Thursday, 23 May 2013

Tapes Up... One Year On

“Tapes Up” celebrated its first birthday this week and it really was a proud moment for myself. As a massive Speedway fan it is amazing to run something that gets me so involved in the sport I love.

Speedway fans have proven time and time again that they are the best people in the world.

One thing I have picked up through this past year is that any opinion I have expressed there hasn’t been many people that disagree with what I say or post.

Does this mean I am constantly stating the obvious???..... well, if I am honest, yes I am stating the obvious a lot of the time but sometimes it’s things that people won’t come out and say.

What is really surprising is that in the year I have had the site nothing within the sport has really changed. We can all see the problems that exist within British Speedway but no one wants to stick their neck out and make big decisions for the greater good.

Doubling-up, youth policies, new Speedway series’ have all been discussed by us, the fans, but nothing new seems to be happening.

I am extremely happy with the way the “Fans Views” section has went. I can’t publish every blog or view I get sent.... if I did I would be shut down quicker than a Greg Hancock start, but I appreciate every one that I get sent and can’t thank you enough for your views.

Fans are what make this site what it is. Reactions to what I write is great and at the stage I am at in studying and writing for Inside Speedway all comments are more than welcome.

What can we do to help the sport? Offer up ideas to the people who run the sport?
Personally I think the time has come to have a fans group between all Speedway fans and not just individual clubs fan groups.

In British Speedway the fans pride themselves on being a “Family”.... maybe it’s time for this family to start having a voice and not just me and a select few who send in their views.

If people or fans had someone nominated as chairman or someone who ran this group we could then press to have someone sat in on the BSPA meeting so we can then inform fans what is happening within the sport.

It’s something I am very critical about, we don’t get enough information and it leads to unrest among fans as no one knows about rule changes etc, even riders aren’t informed about new rule changes until the season is just about to start.

The riders have to stick together more as well. I speak to riders on a daily basis and the thing I pick up on most is that the gap between the BSPA and the riders couldn’t be wider.

The time has come for a riders union, there is plenty of ex-riders I know who would be willing to bring a voice to the table at a BSPA meeting which would insure riders would get all the information they need about riding in this country.

These are ideas that have been floated in the past but have never fully been carried through.

The BSPA have came in for some serious criticism in the last couple of years, perhaps these ideas would bring fans, riders and the powers that be closer together.

The main aim for myself is that we all start pulling in the same direction and the main goal is getting British Speedway back where it belongs, where Tai was last Saturday... at the top of the podium and at the pinnacle of the sport.

There is a bright future for the sport in this country but only if we work together. 

Thank you for the last year and here’s to many more.

Enjoy your Speedway,

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Changes Required

Chris Harris last night was awarded a wild card spot for the British GP. As it was announced live on Sky Sports coverage of Scunthorpe vs Workington, social media went into meltdown about the decision.

I feel sorry for Chris as it isn't his fault that the prize has been taken away from the British Final but his name came up in some of the comments.

Chris is hardly a spent force and on his day can mix it with any of the Grand Prix big boys but by his own admission he hasn’t had the best start to the season.

Grand Prix wild card’s should be awarded to the person who is in the best form at the time and giving it to the winner or best placed outside Tai, proves they deserve their place in the showcase event.

I have read some comments about not throwing younger, inexperienced into a meeting like Cardiff as it isn’t a place to learn..... I can’t agree with this at all. 

Mikkel B Jensen, Michael Jepsen Jensen, Bartosz Zmarzlik, Jurica Pavlic, all didn’t do too badly last year for being “kids”.

The whole experience of Cardiff would be a massive learning curve and could push some of the riders we have on after seeing firsthand what it takes to be a Grand Prix rider.

Why not give Craig Cook for example, the chance to ride on the biggest stage. He is a rider with a massive future and has started the season on top form.

If riders like Josef Franc and Jason Bunyan (no offence to either) can go and not disgrace themselves in Grand Prix’s then so could Craig.

I have read the BSPA statement this morning about how this isn’t their decision and how they only make an application to BSI about the winner of the British Final being selected for the wild card.

Even if that is the case, BSI should have realised the statement that Chris had been awarded the wild card not the BSPA via Sky Sports.

None of the riders that are in the British Final knew of this decision before it was announced live over the air, what a kick in the teeth for everyone that qualified for the final.

The Team GB team manager didn’t even know that Chris had been given it.

The proper way to have done it would have been to inform all the riders and officials first before being so desperate to get it out there on Sky Sports.

