Defunct Speedway Tracks

 


 
Crayford Speedway
 
Crayford Stadium, Stadium Road, Crayford, Kent.  Speedway ran here between 1931 and 1983 off and on
 
Crayford Badges
 

 
 
Crayford 1936
 
 
Matt Minch says: A photo of Crayford in 1936, I believe. 
John says: If you can name this rider please send me an email John
 

 
 
1969 Division 2
Crayford Highwaymen
 
 

 
 
Memories
 
Dave Sandford says: It was a long time ago, but I was a regular at home matches only, being just a youngster.
I can recall one match vs Canterbury, where they had experimental partitions between the riders ( white wood, like a fence section). I think it was to stop riders looking at the others reactions on the clutch and concentrate purely on the tapes.
It Might have been an effort to stop unnecessary tape breaking and also any unfair advantage at the start.  Don't think they lasted very long.
I always wore a red and black knitted jumper in the teams colours that my mum made.
I believe Crayford was one of the smallest tracks in the league.
The only engines used were JAP and JAWA.
They didn't have safety cut offs if the bike went down, like I've seen on recent speedway, when I used to have Sky sport and watch the Elite league.
I remember one incident, can't remember the rider, but his chain snapped and gave him a wicked leg injury.
Ahh, one more, I remember Judd Drew going out to ride his 4 laps, and forgot to put on his metal plate on his left foot! Not surprisingly he came last.
Enjoyed the warm up races, watching the novices get a ride.
Seen an over-enthusiastic use of the throttle coming out of a bend, causing a flipped wheelie where the rider was flat on his back and his bike landing on top of the outer fencing.
Kept all the programmes for years which I carefully filled out, but alas, when I moved out and got married they were all thrown away.
Don't think I'll ever forget that great smell you got from the fuel emissions. What was it they used or still use?Methanol?
Still fancy a go at it, even if its just a few laps.
Best motorcycle sport EVER.
 
John says: Thanks for the Memories Dave
 

 
 
Crayford Badges
 
Scan from Russell Earl
 
 
Crayford Badges
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A fine collection of Crayford badges from David Pipes.
 

 

 

My Time At

Crayford Speedway

By Peter Burrell

 

In 1968 I read in Speedway Star that a Bill Bridget and Mike Parker had called a meeting at Crayford stadium to give details of the new team and to recruit trackstaff.

There were around 80 people there and I was somewhere towards the front of the crowd.  We were asked if anyone had experience of being on a track staff, so as a long time ‘bike pusher’ at Hackney, up went my hand.  I looked around and mine was the only hand up!  Mike said “So you can be our starting marshal”!

 At the next Hackney meeting I keenly studied the starting marshal to watch and learn exactly what was required.

At Crayford’s first meeting on 12th June 1968, I put what I learned into practice and the first race started OK.
However, counting the number of laps put me in a panic!  I knew the yellow and black flag goes out at the start of lap 3, but I had only a few seconds to work out how many times do the riders have to come past, and does that include the start of the race?  I managed to get it right, but for every race since, I count out loud 1-1-1-1, then 2-2-2-2, flag-flag-flag-flag, end-end-end-end as the four riders came past on each lap.  I never did have a 3 or 5 lap race!

 -------------------------

The Crayford season was three weeks of Speedway, then one week of stock cars.  I expected a night off, but ‘management’ said no, I was to be starting marshal for the cars as well!

A 30 second instruction put me standing in front of 30 or so stock cars with only a Union Jack to defend me!  I waved it to start the rolling lap while they passed either side of me, then had about 10 seconds to get through the 3-strand fence and onto the rostrum to wave the flag to start the race.  These were not bangers but proper stock cars, with 5-litre Chevvy engines and the like.  Scary and noisy to say the least.

 -------------------------

Back to the Speedway and I had a few scares from wayward bikes and riders careering across the centre green and one or two looping at the gate.  I was closer to the riders than anybody, but never got to see any more of them than their eyes!

-------------------------



One evening the electrics to the starting gate failed completely.  We tied a length of shock cord (that’s the elastic rope that pulls the tape to the top of the posts), to the inside post and as riders approached the start line, I stretched it across the track and held the other end behind the safety fence.  I watched for the Referee’s green light to come on, then after a second or two released the cord which flew to the inside of the track.  I had to cover my hand with my programme board as the crafty riders were looking to see my hand twitch more than the cord!

