Defunct Speedway Tracks

Part 4
Putt Mossman   Pre War Helmet Colours  Concrete/Tarmac Starting Area  Old Bike Makes  Jack Sharp in Singapore 
Jack and Frank Chiswell  Rocket Bike  Speedway & Ice News 1952 Mags for Sale  Polish Touring Party
Victor Mucha Russian Daredevil  Alex Faulkner's Autograph Book Cec Warren's 1928 Scrapbook Italian Tourist Party 
Speedway Bike Transportation
Since becoming interested in speedway during 1961.  I have developed an interest in the modes of transport employed in getting a rider and his bike(s)/equipment around the tracks.  In the modern era all riders appear to have at least two bikes, a large van and a load of equipment with them at every meeting.  This wasn’t the case years ago. 
The early pioneers in 1928-1929 would set off for a race meeting on their street legal bikes to the track and then in the pits proceeded to strip the bike down, removing mudguards, lights etc and were also instructed by early dirt track racing rules to disable the brakes.  Then the riders took to the track on their stripped down machines. At the end of the racing the rider would refit all the parts removed, reconnect the brakes and ride the bike home.  Modern riders have it so much easier with mechanics and a large van.
Most tracks used to have a "Track Spare" which could be used in an emergency if the rider wrecked their bike or had serious running problems.  The track spare usually started off the season in good running order but was often plundered by a rider in difficulties taking parts off it to keep his own bike going leaving the spare in a state of disrepair.  As a result the "Track Spare" idea was done away with over the years.
1930's Mode Of Transport
This is Canadian Eric Chitty and his mechanic at West Ham in the 1930's.  He was a very successful rider hence he could afford the sports car, trailer and two bikes.
Car/Van ownerships were often not affordable to young riders starting out on their speedway career whereas a motorcycle/sidecar combination was more affordable, I am showing below how this, the most basic transport, was used by many young riders aspiring to the level of Eric Chitty
1948 Typical
Junior Rider Transport
This photo was taken in Wallsend close to Newcastle's race track Brough Park. It was taken in 1948 and shows novice rider John Hunter and friends on their way to Brough Park.
The guy on the left was another rider Stuart Robson, no relation to the 2013 Newcastle rider by same name.  The combination was a 1923 Harley Davidson.  I don't know what the other road bike was.  The speedway machine in the sidecar was I am told a Rudge with a JAP engine.  The other speedway bike has it's chain removed so the back wheel could revolve freely on the road.  It was common to see speedway bikes transported in this fashion before car/van ownership did away with the motorcycle combination.  A notable "Name" Reg Fearman, started his riding career this way.
Reg Fearman's Humble Beginning
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
My friend Reg Fearman used the above pictured sidecar combination when he was riding in Australia in 1950/51 The workhorse machine was a Panther 650cc, a far cry from Reg's Rolls Royce's which he owned when he was promoting in the 1960/70s in the UK.
The Small Van
Owning a small van big enough for one bike was looked upon as a huge improvement over the bike/sidecar
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
Reg Trott with his van at Rye House in 1950's, looking very happy as he loads his bike into a strange looking vehicle, it appears to have a rear door that becomes a ramp when let down and partly wooden in construction, unless I am wrong.
Bike In The Boot!
This is Ronnie Genz an Oxford rider when this picture was taken.  Incredible now having a motorbike sticking out of a boot.  But in the 1960s many riders travelled this way.  The boot would be tied down to stop the wind catching it and the police were happy with it!  All you needed was a biggish family saloon with a good sized boot like this Mark 1 Ford Cortina.  Another good car for a speedway rider was the Citroen Safari you could get a bike right inside and shut the tailgate.  I remember New Zealander Graeme Stapleton using one when he rode for my team Newcastle in the 1970s.
Tow Bar Mounted
Bike Racks
If you had a large car or van with a tow bar fitted.  You could take of the ball end off the tow bar and bolt a bike rack
on in its place.  A bike would sit securely on the bike rack as shown above.
For many years speedway bikes were transported either sticking out of the boot of large cars or like this one slung on a special rack mounted on a tow bar.  This rig belonged to Cliff Watson.  I borrowed a bike rack in 2005 from local Newcastle rider Craig Connon when he lent me his bike to put on show at a local motorbike carnival.
Ernst Bøgh's Retro JAP On A Tow Bar Bike Rack
Danish Rider Ernst Bøgh has sent this pic of a Retro Rotrax JAP mounted on a bike rack.  Although the picture is recent, this kind of bike rack has been around for decades.  The rack fits onto a tow bar mounting and the bike is lifted on and secured by aerolastics and a number plate/lights board. Do it right and you can cruise at top speed, well 70mph in the UK!
John says:  This is an interesting topic if you have any pictures showing a riders chosen novel method of transport please send me your pics and/or your views on what is shown in this section email me here John
It never ceases to amaze me that most riders turned up for matches despite the various difficulties they faced in years gone by.  Not many motorways, dual carriageways and less than reliable modes of transports!  Well done guys