I mean, what do Sky even care for anyway, they aren’t even involved in the GP’s!!

Changes are required at the top end of this sport. I respect the chairman of the BSPA, Alex Harkness. He is a good man who is British Speedway through and through but we need to hear more from the people who run the sport.

On to many occasions riders, managers and fans are left wondering what’s going on.

Last night riders were in up roar at the call to hand Chris the wild card, not because it’s Chris but because they felt something had been taken away from them by the BSPA.

Now if someone had came out before and not after the announcement and told the riders it was BSI’s decision then there would have been less of a palaver.

In last year’s Elite League Riders Championship and the Premier League equivalent, riders turned up expecting to compete for a brand new bike (estimated value £3500) only to be informed in the riders meeting that they wouldn’t, it would be a cash prize instead..... cash that wasn’t paid on the night but months down the line.

Would as many of the top riders turned up if they knew the prize had changed, I don’t think they would have.

In order to get the big boys you have to put up big prizes.

Its my understanding as well that they have made it extremely difficult for riders wishing to race in the European Championships and also turned down the chance to enter a team into the World Best Pairs later in the year in Poland. Why?

If there has been a statement or press realise about these events and why there is no British representation then I must have missed it but surly fans deserve to get informed why we don’t have riders and teams taking part in these events.

Is it because they aren’t BSI events that we don’t want to get involved?? Perhaps.

Maybe with the decline in British Speedway they are scared they lose their home Grand Prix.

We need a figurehead who is constantly available and working on raising the profile of the sport on a daily basis.

Contacting the BSPA can be a nightmare, sometimes days and weeks before a reply to emails and sometimes not at all if they don’t like what you are asking.

We need someone who understands what the fans and riders want as well as being able to balance what the clubs need to stay active.

Many ex-riders, current riders and fans are disillusioned about what is happening in the sport in this country. If we had more transparency then British Speedway could be a much happier place.

Enjoy your Speedway,

Please like my media page on Facebook; Scott Frame Media

Sunday, 28 April 2013

National League Preview

As the National League season begins in 2013 it promises to be one of the most closely fought since its inception. The usual suspects in Dudley and Mildenhall will be there or there about, whilst the Isle of Wight have put together probably their best team at this level and King's Lynn manager Dale Allit has openly admitted that it's the best team he's managed at Saddlebow Road!

Buxton Hitmen

Set in possibly the most picturesque surroundings for a speedway track in the whole of Europe, the Hitmen have once again opted to blood some new talent which can only be a positive for the sport! Matt Williamson makes the switch from moto cross and Tyler Govier and Tom Woolley will be making their league debuts. They still possess an experienced heat leader trio however in Tony Atkin, Charles Wright and Adam McKinna and are bound to be tough to beat on their 240m home track. The side is completed by another ex-moto crosser in Ryan Blacklock, who has the potential to develop into the rider that produces the heat wins round Hi-Edge that his best friend Craig Cook did, but he has to learn to stay on the bike a little better!

One to watch: Matt Williamson. Already featured in the British Under 21 final after winning his first ever competitive race in his first ever ride!

Coventry Storm

The new venture have already been forced into a team change after Oliver Greenwood broke his wrist while guesting for Newcastle in the Premier League. British Under 21 Champion Rob Branford was the rider who came in, and he will be sure to push both James Sarjeant and Glasgow Tiger Joe Jacobs for the number 1 spot, whilst don't write off Brendan Johnson who seems more eager than ever to regain the form he showed before suffering a brain injury riding for the Isle of Wight. But it might be lower down the order where they struggle as early season results suggest that Richard Franklin may not have overcome mechanical gremlins that have dogged his career, and both reserves go into their first full season with over 200 mile trips to home meetings.

One to watch: Rob Branford. Eager to prove that a late decision to come to Britain was the correct one, and that he should be back riding in the Premier League as quick as possible, and a possible Elite League spot with the Bees.

Dudley Heathens

You can never write off the largest supported team in the division and despite making 5 changes to the league topping side they still look strong. The returnees are Ash Morris and Dan Greenwood who will look to form a spearhead with Lewis Blackbird. He was part of the side that took the title from Dudley last year, but due to doubling up with Leicester in the Premier League he was unable to retake his place at Mildenhall. The signing of Paul Starke should also be a significant one as he average 8.06 only 2 years ago at Plymouth but that fell to 5.89 after struggling with the large Isle of Wight track, but he's back to a circuit more similar to the St. Boniface Arena. The Heathens management have set the side up to have a strong reserve partnership all season. Nathan Greaves wasn't crowned British Under 16 champion for no reason and Max Clegg showed his worth at Scunthorpe last season whilst Gareth Isherwood has ridden for numerous sides at this level throughout his career.

