Defunct Speedway Tracks

 

 

 

 
 
Audenshaw Speedway
 
The Snipe, Ashton Old Road, Audenshaw Manchester  1928-1931 before trying Dirt Track racing the Snipe track had long been in use for trotting and athletics races.
In the early years of our sport.  A number of riders went the rounds: Audenshaw/Droylsden/Manchester Belle Vue so if you find my Audenshaw page of interest check out the other venues too.
 
Athletics at Audenshaws Track (Pre Speedway)  Riskit Riley  Ginger Lees  The Death of Clem Beckett 
Slider Shuttleworth  Acorn Dobson
 


 
Audenshaw 1928
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Sid Meadowcroft
 
 
A rare picture of Sid Meadowcroft getting to his feet Audenshaw 1929, (Courtesy of Speedway in Manchester).  Notice the huge piles of dirt around the outside of the track.
 

 
 
Thomas Liddis Hatch
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Audenshaw 1928
 

 
 
The Snipe Inn
 
Courtesy of Ken Ward
 
Audenshaw's Dirt Track was behind this pub, The Snipe Inn.  Here is an account of a foot race between 2 Athletes in 1913 which gives an indication of how long the track had been in use before the dirt track bikes came along.

 
Athletics Racing
 
Hedeman had reached England by the time the World Mile Championships had been won by Hans Holmer and he immediately challenged the Canadian for the title. They were matched at the Snipe Inn ground at Audenshaw, Manchester, for a purse of 100.  The Snipe Inn had been a venue for professional footracing since the 1840s. It was selected by the Lancashire Pedestrian Syndicate, who became the promoters of the match.  Over two thousand spectators turned up, despite an important football match between Salford and Wigan on a neighbouring ground.
The half a mile track at the Snipe Inn ground was usually used for trotting races by horses. Such a venue, a trotting track attached to an inn had been commonly used when professional distance running had evolved in the 1850s and 1860s. Such enclosed venues could draw large crowds brought by the new railway system. The Snipe Inn trotting track, having been used by horses consequently was rather soft on top, although brushes and heavy roller had been used to make a better surface. Both Holmer and Hedeman were satisfied with the track, knowing a fast time was out of the question. The then professional world mile record was 4:12.75 by Englishman Walter George, set some twenty-seven years earlier, world title matches tended to be tactical affairs, much as they are now.
Holmer was trained for the match by the famous miler, George Blennerhassett Tincler, who himself had held the world title, while Hedeman was prepared by his fellow Australian Charles Bergmeier.
On the day of the race, the 1st November 1913, Holmer won the toss and chose the inside. He stood up in what was called the old style while Hedeman went down into a crouch start. Immediately the gun was fired, Hedeman went to the inside, and was to keep that position throughout the race. With Holmer running at his shoulder Hedeman ran relaxed.  At half way, Holmer tried to spurt past him, but Hedeman held his position, and it became clear that Holmer lacked the pace to take the lead.
Some 300 yards from the finish line, Hedeman began to sprint, opening a gap of nearly five yards. Despite Holmer's desperate efforts in the last 100 yards, Hedeman hung on, despite being exhausted. He won by three yards in 4 minutes 34 seconds. Holmer at once congratulated the new world mile champion.
 

 
Courtesy of  Speedway Swap Shop
 
This programme is said to be from the second Dirt Track meeting held in the UK, High Beech got there first but hats off to Audenshaw too.
 

 
 
Audenshaw 1929


Susan Cummings says: Dear John, I thought you might be interested in the attached programme for Audenshaw Speedway in 1929. It mentions Ginger Lees racing with Norman Hartley. My Grandpa went to Ashton Grammar School with Norman and they were very close friends. My Grandpa did a bit of racing too.
Regards Susan
John Says:  Just look at the range of British bikes in the programme, in use in the early days.
 
Courtesy of Google Earth
 
Jack Longley sent this map of the area to illustrate how close Audenshaw and Doylsden's tracks were.

