Speedway may never have been Rock and Roll but, in the Seventies, it rattled a few jukeboxes

Speedway riders took to the Decca recording studios in October, 1973 to tape a single which would be unleashed on the record-buying public in time for the start of the 1974 season. Under the guidance of producer Karl Blore and with help from Radio 1 DJs Ed Stewart and David Hamilton, one rider from each First Division track was due to participate. Speedway being what it is, however, they couldn’t manage without a guest rider - or, in this case, singer. There being no-one available to represent Sheffield, (can you believe that?), the steel town’s colours were flown by guest Bert Harkins who had ridden for the Tigers in 1972. The group was named ‘The Rivals’ for the purposes of the record label and the song on the A-side was titled simply ‘Speedway’. On the flip side, as the DJs used to say, was the now-forgotten song ‘Hoskins Still Rides’. Listen below to a short extract from the record.


Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead

DECCA Records

The British record label DECCA Records was formed as long ago as 1929.

One of its most notable releases, ‘Rock Around the Clock’ by Bill Haley and the Comets, sold 25 million copies. The label was famous, however, for turning down The Beatles in 1962 but they did sign up The Rolling Stones, which must have provided something by way of compensation.

DECCA also set up the Deram record label in 1966, with The Moody Blues and Cat Stevens among their more famous signings.

David Bowie also recorded his first single at the DECCA studios.

When the studios closed, the building was renamed Lilian Baylis House and is now used as a rehearsal space for English National Opera.

Speedway on Vinyl

 ‘The Rivals’, as they were appropriately named, comprised a goodly number of faces very familiar to speedway fans, even if they might not have meant much to regular viewers of Top of the Pops. Dag Lovaas, Scott Autrey, Peter Collins, Jim McMillan, Bert Harkins, John Louis, Martin Ashby, Nigel Boocock, Terry Betts, George Hunter and others had crowded into the Decca recording studio under the guidance of Radio 1 DJs Ed Stewart and David Hamilton at the end of the previous season to record a disc. The song on the A-side was titled simply ‘Speedway’. On the flip side, as the DJs used to say, was the now-forgotten song ‘Hoskins Still Rides’.

The Rivals

Click the image above to listen to a short extract from SPEEDWAY by The Rivals


1974 Blore & Stannard


In use by English National Opera

Speedway by The Rivals (Excerpt).wav


‘Speedway’ could be bought from record shops in the standard DECCA paper wrapper or in a picture cover. Both are shown below.


Studio 1                                                              Studio 2                                                                     Studio 3

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