One to watch: Nathan Greaves. Quite possibly the biggest talent riding in Britain this year if Robert Lambert doesn't make it, might not set the world alight in his debut campaign but this is a stellar signing nevertheless.

Isle of Wight

It remains to be seen as to whether South African Byron Bekker takes his place as club captain after it appears he will need a knee operation on an injury he suffered riding for Dudley last year. He, along with Tom Perry and Darryl Ritchings make the switch from Monmore and along with relative Smallbrook veteran Ben Hopwood form a powerful top 4, and that's without including teenage sensation Adam Ellis. Born in France, Adam learnt to ride in his home country and came over here for a skid last summer and was picked up by the Islanders in a move that culminated in a paid 20 score from 7 rides away at King's Lynn! He will start at reserve, and after having ridden 6 meetings will possibly replace Dan Stoneman in the top 5 but even that is no certainty as the ex-Heathen can opened the year in fabulous form that meant a victory in the British Under 21 semi-final. Ellis' reserve partner will be Brandon Freemantle who was in the Islanders team last year but injured his thigh before the season began.

One to watch: Adam Ellis. You simply can look no further than Adam! At 16 he is raw talent and winning races in the Premier League, but don't expect too much too soon!

Kent Kings

Based in Sittingbourne the Kings possess probably the best rider in the league in Steve Boxall, who is experienced in the Elite League with Belle Vue and Poole. He will be ably supported by Ben Morley and David Mason whilst Connor Coles will ride in the top 5 for the first time in his short career. The top heavy move means three 3.00 riders and two have already been named in Adam Kirby and Jack Kingston, and it remains to be seen whether the third is Robert Lambert or not! On the continent he has regularly beaten opposition of Premier and even Elite League standard, but he may want to concentrate on that rather than commit to his nations third tier.

One to watch: Connor Coles. Still in what will be his first full season and a change of track as well, the teen showed enough at Rye House last summer to be in demand by several teams.

King's Lynn Young Stars

Another team that's made a change already as Tom Young is unable to commit to a midweek track so James Cockle has come in. He will compete with Darren Mallett, Jake Knight and Lewis Kerr for the number 1 race jacket, and the latter has already scored a maximum at Premier League level this month. Shane Waldron returns to the sport after several years out and Shane Hazelden moves from Rye House to partner Lewis Rose at 6 and 7.

One to watch: Lewis Kerr. After threatening with potential for a year or so now, but it looks like 2013 is the year that the Newcastle Diamond is set to fly!

Mildenhall Fen Tigers

The reigning champions will look to keep onto that crown as their team gives them a decent chance. The strength in depth of the team is illustrated by the fact that Josh Bates is fourth in the averages but still rides in the Premier League with Scunthorpe, whilst Stefan Nielsen doubles up with Somerset. He will be pushed for the number 1 race jacket by Jon Armstrong and captain Danny Halsey as well as Bates. Aaron Baseby returns also after a spell with the Isle of Wight last term, and at reserve the Suffolk side track Nathan Stoneman, who was averaging nearly 6 points before breaking his leg, and new recruits Liam Rumsey from Stoke.

One to watch: Nathan Stoneman. Once he gets his confidence back he should fly at reserve and make a mockery of that 3.00 label.

Stoke Potters

After a dismal campaign last term the Potters have kept only 1 rider from last year in Ben Reade. He will push the top end of Lee Smart, who has put in many laps round Loomer Road, and Kyle Hughes who nearly signed for Coventry Storm during the winter. Another returnee is Luke Priest after a year at Buxton, to compensate for the new arrivals in the bottom 3. Luke Chessell has consistently added around a point to his average for the previous two seasons, and may well do the same if he can keep on the bike a bit more often. While at reserve Emerson Jones and Shaun Tedham will debut but look possibly the weakest paring in the league and may leave the squad exposed at times if they are to challenge for the title.

One to watch: Ben Reade. After more than doubling his average last year, he has a task to keep up the momentum but despite being dropped by Plymouth he has the talent.

By Matthew Lawrence

Monday, 22 April 2013

Social Media

Its a new season and new hope springs eternal for fans up and down the country.

Its been a while since I have sat and had a little moan or as I would like to call it "constructive criticism".

I would like to state before starting this or any further blog that any that my intentions behind opinions are always, in my mind, for the better of the sport. Where would we be without opinion??...