Courtesy of Ken Ward
 
I have started this page after receiving emails from Ken Ward who is 82 years old.  Ken says the Snipe was a  Dirt Track not an actual speedway.  I am showing Ken's email below as he typed it : -
 
 
Riskit Riley

Hi, My name is Ken Ward, I am 82 yrs old, I remember vividly the Audenshaw track which was a dirt track "not a speedway track" near the snipe pit Audenshaw, although I was only 4yrs old I can remember my uncle Bob putting me on his shoulders, Riskit Riley was one of the riders, he would be in his mid 20s, he rode in clogs, he had an impediment in his speech, and used to have conversations with the spectators, who used to banter him, he used to say if you can do any better come and have a try. I guess he would have been born around 1905. which would put him in his late 90s if he is still alive, My uncles who unfortunately have passed on, knew him quite well. I don't know if this will be of interest to you.
Regards Ken
 

 
 

 
John says: I asked Ken about old time speedway footwear and he says:
Most of the older riders 1927-1931, wore Hockers this a Lancashire term for hob nailed boots with a toe cap 
Just one more thing Speedway Riders today have steel plates on the bottom of their boots? if this is the case Riskit wasn't so daft wearing clogs the irons on the clogs would probably suffice as a steel plate.
Regards Ken
More from Ken : The Actual site of the Audenshaw track was Behind the Snipe Inn, about a quarter of a mile from the Droylsden Track owned by a Mr George Dodd  we called it  Doddys it was a Trotting track.  Around Manchester they are convinced it was the the first Dirt Track in the country,. But it is said that the first meeting was held at the High Beech meeting 19th Feb 1928. getting back to Riskit Riley he is mentioned in the forward of the book "Speedway in Manchester" by Alan  Morrey clerk of the course Belle Vue Speedway From its Humble beginnings at Droylsden in 1927 speedway didn't take long to hit the Big-time Audenshaw paved the way with a series of successful meetings in early 1928, with such Riders as Riskit Riley and Slider Shuttleworth, and the Drew brothers..
In the Audenshaw section of this book "sixty five entries had been approved several of these namely Alec Jackson, HARRY RILEY, Ginger Lees, Bob Harrison, Stanley Acorn Dobson, and Tommy Price who were to become household names" You will notice Harry Riley,
Regards Ken
 
John says: I have more on Harry "Riskit" Riley on my Belle Vue page in my A-Z, so check it out.  I think this site probably has more about Riskit than any other website

Jack Longley another Audenshaw local says: Further to Jack Riskit Riley it has been suggested he rode for Belle Vue I would rather say he rode AT Belle Vue, he also rode at Middlesborough but I believe he never rode for a team. If I look out of my front room window I can see where both Audenshaw and Droylsden tracks were situated. By the way your earlier correspondent Ken' is my cousin, my father is one of the uncles he refers to.

John says: Thanks Jack.  Ken calls Riskit, Harry, Jack calls Riskit, Jack and my other source says Riskits name was Donald.  Now does anyone know Riskits full name? If you can help send me an email John
 
Andrew Hartley Potts says: I have just read your article about speedway in Audenshaw and clearly remember my Grandfather (Stanley Burton Hartley) talking about watching his cousin Norman Hartley duel with Risk- it and Slider.  Norman and his brother Vincent where speed freaks and inventors, they mainly pioneered work with aluminium and started a company called Hartley Clearspan making high class greenhouses, the company is still trading from the same address today but under new ownership. Norman lived in a huge mansion house called Holyville in Greenfield with his brother Vincent (never married) and his wife, he had 2 children that I think are still alive called Susan and John. Thought this may interest you.
Regards Andrew
 
Jeff Stafford says: Risket married a girl from Hyde, he also stood Hyde Market selling veg and fruit, and is well remembered by many old Hyde residents
 
Hi John, Donald Francis Riley was the real name of Risket Riley. He was born at 10 Hoviley Brow, Hyde. His father was James Riley, who ran a fruit and veg shop at the same address. On Saturday's he had a fruit and veg stall on Hyde Market where Donald use to help out. He use to shout get your bananas here, come on 'risket' it...I did. He married Mabel Kisswetter in Manchester in 1930. However, he was always being chased by a woman from Hyde for child maintainance.
 