Les Drury's Newspaper
84,000 at Wembley
England v Australia
Courtesy of Les Drury
Lady Riders
Courtesy of Les Drury
Wembley Test
Courtesy of Les Drury
Motorcyclists and Airmen
Courtesy of Les Drury
The America's Cup &  High Beech
Courtesy of Les Drury

Alex Faulkner's
Pre War Autographs
L Stanger
Les Bowden
Keith Harvey
Bob Lovell
Ted Bravery
Steve Langton
Stan Lemon
Bluey Wilkinson
Tiger Hart
Malcolm Craven

A Medley of Sport
Courtesy of Les Drury
Dirt Track Racing
at Crystal Palace 
Courtesy of Les Drury

Putt Mossman
Speedway Rider & Stuntman
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
Born in Iowa in 1906, Orren “Putt” Mossman is widely regarded as the most famous stunt motorcyclist of the first half of the 20th century. Referred to as “The Man of a Thousand Skills”, Mossman was also an accomplished motorcycle/speedway racer as well as a professional baseball player, wrestler, champion boxer, stuntman, Hollywood stunt double, and horseshoe throwing national and world champion.  However, it was his motorcycling stunts that brought him international fame.
Putt Recovering Again!
Putt was a regular visitor to A&E hospitals around the world!
Putt Mossman  Speedway Rider & International Stuntman

Putt Mossman


Extract from the AMA Motorcycle Museum’s Hall of Fame

World-Famous Motorcycle Stunt Pioneer

Orren "Putt" Mossman was the most famous stunt motorcyclist of the first half of the 20th century. Mossman and his troupe travelled America and the world putting on spectacular extravaganzas in front of crowds numbering from the hundreds to tens of thousands. During his 40-year career, Mossman performed in 45 countries on six continents. His innovative act was unequalled in his day and many of his stunts may never be duplicated.

Mossman was born on July 8, 1906 in the small farming community of Eldora, Iowa. At a young age, Mossman became popular for his horseshoe throwing skills (something taken very seriously in that part of Iowa during that era). Mossman quickly climbed the ranks of horseshoe throwing and became national and world champion. (In 1967 he became a charter member of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association Hall of Fame)

Mossman seemed to excel at everything he did. He was a champion boxer, wrestler, tumbler, baseball player (he tried out for the Boston Braves in the mid-1920s and was with the team throughout spring training) and vaudeville performer.

When he was 20, Mossman bought his first motorcycle. On the ride home from the motorcycle shop, Mossman came upon two pretty young ladies and performed his very first motorcycle stunt. He stood up on his seat as he rode by the young ladies and nodded as he passed. Even though Mossman would later say his performance was rather shaky, he still received applause.

Mossman had a longing to make a lot of money and he knew farming wasn’t the answer, nor was horseshoe pitching. Mossman thought that he might be able to make it big as a motorcycle stuntman. The first stunt he did in the area surrounding his hometown was jumping over and into rivers and he quickly made much more money than he had at any of his other jobs.

At one of these early stunts, his motorcycle wasn’t running well and would not have enough power to make the jump he was set to attempt. Hundreds of people had already paid to watch the jump. Mossman frantically went to the nearest motorcycle dealership where he met Pee Wee Cullum. The consummate fast talker, Mossman somehow managed to convince Cullum to let him use his Henderson Four to make the jump. After making the jump that night, Mossman asked Cullum to go with him to a boxing match he was scheduled to fight in the next day hundreds of miles away in Oklahoma. Cullum would later say that after that first night he felt like he would follow Mossman across the world. As it turns out, he did. It was the start of a long relationship between the two.

Besides Cullum, Mossman’s troupe grew to include a core group that included Mossman’s own sister, Dessie, and later his first wife, Helen. As the shows grew, Mossman hired temporary helpers and riders for bigger shows. He often used some of the top Southern California Speedway riders in his shows.

