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Celebration of Speedway 2017

By Bert Harkins

“What a great day at Paradise Wildlife Park with a record turnout for the annual Celebration of Speedway, around 1,500 eager visitors came to see this pre-season exhibition, the skies may have been grey and cloudy but the atmosphere throughout the day was very sunny indeed.

Organised by the Committee of the WSRA and hosted by Rye House presenter, Craig Saul, the event ran like clockwork. New loudspeakers situated in the outside display area meant that everyone could hear what was going on no matter if they were inside the Events Marquee or amongst the crowds inspecting the outdoor displays.

Prior to the event, ‘Storm Doris’ had disrupted the ‘Best Laid Plans O’ Mice And Men’ for the outdoor area but come Sunday, all the exhibitors were accommodated  in the show area, including a couple of vans which arrived with bikes but had not pre-booked a space!

It was good to see some teams such as Rye House, Peterborough, Isle of Wight, Mildenhall  and Plymouth taking advantage of the show and promoting their clubs, and bringing along some of their riders as that is what Speedway is all about,…promoting this exciting sport to as many people as possible. The outdoor displays were all very popular with the “Beat The Starter” gating machine, Simon Wigg’s World Championship Long Track bike and the undercover BBQ area always had queues of hungry visitors.

Bikes from by-gone eras were fired up in the pits area on the hour, every hour, giving everyone that whiff of Speedway Aftershave, Castrol ‘R’.

Indoors, in the new revamped marquee, the Collectors’ Fayre was in full swing and the WSRA stand was kept busy with bookings for the Spring Lunch on Saturday 27th May and signing up new members for the WSRA. The new Gold, Silver and Bronze membership cards have been well received and the BSPA Rider’s Pass which gives free entry to ex riders if they bring along a paying guest is proving popular.   It enables an ex rider to get in to a BSPA meeting free of charge but the promoter doesn’t lose out as he still has a paying guest coming along.

Chain of Office was handed over from outgoing President Mark Loram to the new incumbent of that honoured post, Neil Middleditch.  The raffle went off well with plenty of excellent prizes including 2 tickets for the Cardiff GP, courtesy of BSI Speedway, Tickets for Plymouth Speedway, Training days with the Ride ‘n’ Slide School and the Hagon Shocks Academy, Membership to The Southern Riders Association, a day feeding the big cats at Paradise Wildlife Park and much more.

By the end of the afternoon, as the crowds began drifting away, everyone commented on what a great time they had had, catching up with old friends and  meeting many of the current and former riders who were there, from World Champions, Peter Collins and Mark Loram, and the ever popular, “Bomber”, Chris Harris.

This event continues to grow every year and ideas and plans for next year’s WSRA Celebration , which will be the 90th anniversary of Speedway starting at High Beech in 1928, are already underway, it may even be a 2-day event, so put the dates in your diary, Saturday 17th February 2018 and Sunday 18th February 2018,  for an even bigger and better Celebration of Speedway”.   


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