 
 
Jeff Stafford has been busy writing about Riskit and what a great read it is too. Jeff says:-
 
Our Town & The Life Of Riley
 
The Story of Speedway Ace
“Riskit” Riley
 
By Jeffrey Stafford
 
In the late 1920s, dirt track racing quickly established itself as a significant presence in the north west of England. The region’s first post war race occurred on 25th June 1927, at the newly constructed Moorside Stadium, Droylsden. This meeting was organized by Harrison Gill of the South Manchester Motor Club. Who was later associated with Belle Vue. The meeting was run on a banked cinder circuit with racing being in an anti-clockwise direction.  The owner was a local farmer George Dodd, his idea was to build a trotting track for his horses which he was racing at the nearby Snipe race track on Ashton Old Road, Audenshaw.  Trotting was a popular pastime in the district around Ashton as well as in Stretford and Old Trafford.  However, the local authority believed the Droylsdon track was much too dangerous, the quarter mile straight track allowed riders to get up too much speed to encounter the bends.  Operations were suspended at Moorside Stadium after the last meeting was staged on 20th April, 1929. It was at the half mile track of the Audenshaw Racecourse, situated behind the Snipe Inn that dirt track motorcycle riding really took off. The track was active from 1928 to 1931. By today’s standards the track and its safety features were very primitive, though this was not unique to Audenshaw at the time. Prior to the first meeting on 3rd March 1928, the track had been used for trotting and athletic events. The riders averaged about 35 miles per hour.  Prizes ranged from Gold Watches to Canteens of Cutlery, and Silver Cigarette Cases. Both Droylsden and Audenshaw were the breeding grounds for many of speedways rising stars.
The growing popularity of dirt track racing soon resulted in the construction of many new tracks designed specifically for racing motor cycles. Like the tracks at Droylsden and Audenshaw many were carved out of old cow pastures and fields. Some were located in natural amphitheatres with hill side standing. The new dirt tracks varied in configuration, with many continuing the half mile dirt track oval with variations of width, straight, curve radii, and a degree of dirt banking. Many tracks were designed by owners, promoters, and in some cases the riders themselves. At many of the early tracks, the racing action could easily overflow into the pits or into areas outside the track. There were two short lived efforts to stage dirt track racing at Spring Grove, Millbrook, Stalybridge; and New Mills Football Ground, Derbyshire.
It was not uncommon for riders to race at weeknight and at the weekend.  The prize money was not very good, and so many riders travelled from track to track to earn more, these riders quickly became household names and local celebrities. For many dirt track fans at early race meetings, the riders were heroes, and fans followed their exploits of their favourite rider on and off the track, just as football fans follow their favourite football player today. Many of the track events in the early years were devoid of press coverage, so apart from old programmes that have survived the test of time very little is known. The same names would appear in the pioneer years of dirt track race meetings. These included Ginger Lees, Frank Varey, Slider Shuttleworth, Clem Beckett, the Drew brothers, and Hyde’s very own Donald “Riskit”Riley. With a natural affinity for speed, “Riskit “would show his “stuff” whenever he sat behind the controls of a motor cycle, he was a real character on and off the race track and during the late 1920s and early 1930s  became something of a real folk hero in his home town.
Donald Francis Riley was born at 10 Hoviley Brow, Hyde, to James Riley and Clara Nuttall, who had married at Ashton Registry Office in 1890. Donald was the youngest of twelve children, seven sisters and four brothers, two of his sisters, Winifred and Clara died before Donald was born in December, 1909. Donald’s mother, Clara, died prematurely three years later in 1912, aged 41.
At the age of 35 James Riley opened a shop selling fruit and vegetables; this was the beginning of a thriving fruiter business which continued to flourish up until 1942 when ill health forced him to close. After finishing school, Donald entered the employment of his father, who in the weekdays carried on his business at 10 Hoviley Brow, but on Friday’s and Saturday’s, he also ran a fruit and vegetable stall on Hyde Market where young Donald and his brothers helped out. He began riding motor cycles at an early age and when dirt track riding became all the rage in the north of England he wanted to try it.  According to one old speedway pundit, Donald “Riskit” Riley got his first racing experience in 1928 as a fresh faced kid at the White City Stadium, Manchester. He would have been   about eighteen at the time. He was just Riley then, dragging a heavy Norton round and hoping for pot luck on the bends. That was until one day his father, James Riley, went to see him in action, and he wasn’t over the moon with what he witnessed. When Riley, senior, got home, he told Donald he wasn’t impressed with what he had seen, and told is son as much. “Call yourself a speedway rider! Why, you’re not fit to push them off!” Donald set his jaw. “Ain’t I?” he said. Look here! If you can win a heat, I’ll buy you a bike,” said Riley senior. Next time out Donald won a heat, and true to his word Riley senior stumped up the cash for a new Douglas. By no stretch of the imagination could you call young Riley a consistent rider. But when he got that spark of inspiration he was a match for anyone. It was full throttle to the line, with no thought of personal danger.
The first use of Riley’s famous nickname is to be found in a Speedway Programme for a meeting at Audenshaw in 1929. He allegedly got his nickname riding the “Wall of Death” at Belle Vue, but whether this is true is open to debate. Inventing nicknames for riders, especially in the early days of the sport, such as “Riskit Riley”, was one way to sensationalise the sport. So when you’re a dirt track rider whose last name is Riley, and you’re taking spectacular risks on the dirt track, you really don’t have much choice: you have to be “Risket Riley”.  The name stuck throughout his career and separated his fairly common name from the rest of the herd. “Riskit” wore a type of lace up metal shod clog which came up above the ankle bone. These acted like steel skates on corners. This was at a time when most of the early dirt track riders wore hob nail boots with a steel toe cap.
 