Social Media is playing a huge part now of most of our life's. It brings our on track heros closer to us and in turn us to them.

Only problem is, the abuse served up on the sites is sometimes so extreme it borders on the outrageous.

No matter what I myself write I know there is someone out there who will send me a message commenting how much rubbish I'm talking (That is me dialing it down considerably) but again life is all about opinions and these people are entitled to theres.

Speedway riders are the exact same but I have to say some riders need to start being more aware of their responsibilities as role models for youngsters.

The argument will be that parents have to police what there children are looking at but these riders are there heros and they want to know what they are doing and keep up to date with scores etc.

I appreciate Speedway isn't as big as other sports and a large percentage of riders are working men who race Speedway part time but they still have a responsibly to themselves and the clubs they represent to put themselves across as professional.

Rory Schlein is one I have stopped following myself because of the fact he could start an argument in an empty room. I know he won't like these comments but if I'm honest I don't think he does himself any favours.

Last week he posted comments about people protesting against Margaret Thatcher, wrong road to go down.

Never has a political figure split this nation so much and no matter which way he swayed in this topic he was always going to receive major hassle from people who follow him.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, thats his opinion and he is entitled to it.... fair comment and it is but on the same day he had an Elite League meeting against Eastbourne he choose to argue with every man who disagreed with him about this subject.

Everyone keeps saying the sport has to be more professional but when one of the top riders is on social media all day arguing politics it proves how unprofessional some riders can be.

I watched with interest at his scores from last Wednesday, now don't think for one second I sat and hoped he had a bad score, that isn't my style, I want all riders to stay safe, have good meetings and entertain us.

4 point from 4 rides from one of Kings Lynn's top men isn't good enough. After the meeting he blamed bad luck and problems with his equipment. Maybe spending more time in the workshop the day of a meeting instead of the back bench at Westminster would have prevented such mechanical gremlins.

The argument back to that is what do I know but I know if I was a Kings Lynn fan I would be asking questions, this is where riders have to be careful... they leave themselves open to criticism.

Another thing that really annoys me on social media is riders slagging off tracks.

Now I posted a comment on this yesterday and I received 1 reply back that I had to agree with that a poorly prepared track means riders lives are at risk, couldn't agree more but there is ways and means of putting a point across.... Social Media isn't it.

Each club in the UK has a hardy band of volunteers who give up there own time to prepare tracks, sell programmes, work in bars etc.... is taking to social media to slag them off the right road to go down?

I find it slightly disrespectful, if it wasn't for these people none of the riders would be able to make a living. maybe speaking to them in the pits and asking to sort problems instead of slagging them off would be a better route to go down.

I personally think the volunteers deserve more credit from the clubs publicly.

Anyway, its good to be back haha

Enjoy your Speedway,


Monday, 25 March 2013

Tapes Up Predictions 2013

ISMAG JULYADThe 2013 season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in many years. The Grand Prix season has already started and we already have our first surprise GP winner, well relatively surprising with the way the meeting went.
Domestically the Elite and Premier are going to be very exciting. There is a pack of sides in each league who will fancy their chances of lifting silverware.  Elite sides have opted to sign riders who already have experience riding in the UK. From a positive point of view this should make the racing closer and more entertaining..... in theory J

Its so difficult to make predictions at this time of the year because injuries and team changes play a major part in how the season pans out but here goes and this is “Tapes Up” predictions for 2013.

Elite League: It’s hard to see past Poole. The Pirates have a great mix in their side of established riders, young guys on the verge of breaking through and riders who appear to have a false average.

The three Polish riders in the side could prove to be the difference from last season. In the later part of 2012 Poole showed a lack of strength in the bottom end of their side but you can see that owner Matt Ford and team manager Neil Middleditch have looked to rectify that situation this summer.

Former World U-21 Champion Maciej Janowski comes in on a 6.13 average, this looks to be a bargain and is one I would expect to raise his average considerably in a side which will win more than they will lose. It could be a big season for the young Pole and this could be the year he cements his status as a heat leader in the Elite League.

Retaining both World Champion, Chris Holder and Darcy Ward looks to be the biggest master stroke. At one stage of the winter it looked as though Ward might not re-sign but thankfully everything has been ironed out and British fans will once again watch in awe at the talents of the young Australians.

Premier League: There are a few in the Premier who are in with a big shout of winning the league but I maybe going against some experts here and I’m going to go for Edinburgh.