The Mossman troupe was constantly on the move, performing six and seven nights a week, primarily in high school football stadiums. His tricks were diverse and creative. Mossman called his show a circus and he integrated tricks he learned in vaudeville into his performances.

Mossman was an excellent self-promoter. In the days before television, Mossman would go to every little town’s newspaper in the communities surrounding a performance and get to know the editors. They all grew to love the frenetic Mossman and he would get pages of coverage.

Some of his tricks included: Having his sister ride sitting or standing on his shoulders; Cullum releasing helium-filled balloons and Mossman drawing a pistol and shooting them out of the air as he rode; riding while juggling eggs or skipping rope; riding with a sack over his head and using a broomstick to feel for the stadium wall to guide him around the track; riding through plate glass or burning wood; jumping off a ramp into a big tub of flaming water; attaching a ladder to the rear of the motorcycle climbing up and down the ladder as the motorcycle circulated the track. These are just a few of the creative stunts that Mossman used to earn a reputation for the best stuntman in America.

By the mid-1930s, Mossman's fame had spread worldwide and he began making appearances all across the world. He called his travelling show "Putt Mossman and his American Motorcycle Rodeo Circus and Speedway Aces." One performance in Yokohama, Japan drew 80,000 spectators, including the son of the emperor. Mossman visited and performed in 45 countries in all and was considered a hero in most of those countries and even a god in at least one.

While riding through Uganda in a promotional ride from the top to bottom of Africa, Mossman stopped in a small village and had to wait a few days for supplies. In return for the villagers' hospitality, Mossman promised the chief a performance before he departed. The drum calls went out across the land and thousands of Africans from villages miles away showed up to watch Mossman perform. In the finale of the show, Mossman put a burlap sack soaked in gasoline over his head and had his assistant ignite it. The flaming Mossman rode his bike over a waterfall into a river below. The villagers were in awe and honored him as some kind of mystical god.

Mossman rarely practiced his stunts and was injured numerous times and often rode injured. Once, Mossman doused his clothes in gasoline and Cullum was to set him ablaze, then Mossman would start his bike and jump into a lake. The problem was after Cullum set him on fire his Indian refused to start. Frantically Mossman kicked and kicked and finally the bike came to life and Mossman rode into the water. He was hospitalized for two weeks with burns all over his body for that mistake. The injuries weren’t confined to Mossman. Once he went off the side of a ramp and landed his Indian motorcycle on top of his wife. She recovered after a few weeks in the hospital. Perhaps not coincidentally, Mossman was divorced and married at least three times.

Many say that Mossman could have been a fine racer if he’d put his mind to it. For fun, he raced speedway in California with some success in the 1930s and during the 1940s he raced a couple of times on the old beach course at Daytona, running as high as fourth in the 1947 race before his bike had mechanical problems.

Mossman fulfilled his dream of making a lot of money. He was said to have earned and lost fortunes many times over. One thing Mossman did for his retirement was to buy land. In a 1970s interview, Mossman reportedly owned large tracts of land in five states.

During World War II, Mossman served in the Merchant Marine and later worked with the USO and performed his show for troops.

After the war, television, radio and the rising popularity of sports eroded Mossman’s drawing power. He continued to work as a stuntman in Hollywood and continued doing his shows on a smaller scale, often to schoolchildren and for various charities. He continued working into his 70s. He retired to Arizona and died on September 8, 1994. Perhaps the most daring stunt rider in motorcycling lived to 88.

If anything describes the spirit of Mossman, it is a quote he made in a 1935 Motorcyclist interview. During a trip to Japan, his ship was caught in a severe typhoon. While most other passengers lay in their cabins with seasickness, Mossman was up on the bridge watching with delight as the old ship stuck her nose into the massive waves. In describing the trip in the interview Mossman said, "The humdrum monotony of an ordinary crossing was not our lot, so we were thankful."

Inducted in 1998

Speedway News
Magazine Cover
Looking at Putt's bike I think it was fitted with a car engine?
Putt on The Programme 
Courtesy of Reg Fearman 
Reg Fearman says: There are some interesting letters from relatives and stories on the web about the amazing speedway rider and stunt man Putt Mossman and Fred Evans Speedway promoter at Hackney in the 1930s and Norwich in the 1950s - well worth reading how an old suitcase was bought for 5 shillings in South London and contained a wealth of information.
Note the admission prices - 15p the top price. Programme 3d

Victor Mucha Aviator Victoria Rider

VICTOR MUCHA the Russian Daredevil

One of the most colourful characters in speedway in Victoria during the sixties was Russian fighter pilot Vitezslav Macha born in Moro Ostrava Russia January 26 1921. During World war two Victor was a fighter pilot in the Soviet Airforce with the Nornandi-Nieman squadron His name was shortened to Victor Mucha when he arrived in Fremantle West Australia on January 17 1951 via a German displaced persons camp at Wild Hesken which he left on October 10 1950.

