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The National Speedway Museum

Vic Gooden.

Born in Huntingdon in 1921 worked for a while in the East End of London I believe amongst other things as a bouncer for a number of notorious dance halls and then strangely from this found his way onto a speedway bike at the prolific Rye House training school. Graduating in 1948 to join the Rayleigh Rockets remaining when the Rockets entered the Third Division in 1949. It was during his time with the Raleigh Rockets that he joined team mate Ron Howes to act as doubles/stunt men for the film Once a Jolly Swagman. Vic also rode for Aldershot and I believe West Ham but details of his riding career seem difficult to come by with any accuracy perhaps one of our readers has more precise detail.  Whilst riding Vic had an accident at Ipswich, breaking his thigh which probable caused his progressing as a rider to come to a halt.

Never had the pleasure of meeting Vic Gooden but he has been described to me with different adjectives, colourful, generous, tough, eccentric, determined, supportive and a few more perhaps as colourful as the man himself. It would seem he helped the deserving with a “leg up” and faced down those who would try to disrupt the Gooden way of doing things.

Tony Webb of Binbooks fame tells the story “I have a special memory of his support for anyone trying to break into speedway, in the winter of 1962 I was taken to see Vic at his Manor Park apartment above his Car Showrooms by his friend from the old Rayleigh days, Rod Laudrum, I was searching for a speedway bike which were hard to find at that time. Vic took us to his garage where stowed behind the Rolls Royce he had the Huck Fynn machine that Swedens Birger Forsberg had last used. I came away that night with a speedway machine, a bike rack, bits and pieces and change out of one hundred pounds to buy the fish chips on the way home.  

Vic Gooden stopped riding and started speedway management promoting at Rayleigh Rockets, Poole Pirates, Ipswich Witches, then the England Team Manager and also Wimbledon Team Manager. But it was at Poole he will be remembered with gratitude as it is said without his hard work, and money, Poole would not have survived.

Dave Lanning of centre green commentating fame was, or so he says, started on his career when in 1958 Vic Godden thrust a microphone in his hand and no doubt true to character told Dave to get on with it. There are, it would seem, many people who owe Vic gratitude for the help of one kind or another offered at a time of need.

In 1996 the World Speedway Riders’ Association were delighted that Vic accepted his election of President for that year. Vic sadly died on the 26th December 2010 he is and will be greatly missed.


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