Speedway’s uncertain future

- as they saw it in 1977

INCREASED costs, falling numbers through the turnstiles and abysmal weather raining off fixtures and keeping all but the most die-hard spectators at home. Sound familiar?

It’s amazing how often, in the world of speedway, history repeats itself. The debate over the future of the sport that has been conducted over the past few weeks in the pages of the Speedway Star has been fascinating - and all credit to the editor for having the courage to get the sport thinking, despite the historic reluctance of some promoters and riders to involve themselves with the paying public in any way at all. Nevertheless, the discussion itself has led to an eerie sense of déjà vu.

In 1977, the Star began a similar debate over rising costs and falling numbers against a background of economic disarray and cold, wet weather in an investigation led by columnist Dave Stevens entitled Cut the Cost. Unsurprisingly, the magazine was accused by some of encouraging speedway to wash its dirty linen in public. In its July 9 edition, it defended itself in an editorial saying, ‘… because some of the sport’s problems are now being openly discussed with a frankness seldom before experienced in speedway … promoters are already thinking of ways and means (of) improving speedway.’

Speedway Fiction invites you to click the links on this page and read for yourself some of the things that were being said at the time and see if you aren’t struck by the uncanny familiarity of it all. The same things were being said - and sometimes by the same people! The Star threw open its pages to supporters, riders and promoters to contribute to the debate but few riders beyond the regular columnists took part and few promoters spoke out. Plus ça change!                                                                                                        [This article was written in spring, 2013]

It’s déjà vu all over again!

What were the costs in 1977?

How do they compare with the prices paid today?


* All cost conversions in these articles, from 1977 prices to those of 2013, were supplied by This is MONEY, Financial Website of the Year.



Was Eric Boocock right that the

four-valves did ‘nothing good for speedway’? A number of riders had views


Wally Mawdsley sent a memo to his fellow promoters suggesting this solution …


The Speedway Star received an avalanche of correspondence on the subject of the sport’s woes


Great Debate 1977 MoneyThe Great Debate 1977 4-valve enginesThe Great Debate 1977 Readers' ViewsThe Great Debate 1977 Six-Man TeamsGreat Debate 1977 Riders & Promoters

£ The Great Debate 1977