One big reason I am going for the Scottish outfit is Premier League Riders Champion Craig Cook. In Speedway terms he is still fresh faced having only ridden Speedway for just over four years but the potential he has is endless.

He has a drive and will to win that only true champions have. I would expect this to be his last at Premier League level and he will want to go out on a high.

My only doubt is over whether or not they can sort out Sam Masters’ visa situation but if they can’t bringing in Claus Vissing is an absolute master stroke. After seeing him ride at the Ben Fund meeting at Berwick this could work out better for the Monarchs, only losing out on winning the meeting on the last corner when he was passed by Mads Korneliussen.

It won’t really which rider they bring in, both are class acts.

The signing of Australian U-21 Champ could be another major coop and if he hits the ground running the youngster could be the surprise package in the league.

Edinburgh have always had a home track advantage and in certain seasons have struggled away from home on the bigger circuits but resigning both Marcel Helfer and Joszef Tabaka will provide lower end strength that they have lacked away from Armadale.

Maybe a surprise but I’m picking Edinburgh to win it ahead of a very strong Somerset side.

National League:  Although the National League is more about the development of both young riders and clubs now a days, there still has to be a winner’s and losers

My National League pick is going to be Isle of Wight. The Islanders have struggled away from home in the past but they seem to have put together a side that will be able to compete both home and away.

Tom Perry and Byron Bekker are a strong spearhead at this level backed up by Ben Hopwood and Darryl Ritchings, they should rack up the points this season.

Both Hopwood and Ritchings will be looking to build on fairly modest averages and big things are expected of Adam Ellis this year.

It would be great to see Isle of Wight have a good season, as a club they deserve success.

World Champion: After watching the first GP from Auckland it has made me realise even more if it was possible that this season is going to be a fantastic year in the Grand Prix’s.

Darcy Ward yet again showed the talent he has, the only rider that seemed to have the ability to race on a track that wasn’t exactly made for producing good racing. The talent he has on a motorcycle is unrivaled in the sport but can he really win the World Championship in his first full season?

Holder once again struggled down under but a semi-final place is better than his 4 point return in 2012.

How Nicki Pedersen managed to finish third in Auckland is testament to the ability he has to defend from the front. He was nowhere near one of the quickest riders on show but time and time again he popped out the gate and held off rival after rival, a master class in how to defend a lead.

Gollob and Hampel excelled on a track they clearly enjoy. Gollob’s decision to take gate 2 in the final is a mystery but then again that’s Tomasz.

Hampel was tipped for big things in 2012 and before his injury was proving himself as a championship contender and expect him to be in the mix this season.

Nicki Pedersen gets my vote. After coming so close in 2012 the Dane will have the bit between his teeth this season to go one better. His third place in New Zealand looked very unlikely after two last places in his first two rides but that’s the way Nicki is, at his best when the chips are down.

Pedersen looks to have that look in his eye again and although there are many in with a shout of topping the rostrum, Holder, Ward, Gollob, Hancock, Lindback, Hampel, I think Nicki will clinch his fourth World Title this season.

World Cup: I would dearly love to be writing Team GB in this section but unfortunately I can’t see them reaching the final never mind having the ability to win it.

This years final takes place in Prague. That means the Czech Republic will be seeded straight through to the final, which means there are only three places up for grabs and I can’t see us being good enough to grab one of these places.

The Marketa track will suit many of the sides competing in the competition, both the Danes and Polish riders seem to race this track particularly well.

Last season appeared to be an upset but the young Danish side grabbed their opportunity for glory with both hands and I’m tipping them to retain the title.

The Danish side assembled last season is so exciting and a side that could rule the World Cup competition for years to come.

Last season I tipped them to win against the odds, I can’t see many under estimating them this season. Poland will have a big say but I am backing the Danes to pip them at the post.

That’s my predictions for 2013, no changing them now. One thing I am predicting is a brilliant summer of Speedway and hopefully everyone stays safe. Though as if we need reminding about how dangerous the sport is we already have our first injury.

A big get well soon to Andrew Tully who suffered a broken vertebrate during the Newcastle practice session, hope he’s not out for too long.

My predictions in full......
Elite: Poole Pirates
Premier: Edinburgh
National: Isle of Wight
World Champion: Nicki Pedersen
World Cup: Denmark

Enjoy your Speedway,

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Generation Game

Speedway has always been known as a family sport. A friendly environment for all the family, passed on from generation to generation. I was first introduced to it by my Uncle who took me back in the 90’s.