Victor took up wrestling and competed in the 1956 Olympic Games representing Australia. Competing as a light heavyweight in the Greco Roman style he was eliminated in the second round after two hard bouts.

Victor then turned his attention to speedway racing at Traceys Baxter and Brooklyn tracks. Victor was a large well built man and he made his own frames to suit his build. 

 He had also taken up flying and made headlines in 1968 .

Victor acting as an instructor took Eward Lang aged 27, another speedway rider and motor mechanic with the RAME army workshops, on a training run.  Eward originally from Baden, Baden in West Germany Eward was on his first lesson, in a Tiger Moth.  Victor had lapsed into a coma, believed to be a reaction from a Tetanus injection he had earlier, leaving the novice flyer to land the plane by guess work. Eventually the frightened Ewald spotted the Hume highway near Benalla and landed by trial and error on a service road. All was going well until the plane hit some earthworks and somersaulted leaving the learner pilot and the still unconscious Victor hanging upside down from their harnesses. The novice managed to free Victor and pull him from the wreck. They both recovered and took up flying again!

 By this time Victor had a farm near Barnawartha Victoria, where he built an airstrip and a speedway. He started a flying school there but he never had a pilot’s licence or an airworthy certificate for his aircraft. Matters came to a head when Victor crashed when landing, he quickly took the wreckage away as he knew the crash would be reported to the aviation people. The next day sure enough an army of inspectors appeared and Victor was in deep trouble. An inquiry was held; meanwhile Victor had applied for a licence. The authorities decided that due to his distinguished war record they could not refuse him a licence which they then granted.

The speedway  was built and completed with fence's and lights ,Victor  intended on starting up a school for speedway riders when it was finished, Unfortunately  Victors luck ran out, he was killed when his Peil Emerald aircraft crashed, just before the track was about to open. Victor was piloting local doctor Curt Edstrom of Albury when the aircraft came down 40 k north west of Albury on August 2 1982.Victor and Curt both died in the accident

Victor was 61, the end of a full and exciting life.

Tony Webb


Speedway and Ice News
I have 7 1952 Speedway and Ice News magazines for sale.  I have decided to sell them to raise funds for paying my website hosting fees.  The 7 Magazines are shown below.  Send me an email if you wish to discuss John
January 2 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway and Ice News Collection
Norwich's Australian star Bob Leverenz, whose bike appears to be almost in an overslide.  Or maybe it is just the camera angle.

England v Sweden Test
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Outside: Sweden's Sune Karlsson and Inside: Englands George Wall

Coming To
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Top: Harrigay's Jimmy Squibb Middle: Bob Oakley came to grief to avoid the already fallen Freddie Williams.  The Bottom pic: is Mr Speedway Reg Fearman about to test the padding his leathers have in the sitting down area.

January 9 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
In front Oxfords Harry Saunders, Ken Walsh (Exeter) and Cheetah Eric Irons
England v Australia 1951
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines

February 6 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Exeter's Bob Roger is presented with a badge his team mate Don hardy is struggling to keep his attention on the ceremony
Name The
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
The picture appeared in the Speedway and Ice News as a "name the riders" feature.  I believe it would have been taken around 1932, so go on then name the riders! John  The mag is only 65 years old so perhaps they will still send you a prize!

February 13 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
King George V1 Had a Douglas
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Jack Parker
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Wally Green
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines

February 20 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Cover picture: Bradford 1951  The riders are Cyril Roger, New Cross  Bob Leverenz (Norwich) Jack Biggs of Harringay and Belle Vue's Jack Parker with the strange angle his leg is at!  Jack went on to win the race for England with his England team mate Cyril Roger second and Aussie Jack Biggs in third.  England won the match 59-49
Syd Jackson
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
1933 Syd was very photogenic never acheived very much and called it a day 2 years after this photo was taken.

