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Your memories of Americans in British League (1970-90)

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Posted (edited)

HERE COME THE . . . AMERICANS

In the next issue (86) of Backtrack, Martin Rogers will be looking back at the American 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 Americans 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

The feats of the recognised superstars and Test match regulars Scott Autrey, Steve Gresham, Bruce Penhall, Bobby Schwartz, Dennis Sigalos, the Moran brothers, Ron Preston, Sam Ermolenko, Lance King, John Cook, Rick Miller, Ronnie Correy, etc have been well documented.

But what do you recall of lesser lights, such as the early 70s imports Steve Bast, Rick Woods, Sumner McKnight, Tommy Morley, followed by those who came here in the 80s: Steve Colombo, Gene Woods, Brad Oxley, Larry Kosta, the late Denny Pyeatt, Rob Pfetzing, Randy Green, Bobby Ott, etc.

We look forward to hearing from you ASAP – respond and you might well get your name in Backtrack!

Thanks,
Tony Mac

 

Edited by tmc

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One thing that is undeniable is the touch of glamour and the showmanship the Americans brought with them; something I feel there is too little of in the sport today. Kelly Moran hanging off the bike was a sight to behold. They were box office and the media and fans loved it.

I remember being at Cradley the night Bruce Penhall was saying his farewells. There was a long line of teenage girls in various degrees of tearful distress waiting for their few moments with their idol. They were all heartbroken he was quitting. To be honest, I was too. I'll never forget that amazing night at Wembley when he pipped Olsen and Knudsen on the line from behind. He was on a mission that night and nothing was going to stop him being world champion.

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Scott Autrey coming over in 1973 for me put the Yanks on the map Rick  Woods quit. Sumner McKnight not up to it yet Scott went on to have a really good debut season.I first see Scott ride in the 1973 Silver Plume meeting at Swindon and he impressed right away he then went on to become a world class rider and arguably was good anough to be a World Champion in 1978 or 79 a real class act.

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15 minutes ago, Sidney the robin said:

Scott Autrey coming over in 1973 for me put the Yanks on the map Rick  Woods quit. Sumner McKnight not up to it yet Scott went on to have a really good debut season.I first see Scott ride in the 1973 Silver Plume meeting at Swindon and he impressed right away he then went on to become a world class rider and arguably was good anough to be a World Champion in 1978 or 79 a real class act.

...I seem to recall that Sumner McKight's family owned or had something to do with the 'Greyhound' bus franchise in the States?

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52 minutes ago, steve roberts said:

...I seem to recall that Sumner McKight's family owned or had something to do with the 'Greyhound' bus franchise in the States?

Had a very wealthy family so his aquipment was top notch  he just didn't adjust.What was quite amazing at the time 1973 he was mentioned as a replacement for Barry Briggs really.!!!

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My earliest memory was seeing Steve bast ride for Wembley in 1970. I was only a nipper at the the time, but I'm sure his stay was very brief!.

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20 minutes ago, cityrebel said:

My earliest memory was seeing Steve bast ride for Wembley in 1970. I was only a nipper at the the time, but I'm sure his stay was very brief!.

...died tragically some years ago living a life of a recluse I recall.

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18 minutes ago, steve roberts said:

...died tragically some years ago living a life of a recluse I recall.     

 

 

     Both Bast brothers won 9  USA National titles between them something really to be proud of     we  have all wondered how Mike would of done in Britain i felt Wimbledon would of been right for him.He could of  had a great career in the UK. Alan Christian and Jeff Sexton are two other Americans who could of been a success in UK.

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1 minute ago, Sidney the robin said:

 

 

     Both Bast brothers won 9  USA National titles between them something really to be proud of     we  have all wondered how Mike would of done in Britain i felt Wimbledon would of been right for him.He could of  had a great career in the UK. Alan Christian and Jeff Sexton are two other Americans who could of been a success in UK.

...Jeff Sexton one rider Oxford were pursuing during 1974 (?) but it came to naught!

One time 'Robin' Bart Bast had a try over here (think he was the son/nephew of Steve?) but soon departed...rather unfairly, I thought, as he showed some promise.

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8 minutes ago, steve roberts said:

...Jeff Sexton one rider Oxford were pursuing during 1974 (?) but it came to naught!

One time 'Robin' Bart Bast had a try over here (think he was the son/nephew of Steve?) but soon departed...rather unfairly, I thought, as he showed some promise.

Bart was very promising and was still riding not so long ago     Gene Woods and Keith Chrisco were two others that given time would of improved in the U.K.

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big bad Brad at Wimbledon, awkward style as so tall, but did ok although rather frustrating

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Mike Curoso? Always seems a bit of the forgotten man when we talk about the American invasion. Two years at Hull and one at Poole. As I recall he was a solid second string who was certainly capable of making further progress. Can't remember why he didn't return, I'm sure he would have had a good enough average to get a work permit. Having said that my main memory of him is pushing his bike for the best part of a lap at Dudley Wood one evening.

 

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1 hour ago, salty said:

Mike Curoso? Always seems a bit of the forgotten man when we talk about the American invasion. Two years at Hull and one at Poole. As I recall he was a solid second string who was certainly capable of making further progress. Can't remember why he didn't return, I'm sure he would have had a good enough average to get a work permit. Having said that my main memory of him is pushing his bike for the best part of a lap at Dudley Wood one evening.

 

Funny thing is, I was totally in awe the first time I saw Curoso. I know Americans were usually pretty good round Plough Lane, but 10+3 from the reserve berth on his first visit was very special. Going by his performance that night, I thought he could really go places. For some reason, it never happened.

I couldn't wait for Hull to visit the following year, but this time, he only managed one point. Then, the switch to Poole didn't work out for him, and I was really disappointed that someone who appeared so talented was lost to British speedway.

Steve

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52 minutes ago, chunky said:

Funny thing is, I was totally in awe the first time I saw Curoso. I know Americans were usually pretty good round Plough Lane, but 10+3 from the reserve berth on his first visit was very special. Going by his performance that night, I thought he could really go places. For some reason, it never happened.

I couldn't wait for Hull to visit the following year, but this time, he only managed one point. Then, the switch to Poole didn't work out for him, and I was really disappointed that someone who appeared so talented was lost to British speedway.

Steve

Sadly took his own life some years ago.

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