An outrageous shot of Peter Collins grappling with a tear off, while completely locked-up, at full speed. Respect.
Peter Collins



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


The New Slide King

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


Quantum of Shale

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/