March 5 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines

March 19 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Entertainment Tax
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
So there they are 7 issues of Speedway and Ice News from 1952, 65 years ago.  The mags are in excellent condition and if you want to buy/discuss them send me an email John

Speedway and Ice News
I found another 5 1952 magazines which I would be happy to sell, so if you want them, please send me an email John  The mags are as follows: -
November 12 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines

November 19 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Ipswich riders feature on the front cover of this issue.  Charlie Mugford, Tich Read and Sid Clark.

November 26 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Wall of Death
This curious snippet appeared in the magazine: -
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
A 1930s challenge like the above would now be prohibited  in the UK and any insurance cover would be extremely expensive.  However a good few speedway riders moonlighted as wall riders to earn a few more quid!  There is a decent sized section about speedway riders on the wall on this website.  Go to Miscellaneous page 5 if you are interested.

December 3 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
Coventry v Cradley Heath.   Left to right Johnny Reason, Geoff Bennett, Stan Williams and Brian Shepherd

December 10 1952
Courtesy of John's Speedway News Magazines
So that is it another 5 mags, shown above.  I will leave the scans on the website as they are an interesting addition.  Anyone interested in bidding for the mags could send me an email John


Homburg Saar, Germany
In The Late

Courtesy John Hyam
John Hyam says: This is a cartoonists view of speedway as used by the German promoters at Homburg Saar to promote their 1958 international meeting featuring Germany, Austria, Holland and England.
A great work of art. I particularly like the speed blurs and how the two riders blend into one.

Pre-War Helmet Colours
In modern times we have Red and Blue for Home Riders with White/Green and Yellow/Yellow& Black Away Riders.  This wasn't always the case.
This pre war 1938 programme of a Newcastle v West Ham match.  It shows the team colours Newcastle: Red and White and West Ham: Red and Blue.  You may not have expected the Newcastle body colours to be shown as Red and White, as in modern times, from 1961, Newcastle have always been Black and White!
Stranger still, the helmet colours are Newcastle Red and White and the visitors Blue and Yellow!  So is this a printing mistake or were the helmet colours right?  If you can throw any light on the helmet colours please email me John
Newcastle fans will be pleased to see that we hammered the hammers 57-26 with the Diamonds hero George Pepper scoring a 12 point maximum

Birmingham Team 1929
Six riders all mounted on Douglas machines so this could be as early as 1928 or possibly 1929.  I don't know any of the riders or the venue, can you help John
Terry Stone says: No 14 is Jim Kempster
Valerie Davey says: The track is Stamford Bridge
Nigel Bird says: Six riders mounted on Douglases; Venue : Stamford Bridge , This is the 1929 Birmingham Perry Barr team, rider on the left is Wally Lloyd, I would be very surprised if Jim Kempster is among these riders, I only wish I could positively identify the others. The numbers on the bikes can be a bit unreliable as a form of identification.
Valerie Davey would recognise this track, as her Grandfather raced here.

1953 Australian
Test Team
At Norwich
Courtesy of Ashley York
Ashley York says: This photo was with the photo of the Norwich rider (shown above). The team photo looks like it may be of a touring Australian Test team – perhaps they raced at Norwich.  This is all pure speculation on my part based on what I have found on the internet – I have no knowledge of speedway myself. I would be interested though If you are in a position to provide any information about the photos, such as when they might have been taken, whether it is an Australian Test team, and who any of the individuals are.
Colin Greenwell says: The "Australian team" is from L-R standing: Arthur Payne, Keith Gurtner, Athur Simcock, Jack Young, Aub Lawson and kneeling: Johnny Chamberlain, Ronnie Moore, Peter Moore and Jack Biggs
Steve Brown says: The pic of the Australian team you just posted was indeed taken at Norwich.  It was from the first England v Australia Test on June 20, 1953, and was won by the visitors 62-46.  Back : Arthur Payne, Keith Gurtner, Jack Young, Aub Lawson.  Front : John Chamberlain, Ronnie Moore, Peter Moore, Jack Biggs.  Ronnie Moore scored an 18-point maximum.
Don Price says: Just spotted the Australian team photo in your " name the rider" section so I'll have a stab at this.  I think the riders are... (back row) Arthur Payne,  Keith Gurtner, Jack Young,  Aub Lawson..  (front row)  John Chamberlain,  Ronnie Moore, Peter Moore & Jack Biggs,.   1st Test @ Norwich 20th of June 1953.  Australia won 62-46.  All the best, Don.

