Dick Barrie's picture


Reading Scott’s notes in Saturday’s programme --- and where else in speedway will you find so much, and such varied content within 36 pages for just £2.50? – one phrase jumped out and hit me…..

He wrote: “I would think that there has never been quite so much good racing at Shielfield Park as there has in 2017/18”.

Wow! A bold statement indeed from young Scottums (well, he’s young to me).

Is he right? Our immediate thought might be to argue, but it is a fact that only vivid memories continue to exist.

In selective brains, all the dull, wet, first-from-the-gate’s-the-winner meetings are forgotten.

In our fading minds, the teenage Dave Trownson is still impossibly beating the Owens in 1975, Danny Warwick still getting home ahead of Gary Havelock in 2009 and people like Paul Clews, Jade Mudgway, Lee Complin or Michal Makovsky are still pulling us to our feet with last-bend manoeuvres around the banking………

Fabulous memories --- but these snapshots were maybe the highlight of a season. Reminiscences are selective, only the good bits remain.

All the dross is wrung out.

Because, if we go back in time and watch every race we can find on Super8 home cine film (remember that?) or early video tapes (indeed, remember them?) we find that the actual week-by-week racing from up to fifty years ago wasn’t all that good.

Very much “from the gate” and riders were far more strung out around a much-narrower, flatter Shielfield Park circuit.

Scott’s right. Our racing here is really pretty good nowadays and certainly generally better than in the past.

We are living in good times in terms of speedway entertainment.

In fact. this is true of speedway in general. Watch almost any Grand Prix nowadays, and see last-to-first moves, handlebar-to-handlebar clashes and finals being decided on the final bend.

Compare that with watching a recording of the “greatest-ever” World Final of 1981 at Wembley.

Anyone who was there, or who watched the highlights on TV will rave about the races between Bruce Penhall and both Tommy Knudsen and Ole Olsen.

Amazing stuff – but if you watch the whole meeting, that was it. Two great races out of twenty-one.

So I submit learned readers, that my friend Mr S.Courtney has a point in his prognostication.

Yes, racing and on-track entertainment these days is considerably better than it used to be.

It is our memories are worse…..


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