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Issue 19 - Freddie Williams Interview

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WINTER 2012-13


Welcome to issue 19 of Classic Speedway and another feast of nostalgia . . .



He was the first Brit to win the World Championship twice and was also runner-up once in between those Wembley triumphs on his home track in the early 50s. But you would never have guessed it if you didn’t already know him as the greatest Welsh speedway rider ever and one of Britain’s finest. We visit the Berkshire home of Wembley Lions legend and humble hero Freddie Williams, who loaned us some pictures from his personal family archive to augment the editorial.


Read about Fred’s schooldays in Port Talbot with Hollywood actor to be Richard Burton; his rapid rise from novice to World Champion; his views on Bill Kitchen and Tommy Price and why he hated riding with his younger brother Eric; the mechanical secrets of his Wembley success and the unrivalled professional set up at the Empire Stadium; the bizarre practice session that won him his second world title; what Sir Arthur Elvin was really like as a boss; his reasons for quitting speedway at 30; the Williams family’s sporting dynasty and much more.


Freddie told Classic Speedway’s Tony McDonald: “I realise now that I went about things the wrong way all through my career. I used to sign autographs and go to functions but I regarded it as a bit of a nuisance. I didn’t appreciate it at the time – it felt strange to me that people could even think I was marvellous. I didn’t consider myself a great World Champion. A fortunate one, yes. All I thought about was myself and I do regret that aspect of my career.”



Philip Dalling reached a personal speedway milestone this year, along with many others first attracted to the sport during the 60s revival. Those baby boomer fans are hoping to still be around for the sport’s centenary in 2028. But will speedway survive to reward their loyalty? We also list all 57 of the defunct tracks that have closed down in the past 50 years.



Roman Chyla recalls Poland’s first ever tour of British tracks in 1956 and the tempting offer one of their star riders found very difficult to resist.



One of three racing brothers, Oliver Hart was one of the greatest showmen of his time. John Chaplin recalls the career of the former Odsal favourite who put entertainment above all else.



Tony Webb pays tribute to the double Australian Champion, former Ipswich rider and colourful character who suffered more than 30 fractures in an eventful career.


Also remembered in our Chequered Flag column this time: Jack White, Merv Neil and Joe Hughes.



Extract from the lavish new book from John Chaplin and John Somerville.

Plus . . .


Stickers – how supporters showed their allegiance.


How Ove Fundin’s hometown in Sweden has honoured him in bronze.


John Hyam on how Bill Kitchen set Jack Winstanley on the right road, plus the night Canadian Jimmy Gibb won six out of 18 races for Wimbledon at New Cross.


Ian Hoskins on how Edinburgh’s George Hunter proved his point.


To order this issue and any back copies, please visit www.retro-speedway.com

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I have read my Copy - EXCELLENT as usual - but one thing puzzles me.




Why no Book on Freddie Williams? I bet he would have a terrific Life Story to tell. Surely the piece in 'CLASSIC' was just a 'taster' perhaps?

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