Concrete/Tarmac Starting Areas
In the modern era we are all used to see our riders digging in the dirt at the starting area before settling down for the tapes up.  This wasn't always the case as once upon a time the starting area was either concrete or tarmac
Courtesy of Jim Henry
This photo of Walthamstow shows a concrete starting grid.  God knows what was going on here! But the rider couldn't have been digging the dirt with his boots as it was solid concrete!
Courtesy of Colin Greenwell
This is 1940s Cleveland Park Middlesbrough.  A Tarmac starting grid and their rider Frank Hodgson appears to be restricted to a rather narrow grid 1?
The Starting Gate Rule
So what could be better?  A consistent start area without advantage.  I wonder why it didn't catch on and now we have starts on the dirt with multiple winners from one starting position and none from another.  Is it time to get the boys from the black stuff in to tarmac our starts again?
I am not old enough to have watched racing when these starting areas were in use.  If you witnessed speedway with these grids please send me your comments John
A Concrete Start
Picture courtesy of Fred Pallett
John says: The small text reads: Starting Hazards, Oliver Hart and Split Waterman find their front wheels lifting on the concrete starting area. Neither turned over but Hart's machine broke the bottom tape of the rising gate causing a restart. Concrete in place of the softer tarmac was a 1950 change which upset several riders including Waterman and Vic Duggan - G.R.A. photo taken at Harringay
Fred Pallett says: Hello John, I am not too young to remember this! I remember that all the London tracks had a hard starting area of some kind. I always assumed them to be concrete, but some could have been tarmacadam/asphalt. I clearly recall that, at Wembley Stadium, the driver of the tractor that towed the grader between heats used to raise the grader off the ground when passing over the starting area. Stenner’s 1951 Speedway Annual (World Edition) includes a centre pages (48/49) photograph spread, taken at Harringay, showing Oliver Hart (Odsal) and Split Waterman (Harringay) with their front wheels lifting “on the concrete starting area” – see attached scan (above). The caption goes on to state that “Concrete in place of the softer tarmac was a 1950 change which upset several riders, including Waterman and Vic Duggan”. As a Wembley supporter, my speedway attendances ceased in June 1954, so I am unable to confirm the situation in later years. Many cycle speedway tracks also had hard starting areas, as they were generally modelled on motorcycle speedway tracks.
Stoke's Starting Grid Area
Picture courtesy of Reg Fearman
John says: 8 Belle Vue riders on the concrete at Stoke.  I suppose a trackman that could grade dirt up to a seemless join with concrete would be ok and trackmen that couldn't would have a bump as the bikes entered the concrete section.  Not good eh?
Reg Fearman says: John, The concrete starting gate came into Regulations just after WW II. All tracks had to install the concrete slabs which were made by the one contractor and indeed were all the same size and length. They did have 'grooves' which can be clearly seen in the first photo. My attached photo shows clearly the Starting Area at Stoke Speedway in 1953. The idea of course was to 'Standardise' the starts. Later came complaints about the 'bump' at high speed when the race was on, it could be very noticeable between the track and concrete.. They were then all torn up and reverted to the old fashioned dirt start then much later followed the time wasting 'gardening'. Cheers, Reg
John Chaplin says: John, For a start (no pun intended), I resent the implication that I am 'too young' to remember concrete and tarmac starting areas. { John Skinner says: oops sorry didn't think you would be so touchy!}
I saw them up until 1956. I have always advocated a return to either them or the technique used when they were in use. Riders would come up to the two yard line (about the length of a bike back from the tapes) where they would be stopped by the starting marshall. When the Steward (referee) put the green light on the riders were allowed to move up to the tapes. they were then 'Under Starters orders'. They remained still until the tapes went up. As I recall there was no tape pushing and there was certainly no point in 'gardening' at the gate. However, if a rider miscalculated and looped, it hurt to fall on the hard surface. Few did.
Regards, John Chaplin
New Cross Concrete
Starting Area
John says: Ron Johnson on concrete at New Cross in 1946 curiously it shows the concrete extending well before the starting gate, why was that? and as the track appears to be wet I wonder that if the concrete wasn't laid properly that puddles would appear on wet nights?
If you have any photos or views on starting areas please email me John

Lenningrad USSR
Courtesy of Graham Gleave

Bob & Gil
Bob Andrews sent the above photo, he says: Here is a photo of Gil Goldfinch and myself taken in 1954 at Eastbourne. I had just won the Silver Helmet Championship there.  He was giving me “a man hug” in the pits, my ex. Army van is behind us. An Austin.

