Great stories for speedway fans!
Great stories for speedway fans!
…is the only author writing novels specifically aimed at fans of motorcycle speedway racing.
Sadly, speedway in Britain today is very much a niche sport but it was not always the case. In the years between its introduction in 1928 and the war, crowds at dirt track meetings were huge and speedway riders were some of the highest-
These are the periods in which Michael Hansen’s novels are set -
1929 marked the first full season of dirt track racing in Britain. It also saw the introduction of league competition for the first time.
Twelve teams contested the Southern League and seventeen inaugurated the English Dirt Track League of northern clubs but very often the real attraction for spectators remained the star riders from the USA, Australia, New Zealand and, increasingly, Britain.
Promoters who had invested considerable sums in building or renovating stadiums were anxious to recoup their outlay by pulling in as many punters as possible. To that end, advertising in their local newspapers -
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© Michael Hansen 2015
With admission prices at 1s 2d (6p) and 2s 4d (11½ p), car parking for 2000 and buses to the track from all parts of the district, Long Eaton Speedway opens in May, 1929
The opening of Leicester Speedway certainly relied on the pull of the big names to draw the crowds -
Some of the largest advertisements came from Southern Speedways. This one, for the opening of Exeter’s County Ground -
Bristol were less forthcoming when it came to the names of the “first-
At Middlesbrough’s Cleveland Park, they opened their 1929 season with a match in the English Dirt Track League against White City, Manchester. The full programme of 20 heats also included many individual trophy races and exhibitions of broadsiding. Through an arrangement with United Buses, the proprietors, Albion Auto Racers, had laid on special services from as far afield as Newcastle, Whitby, Barnard Castle and Bedale.
At the short-
A rather more modest billing announces the inauguration of the speedway at Burnley. The opening was to be performed by the Mayor and the riders lined up to race in the first meeting included Ginger Lees who would become an English international rider in 1931.
In addition to the regular fixtures for teams in the English Dirt Track League, the sides also contested a knockout cup which, in 1929, was won by Preston, who beat Halifax 87-
Not strictly an advertisement but note the programme at 9.35pm on the National Service broadcast from Daventry: “Wembley Speedway Meeting,” it reads, “A running commentary on several handicap races, concluding with the Final of Wembley v All England.” The item was presented by Johnnie Hoskins. What would the sport give for some national coverage today -
Sometimes the advertisements were a bit more modest, like this last-
Preston ran meetings every Thursday and Saturday, meaning it would be quite expensive to go both every week. (Remember the average labourer’s wage in 1929 was only about £3 -
There was no shortage of celebrities and personalities attending speedway meetings in those early days. George Formby’s fondness for dirt track racing was well known but here, at Manchester’s White City stadium, the comedian had presented a silver cup and would also take part in a race himself. It’s difficult to imagine any top star’s agent giving permission for such a thing to happen today!