Speeding on the roads of our country landed “Riskit” in court on more than one occasion. An excerpt from "The Hyde Reporter": Saturday 13th April, 1929 reads: -
 
 
King Street Dirt Track Rider Fined 
 
Donald Riley, a fruiterer, of Hoviley Brow, Hyde, well known in the district as the dirt track rider “Riskit” Riley, was summoned at Dukinfield Police Court on Thursday, for driving a motor cycle and combination in a dangerous manner.
Inspector Murray stated that at 11-05 a.m. on Good Friday, he was on King Street, near the Queen’s Arms Hotel, when a motor cycle came along from the direction of Ashton. Visibility was bad owing to the fog, and it was impossible to see more than 80 yards ahead. When the motor cycle was approaching King Street and Wharf Street crossing the motor cycle combination, driven by Riley, came past at a fast pace. He put up his hand and the defendant pulled up over ten yards away. He told defendant he was driving too fast and asked him for his driving license. He was unable to produce it and stated he could not take it to the police station the same afternoon, because he was riding at White City, Manchester. The inspector replied “I think you are making this street into a practice track.” Inspector Murray added that in his opinion defendant was driving dangerously, and he trembled to think what would have happened if anyone had attempted to cross the street.
In reply to the defendant the Inspector said he estimated the defendant’s speed over the cross roads at 25 miles per hour. William Lees, of Church Street, said defendant never sounded his horn, and he agreed with the police that the speed was dangerous at that particular point. Defendant said he was only driving at 15 miles per hour, and he could have pulled up much quicker had he thought the Inspector desired him to do so.
Numerous speeding offences were recorded against Riley, Superintendent Brown stating that he had been fined 10 at Mottram and his license suspended for twelve months for dangerous driving. The magistrate now fined Riley 40s, and suspended his license for six months. Defendant: Does that mean I cannot ride on the dirt track?  The Clerk: You had better see a solicitor

In 1929 Riley became acquainted with 19 year-old Mabel Kisswetter, the daughter of a German immigrant, they commenced a tumultuous relationship, climaxing in a March marriage, at Chorlton on Medlock Registry Office in 1930. Their son, James (Jimmy) was born in 1931. Jimmy is today  81 years old, and lives with his wife Margaret in Manchester. Although Mabel had been courting Donald for the best part of a year, she had no idea that he had been having an affair with a girl from his home town of Hyde called Gladys Mottram. They had been seeing each other for about eighteen months,  going for motorcycle trips to Blackpool and the outskirts of the Hyde, where there were still many quite lanes and secluded spots for young courting couples.  
In 1929 “Riskit” established himself as one of the top young dirt track riders in the country. At Belle Vue Speedway track on Hyde Road on Saturday, 1st June he won the Golden Gauntlet, his first major prize.