Old Bike Makes Prior To UK Speedway Starting
In 1928
As a biker as well as a speedway fan I am interested in the makes of bikes used on Dirt Tracks prior to racing commencing in 1928 in the UK.  I asked Aussie Tony Webb for info on bikes in use when Dirt Track racing was Australia's private property.  Tony sent me a scan from a 1926 Sydney, Australia programme.
The 1926 Australian programme shows the bikes each rider was using.  Glancing through the list of machines the vast majority of bikes were British with a couple of American machines Harley-Davidson and Indian added in!  Douglas and Rudge are listed too.  The two British bikes went on to dominate a couple of years later.  I notice two machines Ogden Triumph and Ogden Norton.  I presume Ogden added some improvements to the standard Triumph and Norton.  I also note James and Royal Enfield. Which were makes I enjoyed owning in the 1960s.  My James and Royal Enfield bikes were road going machines though.
My understanding of the top1920s dirt track machines was that Harley Davidson was the first winning machine, with AJS also having some success. Followed by the very successful Douglas and the Rudge, then in 1931 the British made JAP came along and swept all the earlier opposition away.

Bob Sharp
VSRA News desk 13 September 2012
Very sad news from Tara, Queensland, Bob "Cowboy" Sharp, former Australian Champion has died following a heart attack at on September 12 2012. Bob is well remembered in Great Britain for his time at White City Glasgow and Ipswich 1952-1958.
According to Bob’s son, Ron Sharp, his dad had visited the local hospital regarding a knee replacement. He suffered a heart attack at a friend’s house later.
It is understood that Bob has a burial plot in his home town of Tara which is . approx 300 k west of Brisbane

VSRA Editor


Eastern Speedways, Norwich on Sunday Independent & Journal
10th September 1932
A great picture from Speedway Researcher Jim Henry.
Competitors line up for the start of the grand parade of the riders at the Eastern Speedways, Norwich on Sunday Independent & Journal 10th September 1932) On the front row are Number 3 Jack Smythe and 5 Geoff Pymar
Another Great Picture From Jim Henry
Another Picture from Jim Henry Speedway Resarcher.  Jim says: Final of the Big Twelve. 14 - Hal Herbert, 8 – Fred Wilkinson, 2 – Wally Banner, 12 Arthur Johnson.  Result - - - - - First Wilkinson 87.1/5 seconds, second Banner, third Herbert

Riders who took part in this meeting taken from the program are

1-Arthur Reynolds, 2-Wally Banner, 3-Jack Smythe, 4-Reg Stanley, 5-Geoff Pymar, 6-Jack Allby, 7-Wal Smith,

8-Fred Wilkinson, 9-Jim Milward, 10-Don Dimes, 11-Don Boswell. 12-Arthur Johnson, 14-Hal Herbert, 15-S. Gardner,

16-W. Phillips, 17-C. S. Gill. 18-Johnnie Glass, 19-Jack Eldon.

It was reported in the press that Fred Wilkinson won five out of his seven races, but the filled in programme gives him four wins and three seconds. Without doubt Fred was the top rider in this meeting and from the programme he would have won £8.10.0 (£8.50) in prize money. This was not a bad payday as in the programme a Hercules bicycle was advertised at £3.19.0. A Two Seater Morris Minor Car at £100 and a 250c.c. Rudge Motor bike cost £38. The admission was 7d & 1/-. As there were 20 1/- to a £, it would equal to 170 fans paying 1/- for Fred’s winnings that day.


Jack Sharp In Singapore
Before Australian Champion Jack Sharp arrived in England in 1931 he rode a season in Singapore and left winning a Silver Gauntlet and  holding the track record.  If anyone has info regarding racing in Singapore please email me John

Advert For Singapore Meeting


John (Jack) &
Frank Chiswell
A truly great example of a 1929/1930 'ish photo which would have been black and white, hand tinted with colour.  The photo was sent to me by Mike Darby who is the nephew of the two brothers shown above.  They are John and Frank Chiswell from Loughton Essex.  The bike is a Douglas which had its day around that time.
Mike Darby says: Dear John, My late Uncle John Chiswell was an early dirt track rider and with his brother Frank rode at High Beech, as they came from Loughton Essex where the family ran a garage, and I believe Belle Vue, Manchester.
My uncle was born 1908 and married my fathers sister Constance Darby, who was pioneer ladies biker in her day.
Uncle John died in 2001 aged 93 and although he showed me these photographs he never really told the full story of their dirt track days.
The cartoon was I believe published in a magazine of the time, 1920/30’s, but I know very little else.
Have you heard of the Chiswell Brothers?
Kind regards
Mike Darby
John says: Can anyone supply any more info on the Chiswell's ? email me John
Not sure which of the brothers this one is.  The bike is a bit strange to me so if you can identify it send me and email John The strengthening strut along the frame may be a clue.
Nigel Bird says: Sorry can't name which Chiswell brother it is but the machine is an AJS road bike converted for speedway, Track High Beech1928
John may have used the name Jack as in this sketch.  Mike and I would love to hear from anyone whom can supply any info on the Chiswell brothers.
John or Frank Chiswell could be at High Beech?  Great pictures Mike:  if you find anymore send them in please

