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Rob B

Why speedway is failing

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1 hour ago, Ray Stadia said:

That simply isn't true. Moto X bikes used to be allowed at grasstrack events, especially in the 70s, but not anymore. A meeting might be padded out with quads, but they have their own heats. I haven't seen a club run with a separate event with moto x bikes in recent years. The 'non-adult' races, are virtually all grasstrack machines, except for the very little children going round on Pee Wee motorbikes. Are you referring to another country and not the UK?

Which riders are turning up at grasstrack meetings? And those that are, the prize money certainly won't be a 'nice little wage packet'.

You might be the exception then as our local grass meetings, and we are lucky if there are six a year around here, features very few genuine grass bikes , and I know because I competed in it. The only grass only bikes was the 160 class which was basically the older guys who no longer can safely handle a 500.

A speedway ‘ star ‘ was given a nice little guarantee fee to feature in a meeting recently to give it extra publicity. He promptly did two rides , poorly, and withdrew with an ‘injury ‘. Several riders have made appearances on the grass in the last few seasons as ‘ one offs ‘, just read the speedway star for evidence.

 

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29 minutes ago, old bob at herne bay said:

Why Speedway is failing?   .......how about   not enough people want to pay to watch it ?

I think people would pay to watch it if they were getting value for their money and in all a good night out. Sadly they are not. 

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2 hours ago, Fortythirtyeight said:

You might be the exception then as our local grass meetings, and we are lucky if there are six a year around here, features very few genuine grass bikes , and I know because I competed in it. The only grass only bikes was the 160 class which was basically the older guys who no longer can safely handle a 500.

A speedway ‘ star ‘ was given a nice little guarantee fee to feature in a meeting recently to give it extra publicity. He promptly did two rides , poorly, and withdrew with an ‘injury ‘. Several riders have made appearances on the grass in the last few seasons as ‘ one offs ‘, just read the speedway star for evidence.

 

I go to Grasstrack meetings and the difference from Speedway is getting narrower. Few if any top Speedway riders compete in Grasstrack as there is definitely little financial incentive thus investing in a Grassbike would be prohibitive. All bikes must to pass scrutineering so they have to be proper machines. I'm tying to put forward the positives not the negatives and basically lads want to race and people want to watch oval racing it's not 'rocket science'.

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11 hours ago, Pieman72 said:

I go to Grasstrack meetings and the difference from Speedway is getting narrower. Few if any top Speedway riders compete in Grasstrack as there is definitely little financial incentive thus investing in a Grassbike would be prohibitive. All bikes must to pass scrutineering so they have to be proper machines. I'm tying to put forward the positives not the negatives and basically lads want to race and people want to watch oval racing it's not 'rocket science'.

I went to a Grasstrack Meeting a few years back just outside Pickering and former Oxford junior Ricky Scarbro was taking part together with his son. He was by far the most impressive performer that day and I had a very enjoyable chat with him during a break in racing...I think that he was surprised that somebody recognised him!

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16 hours ago, old bob at herne bay said:

Why Speedway is failing?   .......how about   not enough people want to pay to watch it ?

Spot on Bob... let's face it regular league speedway is an outdated attraction that does not work in the 21st century except for long term enthusiasts.. The only model that might attract reasonable and potentially some news fans would be six or seven tracks spaced out around the country which held 5 or 6 meetings a year, a mix of individual and 'team' meetings.. However for all of the reasons mentioned by others this can't happen unless the stadium is fully owned and the owner can afford to run in this way...

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18 hours ago, Ray Stadia said:

That simply isn't true. Moto X bikes used to be allowed at grasstrack events, especially in the 70s, but not anymore. A meeting might be padded out with quads, but they have their own heats. I haven't seen a club run with a separate event with moto x bikes in recent years. The 'non-adult' races, are virtually all grasstrack machines, except for the very little children going round on Pee Wee motorbikes. Are you referring to another country and not the UK?