The Hyde Reporter of Saturday June 8th 1929 had this to say:
 
 
Dirt Track Racing
 
Riley’s Success At Belle Vue
 
Followers of dirt track racing will learn with pleasure of the success of Donald Riley, son of James Riley, fruiterer, of Hoviley Brow, Hyde, at Belle Vue Speedway on Saturday, when he won the Golden Gauntlet, his first big prize. “Riskit” Riley as he is known on the tracks, returned two of the best times of the night, 1/30.9 and 1/31.5. In addition to winning the Golden Gauntlet, he was also successful in the BelleVue Handicap. Riley is still only 19 years of age, and is said by leading speedway critics to have a great future on the racing track. Riskit climbed the podium for the second time on Saturday 20th July, when one of the largest crowds assembled at Belle Vue Speedway Stadium witness Riley give another display of supreme skill and speed in the mile race to win the premier prize, the golden helmet.
The Hyde Reporter had this to say:
 
 
The Golden Helmet
 
Riskit Riley’s Double Success

Donald Riley, known on the dirt track as “Riskit Riley,” of Hoviley Brow, Hyde, achieved further successes at Bell Vue Speedway on Saturday. In the mile race he won the premier prize, the golden Helmet, given by the Manchester Motor Club, with a fine performance, in which all scratch riders took part. He is now regarded as one of the “stars” of the Belle Vue track, for Arthur Franklin and Frank Varey, both men of repute, are the only riders to secure this trophy. Riley the previous Wednesday beat Franklin, a very difficult thing to do.

In his heat Riley put up the fastest time of the evening, covering the mile in 1min. 28.4 secs.

He also won the Belle Vue Handicap in which there were some clever riders, he being the nly scratch man. He beat Hurricane Hatch and George Corney, of Halifax, who only recently returned from Hamburg. Riley a few weeks ago won the golden gauntlet also for the mile scratch race, but he has never ridden better than he did on Saturday.

His success is the more remarkable when it is pointed out that this is his first season as a dirt track rider, that he is only 19 years of age and has only been racing since March. He has completed against such well known experts as Frank Arthur, the Australian, of the International Speedway Company, and has won a good number of prizes. He is a fearless rider and keeps good control of his machine.


I think it’s fair to say that by the close of the 1929 Speedway Season, Riley had the speedway world at his feet. However, his burgeoning dirt track career seemed to rise in conjunction with his capacity for getting in trouble.
 
 
  Former Hyde Dirt Track Rider
"Bound Over"
 
Donald Riley, otherwise known as “Riskit” Riley, of dirt track fame and residing in Thorncliff Grove, Chorlton on Medlock, was bound over for 12 months at Manchester City police court, on Thursday, on a charge of having obtained 1 by false pretences from Mr. Wilfred Blundell of Smithfield Market.
It was explained that Riley went to Mr.Blundell and represented falsely that he had been sent for money by his father for motor parts. Riley’s father said his son had done no work since leaving school. He had spent 200 in furnishing him with two motor cycles for dirt track riding. For a time his son had done exceedingly well in that sport.

Answering his son, Mr.Riley said it was true that though he had won about 500 at Belle Vue last year he had to pay a mechanic 5 a week and his machines cost a lot in repairs. His son had also got into bad company, and had concentrated debts by borrowing which he had to repay. On being appealed to by his son from the dock, Mr.Riley said he would repay the 1 mentioned in the charge. Riley was also fined 10shillings (thats 50pence in modern currency), for having sounded his motor horn when not necessary on the ground of safety.     

Riskit’s freewheeling lifestyle finally caught up with him again a month later, when he his ex-girlfriend Gladys Mottram hauled him up before Hyde Police Court on a paternity charge.

 
 
Riskit” Riley’s Little
Blackpool Trip
 
The Girls Amazing Evidence
 

Well known speedway rider Donald Riley, 15 Thornton Avenue, Oxford Road, Manchester, was the defendant at Hyde Court, on Thursday, in a case in which Gladys Mottram, age nineteen, 119 Croft Street, Hyde, applied for an order of paternity in respect of a male child born on August 23rd.

Mr.John Westbrook, solicitor, Hyde, appeared for the complainant. Mr.Harold Bostock, solicitor, Hyde, appeared for the defendant, who denied paternity.

