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"In February, all roads led to Paradise Wildlife Park as over 800 happy Speedway fans flocked through the gates of the Hertfordshire venue to enjoy a day dedicated to their favourite sport,...Speedway.

That number is something many promoters would like to add to their gates. So it was surprising that out of all the teams in the UK, Peterborough were the only ones to attend and put on a show for the fans, so let's hope that their ambition and promotion pays off during the new season.

The outdoor displays drew a lot of attention, especially when the unsilenced bikes fired up on the hour, every hour and the Speedway rider's perfume of Castrol 'R' hung in the air.

The "Ride 'n' Slide" stand was doing brisk business with plenty of enquiries for their schools around the country with fans wanting to try their hand at riding a 125cc, 250cc or full-blown 500cc Speedway bike. The idea of signing on to Russell Paine's school was very tempting.  It was also nice to see the Billy Sanders' display dedicated to the late Ipswich star plus plenty of other machines from Japs to Jawas and modern GMs.  

Also lined up for inspection were the innovative Formula 2 Speedway bikes and former Peterborough rider and WSRA Committee member, , Pete Seaton was on hand to explain his vision of the future of bringing down the costs of riding Speedway. Formula 2 will not replace our "normal" Speedway but would be a great idea for Second Halfs (remember them?)  where it would give the opportunity for new riders to give Speedway a try. The 450cc Enduro engines from Honda, Yamaha, KTM, etc are a little slower than the current 500cc GM rocket ships, but although it is called, 'SPEED'way, the sport does not need to be blindingly fast to be exciting just as long as all the bikes are the same and racing is close.

Indoors, our WSRA Museum was packed with fans eager to see the many exhibits of bikes, leathers. kevlars, trophies, body colours with everything from Cycle Speedway and pre-war Dirt Track bikes up to those lethal Ice Racing, Jawas and even Greg Hancock's framed signed body colour from his final World Championship-winning Grand Prix in Torun. The Californian was also represented  the outside displays with his 2014 machine on display (along with those of Emil Sayfutdinov and Tomasz Gollob's bikes) in the Tim Templeton booth. Poole-based Tim and his fellow collector, Nigel,  got up at 3am to get ready for their drive north......Now that is dedication.

In the Events Marquee, visitors queued at the memorabilia stands to buy old programmes, books, photos and DVDs and when they needed a break, they could visit the bar or the Bar-B-Q for refreshments.  Dave Fairbrother was kept busy on the Speedway Star stand whilst Speedway Star Tours, Travel Plus handed out hundreds of 2015 brochures and sold their new Speedway Grand Prix T-Shirts, so everyone was happy.

Our WSRA stand was always busy and it was good to sign up some new members and Associate Members for the Association whilst selling tickets for the grand raffle which raises funds for the WSRA and our Museum. Top prize was a pair of tickets for the British Grand Prix at Cardiff, courtesy of BSI Speedway,  and the winner of those tickets was none other than former Rye House star, Karl Fiala who was delighted with his prize. The signed Limited Edition Lithograph print of a Tai Woffinden  painting by motorcycle artist, Jim Blanchard, was won by Jonathon Newham but there was one prize that one little boy has his eyes on and it wasn't the GP tickets or the painting of Tai or even the bottles of Travel Plus Sparkling wine, but it was a toy lion, donated by Paradise Wildlife Park. The little boy in question was the son of Freddie Williams' daughter, Sarahand he is also called Freddie, so it was very appropriate when his raffle ticket number was pulled from the bucket and, much to his obvious delight, he won his prized lion. It was also appropriate, as his Grandfather, Freddie Williams had been the top WEMBLEY Lion and one of our former Presidents of

the WSRA.

Presenter, Craig Saul was kept busy interviewing guests including 2015 Rye House Rocket, Luke Bowen and that other Rye House legend, Karl Fiala as well as "The Red Devil", Mike Broadbank, Peterborough's Trevor Swales and journalist, John Chaplin amongst many others on a busy day. Star guest was Beatles Historian, Mark Lewisohn who has written many reference books on the Fab Four and has just released Volume One of a weighty Trilogy on The Beatles. In the interview on the stage, Mark told of how he was a Wembley fan in his younger days and also explained various connections between Speedway and that famous group. Former Speedway Star photographer, Mike Patrick was a friend of George Harrison and Mike has already been interviewed by Mark for inclusion in  Volume 2. Journalists, Peter Oakes and Dave Lanning also feature in the pop history of those far-off days and Mark Lewisohn will also be interviewing them with the possibility of adding their memories to the next volume.

And so another Celebration of Speedway with record crowds and fine weather, ended and as the stall holders packed up, everyone seemed to be happy with their business on the day, but the happiest of all was young Freddie Williams Junior with his toy lion!"

Bert Harkins   

2015 Celebration of Speedway

World Speedway Riders’ Association present

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