based on their final averages, and let promoters sign whoever they want but they must choose TWO riders from each grade. For example: GRADE A: 8.00-12.00 GRADE B: 6.00-7.99 GRADE C: 0.00-5.99 All foreign newcomers to be given a Grade B rating Cut out all this throwing races nonsense to lower averages and teams being ripped apart over tiny margins of team averages. Keep it simple.
  17. In My View By Phil Rising

    We believe that Redcar will ride at Sheffield tomorrow night without ANY of their regular team members - so will have a full team of guests. Compare this farce to 1988, when ONLY FOUR guests were used throughout the ENTIRE National League season. The NL's director of operations, Alan Hodder, said at the time: “I think it proves we can get rid of them once and for all.”
  18. HERE COMES THE . . . SWEDES In the next issue (83) of Backtrack, Martin Rogers will be looking back at the Swedish riders who competed in the British League in the 70s & 80s... Alongside the main piece will be a section of supporters' comments about the Swedes who raced in the UK during that era, so please either post your personal recollections, anecdotes, memories or opinions here or email us at: editorial@retro-speedway.com Remember the superstars: Olle Nygren (the veteran who was in his twilight years at the start of the Backtrack era), Anders Michanek, Soren Sjosten, Bengt Jansson, Bernt Persson, Christer Lofqvist, Hasse Holmqvist, Jan Andersson, Per Jonsson, Jimmy Nilsen, Henka Gustafsson and the late and much lamented Tommy Jansson, who was cruelly taken from us far too soon. B ut we are particularly keen to read your thoughts on their many fellow countrymen who perhaps didn't spend so much time in the spotlight . . . Christer Sjosten (another who was tragically killed), Tommy Johansson, Tommy Nilsson, long-serving Richard Hellsen, Bo Wirebrand, Soren Karlsson, Stefan Salomonsson, Bjorn Andersson, Anders Eriksson, Tony Olsson, Peter Nahlin. And not forgetting those who flickered only very briefly in the BL: Peter Smith, Bo Jansson, Uno Johansson, Hasse Danielsson, Bengt & Pierre Brannefors, Borge Ring, Conny Ivarsson, Erik Stenlund, Mikael Blixt and another fatal track victim, Leif Wahlmann, etc . . . We look forward to hearing from you ASAP - respond and you might well get your name in Backtrack! Thanks, Tony Mac
  19. Tragedy Kenny Carter

    Thank you.
  20. Sunderland Reunion 2017

    We'll happily give this a plug in the new issue of Classic Speedway mag. But how do our readers order/buy tickets if they are not online or don't read the BSF? Do you have contact phone number(s) or email addresses we can print in issue 38, which comes out in the next two weeks? The name and full postal address of the venue, along with start time, would also be handy!
  21. Tragedy Kenny Carter

    Thanks for your kind comments about both books we published on the Carter brothers. Blimey, how come the Rye House shop still had a copy for sale? Crazy to think that Amazon are still selling copies for £50-plus. I found the one on Kenny particularly challenging to write, because we all knew the tragic ending. After two re-prints, there is no mileage in printing a third paperback edition but an updated and extended eBook of Tragedy can be bought from Amazon, for downloading to the Kindle e-reader, for just £4.99. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tragedy-Kenny-Carter-Love-Forget-ebook/dp/B0128VURS8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1505834052&sr=8-2&keywords=Kenny+Carter+Tragedy
  22. In My View By Phil Rising

    The joke is that riders are being paid far too much in relation to the crowd levels they 'attract', and yet the Speedway Riders' Association is toothless and, as far as I can see, non-existent. Imagine how much tougher it could be for some promoters to survive now if the SRA still had a voice and wielded any sort of power to challenge the sport's UK governing bodies. I recently interviewed Colin Gear, who ran the SRA from 1982 until 1991, for the next issue of Backtrack and it reminded us of all the different upheavals and controversies the riders' union became embroiled in back in the day . . . new safety measures (and that's one thing that definitely HAS improved in modern times) after the Denny Pyeatt fatality...tyre disputes...minimum NL pay rates (to which a number of promoters paid only lip service and found a way around the rules)...unpaid or late paid riders...Kenny Carter's feud with the Yanks (SRA was asked to intervene)...introduction of drug-testing, etc, etc.
  23. In My View By Phil Rising

    Utter madness that has only one outcome - unless the BSPA suddenly wake up, come to their senses and act fast.
  24. In My View By Phil Rising

    If riders with an inflated view of their own value demand to be paid more that current crowd levels sensibly allow, promoters should respond by offering them an incentive based on attendances. 'You ride for X when crowd levels are less than 700, 'Y' if they are between 700 and 1,000, and your pay increases to 'Z' more if the figure exceeds 1,000. It's not widely known that King's Lynn had this amicable deal with Terry Betts throughout his Saddlebow Road heyday. When Bettsy first agreed to join Lynn in 1966 (when they first became BL1 members after a year on open licence), he had the foresight and belief in his ability to put a price on his worth by riding for standard points and start money PLUS bonuses based on the Lynn attendance. He might have been a flop and not benefited at all from this private arrangement with his employers. But as it turned out he literally became THE Super Star the fans and the management adored. Terry was rewarded accordingly for doing more than any other KL rider to attract good (profitable) crowds for Maury Littlechild & Cyril Crane over more than a decade. In turn, they were happy to reward him for his efforts and pulling power. A win-win arrangement. It's a very simple equation: promoters should only pay riders what the speedway club can afford. To pay over the odds when crowds are dwindling is a path to financial ruin. It's no good a rider, including current Premiership number ones, making unreasonable demands on promoters based on how good they THINK they are, and how they need to finance a team of mechanics, three bikes, fancy vans and what have you. Truth is, for all their admirable bravery, they are only as good as the number of people who pay to watch them. Around 100,000 fans come to watch Ronaldo play at Real Madrid. How many pay to watch the best in British speedway? (Oh, and Bettsy ran a successful garage business alongside his racing career as a British League No.1, England star, 2 x GB World Cup winner and World Pairs champion.)
  25. In My View By Phil Rising

    Given British speedway's increasingly perilous position, most Premiership, Championship and National League riders should now be racing on an amateur basis and combining their track activity with a day job - just as it was for most in the early years of BL Division Two in the late 60s. How on earth can they demand to be paid as full-time professionals, with hefty guarantees and crazy points money, when they only 'perform' in front of a few hundred hardy souls and, in most cases, paltry crowds of little more than 1,000-1,500? Even average riders have been paid way too much for long enough. Now promoters must curb their rider expenditure and put them in their place. As you say, take it or leave it. Call their bluff. What are they going to do . . . quit speedway and become brain surgeons? If a number do retire, then come up with a league racing formula for six (or even five) man teams. That would help ease the doubling-up (if two main leagues were retained) and guests farce. Trouble is, it cannot happen until the BSPA speak and operate as one and abandon their individual vested interests. Is there a speedway-mad equivalent of Kerry Packer or Barry Hearn lurking in the shadows keen (foolish) enough to grab the sport by the throat and kick the useless members of the BSPA into touch and herald a new revolution . . .? Keep doing the Lottery, lads . .