Which riders are turning up at grasstrack meetings? And those that are, the prize money certainly won't be a 'nice little wage packet'.

In the younger junior classes a lot of the kids are riding MotoX bikes these days, KTM 65's and the like. At least they are in this area.

18 hours ago, JamesHarris said:

Talking about Moto X I recall that promoters had a bit of a hard on (forgive me) for these type of riders coming straight into Speedway with hardly any experience. Is this still the case?

Makes a lot of sense really, you can have a 14 year old turn to Speedway who has been racing motorcycles competitively every weekend for 8 years. While the grasstrack and Speedway kids have been getting 5 minutes saddle time at a meeting and maybe 10 on a really good practice day the MX kid is getting an hours racing and 2 hours plus on a practice day and the practice days are far more local and frequent for most.

Personally I think practice days are the reason people turn away from Grasstrack and Speedway, it is far too difficult to get enough seat time to become any good. I can practice MX every weekend without travelling more than 40 minutes from home and race every weekend without travelling more than an hour. By contrast for a Speedway track now I need to travel a minimum of 2 1/2 hours for fairly infrequent practice sessions.

On another tack I think this thread shows up why Speedway is failing and we are all guilty of it. Look at most of the suggestions for improving the sport and how many are going to get a new spectator through the gate? Points limits, doubling up and so on mean nothing to people outside the sport and aren't the reason they aren't going to the track. It's a radical shake up in the way the sport is promoted that will bring new spectators in the gate in my opinion although the IOW do a fantastic job showing what can be achieved with things as they are.

The big problem as I see it is that Speedway is a weekly spectator sport and people just have too much other stuff to do these days to commit to a weekly sport unless it is top level Football (and even that is bi-weekly in the main). Unfortunately Speedway desperately needs to be using their facilities for other things but few own the track to enable this, and even those that do often struggle with planning permission allowing it. 

So if we accept that Speedway cannot rely on people through the gate to make money then the alternative is to bring other income into the sport or cut costs. Cost cutting will bring the sport to a largely amateur level in the UK in the next decade I believe. Speedway is made for TV but unfortunately failed to capitalise on the opportunity and unless they can change that I don't see large scale sponsorship saving the sport. In my opinion the sport now relies on it's future on TV to survive at a professional level and therefore probably as a team sport.

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To be honest, I'm suprised any youngsters take up the sport. There are very few on the terraces watching them. Why would any kids want to be associated with a prehistoric sport inhabited by Dinosaurs!

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Vince said:

In the younger junior classes a lot of the kids are riding MotoX bikes these days, KTM 65's and the like. At least they are in this area.

Makes a lot of sense really, you can have a 14 year old turn to Speedway who has been racing motorcycles competitively every weekend for 8 years. While the grasstrack and Speedway kids have been getting 5 minutes saddle time at a meeting and maybe 10 on a really good practice day the MX kid is getting an hours racing and 2 hours plus on a practice day and the practice days are far more local and frequent for most.

Personally I think practice days are the reason people turn away from Grasstrack and Speedway, it is far too difficult to get enough seat time to become any good. I can practice MX every weekend without travelling more than 40 minutes from home and race every weekend without travelling more than an hour. By contrast for a Speedway track now I need to travel a minimum of 2 1/2 hours for fairly infrequent practice sessions.

On another tack I think this thread shows up why Speedway is failing and we are all guilty of it. Look at most of the suggestions for improving the sport and how many are going to get a new spectator through the gate? Points limits, doubling up and so on mean nothing to people outside the sport and aren't the reason they aren't going to the track. It's a radical shake up in the way the sport is promoted that will bring new spectators in the gate in my opinion although the IOW do a fantastic job showing what can be achieved with things as they are.

The big problem as I see it is that Speedway is a weekly spectator sport and people just have too much other stuff to do these days to commit to a weekly sport unless it is top level Football (and even that is bi-weekly in the main). Unfortunately Speedway desperately needs to be using their facilities for other things but few own the track to enable this, and even those that do often struggle with planning permission allowing it. 

