It's often been said in Speedway that the starts are so important.
While that may sound entirely obvious, it seems like in recent seasons that it has become a major bone of contention among riders and fans alike.
Every meeting up and down the country it seem like there are more and more starts being pulled back for one reason or another.
Why is this?
Is it because the riders won't sit still at the start?
Is it because with slick tracks being the norm these days, riders are ultra desperate to make the jump and get to that bend in front?
Or is it because some referees are inconsistent?
Well, I'm not sure even Smarties would have the answers here, but for what it's worth, here is my tuppence worth.
In any sport, there are always some guys who are better at certain aspects of their game than others. Speedway is no different in that aspect, some guys are good starters, some not so good and some it would seem, too good?
But how can you be too good I hear you cry?
Well, lets take British youngster James Sarjeant as an example. Since the very beginning of his career, starting has been his strong point, but in recent seasons it has seemed like there is a standing joke that every time he is out, there will be a rerun of the race as he will jump the start.
On Sunday, young James was guesting for the Bandits at Glasgow and in his five races, he was excluded for three of them for incidents at the start. Jason Garrity had a similar statistic for Redcar recently too I believe.
In the case of Sarjeant though, I genuinely believe that there is some sort of vendetta against the lad. More often than not he makes the start just for the race to be pulled back.
Whiles I agree that riders should stay still at the start, isn't it possible that sometimes they just drop the clutch at the right time and make that jet propelled start?
My gut feeling is that certain riders, including James Sarjeant are simply just good starters, but it would seem that certain referees don't see it that way and almost look for a way to penalise certain riders.
One of Sarjeant's starts from the weekend at Glasgow was simply faultless, and yet he got excluded, in what was an utterly baffling decision in my opinion.
These little things absolutely ruin speedway, and in truth, it could ruin James Sarjeant's career, if he continues to be penalised for being "too good" from the start. I often wonder if certain referees just do it so that fans are talking about them at the end of the meeting, instead of the racing itself.
Another rider who is impeccable from the start is American rider Ricky Wells. Now I have been at several meetings where he has put together starts absolutely no different from the aforementioned Sarjeant, and they aren't pulled back.
I've even seen him blatantly move at the start and it not be pulled back. How is that any different? Simple answer is, that it isn't any different, backing up the theory of refereeing inconsistencies.
Now don't think for a second that I am picking on James Sarjeant or Ricky Wells, far from it. I admire any rider willing to throw his leg over a bike and do what these guys do to entertain us.
There are many riders who have forged out incredibly successful careers by being good from the start. Tony Rickardsson, Greg Hancock and Hans Neilsen are all famous for their starting ability and it has taken them all to multiple world championships, primarily because they did all the hard work at the beginning of the race.
Another man who was an electric starter was Australian rider Todd Wiltshire, and he recently chipped in on the debate on Twitter, saying that he felt riders weren't cheating or even anticipating the start, but that certain riders simply see the magnets on the tapes move before others.
Well if anyone would know, it would be Todd Wiltshire.
What gets me is that you never saw these guys getting pulled back from the start very often.
So what is the key to making that perfect start?
Well according to some riders they just used to wait for the green light to come on, count to three, let the clutch out and hope for the best!
According to Joe Screen, when riding against Todd Wiltshire, he watched Todd's hand as it was quicker than the tapes themselves!
I guess the debate, much like certain riders, rolls on.
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me Mythman666@hotmail.com. If your compliments, or indeed, gripes can be contained to just 120 characters, you can send me a tweet @Mythman666.
Until next time...and there will be a next time.
Right I'll hae'tae gan