-------------------------

After some years, I was ‘promoted’ to Pit Marshal, then Clerk of the Course – still at the same wage of 0.  This involved checking everything was in place before the meeting started and keeping the meeting running to time.  It also meant the occasional hassle from ‘management’ when there were delays to the flow of the meeting!

 -------------------------

One incident that could have been very serious happened during the Pete Thorogood years.  Bikes had to be equipped with a cut-out switch and a lanyard from the switch to the rider’s wrist.  If the rider fell, the lanyard would be pulled and the switch would cut the ignition.

 During one race, a rider fell all by himself on the middle of the pits end bend.  Instead of his bike cutting out, it stood
up on its wheels with the engine revving flat out!  Unfortunately, the bike was exactly pointing towards gap in the speedway fence and the entrance to the pits on the other side of the dog track!  There was no gate needed in the speedway track fence as the gap was designed to overlap away from the direction of racing.

With the front wheel crazily banging from lock to lock, the riderless bike came through the gap, across the dog track and towards 20 or so trackstaff and riders watching in horror!  In a second, we scattered in all directions and the bike missed everyone, ending in the ‘ditch’ behind the dog track where the engine fell silent!  So did we, and apart from a few missed heartbeats, everyone escaped unscathed!

Shortly after that, a gate was installed to close the gap in the speedway fence.

 -------------------------

The speedway fence was inwards of the stock car track, and did not need supporting poles embedded in the ground.  A good safety feature, but on one occasion produced an amusing incident.

The leader of a race slid off and still half on his bike hit the bottom of the fence which lifted up to let him through.  He stopped a few feet on the outside of the fence, which closed behind him.  The rider was unhurt and he had pulled the clutch in, so the engine was still running.  He jumped on the bike in order to chase the other riders – but there was no way he could get back on the track!  He had to sit there watching while getting covered in shale from their back wheels!

 -------------------------

I did manage to complete many laps of the track after Len Silver took over the promotion.  I went there on a day off to see what was happening.  Len had completely relayed the track, and he was driving his car round to tyrepack the new surface.  I waved him down and offered to take over as I was sure he had more important things to do.  He readily agreed, but did not offer me his car!  So I spent the next hour or so driving my Cortina 1600E round every inch of the track at a steady 20 miles per hour.  I resisted the temptation to push the accelerator and let the back hang out for a few laps.  Uncle Len would not have been pleased!

 -------------------------

The joker of the riders was Pete Wigley.  One evening there was an announcement that a mystery fan was to ride a few laps during the interval.  We were drinking our halftime tea when a tall mini-dressed girl rode a speedway bike from outside the stadium and onto the track.  She wore a helmet, gloves and boots, but no leathers, just the mini-dress – and legs!

 

She wobbled round for a couple of laps at slow speed, riding very near the fence several times, much to everyone’s concern.  Then the engine roared and the next two laps were much faster, with proper speedway sliding.  She returned to the pits where ‘she’ removed her crash helmet, to reveal a laughing Pete Wigley, much to the cheers of the crowd and us trackstaff!


 
Geoff Ambrose
 
 
 
 
1969 Geoff Ambrose
 

 
 
1969 Archie Wilkinson
 
 

 
 
Colin Clark
 
 

 
 
Tony Childs
 
 
 


 
Crayford v Berwick
 
13th May 1970
 
 
 

 
 
Crayford v Coatbridge
 
29th April 1975
 
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
 
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
 

 
 
Crayford v Coatbridge
 
3rd August 1976
 
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
 
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
 

 
 
Crayford v Peterborough
 
13th September 1977
 
 
Courtesy of David Pipes
 

 
 
Alan Sage
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
 
Colin Gooddy
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Interleague 4 Team Tournament
 
19th September 1978
 
 
Courtesy of David Pipes
 

 
 
Crayford v Boston
 
13th May 1980
 
 
 

 
 
Crayford v Newcastle
 
27th May 1980
 
 
Courtesy of David Pipes
 
John says: I am a Newcastle fan since 1961 so it is always of special interest to me when I see a programme or photo etc from a defunct track featuring the Diamonds as visitors.  I pray that I will never need to include the Newcastle club in the Defunct Tracks A-Z!
 

 
If you can scan any of your pictures, programmes or badges send me an email John
 

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