Speedway legend Mark Loram has reluctantly announced his retirement from the sport, due to on-going complications with a serious leg injury sustained in a track crash at Ipswich in 2007. Over the past couple of decades, Loram has established himself as a real fans favourite, mainly due to his incredible ability to overtake the opposition, which combined with his infamous inability to "gate," ensured that he was one of the most exciting riders to watch.
The highlight of Mark's career was undoubtedly lifting the Speedway Grand Prix World Title in 2000. Following his triumph, I can remember reading an article in one of the mainstream bike magazines about Mark and the journalist was knocked out by how chilled out and down to earth he was compared to the usual egotistical prima donnas in Moto GP who he normally interviewed.
We salute you Loramski for all the entertainment you have provided over the years, and wish you good luck and good health for the future.
Photos: Philip Lee Harvey (Top) Speedway Star
Posted by KTL at 22:52
The unstoppable Australian speedway talent machine has been in full swing in recent years, producing riders of tthe calibre of World U21 champion Darcy Ward and new Grand Prix recruits Chris Holder and Tai Woffinden. Although Tai has chosen to ride wearing the Union Jack, he is still very much a product of the Australian system.
The latest name to add to that list is fourteen year old Arthur Sissis, but by the looks of it he may well be lost to the shale sport, as he has made the recent switch to tarmac, having won a place in the prestigious Red Bull Rookies cup which aims to unearth the future stars of Moto GP. He raced in the competition in 2009 and is on the provisional entry list for 2010.
Sissis wouldn't be the first Aussie to make such a switch, as Casey Stoner raced junior speedway and dirt-track, and Gary McCoy also started out in speedway.
Meanwhile in good old Blighty, we struggle to produce riders who can compete at the highest level in both speedway and circuit racing. There are the occasional talents who still emerge through but it is more a case of despite the system rather than because of it. Dorna, the organisers of Moto GP, have resorted to developing young British racers in the highly successful Spanish system and riders such as Bradley Smith, Scott Redding and Danny Webb are starting to prove the worth of such an initiative.
The ACU and BSPA really need to study how other countries seem to consistently produce a conveyor belt of young riders who posses the ability to race on the world stage on both shale and tarmac. They need to learn from these countries and have the resolve to put in place youth development schemes that will produce the British World Champions of the future.
Red Bull Rookies - http://www.redbullrookiescup.com/riders_detail_2010.php?id=47
Doug McFarlane - http://community.webshots.com/user/maccattack
Posted by KTL at 13:38
More highly recommended reading material from Jeff Scott, with another volume of his entertaining and honest observations from around the various speedway tracks of Britain.
As he continues on his never ending journey, Jeff meets many of the characters involved in the sport, both the high profile riders, managers and promoters, as well as the unsung heroes such as the track raker's, and program sellers, as they all follow the highs and lows that the sport can often generate.
Jeff manages to capture much of the essence of British speedway, reflecting on the good and not so good aspects as he continues on his travels. He documents what is basically an unfashionable, working class sport, that is kept alive across the country by a band of well meaning enthusiasts, who wear their anoraks with pride.
"Finally, an honorary mention for Jeff Scott's Quantum of Shale: More Tales from the Shale (Methanol, £20). Scott writes extensively (one might even say obsessively...) on Speedway and Quantum is of his usual high standard. Needless to say if mud and noisy bikes don't interest you then neither will this, but if they do, Jeff's the man."
Giles Richards, Sports book of the year, The Observer, Sunday 6 December 2009.
Quantum of Shale is available from: Amazon, Waterstones and http://www.methanolpress.com/
Posted by KTL at 22:43
The issue of riders sustaining serious friction burns in crashes, after becoming tangled up with their opponents rear tyres, has come to a head this year, following two separate high profile incidents involving Nicki Pedersen & Jason Crump.
In this weeks Speedway Star, former World Champion Peter Collins displays his "tyre hugger" device that aims to prevent this type of injury, and he is campaigning to make it compulsory throughout the sport. There are however rear guards that are already on the market (such as the Race-Bitz guard used by Antonio Lindback) that attempt to solve the problem by running the guard much closer to the tyre. The Race-Bitz design also solves the problem of a rider striking the solid metal "lift bar" that speedway bikes traditionally have, by moving it closer to the seat, as part of the seat bracket. This means that a rider can "bail out" without the bar getting in his way and he can't strike it with his lower back in a crash.
Safety issues must always be a priority in the sport, but perhaps what is needed more than a compulsory item that every rider is forced to use, is a tightening of the scrutineering regulations in this area.
Photos by Eddie Garvey/Speedway Star, Fredric Svalin & Michal Szmyd.
Posted by KTL at 09:27
Garry McCoy is best known for his spectacular sliding technique. This outrageous style can probably be traced back to the fact that he started out on his two wheel career as a junior speedway rider in his native Australia.
Although many riders have successfully made the transition from dirt track to tarmac over the years, none have taken the sliding style to quite the same extremes that McCoy does.
2000 was the year that McCoy really made his mark in the 500cc class, becoming a real fans favorite, due to the crazy riding style and his unassuming underdog status. Riding the beautiful Red Bull WCM Yamaha, he became a genuine title contender that year.
In the years since, a combination of injuries and dodgy bikes (Kawasaki 4 stroke, Foggy Petronas and the Ilmor) have meant that McCoy has never had the equipment to match his undoubted talent, but in 2009 he is still battling away, riding a Triumph Daytona 675 in World Supersport.
Posted by KTL at 22:13
Having covered 70's sideburns and 80's "big hair" we now come to the late 80's / early 90's and believe it or not, rave culture hits speedway.
Pictured above is a young Sean Wilson and it's difficult to know quite where to start. The hair is one thing, but it's the trousers and the hat and the...
Now being speedway fans, we have heard the term "rose tinted spectacles" once too often, but here we have the real deal.
Posted by KTL at 13:43
The year is 1987 and pictured above are three members of the Canterbury Crusaders speedway team. (Left to right - Paul Whittaker, Rob Tilbury and Richard Pettman.)
The photo certainly captures the era (you can almost smell the hair spray) but the best part of the story is that the number one rider on their team was a certain Dave Mullett. Before anyone asks, no he didn't have one...
Posted by KTL at 11:27
This fantastic collection of speedway rider portraits from the 1970's was featured in a recent edition of the rather marvelous (and ironically named) Sideburn magazine.
The original shots were taken by Alf Weedon, whose work is featured on the Retro Speedway website.
Posted by KTL at 11:02
It is exactly 20 years since the career of three times World Champion Erik Gundersen was ended in a horrific crash during the World Team Championship Final at Odsal Stadium in Bradford. Although Erik was a hero to many, he surely became an even bigger inspiration in the aftermath of his crash, as he showed remarkable spirit and courage to overcome his injuries.
There is a very poignant article by Richard Clark in this weeks Speedway Star (Sept 19, 2009), which looks back to the day of his crash, and also catches up with Erik in the present day, as he takes a leading role in coaching young riders in his native Denmark.
Posted by KTL at 10:42
How cool is this 1920 Indian Power-plus Daytona racer? Well let's just say that Steve McQueen owned one, in his amazing collection of vehicles. It really is that cool...
Posted by KTL at 14:07