Mr.Westbrook said that the defendant was a professional dirt track rider, well known in the town as “Riskit Riley”. He thought when the magistrates had heard the evidence that they would agree he showed a considerable amount of effrontery in denying the paternity of the child.

The parties first met eighteen months ago. Subsequently they met several times, and in October, 1929, the defendant and his friend met complainant and her friend-Miss Taylor, in Hyde, and they all went to Blackpool to see the illuminations in the defendant’s motor car. On the way back, on Belmont , intimacy took place.

Defendant lived in Hyde with his father, who was a well known tradesman, but left and she did not know his address. When he found that she was making enquiries about him, he saw her, and said “If I am the father I am the father, and we shall have to see how things turn out.” He said if he had not been married he would have married her. That was the first time Miss Mottram knew that he was married. He was married after the association with the complainant. Mr.Westbrook said that the defendant persuaded the complainant to see a person in Ashton who, he said, could do something for her.

On the Hyde Carnival night in June, the defendant went to see the complainant at her home, and told her that his wife was “expecting” and he did not want her to know anything about the matter. He saw her parents, and frankly admitted the paternity, and said that he would see what could be done when the child was born. Later he approached Miss Taylor, the complainant’s friend, on two occasions with the object of keeping her out of court. Once he offered her money if she would stay away from court or give evidence for him. She indignantly repudiated the suggestion. The clerk of the court: That is a rather serious offence.

 
 
The Woman
In Ashton
 

Gladys Mottram then described the various meetings with Riley. She and her friend met Riley and his friend at Broomstair Bridge on the occasion of the Blackpool trip. Speaking of the visit of Riley to her home she said he sent a young woman to the door, and she came out to him. He said “If I am the father I am the father, but I can’t marry you, as I am already married.” He told her about a woman in Ashton , and she went with him. The woman told her that she was not the only one he had taken to her. On carnival night, when he went to her home, he said to her “Don’t forget if it’s a little boy, call it after me.” She replied “If it turns out to be like you I will drown it.” Riley left, and returned when her father and mother were at home. He asked her mother to lend him ten shillings and he would give her a pound for it the following Monday. Her mother could not let him have the money, and asked him what he thought about himself. He replied “I admit that it is my child.” She told him that he should have thought about that before he got married. He told her that he did not want to go to court.

Her confinement expenses, she said, were two guineas doctor’s fee two guineas for the nurse, and 23 shillings and sixpence for baby clothes. She had special nourishments.

 
 
Could Not Put Riley In The Witness Box
 

Mr.Bostock asked the magistrates leave to speak in private to his client, who was accompanied by his wife. After a short absence Mr.Bostock told the magistrates that after his conversation with his client he was not in a position to put him in the box, and he could not really oppose the order.

Kathleen Taylor, 3 Hall Street, Kingston, gave corroborative evidence. She said that Riley offered her money to stay out of court.

Mr.Bostock said that the case resolved itself into a question of means. Defendant as a dirt track rider was highly successful until twelve months ago. Since then he had not been riding regularly, and had only appeared at meetings on Sunday; there was no appearance money, and he had to win or get nothing. During the whole of the year he had won 32in prize money, and had to borrow a motor cycle to appear. His agreement with the owner was for half the winnings, and he had to bear half the cost of repairs and conveyance. His net earnings were 3 10s for the period. He was not in the employment of any dirt track company. He was married on 4th January this year, and had resided with his wife and her parents for nearly the whole of the period, and was dependant for his keep on his wife and her parents. He was doing some work on Hyde Market, but had not a regular wage, and his receipts from that source did not amount to more than ten shillings per week.

Mr.Westbrook said that in view of what Mr.Bostock had said, he was entitled to point out that during certain proceedings in September, the defendant stated in court that his earnings last year from dirt track riding were 500, and he had to pay 3 per week for a mechanic out of that.

The magistrates made an order of 10s per week until the child reaches 16 years of age, and allowed 8 expenses and two guineas advocate’s fee, and witnesses expenses.

