Undoubtedly the seeds of Cycle Speedway were sown in 1928 when the
Australian sport of ‘Dirt Track’ motor cycle racing first appeared
in the UK. Whether it was at ‘High Beech’ in Essex or some other
circuit it does not alter the affect it had on the youth of the
country. There have been many references published of youths attempting
to imitate their dirt track heroes. In 2001 the VCSRA Secretary
received a letter from a Bob Spence recalling such an attempt in
1929. (Ref. Track Record March 2001)
However the effect of the return of Motor Speedway on the youth of
the UK in 1945/46 after WWII was to initiate a sporting phenomenon
that had not been witnessed before and probably never will again.
Hundreds of lads throughout the country converged on available open
spaces, there were many about at the time, makeshift tracks were
hurriedly laid out, old cycles stripped down and racing commenced.
Youthful entrepreneurs emerged and leagues and championships
organised.The press took notice and christened the youthful racers
(The term Skid Kids was not initially, and still isn’t universally
accept by those who wished to be identified as serious sportsmen)
By 1996 many of the young ‘Skid Kids’ of the 40’s & 50’s had matured,
made a successful transition to motor speedway and had retired from
both sports. A Veteran Speedway Riders Association had been formed and
was thriving. Two of its members who had originally been ‘Skid Kids’,
Vic White of Hackney’s ‘Warwick Lions’ and Jimmey Heard of the ‘Stratford
Hammers’ had already organised and held several joint reunion dinners
for their clubs.
The suggestion was made that their reunions should spread their ‘wings’
and include all ex-cycle speedway riders. An initial committee of
volunteers was gathered, opinions canvased from interested parties,
a meeting held, a Secretary/Treasurer appointed and the Veteran Cycle
Speedway Riders Association was established. Membership in the first year
reached nearly 200 and has averaged around 230 ever since.
Since its foundation the Association has regularly issued a News Letter
made up of Notices and Nostalgic Reminiscences. At first it only
consisted of one or two pages but in June of 1997 it was given the title,
‘The Track Record’ and has continued to be issued on a quarterly basis and
now can boast of 12 or 16 pages each issue. In 2003 Bill Gadsby a former
Wembley rider who at one time worked with Graham Payne who published the
‘Cycle Speedway Annual’ in the 50’s volunteered to edit the magazine.
It is a post he has continued to fill to the present day (2017).
For weekly updated VCSRA News and Views visit our Twitter page at v.c.s.r.a.(@cyclespeedvets)
Compiled by Brian Barnett.
Cycle Speedway History
This site, sponsored and put on line by the VCSRA is dedicated to recording
and preserving the memories of the first two decades of our sport – 1946 to 1966.
A companion site,
www.cyclespeedwayhistory.org.uk originally sponsored by The Late Dave Hunting covers all the years 1946 to 2015.
Cycle Speedway Today
Cycle speedway is still flourishing in the UK
although not as widespread as in the heady days of
the 40's and 50's. Racing is held under the
auspices of British Cycling with approximately 30 teams countrywide. Spreading from Edinburgh in the north
to Exeter in the south east.
For more details visit 33/18 News www.3318news.co.uk