Home About Us Events Museum News Displays Artefacts Machines Rider's Profiles Tracks Books Links & Much More

National Speedway Museum
Preview Dinner at Paradise Wildlife Park 2007

 "The National Speedway Museum is GO!!!    Our National Speedway Museum is up and running and looking good and, although the building is quite small, there is so much to see and admire that it will be a place to visit time and time again. George Barclay & partner Linda and the team have done a great job on eCrowds at the preview of the National Speedway Museumveryone's behalf and it is great to see all the hard work rewarded.

On 20th April, there was a Preview Dinner with an exclusive tour of the National Speedway Museum and the Wildlife Park and, with the Museum being situated within former rider, Pete Sampson's magnificent Paradise Wildlife Park at Broxbourne, not far from Rye House and Speedway's origins at High Beech, there are lots to keep the average Speedway fan from Eight to Eighty interested. From bikes and leathers (and kevlars), to programmes, photos, posters and trophies, telling the history of Speedway Racing from pre-war Dirt Track Douglas & Rudge machines, up to Jason Crump's lay-downs.  There are even photos of the youngsters who are Speedway mascots, so everyone has a presence in this museum.

As you enter the museum, the journey begins with a small Cycle Speedway display of bikes & photos and a Roll of Honour of ex-"Skid-Kids" who went on to make the transition to full motorcycle Speedway, and it is quite a long list. Nowadays, riders come into Speedway from Grasstrack or directly from Peter Oakes'  Under 15 racing but in earlier times, Cycle Speedway was the nearest thing that  we  youngsters could do to emulate our  Speedway heroes.

There are flags and body colours from around the world, plus pre-war Douglas & Rudge machines with audio-visual displays showing some unique cine film from the early days at High Beech. (I wonder if Alf Weedon was the photographer?) plus a small cinema showing Speedway action (of course) and a special display as a tribute to the late Peter Craven with "Peter" hanging off of a Speedway JAP machine in true Craven style.

Former World Champion, Michael Lee made a surprise presentation at the Preview Dinner by donating his favourite trophy, the Golden Helmet which he won at the Harsewinkel Longtrack  in Germany, defeating the home Golden Boy, Egon Muller on the finishing line. "I never thought I would let anyone else have this trophy", said Michael, " but I have seen what a good job has been made with this museum and would like to add this to the trophy collection.".

At the dinner, "The Red Devil", Mike Broadbank, donated his trade-mark red leathers to the museum even although he says that they still fit him,  (was he going to make a comeback?), so they will join Michael Lee, Nigel "Little Boy Blue" Boocock, Leigh Adams and many others who have donated leathers, bikes and Kevlars to the Museum (look out for a set of moth-eaten tartan leathers on display!).  There is even a small "shed"  workshop with tools,sprockets, chains, etc and a rusty, trusty (?) old JAP.

The dinner raised more much-needed funds to help the running costs of the Museum, with an auction which included unique signed body colours (one of which was signed by all three New Zealand World Champions, Ronnie Moore, Barry Briggs & Ivan Mauger) , Museum Race Jacket signed by all riders at the Brighton Bonanza and a terrific framed drawing by Steve Ridgeway of Peter Collins and Anders Michanek in action. This was bought by Rye House promoter, Len Silver as it reminded him of the match race at Wembley between these two greats when Len was manager of the England team in The World Cup.

It's best I don't tell you too much more about the Museum, you just have to go to see it for yourself and enjoy the history of Speedway.  Whilst you are there, take a tour around the Wildlife Park, it is a great day out with plenty for adults and children alike. Glasgow and Sheffield fans could even join the "Adopt an Animal" scheme and have their very own Tiger with their name on the Tiger enclosure, the Oxford Conference League team could adopt a Lion and Weymouth could adopt almost anything they like as there are PLENTY of Widcats at Paradise Wildlife Park!. Unfortunately, no-one has a team called "The Meerkats".

There are plans for Speedway Supporters Clubs to be able to pre-book group tickets and by mid-summer there should be even more additions to the area. At the moment, the museum is quite small, but very, very interesting and it is hoped that not everyone will turn up at once but it is somewhere you will return to again and again to soak up the atmosphere.

So, thanks to all the fans and tracks who have donated to the cause, (shame on the three tracks who didn't), thanks to Peter Sampson and his staff and thanks to George & Linda Barclay, Terry Stone and all who made this museum possible. There will always be ongoing running costs for the Museum, so if any WSRA members can donate even £5.00 from time to time, then that would be a big help. Just contact George or Linda on 020-8592-3361 and feel proud that you have helped to maintain our Speedway heritage. Hopefully non-Speedway visitors to the Park will drop in and get the Speedway bug and visit their local track.

Two and a half years from the original idea to the completion and, thanks to Mick & Glen the builders, it was constructed within the original estimate,...as Linda Barclay said, "I'll bet the new Wembley and The Dome wish they could say the same!" 

   Bert Harkins

Back to Museum News Index