So if we accept that Speedway cannot rely on people through the gate to make money then the alternative is to bring other income into the sport or cut costs. Cost cutting will bring the sport to a largely amateur level in the UK in the next decade I believe. Speedway is made for TV but unfortunately failed to capitalise on the opportunity and unless they can change that I don't see large scale sponsorship saving the sport. In my opinion the sport now relies on it's future on TV to survive at a professional level and therefore probably as a team sport.

There is one answer you don't need Training Schools, Practice Tracks or Speedway recruitment programmes just do a Wolverhampton problem solved.

I agree the Isle of Wright and Barry are trailblazers while it may not be the perfect model it's definitely the way forward. There are 2 issues the deafly silence from the Speedway royalty particularly Phil and the negative but very polite comments from the Speedway fraternity. There is a bigger world out there of different bikes, engines and racing. Something will rise from the ashes of Speedway but in it's present form the decline will continue.

Edited by Pieman72
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Posted (edited)

One of the major issues for the sport (in this country) to overcome is "What actually is it?"..

Shoe horning an individual sport into a team concept works only if those individuals are 'exclusive' to one team in each league.

Eg Poland, Sweden..

Unfortunately what they do over here means that all sort of nonsense takes place to make up teams just to get a match on. Resulting in zero credibility or actual meaning.

This then pushes away even the most committed fans over time who become disillusioned with it.

(As let's be honest, if its meaningless why attend?)

With, (the very best you can hope for, if these fans dont completely disengage), is the only occasional visit replacing their past regular attendance.. 

Leaving just those who "buy the team jackets" and accept what they get without comment, alongside those who just go along to watch "the racing", but have no emotional attachment...

And unfortunately that will never be enough people to fund 7 Professionals all wanting plenty of money to pay for expensive equipment, (and often wanting twelve months salary for six months work)..

60 races worth of points money wont get covered by current crowd levels at too many tracks currently I would think.

Bottom line, is Speedway needs to decide what it is..

A team sport. (And if so do it properly or not at all)..

Or an individual sport that becomes a 'travelling circus' akin to BSB where the best we have to offer over here (with meetings ran for all riders of differing abilities, but each meeting only having riders of similar ability), racing against each other at tracks around the country.. 

Either way, the sport needs a proper competition, properly promoted and properly marketed...

Edited by mikebv
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57 minutes ago, mikebv said:

One of the major issues for the sport (in this country) to overcome is "What actually is it?"..

Shoe horning an individual sport into a team concept works only if those individuals are 'exclusive' to one team in each league.

Eg Poland, Sweden..

Unfortunately what they do over here means that all sort of nonsense takes place to make up teams just to get a match on. Resulting in zero credibility or actual meaning.

This then pushes away even the most committed fans over time who become disillusioned with it.

(As let's be honest, if its meaningless why attend?)

With, (the very best you can hope for, if these fans dont completely disengage), is the only occasional visit replacing their past regular attendance.. 

Leaving just those who "buy the team jackets" and accept what they get without comment, alongside those who just go along to watch "the racing", but have no emotional attachment...

And unfortunately that will never be enough people to fund 7 Professionals all wanting plenty of money to pay for expensive equipment, (and often wanting twelve months salary for six months work)..

60 races worth of points money wont get covered by current crowd levels at too many tracks currently I would think.

Bottom line, is Speedway needs to decide what it is..

A team sport. (And if so do it properly or not at all)..

Or an individual sport that becomes a 'travelling circus' akin to BSB where the best we have to offer over here (with meetings ran for all riders of differing abilities, but each meeting only having riders of similar ability), racing against each other at tracks around the country.. 

Either way, the sport needs a proper competition, properly promoted and properly marketed...

You are absolutely spot on. I put on here the other day that 88% of riders in the Premiership also ride in the Championship. Only 5 riders are exclusive to that league and one of them will soon be snapped up by a Championship team. It's a joke. 