After the scandalous revelation that he had fathered an illegitimate child and tried to procure a back street abortion in Ashton, Riley’s personal difficulties increased.  His stormy tempestuous union with Mabel Kisswetter ended on the sharpest of rocks. He was pursued through the court for years for child maintenance, and in May 1931 sent to prison for fourteen days for obtaining 5s by false pretences, with intent to defraud. The Chief Constable said Riley was a married man living apart from his wife and they were holding over a commitment in respect of arrears under an affiliation order until after that case was heard. Riley was very unsatisfactory and had previously been bound over on a charge of false pretences.

Donald Francis “Riskit” Riley died in 1951 in Manchester, a lonely, broken man – estranged from his family and speedway, he was 41 years old. A sad ending to a remarkable but troubled life.  It was his inability to separate his domestic problems from his professional speedway career that prevented him from reaching his true potential on the dirt track.

Although it is seventy year since “Riskit” stood selling fruit and veg on Hyde Market for his father, he is still fondly remembered by many old Hydonians. Hyde’s produced several so called sports personalities: swimmers, soccer players, athletes and boxers, but all pale in comparison to speedway ace Donald “Riskit” Riley, on and off the track he lived his life to the full, he was the Errol Flynn of speedway. Though his speedway career may have been relatively short, he is still fondly remembered as one of the most colourful characters from the early days of dirt track racing in Manchester.

John says: My thanks to all that have helped me with the above Donald "Riskit" Riley section.  If you know even more about Riskit, one of our early characters then please email me John


 
 
Clem H Beckett
 
Jack Longley has been in touch about the above named rider, Clem Beckett, who rode frequently at Audenshaw,
Jack says: Could I just add a little more to the subject of Audenshaw dirt track? I would like to tell you about A certain Mr Clem H Beckett from Oldham in Lancashire.  He also rode this track and considering the Droylsden track was so close to Audenshaw I can only assume he rode there also.
Clem was a communist and he joined the International Brigade and was subsequently murdered by fascists when he became involved in the Spanish Civil War. Clem also played a major part in setting up a union for speedway/dirt track riders who were being exploited by unscrupulous stadium owners who were encouraging young inexperienced kids to ride these bikes which resulted in deaths and serious injury.
There are two accounts on how Clem met his death, as follows: -
1. Oldham’s Clem Beckett, a member of the Communist Party, known as ‘DareDevil Beckett’ for his feats as a speedway rider and the Wall of Death, was one of the forty two men from the Manchester area who died in Spain. His machine gun jammed when he was trying to keep open the Valencia- Madrid road.
2. Clem Beckett (1928) - A Communist and Oldham based rider who appeared at Cleveland Park in 1928. He was Sheffield's leading rider in 1929 but he died a few years later whilst driving an ambulance in Spain for the International Brigade.
 
John says: In either case Clem died violently fighting for a cause he believed in and I am not going to voice any of my political opinions. Rest in Peace Clem.
 
 
Ginger Lees
 

 
 
Ginger Rode At Audenshaw
During
1928
 
 
 
Tom Lent's Ginger Lee's Trophy Box Collection
 

 
Ginger's Trophy Box
 
 
Inside Of The Box
 
 
Second place 350cc Class
 
 
Slider Shuttleworth


 
Another character with a great nickname and image.  Slider aboard a Rudge.

Courtesy of Alan Jones via John Tungate
 
John says: I have heard this tale before and didn't believe it then, but after reading this account, I am not so sure it was just a tale?  Surely you could only do it once and everyone would find out, making it hard to do again!
 
 
Acorn Dobson
 


John says: Stanley allegedly got the Acorn nickname because someone said his head was shaped like an acorn!  Pity he was wearing the cap
 

 
 
Bob Harrison
 




This cutting refers to Audenshaw's 13th Meeting and the meetings final featured Riskit Riley and Slider Shuttleworth both of whom are pictured above
 
This page already chronicles Audenshaw quite well, that is for a venue that ceased operations in 1931.  I always hold out hope that someone reading the page has something they would like to contribute.  Send me an email if you, (or more likely your grandad) can help. John

 
The contents of the site are and should not be reproduced elsewhere for financial gain. The contributors to this site gave the pictures and information on that understanding.  If anyone has any issue or objections to any items on the site please e-mail and I will amend or remove the item.  Where possible credit has been given to the owner of each item.


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