Speedway Cricket Match
From formbyfalls:1938 Fred Mountford

Fred Pallett says: Hello John, May I offer the following small correction to Miscellaneous Part 4. Under the heading of “Speedway Cricket Match”, there is a photo of a man in cricket whites with the caption “Fred Mountford”. This should read Fred Mockford, who was the promoter of Crystal Palace Speedway in the 1930s, before moving his operation to New Cross, where he was still the promoter after World War 2



Arlo Bugeja's Wedding 2011


Arlo recently married Claire Fearnley the niece of my friend and Redcar supporter Colin Greenwell. Colin has sent the following photographs of Arlo's and Claire's big day


Claire and Arlo


Jordan Frampton, Matthew Wethers and Shane Parker.  Arlo and Mathew have been best friends since childhood

This photograph includes Matthew Wethers (best man), Jordan Frampton, Shane Parker, Jade Mudgway, Paul Cooper, Jitendra Duffil, and Barry Simpson (Redcar starting marshall)
John says: Best wishes go to Claire and Arlo


Ukraine Speedway Rovno

Igor Sokolovskiy says:  Hi John, I hope that you may be interested.  Best regards, Igor Sokolovskiy. Ukraine, Rovno.  
Hi, my name is Igor Sokolovskiy. I live in Ukraine, Rovno.
Speedway in our city came in 1959 when in Rovno was opened the first in the Soviet Union a special stadium for races
on speedway It is Rovno in his debut in speedway Viktor Trofimov, and it happened April 30, 1960. He appeared in 1962 in the USSR national team 15 times in a row started in the Individual World Championships.
I do statistics Rovno speedway, and I can clarify about one race in England next.  June 9, 1976 the USSR national team played its third match in England. On the track at Belle Vue Aces were stronger.
But the items in the guests a little incorrect.
 Vladimir Paznikov claimed in the race for number 8, three starts in place of Nikolai Kornev. But all the time, finished fourth. That he is pictured in the fight against Kristian Praestbro. But Viktor Kuznetsov - teammate Vladimir Paznikov in Novosibirsk Sibir', then do not got 2, and 3 points. The remaining riders are unchanged.


Ronnie Hynd's 1940/50s Pictures


Ken Le Breton, Arthur Forest and Bruce Semmons.  A great shot showing Arthur's steel shoe circa 1940/50's

Ken seen here wearing Ashfield Jacket, left Newcastle for Glasgow Ashfield Giants in 1949 and died in 1951 so this photo must have been 1949-1950

Dick Campbell & Jack Young



Rocket Bike !

Courtesy of Graham Gleave

The Crocker USA

I think this picture is pre war USA showing a Crocker apparently locking up


Speedway News Thrills & Spills

Above  item courtesy of Jim Henry


Italian Tourists
Hello I am Rocco from Italy,
i remember in 1979/1980/1981 the Italy Team he came to England to play test match,
the riders were Mauro Ferraccioli, Fausto Birbini, Francesco Biginato, Mario Andriolo etc..
you want to know if you have photos or articles about it.
Mauro win a race in england but i d'ont know where?
Mauro Ferraccioli was my brother-in-law unfortunately on January 31st 2019 he died because of cancer he was 63 years old.
Rocco Oltramari
John says:  I don't think the Italian riders came anyway near my native north east of England around 1979 or the early 1980s.  Rocco would be pleased to hear from anyone whom has any pics programmes etc.  If you can help him out his email is
Rocco sent me the following images
Courtesy of Rocco Oltramari
Courtesy of Rocco Oltramari
Courtesy of Rocco Oltramari
Courtesy of Rocco Oltramari
Courtesy of Rocco Oltramari

Polish Tourists 1956
John says if you have memories/programmes or photos about these Italian/Polish trips to the UK then please get in touch  John

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