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1 hour ago, mikebv said:

Or an individual sport that becomes a 'travelling circus' akin to BSB where the best we have to offer over here (with meetings ran for all riders of differing abilities, but each meeting only having riders of similar ability), racing against each other at tracks around the country.. 

Either way, the sport needs a proper competition, properly promoted and properly marketed...

While I agree with much of what you say but unlike Road Race circuits which have a variety of uses Speedway tracks couldn't be maintained for 1 or 2 meetings a year. If it gets to that stage most of them will just be put to other use, mainly housing I suspect.

It's possible that some tracks could survive running a variety of meetings, amateur Speedway, flat track get grass track clubs to run an event, (I think there is a new sport in karts on shale ovals waiting to be started in the UK as well) where the riders pay an entry fee and it doesn't matter if spectators attend. At least you wouldn't be losing as much as some Speedway teams are reported to. There is no doubt that some of these things are already helping some teams survive but for many it's not an option.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, JamesHarris said:

You are absolutely spot on. I put on here the other day that 88% of riders in the Premiership also ride in the Championship. Only 5 riders are exclusive to that league and one of them will soon be snapped up by a Championship team. It's a joke. 

Interesting to read how many double up as something that struck me on the two occasions I have been to watch Speedway this season, (but also all the times I have seen it on Eurosport), is the "bonhomie" that exists in the pits with riders of opposite teams...

Now, I completely understand that given the risks and the unique talent needed to compete, there will be lots of respect between "foes", but what I did notice was how many times opposition riders on both nights stood watching with their team mates from their "other" team even though riding against each other that night.. 

Now, with the best will in the world, human nature says that you are not going to risk injury (to either of you), by riding hard against a rider who will be sat next to you in the pits tomorrow night and maybe your partner in several races..

Rory Schlein got some criticism on here for his performance last night at Berwick on a 'damp' surface, however, he may be riding five for six times a week over the next month or so given the fixture congestion, so why would he take any undue risks? For both him and the other riders who could also be doing the same..

You dont earn in hospital and your next meeting may be a much better earner than the one you race in today...

When the sport is set up solely for riders to ride as much as they can, then the fans can't moan when the riders protect that opportunity and dont take too many risks when simply riding a Speedway bike is risk enough..

Edited by mikebv
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Vince said:

While I agree with much of what you say but unlike Road Race circuits which have a variety of uses Speedway tracks couldn't be maintained for 1 or 2 meetings a year. If it gets to that stage most of them will just be put to other use, mainly housing I suspect.

It's possible that some tracks could survive running a variety of meetings, amateur Speedway, flat track get grass track clubs to run an event, (I think there is a new sport in karts on shale ovals waiting to be started in the UK as well) where the riders pay an entry fee and it doesn't matter if spectators attend. At least you wouldn't be losing as much as some Speedway teams are reported to. There is no doubt that some of these things are already helping some teams survive but for many it's not an option.

For me Vince, it would be more 10 or so meetings per track over the 6 months from April to September (March if Easter falls then)..

More meetings of course if the promotion feels they have the potential to be profitable.. 

20 tracks (with the IOW), means a minimum 200 meetings, which is a huge amount of Speedway..

Some will say that 10 meetings isnt enough for the landlord but the counter argument is if you dont ask you wont know, and given the Covid world we live in, when better than now to discuss?

And the fact is that even 100 matches per season at one venue still wouldnt provide anywhere near the money to the landowner that a housing estate built on the land would so that could be done at anytime..

Some individual as part of a "British Championship" with a round at every track, and a BIG prize fund, some "team racing" and some almost "Festival of Bike Racing" type meetings with Speedway, Grasstrack, MX racing, MX acrobatics, Pee Wee bikes, Quads, Karts etc... 

Plenty of time within meetings at each track to properly market it and get sponsors, which also means fans not expected to fork out more than a max two meetings per months salary..

One thing is for sure is that carrying on as we are surely can never be an option put on the table.. 

Edited by mikebv
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