The first meeting of this season my Uncle will be taking his Grandson to his first meeting, an Edinburgh boy travelling to his first Speedway meeting at Glasgow. Now that’s some way to start your Speedway watching career.

The Glasgow supporting Grandfather telling his 6 year-old, Edinburgh born Grandson to support Glasgow should be entertaining in itself.

As passionate as we are as Speedway fans and fans of each club, does it really matter which club you support these days or is it just important to get youngsters into the sport and get them attending on a regular basis.

I speak as someone who has attended both Scottish tracks from a young age and can honestly say that first and foremost I am a Speedway fan. I could watch any Speedway meeting across the world, whether it be juniors racing second halves or Grand Prix riders making rare visits to my local tracks, it really doesn’t matter.

When I was growing up I used to look at the fixture list to see which big names were coming each week. I wanted to see the best riders competing at my tracks.

Maybe I’m wrong to say this, but this is what I would like to pass on to my Uncle’s Grandson, maybe he should pick a side and follow them through thick and thin. But would he appreciate the sport more if he didn’t.

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. I would rather appreciate good racing from good riders and look for the most overtaking and entertainment as possible.

Don’t get me wrong, when my team win’s any trophies I’m as happy as the next diehard who is next to me but I am glad I was brought up appreciating Scottish Speedway, even if I do have a preference if they race one another. It doesn’t stop me admiring riders for their talent and ability.

Every single man who has ever had the courage to straddle a Speedway bike has the upmost respect from me, it’s a dangerous sport and the risks these guys take to entertain is unbelievable.

These gladiators risk their lives every time they take to the track and no matter their team colours we should adore and encourage them all. By all means support your clubs but remember, Speedway itself is a family and you are a vital member.

We can’t forget this and for me, that’s what we should be passing on to the next generation.

Enjoy your Speedway,


Thursday, 28 February 2013

Goodbye Gary

The year was 1992, the venue was Wroclaw’s Olympic Stadium and a young man from the industrial town of Middlesbrough was about to realise a career’s ambition and become World Champion.

Gary Havelock reach the pinnacle of his career that rain soaked night in Poland, a night that could never be matched no matter what he went on to achieve in his career. His first and only World Championship.

The Speedway world last week was saddened to hear the announcement from Gary that he would have to hang up his kevlars on what has been an unbelievable career. Although the announcement didn’t come as a complete shock as his injuries were quiet severe, it is a massive loss to Speedway in Britain.

My only hope is that Gary continues to be involved with the sport in some capacity. He would be a fantastic mentor for youngsters.

 I would like to see him put on the board at the BSPA or SCB  but as I write this I can only imagine promoters and the powers that be shuffling in terror at that thought as Havvy would be the man to get them all in line and start making decisions that could actually benefit the sport in Britain.

Maybe with other channels involved with the Grand Prix’s now Gary will be involved with that.

Back to the start though.....
Gary started racing Speedway at his local Middlesbrough track in the early 80’s. His father Brian also rode for the Middlesbrough Bears and went on to become Gary’s team manager in his first season in team racing in 1985.

Although Gary started and ended his career under the “Bears” name, he is probably best remembered for his time at the Bradford Dukes, winning the first ever Elite League title with them in 1997.

I was fortunate enough to spend an evening in Gary’s company at the end of last season, watching Chris Holder winning his first World Title with him.... I even tipped him to bet Antonio Lindback to win the GP, which he did and the rest is history.

I asked him that night the best track he had ever ridden. His reply was instant, Bradford. Any track we spoke about thereafter he would refer back to the Odsal circuit. He had an obvious love of his time there.

As I spoke to him that night and listened to stories that I dreamt about hearing from when I was young I just remember being in awe of this man, he was one of my hero’s and he was telling me stories of him travelling Europe and riding his bike. It was fantastic.

The best compliment I could pay Gary is that he was an absolute gentleman, it was a true pleasure to be in his company.

Legend is a word that is thrown about in sport and in life to easily, Gary is exactly that.

His passion for the sport shines through whenever he speaks. Now he and Joe Screen are trying to put something back into the sport by running training days, if only other riders would invest their own time like this.

Through his career Gary was an expert at being the underdog and succeeding in the face of adversity. His injuries proved however that this was a hurdle to far.

We all know how dangerous a sport Speedway is. To many riders are retiring now through injury, Mark Loram, Jason Crump to name a few who have had to call it a day with injuries. But its a harsh reality.

I would just like to wish Gary all the best for the future and hopefully British Speedway can have more nights like he provided for us in Wroclaw.

Good luck Havvy!!

Enjoy your Speedway,