Dick Barrie's picture


Well, all that snow was a bit refreshing, eh?

I had a quiet smile when I got a text from Jye Etheridge last week, confirming he had just jetted back in from Oz a day or so ahead of the first heavy falls.

From around 35C to zero -- and from dusty heat to having snow up to his nadgers – more than a wee bit of a shock to the system. The Beast from the East was lying in wait to ambush the Mouth from the South!

I obviously hooked up with Jye while I was in Australia – and met his dad too, at Cowra.

The track at Cowra – called Woodstock Park – is what I’d call a typically Australian country motor-cycling development with a longer, half-mile flat track around the outside, then the regular speedway circuit and finally, inside the speedway, a little training track for 125cc bikes.

Every track I visited while down under had a wee track inside the regular speedway bowl. Every single one.

Which makes me wonder why the circuits in Britain who could have one don’t?

There is a mini-track on the infield at Swindon, but it is never used. Scunthorpe have a little strip behind the fourth turn but I’ve not heard mention of it getting ridden on for years and there are – or were -- unused mini-tracks on the premises at both Sheffield and Eastbourne.

And we wonder why Australia has since 2001 provided three different World Champions (Crump, Holder and Doyle) two World U-21 Champions (Ward and Fricke) and even a two-time World 250cc Champion in Matt Gilmore?

In the same time-frame, Britain can only boast of our good friend Tai Woffinden (who learned to skid on an Australian mini-track in Perth) grabbing two titles, and young Kyle Bickley gaining FIM success on grass and at 125cc speedway level.

Yet Britain has five or six times the number of professional speedways and at least four times as many licensed riders than Australia……

Compared to the Aussies, the UK success-rate is spread thinner than the butter on a motorway sandwich

It is ironic that the UK’s only (as far as I know) currently-active training strips are closely associated with Workington and Berwick, where the rugby and football pitches at their stadiums preclude an infield mini-track, yet there has been sufficient enthusiasm – on both coasts – to lay down facilities nearby at Northside and Duns.

Kyle Bickley’s success can be at least partly attributed to relentless early laps around Northside, and we must hope that the Grant Henderson Tankers Speedway Training Academy @ Duns (currently still under two feet of snow!) will emerge to provide speedway, and even better our own KLS Bandits, with new faces and new champions.

It won’t happen overnight but when it does, being able to salute a British, or (even better) World, title-winner whose first laps were taken around our beautifully-situated Duns circuit will be all the sweeter.

Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk