CONTROVERSY marked the start of the New Year with news that the England test team had staged a dramatic walk-
The home side went on to win the match 62-
1976 was the year in which British and Icelandic ships clashed at sea in the so-
IN the Queen’s New Year’s Day Honours List, World Champion Ivan Mauger was made a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, (MBE). The nomination was made by the New Zealand government for services to his country. In his Speedway Star column, Mauger wrote: ‘ I actually celebrated in mid-
THE England tourists recovered from the debacle in Sydney to win the final Test Match in Brisbane and take the series with an emphatic 6-
Also this week, John Louis was voted Speedway Star Personality of the Year, heading off Peter Collins. Tommy Jansson was voted Mr London and Best London Junior was Karl Fiala.
AN unhappy Ole Olsen, following news that the Control Board had upheld the BSPA decision to move him to Hull, announced that he was ‘disappointed and disgusted’ with the ruling and reaffirmed his desire to ride for Coventry. ‘If necessary,’ the Dane threatened, ‘I will take the matter to the civil courts.’ He also revealed that he was considering an offer from American supremo Harry Oxley to ride in the new American League.
Also this week, there were hopes of a return for speedway to Norwich after planning permission was granted to stage eleven Sunday afternoon meetings at Hevingham raceway, just outside the city. The organization involved was Norfolk Speedways, the King’s Lynn promoters. In contrast, a Speedway Control Board appeal committee upheld the Gulf British League promoters’ decision to reject an application for National League membership from Rochdale.
FOLLOWING a BSPA meeting, the results of the latest Rider Control moves were known and the 1976 team lists were published. The class of the top riders in the Gulf British League would make a modern-
DISCUSSIONS were due to take place this week which could see Stoke speedway move to Oxford’s Cowley circuit following news that Oxford’s SOS committee were to take over the running of the stadium. That meant that National League speedway was almost certain to begin at Cowley for the 1976 season. Promoter Bob Dugard told Speedway Star, ‘(Stoke) are still looking for a track nearer their home but if that fails, we could be of help until such time as a new site could be found in the Stoke area.’
THERE was bad news from New Zealand where Peter Collins had crashed while going for his second successive maximum in the Test series there, resulting in a broken wrist and a dislocated collarbone. The tourists had thrashed the Kiwis 85-
MAJOR news this week was the return of speedway to London’s White City Stadium after an absence of 47 years. The arena, once the home of British athletics and, by 1976, the venue for some of the country’s leading greyhound races first staged speedway in 1928 and became a member of the Southern League the following year. Negotiations had been taking place for over twelve months, ever since the Oxford promotion realized their future at Cowley was in jeopardy. Co-
ACROSS the world, the final test match between England and New Zealand was rained off in Auckland. The re-
WITH Britain still in the grip of winter weather, at the far side of the globe, the World Championship was well under way. Australia and New Zealand held their own national rounds as riders from both countries battled for places in the Australasian Final, due at the weekend. Australian Championship was won by Phil Crump who scored a flawless 15-
MEANWHILE, a meeting of the BSPA had failed to find a solution to the ongoing ‘Ole Olsen Affair’. The reigning World Champion had refused to accept the move from Wolverhampton to Hull ordered by Rider Control and was insisting that he would only agree to a transfer to Coventry.
SURPRISE news from Auckland was that John Boulger had won the Australasian Championship ahead of Billy Sanders, Phil Crump and Ivan Mauger. In a night characterised by six separate tape-
IN ENGLAND, Hackney were delighted to confirm the signing of Polish star Zenon Plech for the whole of the 1976 season. His signature had been bought from the Stal Gorzow club in exchange for an agreement to supply some English equipment to the club.
AS March began, bosses at Blackbird Road were rocked by the news that Leicester captain Ray Wilson was far from certain to start the season. This was not because of a disagreement with the management but simply because his motorcycle business was doing so well. ‘It’s all a matter of economics,’ Wilson told the Speedway Star. ‘My business is doing well and if I ride this season it will mean putting someone in to look after the business, to make sure it continues to show the progress it has made so far.’ What it boiled down to was that a major sponsorship had just ended for Wilson and he needed a replacement to make racing worthwhile.
ALSO this week, Barrow’s hopes of a return to speedway were dashed by a Cumbria County Council to overrule local planning and refuse Cliffe Hindle permission to open a track just outside the town.
IN ASSEN, Netherlands, this week, Soviet rider Sergei Tarabanko retained the World Ice Racing Championship with a fine 15-
MEANWHILE, Hull’s manager Ian Thomas appeared to have failed in his bid to lure Ole Olsen into his Vikings team. Thomas had flown out to Los Angeles to make a personal appeal to the Dane in an attempt to bring to an end the long-
AT LAST, the controversial (and very tedious) battle between Hull and Coventry over who would see Ole Olsen riding in their colours in 1976 fizzled out. Hull agreed to release the World Champion whose transfer to Coventry was subsequently sanctioned by the General Council of the BSPA. Meanwhile, Hull went ahead with the signing of American Mike Curuso who was currently riding in Israel for his home nation against a Rest of the World side.
CLOSER to home, there was bad news for readers of the Speedway Star. Citing the ‘spiral of inflation’ as the prime reason, the publishers (Websters in those days) announced a staggering 25 per cent increase in the price, from 15p to 20p! According to This Is Money’s historic inflation calculator, that would be £1.50 at 2016 prices. It compares quite well to the current price of £2.90.
HALIFAX found themselves struggling for riders after a disastrous opening meeting in which they narrowly beat Hull by 40-
MARTIN ASHBY won the first leg of the SMC Golden Helmet match race against Malcolm Simmons but Simmons suffered a string of ill fortune. He broke the rocker arm on his new Weslake while warming up and rode the first heat on Christer Sjosten’s machine. Amazingly, he cracked the frame on this bike and had to race the second heat on another one, borrowed from Pete Smith.
DESPITE a weekend of discussions, there appeared to be no agreement on terms between Wimbledon and Swedish star Christer Lofqvist. The former Poole and West Ham favourite was reportedly not satisfied with the deal being offered by the Dons who were set to continue using the services of Bo Jansson, elder brother of their Swedish captain, Tommy.
MEANWHILE, up at Sheffield, one of their most ardent supporters, the comedian Freddie Starr had offered a prize of £1000 plus a new machine to the Tigers’ top scoring rider at the end of the season. Team manager Terry Thornhill said, ‘Freddie is one of our keenest fans and this is a really fine gesture on his part.’ It followed the TV star’s earlier gift of a new bike to the top scorer in 1974.
FOLLOWING their protracted negotiations with Ole Olsen, which had concluded unsuccessfully, Hull’s search for a new number one rider came to an end with the signing of four-
IN GENEVA, Speedway Control Board manager Harry Louis was making an application for special dispensation from the FIM to obtain an international licence so that 17 year-
THE news that King’s Lynn’s new sensation Michael Lee was to be included in the field for Wimbledon’s Spring Classic meeting eased doubts about his eligibility for international competition. The Classic was a meeting that required FIM approval and the fact that he had been allowed to compete suggested that the Federation were about to award him his international licence despite his age. Normally, a rider must be 18 years old to qualify.
CONCERN was expressed at the weekend over the new silencers that had just been introduced for speedway competition. Riders were suggesting that JAP and Jawa machines were not performing properly when the silencers were fitted to their exhausts and that they lacked power on the straights. Forty years later, silencers are still controversial and problematic.
DAVE Jessup was the winner of this year’s Spring Classic meeting at Wimbledon, beating Tommy Jansson by just one point. Jessup lost his only points in his final race of the night, Heat 18, when he came third to Peter Collins and and John Louis. Jansson’s bogey race was in Heat 15 when he gated badly and finished third to Jessup and Phil Crump. First prize was a trophy and a cheque for £500, (equivalent to almost £3800 at 2016 prices) while Jansson picked up £200, (over £1500 in today’s money).
MEANWHILE, in West London, Richard Greer suffered the disappointment of having his brand new Weslake machine stolen from the car park at White City stadium on Easter Monday, during the Rebels’ match against Swindon. Police were looking into the theft.
THIS week, Coventry were celebrating the signing of Czechoslovakian Champion Jiri Stancl. In fact, the Bees had signed the Iron Curtain rider six weeks previously but had been waiting for approval from the Czech authorities before making the announcement.
THE newly instituted World Championship Preliminary Rounds had turned into the flops of the season as fans voted with their feet and stayed away. With the top 32 British riders already seeded to the Qualifying Rounds which would begin the following week, the Preliminaries had featured largely second strings and reserves. According the the Speedway Star, the rather patronising suggestion had already been made that, if the Preliminary Rounds were retained for 1977, they should be held on National League tracks where fans ‘would be glad to see British League riders in action’.
SPEEDWAY STAR announced this week that they had reached agreement with the National League promoters to sponsor the Silver Helmet competition throughout the season with a winner’s cheque of £50 every month. The Star was also responsible for sponsorship of the Gulf British League’s Golden Helmet match race series. £50 is roughly equivalent to a prize of £379 at today’s (2016) prices.
ALSO in the news was Dave Jessup who notched up a fine victory in the Warner’s Superama at Hackney. The success followed hot on the heels of the Reading rider’s win in the prestigious Daily Express Spring Classic at Wimbledon. Currently sitting sixth in the Gulf League averages on 11.27, Jessup had just received his call-
IVAN MAUGER and Barry Briggs were both hit with a ban by the FIM for refusing to ride for their home nation in the World Team Cup at Foxhall Heath. Ipswich promoter John Berry told the Speedway Star, ‘Mauger and Briggs were asked if they wished to race for New Zealand at Ipswich and they said they were not interested… Obviously, I am very disappointed that two riders who have been honoured by the Queen for their services to New Zealand speedway should decide that they do not want to represent their country at Ipswich.’ Harry Louis of the Speedway Control Board made clear the FIM rules that a rider who refuses to turn out for his country is banned from racing elsewhere on the day of the meeting or on one day either side. Neither Briggs nor Mauger would be free to ride in Ole Olsen’s meeting at Vojens in Denmark, for which they had both been booked.
WORLD CHAMPIONS England were sensationally eliminated from the World Team Cup at Ipswich when they came second to Australia in the United Kingdom qualifying round. The Australians, humiliated by the British Lions during the winter, were thirsting for revenge and took the chances that came their way. The scores were: Australia 40, England 35, Scotland 12, New Zealand 8.
AT HACKNEY, promoter Len Silver was reported to the Speedway Control Board by referee Martin Palmer following an incident in the referee’s box at Swindon. Silver had lost his temper when Hawks’ star Zenon Plech was excluded in heat 13 for foul riding.The Pole had ridden hard under the Robins’ Bob Kilby to take second place on the line but referee Palmer awarded the points to Kilby.
THE world of speedway was stunned this week by the news that Wimbledon and Smederna star Tommy Jansson had been killed in a track crash during the Swedish Final of the World Championship in Stockholm. The accident occurred during heat four of the meeting when Tommy was in the process of passing Lars Jansson (no relation). The two riders tangled and were hurtled into the fence at around 60 mph. Tommy suffered severe head injuries including a severed artery in his neck and died on the way to hospital. He was just 23 years of age and from Eskilstuna. On his last appearance at Plough Lane, he scored a 15-
WITH emotions still very raw at Plough Lane following the death of Tommy Jansson just over a week earlier, the prestigious Embassy Internationale went ahead on May 31 on a Wimbledon track covered in sawdust after hours of steady rain. It was won decisively by Malcolm Simmons who didn’t drop a point all night. Philip Rising wrote in the Speedway Star, ‘He has style, class, an ability to make riding look as easy and relaxing as a stroll in the sunshine.’ Runners-
IN the National League, Joe Owen retained the Speedway Star Silver Helmet, beating Eastbourne’s Steve Weatherly 2-
ELLESMERE PORT’s John Jackson and Chris Turner won the 1976 New National League Pairs Championship from Newcastle in a dramatic final at Belle Vue. Jackson won the race with Turner at the back and Diamonds’ Tom and Joe Owen taking the middle placings but, under a new rule, a tie in the semi-
ENGLAND and Denmark headed the qualifiers for the World Pairs Final in Sweden, following the weekend’s semi-
IN SWEDEN, Tommy Jansson was buried in his home town of Eskilstuna. The funeral service was attended by more than 800 people.
JOHN BOULGER, who blew up his bikes at the weekend, was forced out of Australia’s team for the World Pairs Final to be held in Eskilstuna, Sweden. The southern hemisphere selectors acted swiftly in calling up Billy Sanders to partner Phil Crump. Sanders travelled out with his Ipswich teammate John Louis who was representing England alongside Malcolm Simmons.
RADIO ONE DJ David Hamilton, himself an avid speedway fan, was booked to play record requests at the Inter-
BERWICK promoter Liz Taylor was determined to oppose the return of speedway to Powderhall, Edinburgh, claiming that such a move would lose her Bandits team at least 200 supporters which the Northumberland side could not do without.
THIS WEEK the news was dominated by international competitions. West German star Egon Müller was crowned the new Continental Champion in Leningrad, Sweden completed a 5-
IT WAS a night of shocks at Wembley when the Inter-
NEWS from the Continental Semi-
At home, Peterborough’s brilliant 17-
THE SHOCK headline this week was the unilateral decision by the Swedish authorities to forbid the use of four-
THERE was joy in Geordieland this week as Newcastle’s table-
EVEN missing three of their five World Finalists, England just failed by the narrowest of margins to beat a Rest of the World side in Denmark. The fixture, held at Ole Olsen’s Vojens Speedway Centre, finished 43-
ELSEWHERE, Zdislaw Dobrucki was crowned the new Polish Champion in Gorzow, ahead of defending champion Edward Jancarz and team mate Jerzy Rembas while, in Britain, Joe Owen continued his domination of the Speedway Star Silver Helmet match race challenge. The Newcastle Diamonds’ rider completed his fourth defence of the title at Brough Park, beating Brian Collins and earning himself another £50 bonus.
THE NEWS this week was all domestic. Belle Vue sat at the head of the Gulf British League on 28 points from 20 meetings, ahead of Coventry on points difference while, in the New National League, Newcastle topped the table much more comfortably, nine points ahead of Ellesmere Port who had one match in hand.
BOSTON’S Rob Hollingworth was named as the August challenger for the Silver Helmet. Both he and holder Joe Owen had been named in the England team to meet Australasia at Newcastle.
PORTSMOUTH speedway fans were dealt a blow when the local council rejected an application to bring the sport to their city. Officials said that increased traffic volume in the area would be detrimental to the local residents and noise on race-
THERE WAS a big shock for Hull Vikings this week when their German star Egon Müller announced that he was leaving the British League after fulfilling just six weeks of his contract. The reigning 1000-
Meanwhile, Malcolm Simmons had become the new holder of the Golden Helmet when he beat Hackney’s Dave Morton at Waterden Road the previous Friday. Simmons succeeded Wimbledon’s Tommy Jansson who had been the holder at the time of his death in Stockholm in May.
SUPPORT was growing among British riders for a ban on four-
IN THE Inter-
MEANWHILE, the four-
SPEEDWAY STAR produced a 68-
Also this week came warnings of new legislation on silencers to come into force for the 1977 season. A BSPA sub-
ONE story dominated all others this week: the crowning of England’s new World Champion, Peter Collins. The 22 year-
ANOTHER milestone was passed by Ivan Mauger this week when the New Zealander became World Long Track Champion for a record-
Meanwhile, at home, a dubious headline emerged from Alwalton as Peterborough scored an unlikely 40 -
THE World Team Cup, held at White City, London, was won by Australia in a tightly-
ALSO this week came the news that Poland was negotiating to send two complete sides to take part in British speedway in the 1977 season. The idea was that one team would join the Gulf British League while the other would take part in the National League. Preliminary talks had apparently started a year ago and been going on ever since. Most recently, a meeting had been held after the World team Cup Final at White City.
WITH a 15-
JOE Owen retained the Speedway Star Silver Helmet when he beat his brother Tom 2-
IN the Gulf British League, Ipswich sat at the top of the table on 46 points, three ahead of Coventry while, in the National League, Newcastle led the field with 57 points from Ellesmere Port on 47.
AT PLOUGH LANE, Newcastle’s Joe Owen won the Gauloises New National League Riders’ Championship with an impressive 14 points. On a rain-
IN AN EFFORT to boost the strength of the Bundesliga, West German clubs were said to be scouting for talent in England. Two names being considered were World Champion Peter Collins and former champion Ivan Mauger, who told the Speedway Star, ‘It is true I have been approached and I am considering it. But then I get approached about many things during the course of a year and I consider them all.’
PETERBOROUGH’s Brian Clarke was named as the next challenger for the Silver Helmet Match Race to face holder Joe Owen while Peter Collins would defend the Golden Helmet against Phil Crump at Newport. Meanwhile, John Louis and Billy Sanders were named as favourites to win the Gauloises British League Best Pairs Final at their home track, Ipswich.
OLE OLSEN put his World Championship woes behind him this week to win the British League Riders’ Championship with an immaculate 15-
FAVOURITES John Louis and Billy Sanders of Ipswich Witches won the British League Pairs Championship on their home track but not before making a disastrous start to the meeting. In fact, at the halfway stage, the duo trailed in fifth place but made a spectacular comeback to snatch the title by a single point from Coventry Bees, Belle Vue Aces and Cradley United, all of whom finished on 21. Peter Collins (Belle Vue) and Malcolm Simmons (Poole Pirates) were the top individual scorers on the night with 15 points each while Ole Olsen (Coventry) finished on 14. ‘The wet track proved to be a great leveller and no one pair could establish control of the meeting,’ wrote Mick Brightwell in the Speedway Star. Poole ended up in fifth place on 18 points, followed by Hackney (12) and Sheffield (8).
AS winter began and the final fixtures of a long 1976 season were played out, there was good news for Gulf British League Champions Ipswich as Billy Sanders withdrew his transfer request. The decision came just before the Witches added the Speedway Star Cup to their impressive medal haul for the year. ‘I just couldn’t leave,’ the Australian explained. ‘Five years ago this team was nothing. We had one star name, John Louis, and at that time he was only a star in the Second Division. From that moment everybody has worked hard to put Ipswich where they are and having weighed everything up, I feel as if I don’t want to leave the set-
WORKINGTON supporters were dealt a blow this week with the news that top man Lou Sansom was about to sign for Birmingham in Division One. The popular Australian said, ‘If the Comets got into the first division I would stay with them but I have to make my decision now. It will probably be the last chance I have to get into the top league.’ To add to the depression at Derwent Park, it was likely that Taffy Owen would also be seeking pastures new for 1977.
Another Owen, this time New National League Riders’ Champion Joe broke an arm this week while riding to test out the recovery of another injury. The Speedway Star Silver Helmet holder was riding a trials bike on his father’s farm at Ormskirk, Lancashire, evaluating his recovery from a broken bone in his foot when he fell heavily and sustained an open fracture just above the wrist.
IT was announced this week that a new European Under 21 Championship would be inaugurated in 1977. The tournament would be open to 34 riders, selected by their national federations, with no more than two competitors from each country. The grand final would be held at the new Vojens Speedway centre in Denmark on July 24. Ole Olsen, driving force behind the Vojens project, told Philip Rising, ‘All too often young riders get knocked out of the major championships at an early stage and little is heard of them as a result. This Championship will give them a second chance to make headlines all of their own. We at Vojens will do everything we can to secure the full publicity treatment for them, which should help them financially when sponsors become more interested.’ As a footnote, it was also rumoured that four-
NEWS emerged from Benidorm, where the New National League promoters were holding their annual conference, that applications from Bradford and Norwich to join the League had been approved, subject to the necessary planning permissions. It was also decided that the word ‘New’ would be dropped from 1977 in favour of simply the ‘National League’. The League Cup, Knockout Cup and Inter-
On the Management Committee, Joe Thurley retired and was replaced by Len Silver. The Hackney and Rye House boss joined Wally Mawdsley (Chairman), Ron Wilson, Danny Dunton and Ian Thomas.